Your guide to the perfect Christmas Dinner with Cahernane House Hotel Executive Head Chef Eric Kavanagh

Cahernane House Hotel in Killarney is fast becoming known as a ‘foodie’ heaven. The country house hotel set on the edge of Killarney National Park in Co. Kerry was recently shortlisted in the Condé Nast top 3 hotels for ‘Best Dining Experience UK & Ireland’.  Cork native, Eric Kavanagh is the Executive Chef at Cahernane House and leads a talented team in the kitchen at the distinguished 2 AA Rosette Herbert Restaurant in the hotel.  The food served at Cahernane is very impressive without being fussy. ‘Minimal fuss but maximum taste, is our mantra in the kitchen,” says Eric.  “We like the ingredients to speak for themselves and are very conscious of using local, in season produce.”

Set on 6.4 acres of mature grounds, the stunning 40-bedroom Cahernane House Hotel sets the scene for festive celebrations with its open log fires, elegant drawing rooms and original antiques.  One could very easily imagine that the house is indeed their own ‘private Downton Abbey’. This stunning manor house is steeped in history and was originally built in 1877 but has since been restored to all its original grandeur by the PREM Group who bought the property in 2016.  In recent times over €6.5 million has been spent on the property which has seen each of the manor rooms being completely renovated and restored. The renovation programme also included the complete renovation of the 26 guest rooms in the hotel’s Garden Wing and the refurbishment of the original Cellar Bar.

You could enjoy a post festive break in the Kingdom with the Cahernane House Hotel One-Night Christmas package for two (€145 per person sharing). This food lovers package includes a delightful five-course dining experience with the wine of your choice in the Herbert Restaurant and a late check out the following morning. Available on selected dates from December 27th – 30th.

There is also no better place to ring in the New Year than the toasty confines of Cahernane, who will host a brilliant New Year’s Celebration on December 31st (€215 per person sharing). Guests will enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail reception before tucking in to a delicious 7-course tasting menu in the Herbert Restaurant.  There will also be live music in the drawing room on New Year’s Eve, where complimentary champagne will be served to ring in 2019 in style.

An exclusive Christmas Party Package for groups of 10 or more is also available from now until December 15th, with a luxury overnight stay kicked off by mulled wine on arrival, before guests enjoy a private Christmas Party in the Herbert Restaurant featuring a five-course menu. A full Irish breakfast is also provided the following morning, (total package price, €140 per person sharing). For more information or to make a booking log on to or call (064) 6631895


For further information, photography, to arrange a press trip or an interview with Emer Corridan the General Manager or Eric Kavanagh the Executive Chef please contact Aileen O’Brien, O’Brien PR (045) 407017 or  (086) 8403624


Executive Chef Eric Kavanagh shares some of his Christmas culinary secrets:

Christmas Eve



Set your dining table for Christmas Day dinner and organise your festive flowers, candles and accessories.



Peel the potatoes, carrots, parsnips or whatever vegetables you may be using. Get some help though, who wants to be in the kitchen by themselves preparing vegetables?



Make your apple, sausage, sweet potato and fresh sage stuffing combining all the ingredients and put it aside. (see recipe below).



Put the ham which has been soaking over-night in fresh water into a large pot with a carrot, full peeled onion, some celery sticks and cloves and boil it until it is cooked right through. A 2kg leg of pork would need to boil for approximately 1 1/4 hours. You will know when the ham is cooked by putting a knife through the thickest part, the meat should be soft but moist. Make sure not to let the pan boil dry and keep the water topped up.



Place the turkey giblets and turkey wings in a pot. Cover with water and simmer for 1 hour. You will be using this stock for the gravy on Christmas Day. Butter the turkey breast and place bacon rashers on the skin of the bird, particularly ensuring you cover the breast completely. This ensures that the skin will remain protected during cooking and the breast meat won’t dry out.  It also gives a nice smoky flavor to the meat.



Drain off the water from the ham and place on a large plate, cover it with a clean tea towel and allow to cool.







Christmas Day



Collect all the ingredients ready for preparation and pre heat the oven to 400F/200C/Gas 6.

12 noon

Place the turkey in the oven. If you are cooking an 11lb turkey (5kg), that will serve approximately 6-8 people and will take around 4 hours to fully cook and be readied for serving.


Put your vegetables onto the various trays or pots you want to use, for example you might want to roast and boil potatoes so you will need roasting trays and pots ready.


Lower the heat in the oven and baste the turkey.  Keep basting the bird regularly.


Place the cranberry sauce on a low heat to reduce for 30 mins, or until a thick compote. Stir regularly.


Parboil the potatoes for 10 minutes (depending on the size).


Drain the potatoes and set aside.


Skim the giblet stock pot of any scum or fat from the top of the surface and put on the stock over a low heat.



Check the turkey and keep basting. Set aside some of the basting liquid for coating your roast potatoes.


Turn over your turkey to brown the top and place your stuffing in the oven.



Place the parsnips on to blanch in salted, boiling water. Try not to cook your parsnips too much as its nice to caramelise them in a pan with some brown sugar and you don’t want them to break up.


Put the sprouts in salted, boiling water and allow to simmer for 7-10 minutes, depending on the size. Drain and allow to cool (you can pop them back into the oven with a splash of olive oil just before you use them).


Remove the turkey from the oven and place it onto a separate tray to rest.




Seal the potatoes in hot duck fat in a roasting tin and place in the oven. (450F/230C/gas 8)


Remove the fat from the bottom of the turkey roasting tray and put aside to use for the gravy.


Drain the parsnips. Get a pan and melt some unsalted butter with 1oz brown sugar. Toss the parsnips in it and then place them on a baking tray. Roast in the oven for 10-15 minutes.


Drain the turkey stock you made with the giblets and wings and add to the turkey sediment at the bottom of the turkey roasting tin and stir, scraping up anything stuck to the bottom.  This is really ‘good stuff’ so don’t leave any behind! Bring to the boil, reduce and thicken with cornflour.


Put on a pan of salted water and cook your carrots for about 7-9 mins. Drain and keep warm.



Put some unsalted butter into your vegetable pots and season with salt and pepper. At the same time, arrange your roast potatoes and parsnips around the turkey on a serving platter. Arrange slices of stuffing in the same way. Place your cranberry sauce in a bowl and the gravy in gravy boat.


Dinner is ready!


RECIPE:  Apple, sausage, sweet potato and fresh sage stuffing -Serves 6

350g loaf sliced bread with crust, made into breadcrumbs

600g medium spicy sausage meat (casing removed)

3 onions, finely chopped

90g butter, divided
600g red apples, unpeeled, cored, cubed
500g sweet potato, peeled, chopped into 1cm cubes
½  cup packed fresh sage leaves

100ml chicken stock



Finely chop the fresh sage.

Sauté the sausage meat in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until it is cooked right through. Once it’s cooked break up the meat in your pan and then take it off the heat and place it in a bowl.

Add the breadcrumbs.

Add the chopped onions to the frying pan and sauté them until golden brown.  Transfer to the bowl containing the sausage meat and breadcrumbs.

Melt one third of the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté until soft, you can use a wooden spoon to help mash the apple up a bit.  Once the apple is cooked and soft, mix it into the mixture. Melt another third of the butter in the same frying pan over a medium-high heat, taking care not to burn the butter. Next add the sweet potato and sauté it until golden and mix into the stuffing. Melt the remaining third of the butter in the same frying pan. Add the sage and sauté until it goes dark green. Mix the sage and butter into the stuffing. Season with salt and pepper.

Butter a lasagne baking dish. Stuff the neck end of the turkey.  Put the remaining stuffing into the baking dish and drizzle with the chicken stock. Cover with tinfoil.

Preheat the oven to 180°C / Gas 4. Bake the stuffing until it is fully heated through (allow 1 hour for this). At the very end, remove the tinfoil and bake until the stuffing is beginning to brown.