Euro-toques Awards of Merit

This week we feature two other Eurotoque award winners, West Cork Natural Cheese and Frank Krawczyk of West Cork salamis. These two artisanal food producers each passionate about their particular craft are neighbours in Dereenatra in West Cork.

The award went to Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry of West Cork Natural Cheese for the revival of the ancient craft of thermophilic cheese-making in Ireland, namely ’Desmond’ and ‘Gabriel’ cheese – “for their dedication to excellence and perseverance against many challenges”.

Bill Hogan started life in New York. At eighteen he worked for Dr Martin Luther King in Atlanta and was involved in the civil rights and peace movements of the 1960’s. After Dr.King’s assassination, he left and went to live on a farm in an isolated mountainous area of Costa Rica. Here he met the eminent Swiss cheese master, Joseph Dubach who was working to spread Swiss cheese making techniques in highland areas throughout Latin America.

During the 1980’s Joseph Dubach visited Ireland and assisted Bill and Sean Ferry to set up their first plant in Donegal. Sean Ferry started making cheese at seventeen years of age. In the summer of 1987, Bill and Sean were invited by Dubach to go to Central Switzerland to work and re-train with a second Swiss cheese master, Josef Enz. There on the high Alp above Giswik they learned the techniques and traditions of the thermophilic cheese making – a craft which can be traced directly back to the Bronze Age, over three thousand years ago. Indeed, in classical times the Romans prized these giant hard cheeses.

Although Dubach had mentioned to them that thermophilic cheese making had existed in Ireland from ancient times until the Great Famine of the 1840’s, this fact did not register with them until that summer of 1987. Besides their work study programme in Giswil they visited traditional cheese plants in St.Gallen, Luzern and French Switzerland. Everywhere they visited, cheese makers and experts would comment that “Ireland once had thermophilic cheese-making but the art had become lost”.

When Bill and Sean returned from Switzerland to Ireland, they decided to locate in West Cork because of the availability of high quality milk and vibrancy of the local food culture.

Today Bill and Sean produce ‘Desmond’ and ‘Gabriel’ cheese, mature hard cheeses which achieve extraordinary intensities of flavour. ‘Desmond’ and ‘Gabriel’ are made with unpasteurised summer’s milk from local herds.

Bill and Sean carry on the principles of their Swiss teachers, - maintaining a strong commitment to quality, the environment and the consumer. They struggle obstinately trying to cope with the many obstacles which beset skilled and dedicated artisan producers in Ireland today.

The final Eurotoque award went to Frank Krawczyk of Krawczyk’s West Cork Salamis – “for his pioneering work and constant innovation in the area of salamis, sausages making and the preservation of pork products. For giving Ireland a taste of Eastern European charcuterie and for being an inspiration to a new generation of pork butchers in Ireland”.

Frank Krawczyk, now regarded as the patriarch of the artisan cured meat industry in Ireland, has spent many years developing and perfecting his award winning smoked salamis/dry sausages, smoked pancetta/speck and prosciutto style smoked breast of local duck. Krawczyk’s West Cork Salamis had its genesis in 1998 when Frank began experimenting with Polish style dry sausages and salamis from recipes that were inherited by his maternal grandmother. However, he soon realised that it would be preferable to develop his own style, one that was representative of West Cork and Ireland, where the breed of pig than and the West Cork climate differed from Poland.

For over twenty years it had been Frank’s ambition to produce fermented and smoked pork dry sausages and salamis, however, the market in Ireland in the 80’s would not have sustained a feasible income for his family. Consequently he decided to produce a simple peasant style soft fresh cheese styled on the Polish “Twarog” that is like a cross between a German Quark and Italian Ricotta.

 In 1990 this cheese won Frank him first prize at the Royal Dublin Society’s Spring Show along with several lesser prizes for the flavoured varieties of the basic cheese. 
However, commercial success proved elusive and Frank was forced to close the business. Multi-talented and determined, he worked in local restaurants in a variety of capacities. This ultimately led to a decision to open his house for dinner parties. The first season was relatively successful and it rekindled his desire to produce sausages and salamis.

 He began to experiment with recipes and explored methods of smoking with Sally Barnes of Woodcock Smokery. At this time Fingal Ferguson of Gubbeen Farmhouse Products was in the process of setting up a smokehouse to smoke his mother’s cheese and he began experimenting with the production of dry cured smoked bacon rashers. Frank says that he owes a debt of gratitude these two people whose generosity facilitated him in developing his range of products. He himself has also been generous with his knowledge and an inspiration to others.

Frank has also received a Bridgestone Guides Award and two silver awards from the Guild of Fine Food, Retailers’ Great Taste Awards in London and latterly he was awarded Artisan of the Year by John and Sally McKenna’s Bridgestone Megabytes.

For details of suppliers contact Frank Krawczyk, Krawczyk’s West Cork Salamis, Derreenatra, Schull, Co.Cork. Tel 028 28579 E-mail

West Cork Natural Cheeses, contact Bill Hogan and Sean Ferry, West Cork Natural Cheeses, Schull, co Cork. Tel/Fax 028-28593.

Carpaccio with Slivers of Desmond, Rocket and Chopped Olives

Serves 12

We use wonderful Desmond cheese made by Bill Hogan in West Cork, but a nutty Parmesan or Grana Padana would also be superb. Be sure to use well hung Irish beef, preferably from a traditional breed .

450g (1lb) fillet of beef, preferably Aberdeen Angus, Hereford or Shorthorn (fresh not frozen)
rocket leaves, about 5 per person
4-5 very thin slivers of Desmond or Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
24-36 black olives (we use Kalamata)
extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil

Chill the meat and stone and chop the olives. Just before serving, slice the beef as thinly as possible with a very sharp knife. Place each slice on a piece of oiled cling film and cover with another piece of oiled cling film. Roll gently with a rolling pin until it is almost transparent and it has doubled in size. Peel the cling film off the top, invert the meat onto a chilled plate, and gently peel away the other piece of cling film. Put the rocket leaves on top of the beef and scatter very thin slivers of cheese over the top of the rocket. Put a little chopped olive around the edge. Sprinkle with flakes of sea salt and freshly cracked pepper. Drizzle with your best extra virgin olive oil or truffle oil and serve immediately with crusty bread. 

West Cork Cheese Soufflé

Serves 8-10
Well risen soufflés always produce a gasp of admiration when brought to the table. Don’t imagine for one moment that you can’t do it - a soufflé is simply a well flavoured sauce enriched with egg yolks and lightened with stiffly beaten egg. Soufflés are much more good humoured than you think and can even be frozen when they are ready for the oven. The French do infinite variations on the theme, both sweet and savoury.

For the moulds: Melted butter 

45g (1½ oz) butter
15g (½ oz) Desmond or Gabriel cheese – finely grated
30g (1 oz) flour
300ml (½ pint) milk
4 eggs, preferably free range and organic 
55g (2 oz) Desmond cheese, finely grated 
55g (2 oz) freshly grated Gabriel, finely grated
pinch of cayenne pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper

8 - 10 individual soufflé dishes, 7cm (2¾ inch) diameter x (4cm)1½ inch high or one large dish 15cm (6 inch) diameter x 6.5cm (2½inch) high.

First prepare the soufflé dish or dishes: brush evenly with melted butter and if you like dust with a little finely grated cheese. 

Preheat the oven to 200º C/400º F /regulo 6 and a baking sheet. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir in the flour and cook over a gentle heat for 1-2 minutes. Draw off the heat and whisk in the milk, return to the heat, whisk as it comes to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Separate the eggs and put the whites into a large copper, glass or stainless steel bowl, making sure it’s spotlessly clean and dry. Whisk the yolks one by one into the white sauce, add the cheese, season with salt, pepper, cayenne and a little freshly ground nutmeg, stir over a gentle heat for a few seconds until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat. *

Whisk the egg whites with a little pinch of salt, slowly at first and then faster until they are light and voluminous and hold a stiff peak when you lift up the whisk. Stir a few tablespoons into the cheese mixture to lighten it and then carefully fold in the rest with a spatula or tablespoon. Fill the mixture into the prepared soufflé dish or dishes (if you fill them ¾ full you will get about 10 but if you smooth the tops you will have about 8). Bake in a preheated oven for 8-9 minutes for the individual soufflés or 20-25 minutes. For the large one (you will need to reduce the temperature to moderate, 180ºC / 350º F /regulo 4, after 15 minutes). 

Serve immediately. 

Useful Tip: If you fill the souffle dishes to the top smooth off with a palette knife then run a washed thumb around the edge of the dishes before they go into the oven to help to get the ‘top hat’ effect when the soufflé is well risen.

* Can be made ahead up to this point.

Individual frozen soufflés can be baked from the frozen but they will take a few minutes longer to cook.

Plate of Dereenatra Charcuterie with Gherkins and Caper berries

A selection of Frank Krawczyk’s salami and cured meats eg. Chorizo, Dereenatra, cured ham, smoked duck breast – see below for details

Allow 4-6 slices of salami per person depending on size.

1-2 gherkins per person
1-2 caper berries per person - optional
3-4 olives per person
2-3 rocket leaves 
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (optional)

Crusty Foccacia or Ciabbatta

Arrange a selection of salami and cured meat for each person on a large white plate.
Garnish with gherkins and caper berries, add a few olives and three or four rocket leaves. 
Drizzle with Extra Virgin olive oil and serve immediately.

“DERREENATRA DRY” is a 100% free range or organic pork dry smoked sausage containing brandy, garlic and other spices that was originally styled on the polish Krakow sausage but has undergone several incarnations before becoming the product that won silver at the GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2002 in London.

“SCHULL SALAMI” like the above is made from 100% free range or organic pork with red wine, sweet paprika and other spices and is influenced by a Hungarian recipe that was in Frank’s family.

“MIZEN CHORIZO” came about from several experiments at trying to reproduce a traditionally Spanish chorizo before ending up using similar methods that are employed in producing the Derreenatra Dry. This is also produced from 100% free range or organic pork.

“PEPPER & CARAWAY SALAMI” and its companion “APPLE & CIDER SALAMI” are the most recent additions to the range are much more subtle in their respective flavours and spiciness than the three predecessors above and were developed as a response from customers for something less intense in flavour. Also 100% free range or organic pork.

“DUNMANUS CASTLE” is a 100% beef salami influenced by the Italian Genoise salami that came into being as a result of requests by those whose religious persuasion proscribes the eating of pork and pork based products to make something that they could eat. It contains red wine and pepper as the main flavouring agents and is produced from either beef produced by Tim McCarthy a local Schull butcher or where available from West Cork organic beef.

“BOLG DOIRE” Smoked West Cork Pancetta had its genesis at around the same time as the first two salamis and was an attempt at producing a Danish speciality known as Rolle Polse which I am told means rolled belly. However, it was not made clear in the recipe that the Danish product was a salt and spices cured un-smoked cooked and pressed product. Consequently it is dry cured with Frank’s adaptation of the spice mix following on with a period of smoking before finally maturing for a minimum of six weeks resulting in the product that also won silver at the GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2002 in London.

“SMOKED BALLYDEHOB DUCK BREAST” is styled on a Lithuanian method of preserving either goose or duck. This is achieved by first curing in salt and spices the double breast of either the goose or duck before wrapping it in skin and tying it into a sausage shape and smoking it. It is then matured for at least two months before use. It is best described as like prosciutto of duck or goose and does not require cooking, only a sharp thin bladed knife is required to slice. Local Skeahanore ducks reared by Helena and Eugene Hickey near Ballydehob, West Cork are used.

About the author

Darina Allen
By Darina Allen


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