I’m continually surprised by how thrown waiting staff in many restaurants seem to be if one asks about the provenance of the food. They immediately seem to go on the defensive and it can take three or four attempts to find out the source of a piece of meat, fish or cheese.
A recent attempt to identify a cheese on a salad in a Cork restaurant came back first as Irish, secondly as West Cork and eventually after I’d decided not to venture any further I was presented with the name of a Co-op in Co Tipperary. I’m still none the wiser about the name of the cheese or the cheese maker. Sadly nowadays – despite the fact that local is the hottest word in ‘the gastro’ vocabulary –the source of supply is more likely to be a multinational catering company than a local supplier not to speak of a farmer or fisherman.
Why aren’t more restaurants serving local food proudly? Those of us in the hospitality business depend on local people to support our restaurants and hotels, yet few enough consider it a priority or obligation to put some money back into the local community by supporting local butchers, bakers, farmers, cheese makers or vegetable and fruit growers. Those who do, generate tremendous good will for their business and hugely enhance the experience for their guests by incorporating local food in season and identifying the producer on their menu. This is a win win situation for both the customer and the producer. The latter gets the credit for the product and extra sales when satisfied customers go in search of the original next time they go shopping. Cork has a history of being proud of its own so Good Food Ireland Cork Week – from Monday 8th to Friday 12th February – gives us the perfect opportunity to showcase the bounty of Cork city and county.www.goodfoodireland.ie has tons of info on little gems around the country.
During the Good Food Ireland
Cork week (Monday 8th to Friday 12th February) Good Food Ireland Hotel and B&B members will offer three nights accommodation for the price of two.Fergus Henderson the owner of St John’s Restaurant
in London will give a cookery demonstration on ‘Nose to Tail’ eating at the Cookery School at Donnybrook Fair on Saturday 13th March from 10:30am to 1:30pm. The €100.00 fee includes tea/coffee on arrival, recipes, tastings and a glass of wine. Phone 01 6689674 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
To mark the first Good Food Ireland Cork Week, restaurants and hotels, pubs and cafés all over Cork will serve a Good Food Ireland plate incorporating the food of the local Good Food Ireland members for €15.00 per plate including a glass of wine. There is an abundance of superb artisan produce in this area – free range chickens, ducks, geese, farmhouse cheeses, cured meats, honey and home cured hams and bacon, homemade sausages and even some day boat fish.
Good Food Ireland was founded by Margaret Jeffares in November 2006. It operates as a not-for-profit industry driven Irish food tourism organisation. It is the only industry group with an all island-food tourism strategy.
Good Food Ireland was founded to endorse and promote these places committed to local food and to link the food producer, farmer and fisherman with the hospitality sector. It’s brilliant for those of you who like to seek not only great places to eat but artisan produce and local Farmers Markets when they are travelling around the country. The Good Food Ireland food map pulls all the strands of the food jigsaw together The website
Kay Harte of the Farm Gate Restaurant in the English Market will offer her guests Millstreet Venison Casserole from Jack McCarthy Meats in Kanturk. Millstreet Country Park farmed venison is not as strong or gamey as the wild meat and is available fresh all year round.
Claire Nash of Nash 19 on Princes Street in Cork has had a Good Food Ireland plate on the menu since March 2009 with offers the produce of eight to ten artisan producers to a tremendous response from her customers.
The plates change daily and include Belly of Pork and Free Range Bacon from Crowes in Co Tipperary, Sliabh Luachra and Smoked Beef from Jack McCarthy Meats in Kanturk, a selection of smoked fish from the Burren Smoke House, charcuterie and cheese from Gubbeen in West Cork, Cooleeney Brie from Thurles, Co Tipperary, Inch Pudding from Thurles in Tipperary, Ardsallagh Goats Cheese from Carrigtwohill, Co Cork, Organic Millhouse Smoked Salmon from Geraldine Bass in Buttervant, Co Cork and Nash 19 chicken liver pate and Nash 19 organic brown bread made from Sowans Organic Flour.
Ballymaloe House will feature the produce of many local producers including Tom Clancy, Ballycotton Free-range Chicken, Noreen and Martin Conroy’s Woodside Farm Bacon and Bill Casey’s Shanagarry Smoked Salmon. So lets get out there and celebrate Good Food Ireland.
A Plate of Irish Charcuterie and Cured Meats
One of my favourite easy entertaining tricks is to serve a selection of Irish artisan charcuterie from inspired producers like Fingal Ferguson from West Cork, Jack and Tim McCarthy from Kanturk. The quality is so wonderful that I’m always bursting with pride as I serve it.
A selection of cured meats:
Air dried smoked Connemara lamb
Prosciutto, Gubeen, Chorizo
Sliabh Luachra Beef
A selection of:
Crusty country breads, sour dough, yeast and soda
Tiny gherkins or cornichons
Fresh radishes, just trimmed but with some green leaf attached
A good green salad of garden lettuce and salad leaves
Arrange the meats and potted meat on a large platter, open a good bottle of red and tuck in!
Chicken Liver Pâté
Nash 19 will serve their own chicken liver pate with their organic brown bread on their Good Food Ireland Plate.
A richly flavoured chicken liver pâté. Seek out organic livers.
75g (3oz) butter
100g (3 1/2oz) finely chopped shallot
1 clove garlic, crushed
225g (8oz) organic chicken livers
2 tablespoons brandy
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
pinch of mixed spice
salt and freshly ground pepper
Melt 25g (1oz) butter in a saucepan, add the finely chopped shallot and crushed garlic. Cook on a low heat until soft but not coloured, 2-3 minutes. Add the chicken livers, cook for 4-5 minutes turning once or twice, add the brandy, allow to flame. When the flames die down, add the mustard, a pinch of mixed spice, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Put the whole lot into a food processor. Allow to cool. Add 50g (2oz) butter and whizz until smooth. Fill into ramekins, cover with a layer of clarified butter and then refrigerate until needed. Serve with hot thin toast.
Tom Clancy’s Roast Ballycotton Free-range Chicken with Herb and Woodside Bacon Stuffing
Tom’s chickens take 12 weeks to reach maturity. They are fed on special feed and range freely on his farm in Ballycotton and the flavour and texture is mouth watering.. Woodside Farm traditional pork and bacon products have developed a loyal following in a short time, a little crispy bacon added to the stuffing makes it extra delicious.
4 1/2 – 5 lbs (1.5 – 2.3kg) free range chicken, preferably organic
Giblets (keep the liver for a chicken liver pate)
1 thickly sliced carrot
1 thickly sliced onion
1 stick celery, sliced
a few parsley stalks and a sprig of thyme
4oz (110g) Woodside Farm Streaky Bacon cut into small cubes
1 1/2 ozs (45g) butter
3 ozs (75g) chopped onion
3-3 1/2 ozs (75-95g) soft white breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh herbs eg. parsley, thyme, chives and annual marjoram
salt and freshly ground pepper
a little soft butter
1 – 1 1/2 pints (600-900mls) of stock from giblets or chicken stock
Sprigs of flat parsley
First remove the wish bone from the neck end of the chicken, this is easily done by lifting back the loose neck, skin and cutting around the wish bone with a small knife – tug to remove, this isn’t at all essential but it does make carving much easier later on. Tuck the wing tips underneath the chicken to make a neat shape. Put the wish bone, giblets, carrot, onions, celery and herbs into a saucepan. Cover with cold water, bring to the boil, skin and simmer gently while the chicken is roasting. This is the basis of the gravy.
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil or sunflower oil in a frying pan, add the lardons of bacon, and cook until crisp and golden.
Next make the stuffing,
sweat the onions gently in the butter in a covered saucepan until soft, 10 minutes approx. then stir in the white bread crumbs, the freshly chopped herbs, a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold unless you are going to cook the chicken immediately. If necessary wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and half fill with stuffing. Season the breast and legs, smear with a little soft butter.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/regulo4. Weight the chicken and allow about 20 minutes to the lb and 20 minutes over – put on middle shelf in oven. Baste a couple of times during the cooking with the buttery juices. The chicken is done when the juices are running clear.
To test prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh, hold a spoon underneath to collect the liquid, examine the juices – they should be clear.
Remove the chicken to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow to rest while you make the gravy.
To make the gravy
, tilt the roasting tin to one corner and spoon off the surplus fat from the juices and return the roasting pan to the stove. De glaze the pan juices with the fat free stock from the giblets and bones (you will need 1 1/2 pints depending on the size of the chicken). Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelized meat juices in the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like (the gravy should not be thick). Taste and correct seasoning, serve in a hot gravy boat.
If possible serve the chicken on a nice carving dish surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and some sprigs of flat parsley then arm yourself with a sharp knife and bring it to the table. Carve as best you can and try to organise it so that each person gets some brown and some white meat. Serve with gravy and bread sauce.
Use the cooked carcass for stock.
East Ferry Free Range Duck with Orange
Robbie and his wife Yvonne are third generation of the family to run traditional poultry at Easy Ferry, Midleton, Co Cork.
1 free range duck – 4 lb (1.8kg) in weight
3 brightly coloured oranges
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 1/2 fl ozs (63ml) red wine vinegar
2 1/2 fl ozs (63ml) red wine
1/2 pint (300ml) duck or chicken stock
4 fl ozs (110ml) Port
1/2 -1 tablespoon Grand Marnier
salt, pepper and a few drops of lemon juice
sprigs of parsley or watercress
Scrub the oranges. Peel the zest from two with a swivel top peeler and cut two thirds into fine julienne strips, blanch and refresh. Season the duck cavity and the skin with salt and freshly ground pepper. Put the remaining one third of the orange peel into the cavity and transfer the duck to a hot oven, preheated to 220°C/425°F/regulo 7. Reduce the temperature to 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, after 30 minutes. Continue to roast for a further 30-45 minutes.
While the duck is roasting make a sweet and sour caramel.
Boil the sugar and vinegar over moderately high heat for several minutes until the mixture has turned a chestnut brown coloured syrup. Remove from the heat immediately and pour in 1/4 pint (150ml) of the stock. Simmer for a minute, stirring to dissolve the caramel. Then add the rest of the stock, port, wine and juice of one orange. Simmer until the sauce is clear and lightly thickened; add the orange liqueur little by little. Add the remainder of the orange julienne. Taste, correct the seasoning and sharpen with lemon juice if necessary, leave aside. The sauce may be prepared to this point several hours in advance. Cut the remaining 2 oranges into neat skinless segments and reserve for garnishing the duck.
When the duck is cooked, allow to rest in a warm oven for at least 10 minutes before carving. Carve neatly and arrange on a serving dish or individual plates. Garnish with the orange segments. Spoon some of the sauce over the duck and serve the rest separately in a sauce boat.
Garnish with sprigs of parsley or watercress.
Shrove Tuesday Pancakes with Orange Butter
Every Shrove Tuesday we make pancakes at the School, the students queue up to eat them hot from the pan, with much swapping of stories about how mothers made them – this year one was heard to remark ruefully – ‘my mother’s pancakes never tasted like these- these are delicious! In fact these are very nearly as good as Crepes Suzette but half the bother.
Serves 6 – makes 12 approx.
175g (6oz) white flour, preferably unbleached
A good pinch of salt
1 dessertspoon castor sugar
2 large eggs and 1 or 2 egg yolks, preferably free range
425ml (scant ¾ pint) milk, or for very crisp, light delicate pancakes, milk and water mixed
2 tablespoons melted butter
175g (6oz) butter
3 teaspoons finely grated orange rind
200g (7oz) icing sugar
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (optional)
Freshly squeezed juice of 5 oranges
8 inch (20.5cm) non-stick crepe pan
First make the batter. Sieve the flour, salt, and sugar into a bowl, make a well in the centre and drop in the eggs. With a whisk or wooden spoon, starting in the centre, mix the egg and gradually bring in the flour from the sides. Add the liquid slowly and beat until the batter is covered with bubbles. (If they are to be served with sugar and lemon juice, stir in an extra tablespoon of castor sugar and the finely grated rind of half a lemon).
Let the batter stand in a cold place for an hour or so – longer will do no harm. Just before you cook the pancakes stir in 2 tablespoons melted butter. This will make all
the difference to the flavour and texture of the pancakes and will make it possible to cook them without greasing the pan each time.
Next make the Orange butter.
Cream the butter with the finely grated orange rind. Then add the sifted icing sugar and beat until fluffy, add the orange liqueur if using.
Make the pancakes in the usual way.
Heat a non stick pan until very hot, pour in just enough batter to cover the base when you tilt and swirl the pan. Put the pan back on the heat; loosen the pancake around the edge with a non metal slice. Flip over, cook for a few seconds on the reverse side. Slide over onto a plate. Repeat until all the batter has been used up.
Pancakes and orange butter can be make ahead and finished later. The pancakes will keep overnight covered in a fridge. They will peel apart easily – no need to interleaf them with greaseproof paper.
Melt a large blob of the Orange butter in the pan, add some freshly squeezed orange juice and toss the pancakes in the foaming butter, fold in half and then in quarters (fan shapes). Serve 2 per person on warm plates. Repeat until all the pancakes and butter have been used.
Fool Proof Food
Bill Casey’s Shanagarry Smoked Salmon Pâte
This is a delicious way to use up smoked salmon if you have any trimmings left over.
Smoked salmon trimmings
Softened butter, unsalted
Remove any skin or bones from the fish. Weigh the flesh. Add three quarters the weight in butter. Blend to a smooth puree. Fill into pots and run clarified butter over the top. Alternatively, mould in a loaf tin. Turn out and cut in slices when set.