Food

Irish Fare

The feast of St Patrick
By Seáneen Sullivan
The information came, as it does so often in Dublin - from a taxi driver. He regarded me seriously over his shoulder, his arm dangling out of the window of his 2006 Avensis, open despite the inclement March weather. He seemed to be weighing up whether I could be trusted with the grave confidence he was about to share.

“Never canonised, so he wasn’t.”

“No!” I gasped, hoping my reaction was suitably aghast.

“Never… the pope never gave the blessing or whatever it is he does with the smoke and the voting an’ all and anyways. Is this your road here?”

It turns out the taxi driver was right, Ireland’s patron saint, Patrick, was never canonised. He was commonly accepted as a saint prior to the modern practice of canonisation, so his sainthood is not in question. Nonetheless, it does make interesting trivia for taxi drivers intent on scandalising, and more obscure pub quiz questions. Irish people have a tendency to dispense with the ‘Saint’ suffix when referring to our national day, perhaps this is the reason.

In Ireland, outside of the major centres ‘Patrick’s Day’ is quite a subdued affair. It is a public holiday, often falling mid week thus an opportunity to catch up with friends and family, share a meal, and happily indulge in rich foods and perhaps a drink; a throw back to a time when the day signified the breaking of the 40 day long lenten fast.


Beef, stout & whiskey stew



This is a take on the common dish of beef and Guinness, this time using both stout and a stout-finished whiskey, Jameson Caskmates. I have used the same stout that was used to season the Caskmates barrel, but any dry Irish stout would work, as would Jameson original at a pinch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2kg beef stewing steak

  • 50ml neutral flavoured vegetable oil

  • 150ml Franciscan Well Stout, or any dry stout

  • 150ml red wine

  • 50ml Jameson Cask Mates whiskey

  • 20ml sherry vinegar

  • 20ml balsamic vinegar

  • 60g brown sugar

  • 1L free range chicken stock

  • 100g tomato purée

  • 150g peeled pearl onions, or small shallots peeled and finely chopped

  • Root vegetables to serve



METHOD
Brown beef in batches in a hot pan in the oil, do not overcrowd the pan. Make sure you get a good colour on the beef. Set aside. In a large pot, add the red wine, stout, vinegars, whiskey and brown sugar over a medium high heat, and reduce until it has halved in volume.

Add in the pearl onions, browned beef, the stock and tomato purée. Mix to combine. Cover pot with a cartouche, a circular piece of greaseproof paper that fits snuggly over the top of the stew. Cook for 1½ – 2 hours until the meat is fork tender. Serve with root vegetables.


Seafood chowder



A meal on its own, especially when served with brown bread and butter and another nip of the Connemara on the side.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1tbsp butter

  • 1 brown onion, finely chopped

  • 100g smoked streaky bacon, chopped

  • 500ml fish stock

  • ¼tsp of each of nutmeg and cayenne pepper

  • 350ml milk

  • 200ml cream

  • 35.5ml Connemara Single Malt Whiskey

  • 300g various mixed fish, skin removed and cut into 3cm chunks (I use salmon, hake and smoked haddock)

  • 150g mussels, cleaned and debearded or other shellfish, I often use pre-cooked Dublin Bay Prawns

  • 10g dulse seaweed, soaked in warm water, drained and finely chopped (optional)

  • Salt and pepper to season



METHOD
1. Heat the butter in a large pot over a medium heat, then add the onion and bacon. Cook for 10 – 12mins until the onion is soft and translucent.
2. Add fish stock and bring to a gentle simmer then add the nutmeg, cayenne pepper, milk and dulse if using. Keep at a simmer.
3. Add the mixed fish into the pot, turn the heat to medium high and allow to cook for 4 minutes, or until the hake is slightly opaque. Add the mussels and cook for another 3 minutes, until the mussels open.
4. Discard any mussels that don’t open. If using pre-cooked prawns, add at this point. Add cream to pot and heat through. Check the seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper if necessary.


Apple tart and whiskey syrup



INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced into 10 – 12 wedges per apple

  • 1tbsp of butter

  • 71ml Irish whiskey (I use Tullamore D.E.W.)

  • Zest and juice of one lemon

  • 150g brown sugar

  • 1tsp ground cinnamon

  • Whipped cream, to serve



PASTRY

  • 250g plain flour, sifted

  • 50g icing sugar

  • Pinch of sea salt

  • Zest of one unwaxed lemon

  • 125g cold butter, diced

  • 1 large free range egg, whisked vigorously with a splash of water



METHOD
1. For the pastry, rub the butter and flour together until you have the texture of breadcrumbs. Add the zest, salt, sugar and egg and bring everything together, using a splash of milk if needed. Wrap the pastry with cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Melt the butter in a heavy-based pan. Toss the apples in the butter, then add the sugar, then the lemon, cinnamon and whiskey. Cook the apples for 6 – 8mins until coloured, then place in a sieve to drain. Save juices aside.
3. Grease a 20cm flat pie or tart tin. Roll half of the pastry on a floured surface to 0.5cm thick and use to line the tin. Place back in the fridge for 20 minutes. Top with a layer of greaseproof paper and baking beads (or large dried beans work just as well) and bake blind in a 160C oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until dry but not too golden. Leave to cool, then pack with the apple mixture. Use the other half of the pastry to roll out a lid, using any trimmings to make little leaves or decorations. Use the whisked egg to secure edges. Brush with whisked egg all over, and sprinkle with a little brown sugar. Prick steam vents with a fork to prevent steam becoming trapped while the pie is cooking. Cook at 180C for 20 – 25 mins, until the top is burnished and golden.
4. Meanwhile, bring the reserved juice to boil over medium high heat and reduce to a syrup, about half reduced.
5. Serve slightly cooled drizzled over whipped cream alongside the apple tart.