Darina's Examiner Article 20th June 2020
Oops! Father’s Day has just crept up on us. The build-up seems far less than to Mother’s Day on 22nd March. How unfair is that to all the heroic and much loved Dad’s around the country. Well tomorrow is your day DAD so let’s have an interactive celebration.
Somehow, even the mostgastronomically challenged lads seem to have a rush of blood to the head whenthey spy a barbeque. Even a gas grill ignites their zeal but cooking over‘live fire’ really hits the spot and awakes our inner hunter gatherer!
Of course there are exceptions but for many it must be meat, thick succulent beef ribs, chops, a butterflied shoulder of lamb smothered in spices. Well charred grilled onions are also irresistible and the new season’s onions are now available. Thick potato slices, threaded on to skewers can be ready to cook. I love to sprinkle them with garam masala or a favourite curry powder just as they come off the grill.
So my suggestion for a Father’s Day treat is to plan a BBQ, maybe invite just a few of Dad’s pals, inline with Government social distancing regulations. Plan the menu, do the prep, make the sauces and a couple of salads. Marinate the meat and fish,order a few bottles of summer wine and some craft beers. Set the scene for Dad to have fun on Father’s Day – by the ways you’ll need to throw in the Wash Up as part of the treat.
So what to choose? Order a 5cm (2 inch) thick well hung rib of beef, Hereford or Black Angus or Pol Angus, avoid the continental breeds – you are looking for beef from an animal that was fully grass fed and not finished on grain. Talk to your local butcher and be prepared to pay more for something really special. It’ll take some time to cook it, leave it to rest on the edge of the grill for 5-15 minutes. Then cut the meat off the bone and into 5mm (1/4 inch)slices. It’s so worth having a few sauces ready to slather over the juicy pink meat – a classic Béarnaise is my favourite (See Examiner Article 4th May 2014) and a great big bowl of salad.
Wire rack fish is the perfect technique for the BBQ. No need for fancy kit, just lay the fish fillets between 2 wire racks and flip over during cooking.
A spatchcock chicken with rosemary is another of my favourites – pheasant or guinea fowl can be given the same treatment.
A brilliant way to barbecue a whole chicken. Split the chicken down the back bone and flatten, slather all over with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with gutsy herbs and a spice.
1 whole free-range organic chicken
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
chopped rosemary or thyme leaves
extra virgin olive oil or butter
a few cloves of garlic
Insert a heavy chopping knife into the cavity of the chicken from the back end to the neck. Press down sharply to cut through the backbone. Alternatively place the chicken, breast side down on the chopping board, using poultry shears cut along the entire length of the backbone as close to the centre as you can manage.
Open the bird out as much as possible. Slash each chicken leg two or three times with a sharp knife.Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper, sprinkle with chopped rosemary or thyme and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Allow to marinate for at least an hour.
Lay skin side down on the barbecue grid – 7-8 inches from the heat source. Turn over after 8-10 minutes and continue to cook on the other side.
To oven cook:
Transfer to a roasting tin. Turn skin side upwards and tuck the whole garlic cloves underneath. Roast in a preheated oven 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 for 40 minutes approximately. Check the colour of the juices between the thigh and the breast – they should run clean when the chicken is cooked.
Carve on a chopping board and serve hot with a good salad of organic leaves and a herb mayonnaise.
Lamb Chops with Chimichurri Sauce
Taken from Grow, Cook, Nourish by Darina Allen published by Kyle Books
Annual marjoram adds magic to your lamb chops.
8–16 lamb centre loin chops
extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons annual marjoram, chopped
flaky sea salt and freshly ground black
Chimichurri Sauce(see recipe)
rocket leaves, to serve
First make the Chimichurri sauce (see recipe).
Trim the chops of excess fat, score the back fat. Take a flat dish or dishes large enough to take the chops in a single layer, brush with oil and sprinkle with some of the marjoram. Season the chops on both sides with pepper,then place on top of the marjoram. Sprinkle some more marjoram on top and drizzle with oil. Leave to marinate for 1 hour or more.
Brush off any excess oil, season well with flaky sea salt. Pan-grill or grill on a grid 15cm (6 inch) from the hot coals of a hot barbecue for 10–15 minutes, depending on the thickness and degree of doneness required. Serve the chops with lots of fresh rocket and the chimichurri sauce.
Chimichurri is the quintessential Argentinian gaucho sauce, but it may in fact be of Basque origin, because many from that region of Spain settled in Argentina in the nineteenth century. There are many local variations, but the essential ingredients are olive oil, parsley and marjoram or oregano. It’s great with beef or lamb, but also good with goat’s cheese.
Salt Water Brine
150ml (5fl oz) water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium sized garlic bulb, cloves separated, peeled and finely chopped
25g (1oz) flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
10g (1/2oz) marjoram leaves, finely chopped
1–2 teaspoons crushed chilli flakes
50ml (2fl oz) red wine vinegar
110ml (4fl oz) extra virgin olive oil
Bring the water to the boil in a small saucepan. Add the salt and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and leave to cool. (This is what is called salmuera brine in Argentina)
Put the garlic, parsley and marjoram into a bowl and add the chilli flakes. Whisk in the vinegar and oil. Then whisk in the salmuera brine to taste. Pour into a jar with a tight-fitting lid, cover and store in the fridge.
You can use chimichurri sauce as soon as it’s made, but ideally it should be made at least one day ahead to allow the flavours to develop. It will keep in the fridge for 2–3 weeks and is also great with steak.
Madhur Jaffrey’s Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Ask your local butcher to butterfly the leg of lamb for you – it’ll take a bit of time to make the marinade, a labour of love but so worth it. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients, it’s just a question of adding to mix.
Serves 10 - 12
1 leg of lamb, butterflied -3.4- 4kg (8-9lbs)
1 medium sized onion, coarsely chopped
1 piece of fresh ginger 7.5cm (3inch) x 2.5cm (1 inch) long, peeled and coarsely chopped
7 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
175ml (6fl oz) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala (see recipe)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground mace
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
225ml (8fl oz) olive oil
2 - 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
spring onion and radishes
Ballymaloe Relish (optional)
Whizz the onion, ginger, garlic and 4 tablespoons of lemon juice in a food processor or liquidise for about aminute. Put this paste into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Cut off all the fat and tissue from the meat and make lots of holes in it with the point of a knife, rub thepaste well into the meat and make sure it goes into the holes.
Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Turn it over several times during that period. Light the barbecue 15 minutes ahead if you are using natural charcoal otherwise 45 minutes or better still an hour before you start to cook. Lift the meat out of the marinade and drain for a few minutes. Sear on both sides first then raise the rack to the uppermost notch and cook for 20 minutes on each side. Brush frequently with the marinade until it’s all used up. The meat needs to cook for about 50 minutes in total and should be very dark on the outside but still pinkish inside.
Slice into thin slices with a sharp knife. Serve immediately on a hot serving dish garnished with spring onions, radishes and flat parsley. Add a bowl of yoghurt and fresh mint or a raita. Ballymaloe Relish is a particularly delicious accompaniment.
Spicy Lamb Kebabs
Serves 10 - 12
The meat can be cut into 2.5cm(1 inch) cubes and marinated as above. Thread 5 or 6 on a skewer, grill for8-10 minutes on a rack over hot coals. Serve with a green salad.
Madhur Jaffrey’s Garam Masala
A brilliant spice, mix to use on lamb, beef, pork, chicken... Commercial garam masala loses its aromatic flavour very quickly, so it’s far better to make your own kind. Grind it in small quantities so that it is always fresh and used up quickly.
Makes about 3 tablespoons
1 tablespoon green cardamom seeds
1 x 5cm (2 inch) piece of cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 whole nutmeg
Put all the ingredients into a clean electric coffee grinder and whizz for about 30 seconds or until all the spices are finely ground. Store in a dark place in a tiny screwtop jar and use up quickly. Don’t forget to clean out the coffee grinder really well or your coffee will certainly perk you up! Better still, if you use spices regularly, keep a grinder specially for that purpose.
Wild Rack Salmon with Dill Butter and Roast Tomatoes
Fish works brilliantly on the barbecue provided you put it in a ‘fish cage’ for ease of turning. However youcan do a perfectly good job with a ‘Heath Robinson’ type solution using 2 wire cake racks. Mackerel can be substituted for salmon in this recipe.
1 or 2 unskinned sides of wild fresh salmon
sea salt and freshly groundpepper
extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
110-225g (4-8oz) butter
4-8 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill
10-20 cherry tomatoes on the vine
Sprinkle the salmon generously with sea salt up to an hour before cooking.
Light the grill or barbecue.Just before serving, lay the salmon fillets skin side down on the wire rack.Brush the flesh with oil or melted butter and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Put the other wire rack on top. Lay on the grid of the barbecue,15-20cm (6-8 inch) from the heat, cook for 10-15 minutes on the skin side. Turn the entire cage over and continue to cook for 5-6 minutes or until just cooked through. – Time will depend on the thickness of the fish.
Meanwhile melt the butter in a saucepan on the edge of the grill, stir in the freshly chopped dill, spoon a little dill butter over the salmon and serve with roast cherry tomatoes on the vine.
Roast Cherry Tomatoes
Drizzle the truss of the tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly groundpepper. Roast on the BBQ for 5 or 6 minutes until they are warm through and just beginning to burst.
Mussels in Tin Foil with Homemade Flat Parsley Mayonnaise
900g (2lb) mussels
Homemade Parsley Mayonnaise (see Examiner Article 24th October 2019)
Add 2-3 tablespoons of chopped flat parsley to the basic homemade mayonnaise recipe.
Wash the mussels and check that each one is tightly shut.
Take 2 sheets of tin foil large enough to enclose the mussels. Fold the edges over to make a well-sealed parcel.
Lay on the barbeque for 7-8 minutes or until the mussels pop open.
Open the parcel but keep the sides upright so as not to lose any juices.
Serve with lots of crusty bread and homemade parsley mayonnaise.
Cockles in Tin Foil
Substitute cockles for mussels in the recipe and proceed as above.
Chargrilled New Potato Skewers
If potatoes are large. Slice into 3/4inch thick slices and then thread on to the skewer.
900g (2lbs) small new potatoes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, approximately
1 tablespoon rosemary, finely chopped
metal skewer or pre-soaked bamboo skewers
Scrub the potatoes and cook in boiling salted water for 8-10 minutes depending on size (they should be almost cooked). (can be cooked ahead).
Cool, cut in half, toss in olive oil and sprinkle with finely chopped rosemary and sea salt.
Thread the potato halves onto the skewers. Cook potato halves over a barbeque until crisp and slightly charred on both sides. Alternatively roast ina hot oven 230ºC/450ºF/gas mark 8 for 10-15 minutes or until cooked and nicely brown – you may need to turn half way through.
Note: Cut larger potatoes into 2.5cm (1 inch) slices and thread horizontally onto the skewers.
Grilled Onion Rings
extra virgin olive oil
Peel the onions, cut into large slices about 2cm (3/4 inch) deep around the ‘equator’.
Thread a skewer through each slice to keep the rings together. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt.
Cook slowly on the edge of the barbecue until golden brown on the outside and tender within.
Roast Bananas with Chocolate and Roasted Hazelnuts
6 organic Fair Trade ripe bananas
75-110g (3-4oz) top quality dark chocolate, chopped
50g (2oz) roasted hazelnuts or walnuts
crème fraîche or softly whipped cream
Cook the bananas on the barbecue until they are black on all sides. Put onto a serving plate. Split the skin on one side. Sprinkle some chopped chocolateand roasted hazelnuts or walnuts over the top of the hot banana. Serve immediately with a blob of crème fraîche or softly whipped cream.
Other good things to serve with Roast Bananas:
· Cinnamon sugar (Combine 110g (4oz) casto rsugar and 1-2 teaspoons cinnamon).
· A mixture of semi soaked raisins and chopped walnuts.
· Toffee sauce and chopped pecans.
Wild & Free
Meadowsweet: Filipendula ulmaria
Sometimes, called mead wortis back in season. It’s a perennial herb in the Rosaceaefamily that grows in damp places, meadows andsometimes along the roadside. It flowers from early summer to earlyautumn. We use it to flavour panna cotta, ice-cream and custard. Traditionally it was infused into wine, beer, vinegars. The flowerscan also be added to stewed fruit and jams, giving them a subtle almondflavour. It has many medicinal properties. The whole plant is atraditional remedy for an acidic stomach. The fresh root is often used inhomeopathicpreparations. The dried flowers are used in potpourri. Look out for it in your area from now until the middle of October.
1.Do you know about garlicscapes? They are the bolting growing point and head of the garlic plant –a wonderful ingredient that I first came across in the Union Square Farmers Marketin New York some years ago. I rushed home to use the bolting shoots in myvegetable garden but then discovered that Peter & Marita Colliers atDrummond House in Co. Louth was offering beautifully packaged garlic scapes andrecipes for sale and online. They are currently in season and are an excellentsource of Vitamins A & C as well as fibre. Elephant garlic scapes havequite a strong fresh garlic flavour when eaten raw and a milder gentle garlicflavour when cooked. The scape and the flowering head are completely edible rawand cooked. Only one scape per plant grows and these are handpicked eachday. Try them in pesto, roasted, pickled, stir fried, raw in salads,piazza toppings or risottos.
See www.drummondhouse.ie for more details
2.Ballycotton farmer, Tom Clancy rearsbeautiful table fowl both ducks and chickens. The latter weigh about 31/2kg and are full of flavour. Sounds incredible but one gorgeous roastchicken with roast potato, spinach, carrots, chard and lots of roast potatoesfed 10 adults and 11 grandchildren amply for family supper recently (some evenhad second helpings). The carcass and bones then made a fine pot offlavoursome chicken stock – fantastic value for money. Available fromTom Clancy’s stall at Mahon Point Farmers Market and the Ballymaloe CookerySchool Farm Shop (021 4646785).