Archive for March, 2011

March 30, 2011

Beef Stock and Oven Chips in Beef Dripping

by Ciaran Burke
Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011
Roasted beef bones in roasting tin

Last Saturday we made our weekly visit to the Farmers Market in Boyle, Co. Roscommon. My partner Hanna and I love to  do as much as possible of our week’s grocery shopping at the market. Dealing with stall holders in the grounds of the historic King House is such an uplifting and enjoyable experience, it certainly beats dealing with self service tills at a supermarket, or being ignored by bored uninterested, sometime rude, shop employees discussing their previous night’s social life adventures while mindlessly scanning our purchases. Yes, a friendly hello, a smile, costs nothing but is worth so much. The relaxed atmosphere of the market allows time for a chat, a bit of banter and always a smile and a few laughs. The produce is organic and top quality, and cost wise it is good value as we are dealing direct with the grower, the farmer, the baker the supplier. The packaging is a lot less too, much better for the environment.

There are other perks of having a regular supplier for your meat too. I texted Deirdre from Irish Organic Meats earlier in the week to ask if she could supply us with beef bones for making stock, “no problem ” was the reply. When we arrived at her stall there was the usual cheerful greeting and she had brought two bags of bones. Having your own supply of organic beef stock is a great thing when you want to make sauces, gravy and soups. We store the stock in plasctic boxes in the freezer, so handy to have, as so simple to make.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef bones ready for roasting

On Saturday afternoon we placed the bones in a baking tray and drizzled over a little rapeseed oil. We placed the tray in the oven set at 180 degrees Celcius and let the bones roast for about two hours. The smell was torturously delicious as it wafted from the open kitchen door while we toiled in the garden. We worked until dark which was well after seven. We were starving, a treat was ahead of us though. A great bonus of roasting the bones is that plenty of clear beef fat is released from the roasting bones. When this cools it becomes a cream toffee tinted colour and has the consistency of full fat butter, this is beef dripping.  The treat in store was oven chips roasted in deef dripping.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef fat from roasting the bones

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

One spoonful of beef dripping is enough to give a roasting tin full of chips a full flavour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thick chunky chips, from potatoes that were dug from the garden only two weeks before. These were the last of the previous season’s crop. The varietry was ‘Tibet’, a late maturing variety, the tubers are ready only in October. It makes a tall growing plant with quite attractive dark purple blooms.

Potato 'Tibet' washed and ready to be peeled

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Thick cut potato chips ready for the oven

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tubers were washed of their soil revealing their red skins. After peeling and cutting the potatoes into large chips, a roasting tin with a good dollop of dripping was put in the oven until it was liquified and sizzling. The chips were then tossed in the hot fat and rolled around before being put in the oven. I set the timer for 8 minutes. When the beeps of the timer rang out I took the tin from the oven and moved the chips about making sure none were sticking and that all were coated in fat. Then into the oven they returned. This I repeated another time, the chips were ready in 24 minutes.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Oven chips cooked in beef dripping, sinfully delicious!

They were delicious sprinkled with salt, perfect food for after a hard day’s work in the garden.

The next day, Sunday, we placed the roasted bones in two large saucepans and covered them well with water, about four litres in each pot. We brought the water to the boil and allowed them to simmer for about six hours while we worked all day in the garden. The water reduced down to below the height  of the bones. After it cooled for a few hours we packed into plastic containers, labelled them with dates and stored them in the freezer. Some we put aside and refrigerated to use the following day to make tomato soup for lunch.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef stock after water has reduced

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011
Home made beef stock, rich and full of flavour, free from additives.

 

 

Beef dripping gives such a rich flavour to the chips and home made beef stock beats anything you can buy in the shops, made from organic produce, free from additives and full of taste. Chicken stock is also easy to make. We always boil the carcass of a chicken and get a couple of litres of rich stock, and the cats get a treat of the left over meat on the bones.

 

 

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Beef Dripping will store for many weeks in the refrigerator

http://www.irishorganicmeats.com/

Boyle origin farmers market

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March 19, 2011

Lamb Belly Rolled With Apple And Elderberry Preserve

by Ciaran Burke

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Lamb Belly Roulade with Apple and Elderberry Preserve

Last weekend the meat stall at the market has lamb belly for sale. As coincidence would have it I had for the first time ever tasted this delicous cut of meat at Cava Tapas bar in Galway the previous week.

Lamb belly has a bit more fat on it than say leg, but it is superbly flavorsome and when slowly cooked and served with a sweet condiment it is hard to beat. It is also an economic piece of meat with no wastage and cheaper per kilo than other so called prime cuts of lamb.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

I laid out the belly cut on a chopping board and seasoned with cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. I crushed a couple of clovers of garlic and sprinkled with a good pinch of dried rosemary. I then placed apple slices along the length of the meat before rolling it and securing it with wooden skewers. I spread some elderberries over the rolled meat and placed a large onion quartered in the roasting tin.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

The weight of the meat was about 1.5 kg, I roasted the meat at 160 degrees Celcius for just over two hours. After removing from the oven I allowed it to cool and then removed the skewers and carved into slices. I served it with elderberry preserve that I had made last autumn. Delicious.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

This meat was also great when cold and made a great sandwich between slices of homemade spelt bread. Yum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March 4, 2011

Parsnips – sowing and harvesting in spring

by Ciaran Burke
Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

Over-wintered parsnips harvested the last week of February

Oh how I remember the fights, the complaints, there were even tears. A mushy mashed pulp, often served with potatoes, sometimes blended with carrot, always boiled. There was cajoling, efforts of convincing, extolling of their health benefits and even threats. None of it worked. I always left it on my plate, I hated parsnips. But I was young, times change and tastes change…

Many years later, in a restuarant, I don’t remeber which one or where. I had ordered some steak and it came with a garnish of parsnip crisps. I tasted them, frogetting that they were parnspis and I was amazed by the flavour. My long held opinion was about to change, by disregard of the long cream coloured tap root was to be reversed. A new view on parsnips.

Childhood memories, tastes and influences can stay with us as we grow older, even for ever. To me parsnips were always a smashed up mess, ugly and uninspiring. Sometimes it is the pressure from parents, the method of preparation and unflattering presentation that forms our opinon of certain foods. I really did not like parsnips. It was not until my experience with the thin crispy flavoursome garnish that my opinion changed.

Now Pastinacia sativa, parsnip,  is an important crop in our vegetable plot, taking an ever increasing area in our root crop beds each year. Roasted parsnip and oven cooked parsnip chips are the prefferred method of cooking, Chopped into wedges or chipped long and thin, we coat them in rapeseed oil and roast them for about 20 minutes, turning them ever 6 minutes. They come out sizzling, browned outside, tender with in. Bursting with flavour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper, they are simply delicious.

Last year I tasted parsnip cake, similar to carrot cake but flavoured with lemon, wow! Unforntuately the Cobblestones cafe in Galway is now gone, replaced by a hairdressers, we really miss Kate’s cakes when we visit the city.

Growing parsnips

We have sown our parsnips about two weeks ago, and there is still time to sow more. At the beginning of this week I also dug up the remainder of last years crop from the soil. Parsnips are exceptionally hardy and can be left in the soil over winter. It is said that the flavour is greatly improved after the cold. My roasted parsnip which I had for dinner last night was certainly flavoursome.

Always use fresh seed, as old parsnip seed does not germinate. We sowed the variety ‘Tender and True’ last year and we are sticking with it this year again. Parsnips like stone free soil and do not dig in fresh manure prior to sowing. They are sown in-situ as they do not trasplant, the roots get broken if you try.

Sow seed 2cm deep in rows 30-45cm apart. When seedlings are 5cm tall thin them so the plants are 20cm apart. Parsnips are easy to grow, keep the beds weed free and water during very dry spells. The crop is ready to be harvested by mid-autumn.

If leaving parsnips in the ground over winter, mark the rows clearly so that you can find them. Lift roots from the ground in early spring before they start growing again.

Parsnips are a great winter crop, easy to grow, simple to store and delicious to eat.

Copyright Ciaran Burke 2011

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