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Lessons in Irish Cooking

Lessons in Irish Cooking

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Darina Allen shares her fondue tips plus more recipes from her new cookbook

Darina Allen, co-founder of Ballymaloe Cookery School and Gardens in Ireland, explains the how-tos of Irish fondue-making in the video below. Plus, a few recipes from her cookbook, Irish Traditional Cooking. Enjoy!

Poached Salmon with Irish Butter Sauce

In this recipe, a center-cut piece of salmon is poached in boiling, salted water and served with a rich butter sauce.

Traditional Roast Pork with Crackling and Applesauce

Stuffed with a combination of fresh herbs, onions, and breadcrumbs, this roast pork is best served with roast potatoes and applesauce for a traditional dinner.


This spicy bread is kid-friendly and a traditional Irish food.

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Last updated Friday 30 April 2021.

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What I Learned About Cooking From the Irish

Irish food isn’t all corned beef and cabbage. That’s what our guest columnist, Emma Rudolph, discovered when she decided to spend three months cooking at Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland’s County Cork last year. Keep reading for all of her Irish food revelations — and for a traditional Irish recipe.

Prepping potatoes at Ballymaloe Cookery School. All photos courtesy Emma Rudolph

“Cooking school in Ireland?” This was the response I got from nearly everyone when I told them I would be leaving for 3 months to attend Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School . Friends were confused. Of all the culinary destinations in the world, why on earth had I picked Ireland? All I knew about Irish food was soda bread, incredible butter, corned beef, potatoes, and, of course, Guinness and whiskey. As a cookbook editor with no formal training, I wanted to learn classic culinary techniques. I also wanted an adventure and the idea of living and cooking on a farm in the Irish countryside seemed pretty idyllic.

Lettuces from Ballymaloe’s greenhouse.

When I arrived at Ballymaloe in April of 2016 I was overwhelmed in the best way possible. The “campus” spanned 100 acres of farmland, and included organic vegetable, herb, and flower gardens, fruit orchards, cows, chickens, and pigs, a dairy, a greenhouse, 4 full-service kitchens within the school, and the most charming ivy-covered country-style student housing. It was a cook’s paradise. And I had 72 food-obsessed soon-to-be-friends, hailing from 16 different countries, to share it with.

Farm-to-table took on a whole new meaning here. On our first day touring the gardens, the school’s founder, Darina, took great pride in showing how nearly everything we would cook with over the next 12 weeks would come from this very “backyard”: dairy from the cows, eggs from the chickens, meat from the pigs, vegetables and herbs from the gardens even horseradish would be pulled fresh from the ground, and desserts were to be decorated with wild foraged flowers, like jasmine and marigolds. Each day a student would be tasked with making a green salad from the 10 plus varieties of lettuces in the greenhouse, and making butter from the fresh cows’ milk.

Over the course of 12 weeks I went from a sweaty-palmed cook who (according to the British and the Irish) mispronounced ingredients like oregano and tomato to one who could deftly butcher a side of lamb and turn the subsequent meat into a delicious Sunday roast. I learned that the best-tasting vegetables are always the ones picked in the morning, and that the true test of a chef is how they handle leafy greens (delicately). I learned that Irish soda bread, while incredibly simple to make, requires a gentle touch and a sense of Irish humor to truly perfect (at Ballymaloe, scoring the bread is referred to “as letting out the fairies.”) I learned how to ferment, in the forms of sourdough bread, kefir, kimchi, and kombucha. I shucked oysters, rolled sushi, crystallized flowers, baked flatbreads from India, Turkey, and Italy, deboned whole fish, and made puff pastry, jam, and fresh pasta.

There was in fact a profusion of potatoes and butter in almost every meal, but there was a bigger common thread throughout the recipes taught at the school. Returning back to my kitchen in San Francisco and attempting to bring home the spirit of Ballymaloe, I realized the biggest lesson I had learned was a foolproof formula for universally appealing food: cook only what’s in season, use the best locally-grown ingredients, add plenty of salt, and don’t make it too fussy. This is really what I came to know Irish cuisine as being all about.

A 4-star, 4-course meal we made 4-ourselves

I had come to Ballyknocken with a group of travel writers, so our cooking class was going to be all about preparing a traditional Irish menu that included comfort foods like beef stew (made with local Wicklow beer, of course), herbed mashed potatoes – known as “champs” to the Irish – and some of the most delicious savoury scones I’ve ever tasted.

Even though I was an Irish stew virgin, under the tutelage of Catherine and her chef/assistant Sharon Bradford, I managed not to screw up cooking the beef, and what resulted was a savoury stew that was both tender and tasty. Hurray! And I even lent a hand when it was time to mix our yin-yang soup duo of Carrot and Cumin soup with Spinach Soup.

Just like Guinness, creating a pretty soup duo is all in the ‘pour’.

While I was worrying over the beef and the presentation of the soup, others in our group prepared the creamy mashed potatoes with spring onions, parsley and thyme foraged from the farm’s own gardens, along with a fresh salmon and strawberry green salad to start our meal.

Salmon, strawberry and watercress salad

Catherine Fulvio mixing up some champs!

And of course no meal would be complete without dessert: in this case, a chocolate truffle torte that was rich, dense and decidedly decadent. In total, we cooked up 8 recipes for our meal, but as the old saying goes: “Many hands make light work.” Washed down with a fair bit of wine and even more laughter, this was a meal that I would be proud to serve at home to any guest – parts of which I have since made with great success, to be honest. (Which goes to prove that you can, in fact, teach an old dog new tricks.)

Food in Ireland Today

Like the rest of the UK and Europe, Ireland has a thriving modern food culture, fast-foods, and international restaurants found mainly in the major cities. Younger chefs have embraced the heritage of their food and often work with familiar recipes creating them in news ways but outside the cities, Irish food predominantly remains traditional and hearty fare from recipes handed down over generations.

The pig is the oldest domesticated animal in Ireland and its presence is still widespread in the food and cooking of Ireland with sausages, bacon, gammon appearing in many recipes especially Dublin coddle–considered one of Ireland’s national dishes – made from bacon, sausages, and of course, potatoes.

Irish beef is world-renowned and no St Patrick’s Day meal would be complete without corned beef, or a Gaelic steak (pan-fried steak with a shot of Irish whiskey).

Fish and Seafood

Surrounded by sea, and with rivers and lakes, fish and seafood naturally play an important part in Irish food. Oysters, crab, lobster and langoustine, cockles, mussels, white fish, salmon fresh and smoked, are easily found and enjoyed throughout Ireland.

Irish Cheese

In the early part of the 20th-century, Irish cheese had a somewhat poor reputation as most cheeses came from large-scale manufacturers. All of that changed in the 1970s when enterprising dairy farmers returned to artisan cheese-making and reviving a long lost art in Ireland. Today, Irish cheese is renowned throughout the world for the quality and distinctive flavor of its cheeses.

Raw Food Recipes

You&rsquoll find recipes for everything from raw breakfasts to raw food main courses.

What is Raw Food?

Raw food is prepared below 116 degrees F (46 C). That means it&rsquos not necessarily cold food we can use dehydrators as our &lsquoraw food oven&rsquo (you can also use an oven instead of a dehydrator to get started), applying just enough heat to make things like raw pizza, breads, crackers & chips.

Have a browse through these recipes and if you&rsquod like to take a deeper dive into raw foods, check out our online raw food courses here.

You don&rsquot need to be vegan to enjoy raw vegan recipes. It just so happens that raw food is vegan. In fact, if you&rsquore not vegan, but want to explore more meat-free meals, raw vegan is a fun way to do it&hellip all eaters are welcome here!

Recipe Summary

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 (4 ounce) beef top sirloin steaks
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise
  • ¼ cup Irish whiskey (such as Jameson®)
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat vegetable oil and butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat until butter has melted. Cook and stir onions in butter and oil until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Push onions aside with a spatula.

Rub steaks with cut sides of garlic clove.

Place steaks in the skillet, leaving the onions to the side, and cook over medium-high heat until meat is browned but still lightly pink inside, 2 to 4 minutes per side.

Remove the skillet from heat. Slowly pour Irish whiskey into the hot skillet (be careful, whiskey fumes are flammable). Mix browned onions into whiskey and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.

Sprinkle steaks with salt, black pepper, and parsley turn steaks over in whiskey pan sauce to coat both sides, and serve drizzled with sauce.

Preparation Methods for Irish Cooking [ edit | edit source ]

The preparation methods that are used by the people of Ireland in our times do not differ much from the cooking techniques of the other countries from Europe. These methods have been developed in time. In the early ages of the Irish cuisine, people used to prepare the game meat by placing it in a hole full with water, in which hot stones were put. Nowadays, of course, the Irish cuisine features modern preparation methods, such as boiling, frying, stewing, smoking, salting and broiling. These are only few of the many cooking techniques used in Ireland. More recently, people have started to prepare the foods in a healthier manner, as a feedback to the great number of health problems that were generated by some preparation techniques.

What not to eat in Ireland


A very traditional dish from the Cork area, crubeens are pig&rsquos trotters that have been boiled to tenderness. They are then roasted in the oven to give them a crackly outer skin. Many people are turned off by the fact that they are pig&rsquos feet but don&rsquot let that put you off these are delicate, crispy and as close to a pulled pork as you can get.


Tripe has been in the Cork diet for four centuries. Beef tripe comes from the stomach, usually slow-cooked in milk with onions. Tripe smells pretty funky and I remember when my mum used to cook it for my Granddad it looked like dirty laundry being boiled and smelled much worse. It has a, shall we say different texture and can be very chewy. Although I hear, many an Irish chef is making tripe popular again.


Drisheen is unique to Cork, a sausage of beef and sheep&rsquos blood often served with tripe. This can be found in the Cork English Market on most of the butcher&rsquos stalls if you can to give it a try. It is also making a comeback on menus around the area.

Black and White pudding

Usually found in rounds or squares in virtually every market in Ireland and grocery store. Black pudding is a type of sausage made from pig&rsquos blood and oatmeal. and white sausages are made from the fat from pigs with some pork meat, suet, bread and oatmeal.

Cooking Irish

My granddaughter Claudia Paige and her horse Shamrock

The closest recipes I have found over the years that match the crêpes we had in County Monaghan were in a cookbook given to me by my sister Paige as a Christmas gift with a crêpe pan. It was published in London in 2002 and called simply crêpes. [Lower cased for any linguistic buffs or proofreaders] I have included their basic crêpe batter recipe and their s hrimp filling recipe. I hope you enjoy this trio of seafood crêpes as much as my daughter Erin did in Castleblayney in 1985.

Trio of Irish Seafood Crêpes

Basic Crêpe Recipe

The basic crêpe batter can be used for both savory and sweet dishes, and the technique remains the same when making flavored batters. The secret to success is to avoid over-beating. Beat the ingredients only until they are combined and smooth. Too much whisking causes the gluten in the flour to develop, and as a result, the crêpes will be tough and chewy. The exception is when making yeast batter, which requires vigorous beating to develop the gluten. You may need to adjust the quantity of liquid you add to the batter, as individual flours vary. Aim for a fairly thin, pourable consistency.

It is not essential to let the batter rest, but it does produce a lighter result. Crêpes made from freshly prepared batter tend to have a bubbly, rather than flat surface. Pour the batter into a pitcher, cover, and set aside in a cool place for about 30 minutes to let the starch in the flour swell. When you are ready to cook the crêpes, if the batter has begun to separate, stir well to remix, but do not over mix. If the batter has been standing for a longer period, it may have thickened and you will need to stir in a little more liquid. Do not leave the batter to stand for more than 12 hours or it will begin to ferment. As each crêpe is cooked, slide it out of the pan onto a flat plate. Stack the crêpes, interleaved with waxed paper or baking parchment to prevent them from sticking, and keep warm in a low oven.

Ingredients: [Makes 8-10 Crêpes]

1¼ cups of all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1¼ cups of milk
Light vegetable oil or butter for greasing pan


1. Put the flour and salt into a bowl and make a well in the center. Pour the egg and some of the milk into the well. Whisk the liquid, gradually incorporating the flour to make a smooth paste. Whisk in the remaining milk, then pour the batter into a measuring cup with a pouring spout. Allow to rest, if desired.
2. Put a little oil or batter into a 7-inch crêpe pan or heavy-based skillet and heat until it starts to smoke. Pour off any excess and pour a little batter into the pan, tilting it until the base is coated with a thin layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the underside begins to turn golden.
3. Flip the crêpe with an offset spatula and cook for a further 30-45 seconds until it is golden on the second side. Slide the crêpe out of the pan and make the remaining crêpes, greasing the pan as necessary. Keep warm until ready to fill.

Shrimp Crêpes with Dill and Sour Cream [Makes 8]


¼ cup of butter
2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and sliced
¼ cup of all-purpose flour
1¼ cup of milk
2 ⁄3 cup of sour cream 12 oz. of cooked shrimp
1 ⁄3 cup of roughly chopped fresh dill ½ cup of grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste


1. Melt the butter in a saucepan and sauté the fennel slices gently for 5 minutes or until soft. Transfer the fennel to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Add the flour to the pan and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring to a boil, whisking until thickened. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the sour cream, and season with salt and pepper.
2. Add the shrimp, dill, and 3/4 cup of the sauce to the fennel and mix together. Spoon the filling into the crêpes and roll them up.
3. Put the crêpes into a lightly greased shallow baking dish and spoon the remaining sauce down the center of the crêpes. Sprinkle with the cheese and bake in a preheated oven at 375° fro 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and lightly golden.

Crab Crêpes with a Cream Chive Sauce [Makes 8]


12 oz. of fresh crab meat
8 oz. of fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced and cooked in butter for three minutes
6 tbsp. of butter
6 tbsp. of flour
1 cup of chicken broth
1 cup of heavy cream
1 tbsp. of sherry or dry white wine
1 tsp.of white pepper
2 tbsp. of fresh chive, chopped


1. Melt the butter in a sauté pan. Remove from heat, blend in the flour, and return to heat. Stir and cook a few minutes until a roux is formed. Gradually stir in the broth and simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Gradually blend in the cream, then sherry or wine and pepper and chives. [This makes about 2 cups of white sauce so you will have some left over. To save time, you could use it for the white sauce base for the lobster crêpe recipe.]
2. Combine the crab meat and mushrooms in a bowl and stir in just enough of the sauce to coat the mixture and bind it. Spoon the filling into the crêpes and roll them up.
3. Put the crêpes into a lightly-greased shallow baking dish and spoon the remaining sauce down the center of the crêpes. Bake in a preheated oven at 375° fro 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and lightly golden.

Lobster Newburg Crêpes [Makes 8]


12 oz. of lobster tail meat, roughly chopped
16 very thin and tender asparagus spears cut into ½-inch pieces and cooked in butter for 3 minutes
3 tbsp. of butter
3 tbsp. of flour
¼ tsp. of salt
Dash of pepper
1½ cups of milk
1 egg yolk, beaten
1½ tbsp. of sherry
2 tbsp. of fresh flat parsley, chopped


1. In a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour, salt, and pepper and stir for one minute, until nice and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in the milk. Return to heat and stir until it reaches a boil. With a fork, combine half of the sauce with the egg yolk. Pour it all back into the saucepan, stirring as you pour. Add the sherry and parsley.
2. Combine the lobster meat and asparagus in a bowl. Stir in just enough of the sauce to coat the mixture and bind it. Spoon the filling into the crêpes and roll them up.
3. Put the crêpes into a lightly-greased shallow baking dish and spoon the remaining sauce down the center of the crêpes. Bake in a preheated oven at 375° fro 25 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and lightly golden.

This is great for a party because it makes so many crêpes. Remember if you are making the full recipe, you would need to triple the basic crêpe recipe because it only makes 8-10 crêpes and the 3 seafood recipes make a total of 24 crêpes.

Watch the video: Ιρλανδία #EuroFoodStories (May 2022).


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