Durcan's Spiced Beef - Special Irish Foods & The People Who Make Them

Durcan's Spiced BeefGeorgina Campbell

Tom Durcan Meats was established in 1985, so this is far from being one of Ireland’s longest-established butchers - but it is one of the most highly-regarded and, being right next to the fountain at The English Market, also very easy to find.

A member of the Craft Butchers Association of Ireland, Tom Durcan takes pride in sourcing meat locally and in the ‘farm to fork’ traceability of all of his meats, which are sought after by many discerning restaurateurs. The dry-aged beef is especially popular - but the product he’s most famous for is a Christmas speciality, the Cork Traditional Spiced Beef, which has won all kinds of competitions.

Most recently this unique traditional product picked up two awards at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards which took place in Dingle, Co. Kerry in October. One of these was for the spiced beef itself and it also scooped “Best Export Opportunity”, which was sponsored by PanEuro Foods, while another of Tom’s products, Spiced Beef Carpaccio, won a Silver.

The annual ritual begins for Tom in October when he prepares the spice mix and starts to select the various joints - sometimes including lamb’s tongues as well a range of beef cuts - that will marinade for at least a month, maybe two.

They sell over a ton of spiced beef every Christmas and everyone has their own favourite way of cooking and serving it - but Tom likes his best served cold and sliced, “with caramelised Spanish onions, on crusty buttered white bread”.

The spiced beef is also available to buy pre-cooked and sliced from Centra and SuperValu supermarkets nationwide.

Tom Durcan’s advice on how to cook the perfect spiced beef:

Remove meat from all packaging, weigh it and place in a pot of cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer gently for 50 minutes per kilo if it is to be eaten warm. To eat cold, cook for 40 minutes per kilo and leave to cool in the cooking liquid. Leaving the meat to cool in the cooking liquid helps to preserve its moistness for slicing.

Spiced Beef CarpaccioRECIPE: Spiced Beef Carpaccio

The classic thinly sliced raw beef ‘carpaccio’ has never been more popular and this recipe for from Denis Cronin, of the Mad Fish Restaurant at Cronin’s Pub, Crosshaven, Co. Cork, is a tasty example of spiced beef at its best.


Tom Durcan's spiced beef, uncooked
Fresh garden rocket or mustard leaves
Irish rapeseed oil or olive oil
Good mature hard farmhouse cheese - our favourite is extra mature Coolea Farmhouse Cheese
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Lemon wedge

Freeze the spiced beef. Then slice the beef in a meat slicer as fine as the machine will allow. The meat pieces should be almost see through.

Arrange the meat pieces on a cold plate, using roughly twelve slices, and covering the whole plate.

Place a bunch of leaves in the centre and drizzle with rapeseed or olive oil.

Finally garnish with shavings of cheese, a small wedge of lemon, with a side of fresh ground pepper and sea salt.

The beef will come to room temperature after approximately three or four minutes after slicing and is ready to be served immediately.

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