Great Food from Ireland - Red Peppers with slow braised shoulder of lamb - Quick Wholemeal Bread

Great Food – From Ireland

The Irish Food Writers Guild Awards, now in their 12th year, are always eagerly anticipated for their honest acknowledgment of a small and very carefully selected number of Ireland’s best food products and producers. Irish grown peppers, Irish hams, artisan dairy products, apple juice from an Irish apple farm and two people who dedicated their lives to their craft were all honoured at this year’s Awards, recently hosted at Dublin’s L’Ecrivain restaurant, where Derry and Sallyanne Clarke and their team put on a superb celebration lunch created from the winning products.

Products, of which the main ingredients must be Irish, and individuals are nominated by IFWG members – no person or product many nominate themselves; shortlisted products are bought anonymosly and, at a special tasting meeting of Guild members. tasted and voted on by single transferable vote; the whole process is completely independent and ethical, which is highly unusual in these days of universal PR spin – and that’s what makes these Awards so desirable.
This year’s coveted Irish Food Writers Guild Awards were presented to: Keelings; Brady’s Family Ham; Glenilen Farm dairy products and Ballycross Apple Farm for the quality and consistent excellence of their products, while Jack & Betty Hick received a Lifeime Achievement Award for their dedication to the production of traditional, hand-crafted pork products and the passing on of their skills to the next generation of their family.

A tasting of Keelings red peppers (capsicum) with slow braised shoulder of lamb & a roast cutlet

Derry Clarke created a stunning array of dishes based on the winning products at the IFWG Awards lunch at L’Ecrivain. They are not perhaps the most accessible of dishes for home cooking – he is a Michelin-starred chef after all – but the keen amateur cook will enjoy the challenge. A sample of this refined main course follows - if you would like a copy of the full recipe (or all the recipes created for the day), please contact me through the web address at the end of this column. Peppers were regarded as exotics in Ireland until quite recently and the great thing about Keelings peppers are that they replace imports and are much fresher as they reach the shops much faster, they are easily available – and consistently excellent.

Serves 8


1 lamb shoulder, boned
2 fresh thyme sprigs
1 fresh rosemary sprig
1/2 teaspoon rock salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots
1 celery stick, finely diced
1 leek, trimmed and finely diced
1 bay leaf
1 litre/1 3/4 pints chicken stock
500ml/18fl oz red wine
8 lamb cutlets, well trimmed
1 garlic clove, peeled
knob of butter

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 red onion, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 bay leaf
2 red peppers (capsicum), roasted, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons red wine
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt & freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the lamb shoulder, rub in one of the thyme sprigs with the rosemary and rock salt and place in a shallow non metallic dish. Cover with cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge for 24 hours. Rinse the lamb shoulder under cold running water and dry well, then roll up and tie tightly at intervals with butcher string.
Heat a large heavy-based pan. Add half of the oil and then add the rolled lamb shoulder and quickly seal on all sides until lightly browned. Finely dice one of the carrots and add with the celery, leek, bay leaf, chicken stock and wine. Season to taste. Cover tightly and slowly bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and braise very gently for 4-5 hours until meat is very soft, turning the joint occasionally to ensure even cooking.

Remove the lamb shoulder from the braising liquid and when cool enough to handle, cut away the string. Wrap back into a cylindrical shape with cling film and leave to cool completely, then chill overnight to allow the shape to set. Strain the braising liquid through a fine sieve and reduce until slightly thickened. Leave to cool completely and pour into a jug, then cover with cling film and leave to cool completely.

To make the red pepper chutney, heat the olive oil in a pan and gently cook the garlic, onion, cumin, thyme and bay leaf for 3-4 minutes until soft but not coloured. Add the roasted red pepper dice and caster sugar and cook for another 1-2 minutes until syrupy. Add the red wine and red wine vinegar and continue to reduce for about 5 minutes until all the liquid has evaporated. Remove the thyme and bay leaf and discard. Season to taste and leave to cool completely. This will keep happily for up to one month in the fridge stored in a sterilised kilner jar.

To finish the dish, preheat the oven to 150C/300C/Gas 2. Heat the reduced braising liquid in a wide pan. Unwrap the chilled rolled shoulder and cut into eight even-sized portions. Add the braised shoulder pieces to the pan and reheat gently for 10-15 minutes until heated through, basting occasionally.
Heat the remaining oil in a heavy-based frying pan. Sear the lamb cutlets on both sides for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Meanwhile, roughly chop the remaining carrot and place in a roasting tin with the remaining thyme sprig, the garlic clove and knob of butter. Place in the oven for a couple of minutes until the butter has melted and then toss well to ensure everything is evenly coated. Arrange the seared lamb cutlets on top and roast for 8 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.

To serve, arrange the slow braised shoulder of lamb on warmed serving plates with a little of the braising liquid, the rested lamb cutlets and the prepared accompaniments.

SHORT RECIPE : Quick Wholemeal Bread
Wholemeal Bread with Honey
This delicious and healthy bread is very simple and easy to make – the perfect contrast to today’s main recipe. Delicious served with honey or home-made marmalade.

450g / 1 lb wholemeal flour
1 tablesp. wheatgerm
1 tablesp. bran
1 tablesp. sunflower seeds (optional)
1 teasp. bread soda
1 teasp. salt
250ml / ½ pint buttermilk approx
2 tablesp. oil
1 egg (optional)
1 tablesp. honey

Preheat a hot oven, Gas Mark 6, 200ºC (400ºF).

When the oven is ready, mix all the dry ingredients together well, then add all the liquids and mix quickly but thoroughly, to make a fairly wet dough. Pour the mixture into a greased 900g/2 lb loaf tin and bake for approx 50-60 minutes, until well-risen and nicely browned.

To test, turn out and tap the base, which will sound hollow when fully cooked.


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