Nothing But the Best - Derry Clarkes Winning Recipes for the Irish Food Writers Guild Awards

Castlemine ProductsArtisan producers are the unsung heroes of the food industry in Ireland, but need support from the commercial sector to ensure their survival. This was the view of Myrtle Allen, one of the pioneers of the movement to promote locally produced Irish food, who addressed guests at the Irish Food Writer’s Guild Food annual awards last month (March 2012). The Irish Food Awards, of which five were presented at a ceremony attended by The Minister for Agriculture, Marine and Food, are recognised as the most important and impartial of their kind in Ireland.

From happy pigs to placid cows – the five award winners represent a wide range of enterprises. Those awarded for standards of excellence and for their exceptional contribution to Ireland’s reputation as a top food-producing country were; Castlemine Farm for Castlemine Farm Free Range Pork (Roscommon); Patrick & Carol Rooney for Derrycamma Farm Rapeseed Oil (Louth) and David Tiernan for Glebe Brethan Cheese (Louth).

McCarthys of Kanturk with Myrtle AllenIn addition, McCarthy’s of Kanturk, Cork, was presented with a special award for the family’s notable contribution to Irish food and renowned fruit grower and active chairman of the Irish Apple Growers Association, Con Traas of The Apple Farm in Tipperary was honoured with the Guild’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

Now in its 18th year, the Irish Food Writers’ Guild (IFWG) Food Awards reward and promote producers of the highest quality food, Myrtle Allen, honorary life member of the Guild, asserted “The importance of these awards cannot be overstated as they allow us to recognise people at the coalface of the food sector in Ireland. We are all fortunate and privileged beneficiaries of these people’s devotion to producing fantastic food. Collectively, the winners make a significant contribution to the Irish economy, developing innovative and enterprising ways of working and providing both direct and indirect employment."

Myrtle Allen at Irish Food Writers Guild Awards 2012"However, there is a serious anomaly in that we have some of the highest quality produce in the world and yet, it is often a challenge to find something as simple as an Irish apple in our shops. Why is this? If we don’t support and buy Irish, we will ultimately witness the demise of the small to medium-sized local producer, to the benefit of imported and sometimes, sub standard substitutes. We cannot let this happen and I am appealing to all stakeholders, including retailers, to recognise their responsibilities in supporting home grown industry.”

Minister Coveney at Irish Food Guild Awards 2012Minster for Agriculture, Marine and Food, Simon Coveney TD, who was guest of honour at the event applauded the work of the members of the Irish Food Writers Guild “Through these awards you are highlighting the challenging work of small independent Irish food producers, at a time when supporting home-grown industry is critical,” he said. “There is now a new appetite for buying home grown produce. By informing and promoting the high quality of our own food through your columns you are opening up new outlets throughout the country for local food producers and assisting the better established to forge new trade links in new markets,” he concluded.

Chairperson of the Irish Food Writers’ Guild, Orla Broderick explained the awards selection process: “These awards are quite unique in that no producer can nominate themselves; nominations are submitted exclusively by Guild members. Indeed, no company ever even knows that it is being considered for an award. The size of the company or the product category are of no relevance to the selection process but what is important, is that the products are produced in Ireland with the main ingredient being home produced.”

Ms Broderick concluded by thanking Bord Bia for its continued support of the Awards and the work it does for the industry both in Ireland and abroad.

The awards took place at Michelin-starred restaurant, L'Ecrivain, where Derry Clarke created a magnificent lunch incorporating all of the award-winning products – and he was kind enough to share some of the recipes for us to make at home.


Makes 4 servings.

• 3 large Spanish onions, peeled
• 1 clove garlic
• 50g butter
• Sprig of thyme
• 1 litre vegetable or chicken stock
• Terrine: 150g dry cured ham, thinly sliced
• 250g potato, thinly sliced *
• 250g Glebe Brethan cheese, thinly sliced

Prepare terrine the day before soup is to be served.

Line the terrine dish with cling film, then line completely with thinly sliced ham, leaving some overhang.

Cook potato slices in a little water until just tender, about 6 minutes, then drain.

Place alternating layers of sliced potato and Glebe Brethan cheese in terrine, filling to a depth of about 4cm. Cover top of terrine with overhanging ham, with extra if needed.

Place a weight on top and leave overnight to set.

To make the soup, finely slice the onion and garlic and sauté in a pot with the butter and thyme until soft but not coloured.

Cover with stock, bring to the boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until onion is tender. Purée soup in blender, taste and correct seasoning and return to pot.

To serve, turn out terrine, remove cling film and cut into squares. Place in centre of a wide soup plate and ladle hot soup around. Garnish with buttermilk foam and crumbs of crispy ham if wished.

*Non-floury type potato such as Rooster or Maris Piper recommended.



Serves 4

• 800g Castlemine Farm Free Range boned pork belly, trimmed of excess fat
• 120g sea salt
• 1tbsp thyme leaves
• 2 bay leaves, crumbled
• 500ml duck fat
• 3 tbsp honey

Rub pork belly with sea salt, thyme and bay leaves, pressing it into all sides.

Marinate overnight in a deep covered earthenware container in the fridge.

Remove from marinade next day, wash the meat and pat dry with kitchen paper.

Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F/gas mark 2.

Melt duck fat, pour it over the pork belly and roast meat for two and a half hours.

Remove pork belly from the duck fat and place between two baking trays.

Lay a heavy weight on top to flatten the confit and leave to cool.

To serve, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Cut pork into 4 equal portions.

Heat a dry frying pan and seal the confit, skin side down, in the pan for 3-4 minutes.

Then place in roasting tin skin side up, brush with honey again and roast in the oven for 5 minutes; pre-heat grill to medium; brush the pork with honey again and grill for 1-2 minutes to finish.



6 tart cases, baked blind

Apple compote:
• 6 Apple Farm apples, peeled, cored and sliced
• 200g brown sugar
• 1tsp ground ginger
• 1tsp ground cinnamon
• 1 vanilla pod, seeded

• 250g butter
• 250g sugar
• 200g beaten egg
• 25g flour
• 250g ground almonds

• 200g sugar
• 100g butter
• 100g flour
• 100g ground almonds

To make compote, place apples, sugar, spices and vanilla in saucepan and cook on low heat, stirring continuously until apples are soft. Set aside to cool.

For frangipan, beat butter and sugar in food mixer until soft.

Gradually beat in egg, then add flour and ground almonds; beat until smooth.

Spoon layer of frangipan to half fill tart cases and bake at 160°C/325°F/gas mark 3 for 15 minutes.

To serve, fill cases to top with apple compote and finish with crumble topping. Heat through in oven and serve hot with whiskey ice cream and crème anglaise.

Recipes created by Derry Clarke, L’Ecrivain, for The Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards 2012

There are currently no comments

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment
Not a member? Register for your free membership now!
Or leave a comment by logging in with: