Showing posts with label Butcher. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Butcher. Show all posts

Monday, October 21, 2013

Jack McCarthy Butchers. An Afternoon in Kanturk.

Jack McCarthy Butchers. An Afternoon in Kanturk.

Jack. A true Normand (poor pun).
Afternoon in Kanturk

From Button Accordion to Boudin Noir;
Olympic Medals to Normandy Ór;
From Duhallow field to Fade Street Social;
All kinds of balls, not least the oval.
The RIC and the royal Queen’s Pudding;
Animals reared on pastures green and lush.
Wheeling and dealing, fair to fair,
Paring prices, bobs here, pence there.
In the North Cork town, two rivers meet,
Allow and Dallow. The butcher tweets.
From the shop on Main Street's door
Tim broadcasts on Radio Four;
Loma, Coppa and Pastrami,
Outdoing the Italians at Salami.
Five generations in the ancient store.
Heritage, music, meats galore.
Kanturk, past, present and future,
with Jack McCarthy,master butcher.
The magic cooking bag!
Since 1892, McCarthy Butchers have been trading in Kanturk. And they won't be stopping anytime soon. The enthusiasm is as strong as ever and so too is the spirit of innovation.

When I called there last Friday afternoon, Jack told me enthusiastically about a new cooking bag they had introduced while, in the back, son Timmy was hard at work making a Biroldo.

Different strokes for different folks!
More like a terrine.

The bag, made of high density plastic, is proving very popular. “It keeps the flavours and you can boil or roast or…. People who have used it keep returning,” said Jack. Well, we tried it out that very night. We bought one from Jack filled with strips of steak and vegetables and a red wine sauce. Cooked at a very low temperature it was perfect and gorgeous. No wonder the customers keep coming back for more.
Smoked pudding. Loved it!
Soon we got a taste of their Sliabh Luachra, an air dried beef for which they were named Nationality Speciality Champions. You may remember that Kate O’Toole featured it as a starter (served with fresh figs and Desmond cheese) in The Restaurant on RTE.

We moved slowly, lingering on the sample bites,  through their other cured meats: the coppa (traditional Italian cold cured, and smoked here), loma (dry cured, made from pork tenderloin), North Cork lard (great for cooking shrimps!), and then we came to a real treasure: the non smoked Pastrami. Special peppers have been used here but the whole thing is something special. This Pastrami is at a different level for sure.

Biroldo base

Irish charcuterie has arrived! Obviously, there are quite a few other people working in this area and many are coming up with some terrific results, partly because they are working on great produce. But do give yourself a treat soon and try this magnificent Pastrami!

Jack’s son Timmy has been learning the tricks of the trade in courses in Italy and that is where he got the idea for the Biroldo he was working on. The main ingredients are the meat from the cooked pig's head, shredded of course, blood, spices and herbs. The mix is then poured into an appendix (not kidding!) and slowly cooked again. Looking forward to a sample soon. Should be very very tasty!
Timmy filling an appendix.

Jack McCarthy have won quite a few honours in recent years and really grabbed the attention back in 2010 when he was awarded a gold medal by the Confrerie des Chevaliers du Goute Boudin and indeed the Black pudding overseers from Normandy made Jack a Chevalier. McCarthy’s most recent success on that front came earlier this year when their Pig’s Head Black Pudding with Rum and Raisin won gold, for International Creativity, in Normandy.

That contest was featured by BBC 4 Food and you may listen to a podcast here.

Now that is where I came in. Innovation, Creativity. This a proud Duhallow family. They use the local Castle and Ceann Turc (the Irish version of Kanturk, meaning head of the boar; how appropriate!) on their packaging.

Always looking ahead. But never forgetting the past either. Jack showed me some of their precious ledgers from the early days. Some entries going right back to 1891. The one photographed is from 1900 and you can see they had a thriving trade going on then in skins, hides and pelts. Every bit of the animal was used and it is much the same now.

Next time I visit we might concentrate more on the main meats but then again you never know what this pair have in the pipeline and they could well have some tasty new variation to show us in the near future. Watch this space.
The brilliant Pastrami
Oh, and don't forget to check out their website. Here you’ll find a great selection of beef, free range pork, lamb and chicken and more. If you have a special occasion coming up, then why not check out their Spit Roast Service. And, if you are a young butcher anxious to learn, well they even have a course for you called Practical Pig in a Day Course.
Jack (left) and note the McCarthy
castle in the background.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Skirt and Kidney Chow

Skirt and Kidney Chow

Foodie Articles
If there are positives to be taken from the current financial climate then for butchers it has to be the renewed interest in the cheaper and less regarded cuts of meat. I’m quite thrilled by this because in our more affluent years we gradually lost out on so much when it came to taste and flavour as we turned our noses up at some of the cheaper cuts of meat. I am also conscious of the environmental impact we made when we disregarded so much of an animal that was perfectly good for human consumption, purely on the basis of our arrogance and perceived sophistication which really boiled down to nothing less than ignorance.
While many of us may not want to be reminded of it, our heritage was built on eating an animal nose to tail and acknowledging and fully embracing its ultimate sacrifice so that we could be nourished and made strong. It would also have to be recognised that when it came to offal and the tougher cuts of meat, these were often the only things left behind for the ordinary Irish once the rest of the meat had been shipped off. This was particularly the case when we were under British rule. The best meat was often butchered here and sent to Britain making the eating of offal and off cuts very popular in port towns and cities. Here in the south, Cork and Waterford have long traditions of this as it was through these ports that many animals and meat passed through. The elderly of these cities will be very familiar with dishes such as crubeens (pigs’ trotters), tripe, drisheen, liver and skirt and kidney stew.
So what are skirt and kidney? While it definitely sounds like it could be a show that my children might watch on The Cartoon Network, they are part of the pig. Skirts are thin strips of meat found on the inside of the ribs and backbone. Skirts are very tender because they are found near the pig’s diaphragm and this is a muscle the pig tends not to use too much. Kidneys, as the name suggest, are just that. When skirt and kidney are stewed gently together the result is delicious and oozing with flavour. There are many traditional recipes from the very simple that use just pepper, water and potatoes to the more elaborate that include an abundance of herbs, soup mix and vegetables and finally thickened with a little corn flour. 
Recently I happened to catch an episode of Saturday Kitchen on BBC. Saturday mornings are usually not a good time for watching TV in my house but on this rare occasion I happened across a marvellous recipe by Atul Kochhar who was a guest on the show. He introduced a wonderful traditional spicy lamb stew from South Africa. The interesting part of this recipe is that it was originally created as food for the field workers. Because of this it was served (literally) in bread dishes. Loafs of bread were cut in half, the soft white part largely removed and the empty loaf shell was then filled with the lamb stew for the worker to take back to the field. As he ate the stew he would tear off part of the ‘dish’ and eat it at the same time. How very inventive; no washing up and no worrying about what to do with the plates when lunch was over. The recipe was called Bunny Chow. I made it as suggested with the lamb along with a few necessary tweaks and it was great, but I didn’t bother with the bread bowl and just served it with rice. However it did occur to me that this would be a great way to serve a Skirt and Kidney Stew. Traditionally it was a dish that was served with bread anyway, so this was just a new twist on the old; and so my new dish was born; Skirt and Kidney Chow. What is really lovely about serving it this way is that by the time you get to the end the loaf has soaked up all the lovely juices and so the dish is tasty and warming to the last bite. (Of course when I served the stew in the hollowed out loaf I did put the loaf dish on an actual plate as it made more sense. We are, after all, in Clonmel and not on the African plains!) I suppose the even better news for everyone is that Skirt and Kidney stew is probably one of the most economical dishes you can make. Indeed it was featured on an episode of the RTE radio series, The Frugal Household – need I say anymore.
Depending on where you buy your skirts and kidneys you may need to do a little trimming. Make sure all the membrane is removed and all the ‘plumbing’ is removed from the kidneys. Any good butcher should be able to do this for you. Everything should be cut to about 1” pieces. There are many varying recipes available but personally I recommend that once on the heat this should be simmered gently for 1 to 1½ hours to bring out the full flavour.
Once the skirt and kidney stew is cooked it really is up to you how to serve it. The hollowed out bread is a novelty, but not a necessity. If you haven’t used potatoes in the actual stew itself then you could serve it with creamy mash or just slices of fresh buttered bread, either of which would work really well. Below is the recipe I used but as you will see it is one that can be played around with very easily. I’m on a mission to at least get people to try these old fashioned cuts. I love them for the flavour but if the driving factor for you is value then it’s a double win.
This post was written by me, Pat Whelan, owner of James Whelan Butchers and a passionate advocate of local artisan food. My family have been producing quality Irish Angus beef for generations using a traditional dry aging process. This tradition is one that I continue to practice at our abattoir on our family farm in Garrentemple, Clonmel. These posts aim to impart some of the wisdom to readers and help them get the best out of the meat they eat! Our meat is available online here! I welcome your feedback to

Friday, September 28, 2012

Jim Crowley Butchers. Multi-award winners.

Jim Crowley Butchers, Midleton
Criostoir (2nd left) with his team at the festival
 The outstanding treat that I enjoyed at the recent Midleton Food Festival came from the Jim Crowley Butcher stall on the main street. I had met joint owner Criostoir O’Crualoai a few days previously and he had told me to watch out for their Steak Sandwich, also a hit at the previous year’s festival.

So I did keep an eye out and soon found the stall, along with Criostoir and his friendly crew. Just have to say that the steak sandwich was terrific, even at a comparative early hour of the day. So tender, we were able to gently tear it in two, the better to share. Tender, and tasty.
The shop on Mill Road
 While a well placed source in the food industry later told me that Crowley’s have a loyal following in the area, I had never heard of their shop (on the Mill Road) before meeting Criostoir. After the festival, I called up there and met another friendly bunch behind the counter. The shop was neat and sparkling with a great selection of meats on sale.

But I were after the shop’s pride and joy: their pork, chorizo and mozzarella burgers. Took them home and cooked them up and enjoyed them - just the right amount of chorizo to spice up the pork without overdoing it. Quite a chunky burger too and good value. And they are gorgeous. Don't take my word for it. It won second prize in May in the ACBI national barbeque competition!

And that is not the only award that Crowley’s, owned jointly by Criostoir and Jim Crowley, have won in recent years. You can see the list here and it includes five Bridgestone’s in a row, the most recent for 2012.
Prize-winning pork burger!

Criostoir: “Attention to detail is what makes us leaders in our field. Our product is thoroughly traceable. Crowley’s is a family business spanning two generations and has a very good reputation locally. The fact that many restaurants in the area use us as their supplier is testimony to the quality assurance that we bring to the marketplace.”

The Midleton Food Festival may come around just once a year but you can visit that sparkling welcoming shop on the town’s Mill Road all year round. Worth a detour!

Thursday, December 1, 2011



Never knew that meat had so many variations in colour until I saw the counter in James Whelan’s shop yesterday. What a superb display for the customer. And so much information. All well laid out and superbly lit. The soft overhead lights do their job well; there is virtually no glare and the customer sees the meat as it is.

Must say I had a terrific guide in Pat Whelan himself, taking time out from his busy day which also included a trip to the Avoca Food Market in Monkstown (Dublin) to oversee preparations for the opening of his new butcher shop there. Would love to live near a Whelan shop but at least we can always buy online .

Pat explained that the lighting was an integral part of the design and then pointed to the floor (an earthy colour) and to the ceiling (sky colours) and said the meat was the bounty of nature in between.

Curves abound too in the shop, virtually no hard angles. Fung Shui principles were employed. Pat admitted to being gob smacked when the German designer first explained the plan to him but had a good feeling about it and signed the cheque. It has worked out very well indeed.

All the major meats are well laid out here and some minor ones, everything from rabbit to beef and poultry of course and no shortage of info as to where it was raised and bred, much of it on the nearby Whlena farms.

Opposite the counter, there is a long row of shelves, generally with packs, including a whole range of puddings, from as near as Inch House and from as far as Newport (Kelly’s).

Whelan’s own pre-packed products are also displayed here, vacuum packed bacon and ham, sausages, rashers and so on. The packaging is transparent. You can visually examine the contents. Another example of the Whelan integrity! What you see is what you get.

Towards the back of the shop, there is semi-circle (curves again) that contains the “deli”, another inviting counter where you can buy prepared or semi-prepared meals, everything from Boeuf Bourguignon to a mini quiche. It very much resembles the “traiteur” counter in a French butcher shop.

Pat has also managed to find the time to author a cook book called An Irish Butcher Shop. It is full of recipes and because it is written by an Irishman for an Irish audience, you won’t have any problem finding the ingredients.

The recipes are, I can say, brilliant and if you need any further help, there is a treasure trove of help, videos even, on the Whelan site which is well worth a visit. But, I have to encourage you to make a visit to the real shop and see one of the gems of the Irish food scene.

Just hope that these few words and pictures do it justice.