The Daily Spud

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Spud Sunday: Of Hogs And Blogs

Pat Conway demonstrates pork butchery

Well, would you mess with this man?

That man is Pat Conway, butchery lecturer at GMIT, and he showed the collected masses of Irish food bloggers a thing or two about butchering pork last Thursday.

Hang on there just a minute says you. Masses of Irish food bloggers?

To be fair, even I didn’t know we were so many. But last week’s Irish Food Blogger event, instigated by Donal Skehan and sponsored by Bord Bia, saw a whole bevy of bloggers emerge from behind the internet curtain and take physical shape. They came to Dublin, they saw and heard much about food and food styling, and they got swag.

Scenes from the Bord Bia Irish Food Blogger Event

Clockwise, from top left:
Lorraine Fitzmaurice on things veggie, Maire Dufficy on pork, Erica Ryan on food styling

While there was a definite emphasis on things porcine, with Bord Bia outlining their quality assurance scheme for pork and Maire Dufficy showing what to do with assorted porky cuts, Lorraine Fitzmaurice from Blazing Salads stayed pig-free with a demo that included miso pesto and spelt bread. In an attempt to distract us while lunch was being prepared, Damien Mulley talked blog marketing while Eoin Purcell did a little after-lunch blog-to-book talk. Afterwards, food stylist Erica Ryan and photographer Jocasta Clarke shared some of the secrets behind getting food to look good on camera (several of which involve glycerine, that’s all I’m sayin’).

And then there were the bloggers.

While I didn’t get to meet even half of the folks there, it was lovely to catch up with Bibliocook, I Can Has Cook, An American In Ireland, Nine Bean Row and the CheapEats folks, and to meet Smorgasblog, I Married An Irish Farmer, Dinner du Jour, Adventures in Veg, Mangoes With Lime and Supper Satisfaction among others.

And I am happy to report that my swag, which included cheese and chutney from Sheridan’s, herbs from Living Flavour, smoked trout from Goatsbridge, Good4U sprouts and seeds, and very cute homemade biscuits from Lilly Higgins, all managed to survive the post-event cider and sushi which may have delayed my return home just ever so slightly.

Smoked Trout Dip

Smoked Trout Dip

It’s just as well I made it all the way home with swag intact, otherwise I might have missed the experience that is smoked trout from Goatsbridge. To tell you the truth, the trout is so lovely that it hardly needs any accompaniment, apart, perhaps, from a squeeze of lemon juice and a twist of black pepper. I really haven’t done too much more to it than that here.

I did eat this as a dip with the oven chips below, but stir in some steamed new potatoes and mayonnaise and I’ll warrant that you have yourself a potato salad.

You’ll need:
  • 100g smoked trout fillet, flaked and checked for small bones
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 6 tblsp natural yoghurt
  • 2 tblsp chopped chives
  • 1 tsp capers (optional)
  • 10-15 drops tabasco sauce or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt
You’ll also need:
  • A blender or food processor to mix the ingredients – if you don’t have one, you can mix by hand.
The Steps:
  • In a blender or food processor, add the trout, lemon juice, yoghurt, chives and capers (if using) and blend to mix. Alternatively, mash everything together well with a fork.
  • Add tabasco, black pepper and salt to taste.
The Variations:
  • You could certainly try this using sour cream or mayonnaise instead of yoghurt and/or dill instead of chives.
The Results:
  • Dip for 2-3.

Oven Chips

Oven baked potato chips

Well, now, seeing as next Wednesday, the 26th of May, has been declared National Fish and Chips Day by the Irish Traditional Italian Chippers Association, I felt a distinct urge to make chips to go with my smokey trout dip (it’s fish ‘n’ chips, Jim, but not as we know it!).

I based today’s chips on a method described in Cook’s Illustrated and which first came to my attention when Domini Kemp wrote about it in The Irish Times. It includes soaking the chips in hot water for 10 minutes before cooking. The idea is to remove excess sugars from the cut surfaces, which should reduce over-browning and development of a tough crust. The water should also make the interior of the chips less mealy. I will say that, in a straight comparison of chips that had been soaked and chips that hadn’t, the ones that had been soaked did come out better crust-wise.

And for those of you curious about the history of Italian chipper in Ireland, you could do worse than head over here.

You’ll need:
  • 600g floury potatoes, about 3 medium-sized specimens
  • approx 3 tblsp olive oil
  • your choice of herbs / spices
You’ll also need:
  • One large heavy duty baking tray or shallow roasting tin, or use 2 smaller tins (I used a couple of 20cm x 30cm tins) – a heavy duty tin helps with even browning.
The Steps:
  • Preheat your oven to 220C. Cooks Illustrated recommends placing your shelf close to the bottom of the oven.
  • Scrub your potatoes and cut into roughly even-sized wedges, about 1cm thick.
  • Soak the potatoes in hot tap water for 10 minutes, then drain, lay out on some kitchen paper and pat very dry using additional kitchen paper.
  • Pour the oil onto your baking tray(s) and place in the oven to heat for 3-4 minutes. Then remove the tray(s), pour the hot oil over the potatoes and toss, adding any other spices or seasonings you wish.
  • Place the oiled potatoes onto the baking tray(s) in a single layer and cover with foil.
  • Place into the oven for 5 minutes, then remove the foil and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes or until they have started to brown in spots on the bottom. Turn the chips over using a tongs and return to the oven for another 5-15 minutes or until nicely browned.
The Variations:
  • When tossing the chips in the oil, add some crushed garlic and rosemary or some smoked paprika (or, really, any other number of herbs or spices).
The Results:
  • Should serve 2, although I will neither confirm nor deny that I ate this amount in one sitting.

9 Comments

  1. Hogs and blogs, trout and snout =) Couldn’t resist when I saw you jumped from porcine to fishy in one fell swoop. The dip sounds like heaven and of course made to be consumed with some delicious chips. What a fun weekend. There’s a lot of butchering classes around here, but have not found the time to attend one yet, they sound very interesting.

  2. What a lovely combo – chips & trout dip! I still have my trout so I think I will whip this up next time I have guests over. I had a great time at the event and look forward to more! :)

  3. Looks yummy! Mine got tossed with quinoa, broccoli and sprouted lentils for supper which went down well with everyone at the cottage, particularly Little Missy who kept nicking pieces from the plate.

  4. Love your inventive take on fish ‘n chips, Spud! And such fitting use for that marvelous swag. Yum!

    The Irish Food Bloggers event sounds fantastic … I’m more than a we bit jealous and feeling like I should pack my bags and move to Dublin. Thanks for sharing and for all those yummy links too. Clearly, I’ve got my reading cut out for me today.

    Apropos of nothing, I’ve always been charmed by the Irish use of the word “scheme” … here, it can have something of a negative connotation, but the Irish flare for words turns that about. :)

  5. Oven chips- awe lawdy lawdy there is hope for my diet yet!

    Give me the whole damn pig, up, I am sorry- a little rude, I will share some bits with ya!

    I can hear that class in its Irish accent entirety!

  6. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, May 25, 2010 at 12:32 am

    Oyster Culture: Ah yes, a bit of the old surf and turf combination going on in this post alright :) And while I don’t necessarily want to get into butchering myself, it was fascinating, not to mention entertaining, to watch it done by an expert.

    Clare: and I’m sure there will be more to come!

    Caroline: Little Missy has good taste so :) Actually I’m surprised that my trout made it into the dip at all – I couldn’t resist eating pieces of it along the way!

    Diva: Well, I, for one, would be more than happy if you packed your bags and moved here – I would start scheming straight away, lol

    Chef E: There were Irish accents aplenty but a few American ones too – you could have joined in no problem! And as for the pig, I think there’s enough there for everybody :)

  7. Though you stand at the top of the hill amongst Irish food bloggers (in my humble opinion), it’s wonderful to learn of all these new sites! Whether pork, trout or taters, it all sounds marvelous. 8-)

  8. Daily Spud

    Thursday, June 3, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Aw thanks, TN :) And it was all rather marvellous – nice to see our little food blogging community develop here!

  9. I think that would have been a great day , listening & enjoying the dishes & presentations of those chefs & bloggers! What a lovely day out for you!!

    The trout dip & the chips are looking so good!

    Thanks for sharing thid experience with us!

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