Irish Waygu Ragù

11 Sep 2012

This week I am delighted to share two prized personalities in Irish food: Catherine Fulvio & Pat Whelan.

Catherine Fulvio has just released a gorgeous new cookery book, Eat Like An Italian: Recipes for the Good Life, which the postman delivered to the farm last week. In my estimation, I’ve made three stunning recipes already, so I am hoping we are all well on our way to la dolce vita.

Catherine grew up holding the apron strings of her mother who managed their guesthouse on the family farm. She continues her passion today at Ballyknocken Country House and Cookery School in the wilds of gorgeous County Wicklow, which has been in her family for more than 100 years. {If you are traveling to Ireland, book in and stay, I’ll come join you for a cookery class!}.

Catherine’s interest in Italian cooking may have something to do with the fact that her husband, Claudio, hails from Palermo, Sicily, and judging from her latest release, she certainly knows how to celebrate Italian food like a bonafide bella donna.  Catherine has presented two food programs for RTE, Catherine’s Italian Kitchen and Catherine’s Roman Holiday as well as appearing on NBC’s The Today Show in the USA. In person, she has a way of making you feel instantly at ease with her genuine warmth and girl-next-door nature. Her books and television programs convey that same welcoming feeling, leaving you yearning to sit down at her kitchen table for lunch and end up chatting all afternoon.

Pat Whelan is a fifth generation butcher from Clonmel, County Tipperary. Both his mother and father came from farming families, and the family business, James Whelan Butchers uses beef from its own farm where the cattle are grass-fed and then into their own private abbatoir. Pat explains “having our own farm, our own abattoir and our own shop to sell our beef, allows us to give people that essential element of trust that every consumer requires when they buy meat today in our store or order meats online.”

I count Pat as a friend and collaborator. We have worked together on several creative food endeavours and he is a featured artisan in my film, Food Island alongside his happy herd of Irish Waygu cattle. Pat is a butcher and businessman who has a big personality and is constantly thinking out-of-the box, yet always manages to be quietly composed, if not humble. He is considered to be an innovator and inspiration to many in food including Rick Stein, who lists Pat as one of his food heroes.

James Whelan Butchers is headquartered in Clonmel, County Tipperary and also recently opened a stunning boutique butcher shop in Avoca, Monkstown, Dublin.

In Eat Like An Italian Catherine Fulvio celebrates all that is great about Italian food and food culture with over 100 new recipes for la dolce vita complete with tips on introducing Irish artisan produce to each preparation as well. On the bottom of each recipe page there is a lovely footnote which includes a suggestion for a local Irish ingredient. In my case, her recipe for pappardelle with ragù was made impossibly delicious by using braised Waygu short ribs from Pat Whelan.

So go on, Waygu your ragù.

Pappardelle with Ragù

from Eat Like An Italian

extra virgin olive oil

75g pancetta diced

400g slow-roasted shoulder of pork (I used slow braised Waygu beef)

1 onion

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

1 tsp dried oregano

2 garlic cloves

2 tbsp tomato puree

400g tinned chopped tomatoes

275 beef stock

150ml red wine

salt and freshly ground black pepper

350g pappardelle

fresh basil leaves to garnish (I used fresh oregano leaves)

1. To make the ragù, heat a large saucepan with a little oil over a meduim heat. Add the pancetta and cook until it’s crispy and brown, then add the shredded pork (or substitute)

2. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery and oregano and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato puree and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tinned tomatoes, stock, wine, and some salt and pepper. Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until a thick ragù has formed. Season to taste.

3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

4. Add the cooked, drained, pasta to the ragù sauce and garnish.

Wherever you live, you can substitute a locally sourced ingredient…or just use the recipes as-is, they all look absolutely gorgeous.

Leave a comment below to enter the drawing for a spanking new copy of Eat Like An Italian. Will ship anywhere in the world. Best of luck!

Slan Abhaile,


Eat Like An Italian: Recipes for the Good Life is available in Easons and online at

Pappardelle photo by Imen McDonnell 2012

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We are busy picking gooseberries and clipping elderflowers at the farm

for some fun {upcoming} blogposts, so in the meantime

I wanted to share a few bits & bobs that may be of interest to you….

Our friends at Irish Fireside have launched

a terrific new app called Ireland Travel Kit, have a peek!

Sylvia Thompson & Liberties Press have just released a new book

The Art of Crafting in Ireland which is just gorgeous,

+ also features a few of my farmhouse butter + cheese photographs.

And finally,

The summer edition of the new Irish Country Magazine

is available in news agents throughout Ireland now!

Here are few good reasons to run out and pick up a copy:

The lovely Catherine Fulvio is on the cover with a magnificent interview inside

featuring her family, farm, and Ballyknocken Cookery School.

In the McNean Experience, you will find some really tasty recipes by Neven McGuire.

The beautiful spread on Irish Farmhouse Cheeses,

styled by my friend, Sharon Hearne-Smith,

will no doubt have you scurrying to Sheridan’s Cheesemongers.

I spotted a beautiful shrug designed by Eilis Boyle in the Lazy Days of Summer editorial.

Mairead Lavery writes about a spectacular secret garden in County Laois.

Fiona Dillon hatches a plan in her “rear your own” poultry column .

and for a giggle…

I’m sharing “tickling tweets” on page 8!

At all good shops in Ireland

and available for subscription online.

Slan Abhaile,


Cover photograph by Carol Dunne

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Farmhouse Apple Cider

25 Oct 2011

A few weeks ago, I blogged about one of my favorite autumn traditions in America: sipping apple cider and nibbling on cider doughnuts at the local apple orchard or pumpkin patch. Some of you may have already seen + heard me carrying on via Twitter or Instagram sharing our happy success with, “Rosie”, our charming new fruit press, and the first batches of pressed cider here at the farm this week. And, yes, we sipped cider with doughnuts by the turf fire immediately! Now all is good in the world.

Some excellent questions popped up during my initial exploration into cider making, a fellow blogger asked, “So, what is the difference between apple cider and apple juice anyway?” Of course, my farmer questioned how/if we could make batches of boozy cider with our apples and new press. {In case you were wondering, YES, WE CAN!}

The truth is, fresh cold-pressed apple juice is nearly the same as apple cider. It can be made any time of year when apples are available, but is most commonly pressed in the autumn when apples are plentiful. Cider and juice are both made in the same way, but the difference is that apple juice is pressed and strained through a thinner mesh than cider. Cider tends to be cloudier and darker in colour than juice and has a more tart and raw flavour than the juice. Also, the bottom line is, depending on the quality of apples, which vary from year to year, the taste, sweetness and consistency of apple juice and cider can vary widely.

Alcoholic cider or perry (pear-based cider), an institution in Ireland, UK and France, is made by fermenting the juice after pressing, either by a naturally occurring fermentation or by adding a yeast strain.  This type of cider is one of my favorite drinks here on the isle, something that was new to me when I first arrived in Ireland & which I took an affinity towards….rather quicky. Fermented alcohol cider, such as Bulmers or Strongbow have dry, complex flavours and are not sweet. Perfection. I have also just learned of a new craft cider in Ireland called Stonewell which we will be sampling soon.

Thankfully, this type of cider libation has also been making a comeback stateside. In doing my cider research, I discovered that during the 18th century, hard cider was actually the drink of the people, from farmers to fighting men, and deservedly so as President John Adams himself drank a tankard of cider every day. Children drank a less potent version, called ciderkin.

However, when the Germans arrived in America, beer fell more into favour and after the prohibition, cider was virtually nonexistent. Now, with wonderful artisanal ciderys cropping up across the country such as Bellwether and Tieton, the cider tradition is swiftly being reborn in America.

Whether a warm mug of autumn apple cider or a cold glass of dry {alcoholic} cider suits your fancy, I say long live apple cider!

I am thrilled to announce that we will be packing up “Rosie” and heading to Kilkenny at the weekend to press cider at Savour Kilkenny, a fabulous food festival in it’s fifth year running. Please come along and sample a taste of sweet cider with me in the Forgotten Skills tent on Parade Plaza from 11:30AM on Saturday. I’d love to see you there! There is an amazing schedule of events at the festival including food demos by Donal Skehan, Catherine Fulvio and Edward Hayden. The Great Irish Food Debate, a panel discussion about whether or not ‘Irish Cuisine’ exists will take place during the Food Camp on Friday, and reknowned American food writer/food historian and founder of Saveur magazine, Colman Andrews, will be weighing in. Not to be missed!

So, here’s how we made our apple cider:

Procure a mix of apple varieties. Apple juice tastes much better if sweet, tart and fragrant apples are mixed together. We used the two types of apples that we currently have in the small farm orchard: Bramley and Pippin varieties. Yields can vary widely, but as a general guide, 20 lb/10kg apples will yield a gallon/4 litres of juice.  Wash the apples by running cold water over them and removing any dirt or other contaminants. Remove any obviously rotted or discolored parts of the apple. Be cautious when using apples that have been picked up from the ground after falling from the tree as these will require extra cleaning to remove possible contaminants. Never use “ground apples” from an area where livestock graze.

Chop and mash the apples. For larger quantities, an apple chopper is the easiest method. For smaller quantities, you may use a food processor, meat grinder, or just cut the apples into very small cubes. I used our food processor. Do not worry about stems, seeds or peels–they can all be included in the mash. (I originally cored all the apples, a waste of time!) 

Insert a mesh bag into the fruit press. Our model came with a two bags. Bags with larger diameters are used for cider, while a smaller mesh will product a more juice-like product. Place a large pot under the spout of the fruit press to catch the juice as it is pressed.

Fill the fruit press with apple mash. Add 1 tbsp. lemon juice, if desired, to help reduce oxidation ofthe apple juice. Apples and apple juice, will react with oxygen and produce a brownish color. Lemon juice will lessen but will not eliminate this effect.

Tighten the fruit press to begin the flow of juice. Keep tightening the press until the flow of juice comes to a halt, which takes approximately 10 minutes. The pressed mash can be composted, discarded or fed to local wildlife or in our case, resident donkeys, Conor and Cormac.

Pour the apple juice into plastic or glass containers. Drink. If you plan to freeze the juice, fill the containers three-fourths full, to allow room for expansion.

If the apple juice has not been heated, it will keep in a refrigerator for one or two weeks before yeast naturally present in the juice starts the fermentation process.


Makes Approx 20 Doughnuts

1 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

¼ cup buttermilk

½ cup apple cider

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

4 cups all-purpose flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon allspice

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup sweet apple finely chopped


1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons cinnamon

Mix 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon in a brown paper bag. Set aside.

To Make the Doughnuts

  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar until thick and creamy
  • Add the melted butter
  • Combine the milk, cider, and vanilla. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt
  • Alternately add the flour and milk-cider mixture to the eggs, beginning and ending with the flour. Combine thoroughly.
  • Fold in the apple
  • Turn out the dough onto a large piece of parchment paper.
  • Fold the paper to cover the dough and place in freezer for 30 minutes. Dough will be very sticky but will become workable after it firms up in the freezer.
  • Roll out firm dough on a lightly floured surface ½-inch thick.
  • Cut 2-1/2-inch circles with 1-inch center holes (or use a doughnut cutter). Dough will be soft, which makes light, tender doughnuts when fried.
  • Let cut doughnuts rest five minutes on a cookie sheet.
  • Heat 3 to 4-inches oil to 360 degrees in a large pot.
  • Fry three to four doughnuts at a time for about 1-1/2 minutes per side or until golden brown. (Be sure to maintain the temperature of the oil, lowering or raising stovetop heat accordingly).
  • Shake fried doughnuts in the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  • EAT IMMEDIATELY WHILE SIPPING WARM APPLE CIDER! (do not take snaps, if you want to see what they look like, here’s a great example)

Slan Abhaile,


Photos by Imen McDonnell.

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