Father’s Day – a special time for all the family

Connor and Lucia enjoying themselves in the kitchen

Connor and Lucia enjoying themselves in the kitchen

Being a dad to great twins, Connor and Lucia, I am getting to enjoy Father’s Day these past few years and I love it. And sure isn’t it great to have a day for us dads where we can get a bit of recognition for all the hard work that we do!!

But seriously, being a father is very important and special to me. It is something that I never take for granted and I think everyone who knows me knows how important family is to me. I was very close to my own father who was tragically killed 15 years ago in a road accident and I think of him a lot. I try to visit his grave after mass on a Sunday and then I go into the restaurant for the lunch service and then in the afternoon I am back home with Amelda and the twins. And that is the way life is. Family at the centre of things.

People always ask me if I do all the cooking at home because I am a chef; but I always tell them what a great cook my wife Amelda is. I am always getting cooked for and I think this surprises people. My sisters are great for inviting me around for dinner too and I never say no!

I think because I am a chef people have the impression that I would be the worst person to cook for because they think I will be picky; but the opposite is true. I am a dream to cook for. I love people cooking for me! I eat very simply at home. Good simple food is what I love.

It is true to say however that over the last 10 years or so there are many more men finding their way to the kitchen – and not just to eat. We have found at the Cookery School that there has been a lot of men enjoying our courses. We had a Mastering Meats course recently and half the people who came were men so it shows that Irish men are getting to be a dab hand in the kitchen too.

But for this Sunday you want to get the Father of the house to relax. I’m sure he will enjoy sitting down to watch the World Cup or the GAA on the TV and he will be even happier when he gets some culinary delights served up to him.

Below you will find two recipes. One is a fantastic little breakfast or brunch in the shape of sausage and red onion soda farls and the second is a nice traditional roast chicken.

Hope you enjoy and I hope the daddy of the house enjoys too!

Sausage and Red Onion Soda Farls

Very simple, very tasty and very moreish. I like to use sausages from a good quality butcher as the flavour will always be so much better.

Serves 4

8 pork and leek sausages
1 red onion, thinly sliced
olive oil, for drizzling
4 soda farls
1-2 tsp Dijon mustard
4 heaped tbsp Ballymaloe relish
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat a flat griddle or large frying pan until hot. Add the sausages and cook for 8-
10 minutes until golden brown and cooked through, turning occasionally. Drain on
kitchen paper and keep warm.

Add red onion to the pan, season to taste and drizzle over a little olive oil, then cook
for about for 4 minutes until softened and lightly golden, stirring occasionally.

Split the soda farls open at one end to make pockets. Cut the sausages in half and
put them into the farls with the sautéed red onion. Drizzle the mustard and
Ballymaloe relish over the sausages and press the edges together. Toast the farls on
the griddle for 1 1/2 minutes on each side until heated through and lightly toasted.
Cut each farl on the diagonal and arrange on warmed plates to serve.

A beautiful Roast Chicken on Father's Day

A beautiful Roast Chicken on Father’s Day

Roast Chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme

There is something very exciting about a whole roast chicken brought to the table – to me it reminds me of family Sunday lunches. The flavours here are really fantastic and really penetrate the flesh of the chicken.

Serves 4

1.5kg (3lb) chicken (preferably free-range or organic)
1 lemon
1 fresh thyme sprig
75g (3oz) butter, softened
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 red onions, peeled and halved
4 small carrots, peeled
1 leek, chopped in half
2 celery sticks, chopped in half
1 garlic bulb, broken into cloves (but not peeled)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp plain flour
120ml (4fl oz) white wine
600ml (1 pint) chicken or vegetable stock (page 00)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
roast potatoes and buttered peas, to serve

Take your chicken out of the fridge 30 minutes before it goes into the oven. Preheat the oven to 230C (450F), Gas mark 8. Finely grate the rind from the lemon and place the rind in a bowl, reserving the lemon. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and add to the lemon rind. Mix in the butter with the garlic and then season to taste.

Loosen the skin from the chicken breasts starting at the cavity end and working your hand underneath to release. Spread the butter evenly under the skin and lay the skin back down on top. Slash the chicken legs several times with a sharp knife (this is to help ensure crispy skin once cooked).

Place the onions in a roasting tin with the carrots, leeks, celery and garlic, tossing to coat in one tablespoon of the olive oil. Sit the chicken on top of the pile of vegetables and drizzle all over with the remaining olive oil, then season well, rubbing it all over and right into the slashes.

Cut the reserved lemon in half and put it inside the chicken’s cavity with the reserved thyme stalks. Place the chicken in the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 200C (400F), Gas mark 6. Roast the chicken for 1 hour and 20 minutes, basting the chicken halfway through cooking.

When the chicken is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer the chicken to a board and put the carrots and red onions on a warmed plate. Cover each with tin foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes while you make the gravy. Using a large spoon carefully remove most of the fat from the tin and then place the tin directly on the heat. Stir in the flour and then holding the tin steady, mash up the remaining vegetables as much as possible with a potato masher to release their juices.

Pour the wine into the tin and allow to bubble down, stirring continuously to blend the flour in. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes until slightly reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally. Take a large jug and set a sieve into it, then pour in the gravy mixture and use a ladle to push all of the liquid and some of the vegetables through with the back of the spoon. Stir in the juices from the resting chicken and season to taste. Transfer to a warmed gravy boat.

Carve the chicken into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the reserved carrots and red onion halves, the roast potatoes and buttered peas. Pour over the gravy to serve.

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