Munster is the ancient province in the south-west region of Ireland, and these are a collection of local and regional recipes handed down within families who have lived and worked in the Munster area. All of the recipes below are regionally authentic, originally coming from recipe books published in the 1800s or 1900s, with the weights and measurements adjusted (alongside the old standards) where appropriate for the modern kitchen.
1 lb (500g or 3cups) sultanas, 1 lb (500g or 3 cups) raisins, 1 lb (500g or 2 1/3 cups) brown sugar, 3 cups (720 ml) milk less tea or 1/2 tea and 1/2 Irish whiskey.
Soak the fruit and sugar in the tea overnight. Next day, add alternately:
1 lb (500g or 4 cups) flour and 3 beaten eggs, Finally, 3 level teaspoons baking powder. If a spiced brack is liked, add the same (3 teaspoons) of mixed spices.
Turn into three greased loaf tins 8 inch (20cm) by 4 inch (11cm) and 3 inch (7.5cm) high and bake for 1 1/2 hours in a moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 3). When cook, brush the top with melted honey to give it a fine glaze.
Barm is the old word for yeast. This ‘cake’ was eaten all year round, but particularly at Hallowe’en when it has a little ‘gold ring’ baked in it – and whosoever gets the gold ring, would be married within the year.
1 lb (500g or 4 cups) flour, 3 oz (85g or 3/4 cup) caster sugar, 1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) tepid milk, 3/4oz (25g) yeast, 1/2 lb (250g or 1 1/4 cups) sultanas, 4 oz (115g or 1 cup) currants, 2 heaped tablespoons butter, 2 oz (60g or 1/2 cup) mixed chopped candied peel, 1/2 level teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 level teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 level teaspoon salt, 1 egg
All utensils should be warm before starting to make a brack. Sift the flour, spices and salt together then rub in the butter. Cream the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 1 teaspoon of the tepid milk. This should froth up. The yeast is old and stale if it does not froth. Add the rest of the sugar to the flour mixture and blend well. Then pour the tepid milk and the beaten egg on the yeast mixture and combine with the flour mix. Beat well with a wooden spoon or turn into the warmed bowl of an electric mixer for 5 minutes. The batter should be stiff but elastic. Fold in the dried fruit and chopped peel, cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place until the dough is twice the size. Turn out and divide into two portions. Grease two 7 inch (18cm) cake tins and put one portion in each tin. If using and adding in a little gold ring this should be placed in one tin at this stage. Cover again and leave to rise for about 30 minutes. Bake in a moderate to hot oven (200C – 400F – gas 5-6) for about 1 hour. Test with a skewer before taking out of the oven. Glaze the top with 1 tablespoon sugar dissolved in 2 tablespoons boiling water and put back in the hot oven for about 3 minutes. Turn out to cool on a wire tray and when cool serve in slices with butter. Barm Brack keeps well but if it does get stale it is very good toasted and served with butter, or soaked with a little ale or beer to revive it.
2 cups (250g) self-raising flour, 1/4 cup (60ml) milk, 2 heaped tablespoons butter or other fat, caraway seeds (optional), 1 1/2 cups (400g) mashed potato, salt.
Mix butter into the flour and add a good pinch of salt. Then mix in the mashed potato and pour in the milk to make a soft (not slack) dough. Roll out on a floured board and cut into rounds about 3 in across. Sprinkle a few caraway seeds on top of each cake and bake in a hot oven (230C – 450F – gas 6-7) for 20-30 minutes. Eat them hot, split across the middle and spread with butter. This dough can also be used to line a savoury flan tin. Makes about nine cakes.
STUFFED PORK TENDERLOIN STEAKS
2 Pork steaks, 2 tablespoons butter, 1 cup water
The fillet of the pig is lean and one of the most traditional cuts of meat in Ireland. Pork steaks from the fillet can be roasted, grilled or casseroled. For stuffing – the steaks are slit along the length, down the centre but not cut through. The two flaps are then pulled gently so the gap widens out. Then with a sharp knife, it is scored down the length without cutting through the meat so that it presents a flattish rectangular shape when you have finished. They are now ready for stuffing – see the recipe below.
2 cups (200g) fresh white breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 teaspoon each fresh chopped thyme and sage, 1 medium onion, finely grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon, a pinch of mace, milk, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs with just enough milk to moisten but not to make them sloppy; about 1/4 cup (50g) should be ample. Add all the other ingredients and mix well. Some cooks add an egg to the mix, other cooks say an egg tends to harden it.
There are two ways of stuffing pork steaks, both equally good. The first method is to lay the stuffing on one flattened steak, cover with the other and secure with skewers or butchers string. The other method is to roll up the steak with the stuffing so that you have short chunky rolls which are then secured with skewers or string. Whichever way is chosen, they are then rubbed with butter and lightly seasoned, then put into a roasting pan if they are being roasted, or in a casserole if being braised.
1 cup (240ml) of water is added to the roasting pan, it is covered with oven foil and roasted in a moderate to hog oven (180C – 350F – gas 4) for about 1 hour. They can be turned half-way and basted. The addition of an unpeeled but quartered orange to the liquid is not traditional but gives a sweetness to the pork. The gravy is reduced over a hot flame or thickened if desired. Pork steaks are good hot or cold.
For braising, the stuffed steaks are put into a casserole, with stock or water added and finely sliced root vegetables. Again, a little grated orange peel gives a fine flavour. The lid is put on and it is cooked in a slow to moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 2) for about 1 1/2 hours.
“There is in every cook’s opinion, No savoury dish without an onion; But lest your kissing should be spoiled. The onion must be thoroughly boiled.” Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
1 large onion per person, a little water.
Put the onions in a baking tin, unpeeled, with about 1 inch (2.5cm) of water, not more. Bake in a slow to moderate oven (120C – 250F – gas 2) for 1 1/2-2 hours or until they are soft when squeezed. To eat, the outer brown skin is pulled back and cut at the root and the onion is eaten with salt and pepper and a pat of butter. One of the most delicious ways of serving onions – and especially if eaten with ‘Pratie Oaten’.
2 cups (500g) warm mashed potatoes, 1 cup (200g) fine oatmeal, 1/2 cup (115g) melted butter, salt
Makes approximately 15. Work enough fine oatmeal into the potatoes to form a dough which is fairly soft. Add salt and enough melted butter or good bacon dripping to bind it. Scatter plenty of oatmeal on a board and roll out the dough. Cut into shapes and either cook on both sides on a hot greased griddle in the oven or fry in a little bacon fat on top of the stove. Serve hot. They are very good for breakfast with bacon, eggs and sausages or Baked Onions.
TROUT BAKED IN WINE
4 trout (1 per person) 1/2 bottle white wine, 4 oz (115g or 1/2 cup) butter, 1/2 lemon, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, salt and white pepper
Mix the chopped parsley into half the butter and then divide into four pats. Put one pat into each cleaned fish then place them in an oven-proof dish and rub salt and white pepper into them. Pour the wine around, cover and cook in a moderate to hot oven (180C – 350F – gas 4) for 20 minutes. Add the rest of the butter cut into small pieces and the juice of the half lemon. Cover again and cook for a further 10 minutes. These baked trout are delicious served hot or cold when the juices form a soft jelly when chilled. When served hot, cauliflower florets are excellent with this dish. In 18th and 19th century Ireland, the florets were barely covered in a little milk and cooked with a knob of butter and salt and pepper. The liquid almost evaporates and gives the cauliflower very good flavour.
IRISH STEW (MUNSTER)
In Munster a good Irish stew was thick and creamy, and was originally made with mutton, not lamb, and just potatoes and onions – it was thought that if carrots, turnips or pearl barley were added the pure flavour was spoilt, likewise if there was too much liquid.
3 lb (1.4 Kg) best end of neck chops, trimmed of fat, bone and gristle, 2 lb (1Kg) potatoes, 1 lb (500g) onions, 1 tablespoon mixed chopped parsley and thyme, 3/4 pint (450ml) stock, salt and pepper.
After trimming, cut the meat in fairly large pieces. Peel and slice the potatoes and onions. Put a layer of potatoes in a pan, some of the herbs, then sliced meat and finally onion. Season each layer well and repeat once more finishing with a thick layer of potatoes. Pour the liquid stock over and cover with a sheet of foil before putting on the lid. Either bake in a slow oven (120C – 250F – gas 1) or simmer very gently on top of the stove, shaking the pan from time to time so that it does not stick, for about two hours. If it seems to be getting too dry add a very little more liquid. Another method is to place the trimmed neck chops around the inside edge of a saucepan and put the sliced onion and small potatoes with herbs and seasonings in the middle. Add the water, put on the lid and then cook very slowly for about two hours until the meat is quite tender. Placing the meat around the edge makes for ease in serving.
OCEAN SWELL JELLY
Chondus crispus is a seaweed called Irish Moss or Sea Moss (which makes ‘Carragreen’). It is dark purple or green in colour but when dried it has a bleached look. Because of its gelatinous quality it is used as a vegetable gelatine and makes excellent jellies, aspics, beverages and even breads and pastries. The rich vitamin content makes it an ideal food substance and prepared ‘carrageen’ can be bought from most health food shops.
1/2 cup (100g) tightly packed carrageen, 2 heaped tablespoons sugar, 1 pint (600ml) water, 1 egg white, 1/4 pint (150ml or 1/2 cup) cream, peel of 1 lemon or vanilla flavouring if preferred
Steep the carrageen in water to cover for 10 minutes and then drain. Simmer for 25-30 minutes in 1 pint (600ml) of water with the sugar and lemon peel. Strain and let the liquid cool slightly. While it is cooling, whip the egg white stiffly and combine with the cream, also whipped. Mix with the carrageen liquid and gently heat up to just under boiling point. Pour into a wetted mould and chill. Turn out mould to serve and decorate with fresh fruit slices.
Cockles are extensively fished in County Kerry and they are known locally as Carpetshell and Kirkeen and in Irish, Ruacan.
4 dozen (48) cockles, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 heaped tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup (100g) chopped celery (optional), 2 heaped tablespoons flour, single (light) cream to taste, 2 pints (1.2 Litres or 4 cups) cockle stock, 1 pint (600ml or 2 cups) milk, salt and pepper
Scrub the cockles well to get rid of sand and grit. Then put them into a large saucepan with preferably sea water or salt water to cover. When the water is brought to the boil and the shells have opened up, do not continue cooking. Remove shells from the liquid to cool and when cool enough to handle remove cockles out of their shells. Melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour, then add the strained cockle juice and milk, stirring all the time until it is smoothly blended. Put in the chopped parsley, celery and seasoning and cook for 10 minutes. Finally add the cockles, heat and serve with a little cream on each portion.
BOILED COCKLES in County Down are cooked as above and when taken from their shells are heated up with butter, pepper, salt and the juice of a lemon.
COCKELTY PIE – cooked as for soup, a little grated onion added and covered with a pastry crust which is baked in the oven for 30 minutes and served hot.
In the 18th C the characteristic flavour of the Limerick smoked ham was obtained from juniper berries which grew freely in the county. All smoked hams should be soaked overnight in cold water, drained and then boiled for 20-25 minutes to the pound in cold water to cover, with a heaped tablespoon of brown sugar, pepper and a pinch of mace. When cooked the brown skin should be removed and, if serving boiled, the fatty layer covered with a mixture of half breadcrumbs, half brown sugar and a good pinch of ground cloves is then put into a slow oven to ‘set’ the crust. If a baked ham is preferred, bake with a cupful of ham stock for 30-40 minutes in a moderate oven
In County Sligo, when green winter vegetables in particular were scarce, watercress was cooked with ham or bacon joints. As watercress wilts down like spinach, at least a pound of picked watercress should be used for a 3-4 lb (1.4 to 1.8 Kg) ham. Cook the ham as before in cold water and 45 minutes before it is ready add the watercress. After the cooked ham has been removed, lift out the watercress with a strainer and squeeze out the liquid. Chop coarsely and arrange around the ham. The peppery flavour of watercress makes for a good contrast with sweet hams.
LEMON SAUCE FOR LIMERICK HAM /BOILED HAM
A suitable sauce for cooked ham is to melt 1 heaped tablespoon butter in a saucepan. Add the same amount of flour and when well mixed add 1 cup (24oml) of the hot ham stock. Stir until it boils and there are no lumps. Add the grated peel and juice of 1 lemon, stir again and serve hot.
Drisheen is the traditional name for a ‘black’ or ‘blood’ pudding from County Cork, traditionally made from sheep’s blood,
The pudding is made from two parts lamb’s blood, well salted to keep it liquid, to one part cream or full cream milk, mixed together with a handful of breadcrumbs or oatmeal, pepper and a pinch of mace with a sprig of tansy added. When made in the home and sausage casings not available, the mixture is poured into bowls and either steamed or cooked with the bowl in a pan of water in a moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 3) for about 1 hour. It can be eaten warm. When left to go cold, it is sliced and either fried or grilled often with bacon, eggs and sausages for breakfast or supper.
Traditional black pudding is made with pig’s blood, often with pigs liver.
The pudding is made from two parts pigs blood, well salted to keep it liquid, to one part cream or full cream milk, mixed together with a handful of breadcrumbs or oatmeal, pepper and a pinch of mace and a sprig of tyme. When made in the home and sausage casings not available, the mixture is poured into bowls and either steamed or cooked with the bowl in a pan of water in a moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 3) for about 1 hour. It can be eaten warm. When left to go cold, it is sliced and either fried or grilled often with bacon, eggs and sausages for breakfast or supper.
TIPPERARY BLOOD PUDDING
In Tipperary blood puddings were made from turkey or goose blood.
The pudding is made from two parts turkey or goose blood, well salted to keep it liquid, to one part cream or full cream milk, mixed together with a handful of breadcrumbs or oatmeal, pepper and a pinch of mace with a sprig of thyme. When made in the home, and sausage casings are not available, the mixture is poured into bowls and either steamed or cooked with the bowl in a pan of water in a moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 3) for about 1 hour. It can be eaten warm. When left to go cold, it is sliced and either fried or grilled for breakfast or supper.
BRAISED PLOVER (OR WOODCOCK)
4 plover, 3/4 pint (450ml or 2 cups) stock, 1/4 pint (150ml or 1/2 cup) white wine, 1 blade of mace, 1 tablespoon flour mixed with 1 tablespoon butter to thicken, juice of 1/2 lemon, salt and pepper
For the Stuffing: 4 hard boiled egg yolks, 4 artichoke bottoms, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, salt, pepper, pinch of nutmeg
Mix the stuffing ingredients together and divide into four. Put the stuffing in the body of each bird and then lay them in a casserole dish. Season them well, pour over the stock, wine and add the blade of mace. Cover and cook in a moderate oven (180C – 350F – gas 4) for 35 – 40 minutes. Thicken with the flour rubbed in butter, then add the lemon juice. Heat up before serving.
CORNED BEEF & CABBAGE / SALT BEEF
This dish is also called ‘salt beef’. The beef is rubbed with coarse salt to a thickness of about 1/4 inch (1cm) then with brown sugar and 1 teaspoon saltpetre. The joint is put into a bowl and turned each day for about a week. Before cooking it is advisable to soak the meat for at least 3 hours, the stock from the meat can then be used for soups.
4 lb (1.8Kg) corned beef, 1 large sliced carrot, 2 large onions – 1 stuck with 4 cloves, 1 large or 2 small cabbage, 1 teaspoon dry mustard powder, sprig of thyme and sprig of parsley, pepper, cold water.
Put the meat into a large saucepan with all the ingredients except the cabbage. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil, then skim off any scum. Cover and simmer very gently for 3/4 of an hour, then put in the trimmed and quartered cabbage. Leave a little of the stump on as this adds flavour. Cook the meat for 30 minutes to the pound and serve on a dish surrounded with the cabbage. When the stock is cold remove any fat from the top and add 1 lb (500g) split peas per 2 quarts (2.2 Litres – 4 pints) stock. Cook fairly fast for around 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until the peas become a puree. If the split peas are soaked overnight they will soften and cook much quicker.
(Rhodymenia palmata.) A reddish-brown seaweed found on all coasts of Ireland. Also called dillisk and dillesk. It is sold dried and can be eaten raw or added to fish or vegetable soup. To cook, the dulse must be soaked for 3 hours in cold water, then simmered in milk for the same time with a knob of butter and pepper. It can be added to mashed potatoes for Dulse Champ and goes with all meats or fish.
(Porphyra laciniata) or sea-spinach found on rocks all over Ireland. Called laver in England and Wales. Sloke should be simmered in water for 4 – 5 hours; drained then dressed with butter, cream and a squeeze of orange or lemon juice. Sloke is excellent with roast lamb, boiled ham or fish.
WILLICKS or WILLOCKS
(Littorina littorea) The local names in Ireland for periwinkles or winkles, which are small shellfish or sea snail. Winkles are boiled in the shells in cold sea water for 10 minutes. Traditionally, having used a pin to get them out of their shells, they are then dipped in fine oatmeal before eating.
SWEETBREADS AND BACON
1 lb (500g) of calf or lamb sweetbreads, 1 lb (500g) streaky bacon rashers, 1 small onion, 1/2 lb (250g) tomatoes (or 1 tin), 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 cup (240ml) water or stock, salt and pepper
Soak the sweetbreads in cold salted water for at least 30 minutes. Change the water, salt it and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 minutes, strain and let them get cold. When cool enough to handle remove any skin or membrane. Take the rind from the rashers and wrap each sweetbread in the bacon. If the sweetbreads are not all the same size, cut them accordingly. Place into a lightly greased, oven-proof dish and season well. Add the small onion finely chopped, the sliced peeled tomatoes and stock. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and cook in a moderate oven (180C – 350F – gas 4) for 35 – 40 minutes. Any unused bacon rashers can be rolled into curls and grilled. When serving, these crisp bacon curls can garnish the top of the sweetbreads.