Ulster is the ancient province in the north-east region of Ireland (six of the old nine counties of Ulster form Northern Ireland) and these are a collection of local and regional recipes handed down within families who have lived and worked in the Ulster 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.
IRISH STEW (ULSTER)
2 lb (1Kg) scrag end or spare ribs of mutton, 1 pig’s kidney, 3 lb (1.4 Kg) potatoes, 1 lb (500g) onions, salt, pepper.
Wash the meat in cold water and remove all skin and extra fat. Cut into pieces. Skin the kidney and slice it. Cover meat and kidney with water in a pan and bring to the boil. Add plenty of salt and pepper. Skim of fat. Peel and slice onions and potatoes. Add half the potatoes to the stew and all the onions. Cover with remaining potatoes. Add boiling water to cover and simmer for 2 1/2 hours tightly covered.
This is a very traditional potato dish in Ireland, particularly in the northern counties, and especially in Ulster.
1 ½ lbs (750g) freshly cooked hot mashed potatoes, 4 tablespoons melted butter, 10 spring onions / scallions (or 2 leeks), cooked in 1/2 cup (120ml) milk, salt and pepper
Cook the chopped spring onions, green part as well as white, in the milk; drain but reserve the milk. Mash the hot potatoes, season to taste and then add the spring onion, Beat well together and add enough of the reserved hot milk to make the dish creamy and smooth. Put into a deep warmed dish, make a well in the centre and pour the hot melted butter into it. The dry potato is dipped into the well of butter when serving. Variations …
Champ can also be made with chopped parsley, chives, young nettle tops and freshly cooked young green peas. When using peas, they are kept whole and added last. For a supper dish, scrambled eggs are often served in the well in the centre. An attractive dish sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Choose some very big potatoes and peel them before boiling in the usual way. Cut a generous handful of chives into small pieces, add salt to taste. When the potatoes are sufficiently tender, drain, and pound thoroughly with a potato masher, after adding the chives and salt. Heat some milk to boiling point, pour over all, and stir well. Lift each helping on to a plate, make a well in the centre, and add a chunk of butter. Then lift each spoonful round the outer edge of the champ, dip it in the melted butter to eat.
(Rhodymenia palmata.) A reddish-brown seaweed found on all coasts of Ireland. Also called dillisk and dillesk. It is sold dried and to cook it 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.
Two dozen (12) of the later spring onion. The ones which are almost too coarse to use any other way are best for this dish. Crop the onions into small lengths and simmer in milk until tender. Meanwhile, boil or steam a good dish of potatoes. When cooked, mash them with a little milk. Strain the onions and add these to the potatoes, mixing well. Serve very hot. Add a large piece of butter to each plate of stelk after serving. Chives may be used instead of spring onions.
Geese ready for Michaelmas Day (29th Sept) are around 10 b in weight and tender…. potato is traditional Irish stuffing for goose.
10 lb (4.5 Kg) goose, goose giblets cooked in salted water.
For the Stuffing: 11/2 lb (750g) cooked potato, liver of goose, 1 medium chopped onion, 1/2 cup (100g) diced bacon, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon chopped sage, salt and pepper
Mix all the stuffing ingredients together and highly season. Put the stuffing in the body of the bird and secure the vent. Put the bird into a roasting pan with 1 cup of the goose giblets stock. Cover the bird with foil and roast in a hot oven (200C – 400F – gas 5) for the first half-hour then lower the heat (180C – 350F – gas 4) and cook for 20 minutes to the pound (40 minutes to the Kilo). Baste at least twice during the cooking adding another cup of stock if running dry. To allow the skin to crisp up, remove the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Onion sauce was always served with goose in the 18th and 19th centuries. Cook the onions in half milk and half water with a slice of turnip to draw out the strength. When cooked, mash the soft onions with a knob of butter, pinch of nutmeg, pepper, salt and beat until smooth. A little cream was sometimes used to finish.
2 quarts (2.2 Litres or 4 pints) fresh cockles, 1 1/2 oz (45g) butter, 2 pints (1.2 Litres) cockle liquid, 1 pint (600ml) milk, 1-2 ribs chopped celery, 1 oz (30g) flour, chopped parsley, pepper, salt.
Boil the cockles in plenty of water until they open. Strain the liquid, shell the cockles, Heat the butter, and stir in the flour. Gradually add the two pints of liquid and the milk, stirring all the while. Add the celery, salt and pepper. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add cockles and parsley and simmer a few minutes longer.
4 dozen (48) cockles, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 2 heaped tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup (100g) chopped celery (optional), 2 heaped tablespoons flour, 2 pints (1.2 Litres or 4 cups) cockle stock, 1 pint (600ml or 2 cups) milk, salt and pepper, juice of 1 lemon
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 lemon juice on each portion.
The ingredients and method are the same as for ‘boiled cockles’ (recipe above), just add a little grated onion, put in a shallow pie tin, and then cover with a short-crust pastry crust, which is baked in the oven for 30 minutes and served hot.
BOXTY (or BROXTY)
Peel and wash large potatoes, grate them into a basin, drain lightly, and to each cupful of grated potatoes add 1 level teaspoonful salt, 1/2 cupful flour and enough milk to make a fairly stiff batter. Leave to stand for 1 hour, then fry like pancakes in bacon dripping. Serve hot with butter.
As with potato bread, the potatoes were mashed, salt added, and enough flour worked in to make a pliable dough. The dough was then divided. One half was rolled into a round on a floured board. On this round apples were sliced and sprinkled with sugar. The other round was then rolled out and used as a covering for the round covered with apples. The edges were then sealed and the cake was put on a heated griddle and allowed to cook slowly and evenly over the open fire. When cooked on one side it was turned and cooked on the other side. Give a few more turns to ensure the apples are properly cooked. Serve warm spread with butter.
1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) buttermilk, 2 teaspoon bicarbonate powder (or baking powder), 10 oz (280g or 2 1/2 cups) flour, pinch of salt
Dissolve the bicarbonate in two tablespoons of buttermilk then mix the flour into the rest of the buttermilk until a soft dough is formed. Add a good pinch of salt and bicarbonate and mix very well. Turn out on to a floured board or table, roll lightly and cut into 2 inch (5cm) rounds making 12 scones. Put on to a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in a hot oven (200C – 400F – gas 5) for 15 minutes. Split in half and serve hot with butter.
PICKLED or SOUSED HERRINGS / MACKEREL
2 herring per person, 1 teaspoon pickling spice, 2 bay leaves, vinegar and water to cover, 1 large sliced onion for 8 fish, salt and pepper
Clean the fish and remove the heads and tails. It is not necessary to fillet the herring. Rub a little salt into the skin and lay them in an oven-proof dish. Add the bay leaves, pickling spice, the thinly sliced onion and barely cover the fish with a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Cover with a lid or aluminium foil and bake in a moderate oven (150C – 300F – gas 3) for 30 -40 minutes. Leave to get cold in the liquid. They are also served cold with a little of the tangy liquid poured over. Also for mackerel.
YEASTED FRUIT LOAF
2 oz (60g) yeast, 2 eggs, 1/2 pt (300ml or 1 cup) warm potato water or water, 2 tablespoons lukewarm mashed potatoes, 8 level tablespoons sugar, 1lb 5 oz (640g or 5 1/4 cups) approx un-sifted flour 1/4 lb (125g or 1/2 cup) butter, 5 oz (140g or 1 cup) seedless raisins, 1 teaspoon salt.
This makes two loaves for tin size 9 in (23cm) by 5 in (13cm) and 3 in 7.5cm) high. Omit the fruit if a plain loaf is preferred.
Cream the yeast in the warm potato water: then add the mashed potatoes. 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 cup (115g or or 4 oz) flour. Mix well until it is smooth, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes. Stir again then add the rest of the sugar and another cup of flour. Beat until smooth. Now add the beaten eggs and the butter. Put in the raisins, the remaining flour and the salt and mix to make a soft dough. Knead for about 5 minutes then put into a greased bowl turning once. Cover over again as before and leave for 1 hour. With the knuckles, punch it down and leave for 5 minutes. Divide into two and shape to size of tines the put into the greased tins, cover and leave in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk, about 35-40 minutes. Bake in a moderate to hot oven (180C – 350F – gas 4) for 50-60 minutes. Test with a skewer if in doubt. When properly cooked, the loaf will have a hollow sound when tapped at the bottom.
CHOCOLATE SANDWICH CAKE
This chocolate cake is unusual in that it contains mashed potato. This makes the cake hold the moisture and so prevents becoming dry, it also gives the cake a close texture and substantial body.
6 oz (170g or 1 1/2 cups) self raising flour, 6 oz (170g or 2/3 cup) caster sugar
2 oz (60g) plain chocolate melted or 4 level tablespoons cocoa powder, 3 oz (85g or 1/3 cup) cooked mashed potato, 4 oz (115g or 1/2 cup) butter, 4 tablespoons milk, 2 eggs.
Cream the butter and sugar with the mashed potato, then add the melted chocolate or cocoa. Add the beaten eggs alternately with the flour and the salt. Finally pour in the milk, mixing well to make a soft dropping consistency.
Well grease two 8 inch (20cm) sandwich tins and divide the mixture equally between them. Cook in a moderate oven (200C – 400F – gas 6) for 25 – 30 minutes. The top will be firm and springy to the touch when it is cooked. Let the cakes cool for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack. The two sides are sandwiched together with whipped cream or chocolate icing.
COD’S ROE RAMKINS
This Cod’s roe recipe comes from the turn of the century and is a very traditional breakfast dish in Ireland. The cooked roe is cut into half-inch slices and fried on both sides in bacon fat. It is delicious eaten with rashers of bacon for breakfast but with a salad makes a light dish for luncheon. To cook the roe, wrap it in a piece of cheesecloth and put into warmed salted water in a pan. Cook very gently – the water should no more than just bubble – for at least 30 minutes. When cooked remove from pan and let it get cold. With the outer membrane left on the roe keeps moist but it is removed before using.
1/2 lb (250g) cooked cod’s roe, 1/4 cup (60ml) of cream, 2 cups (200g) loosely packed fresh breadcrumbs, 2 eggs separated, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, a pinch of mace, salt and pepper.
Serves 4. Mash the roe and mix with breadcrumbs, mace and seasonings. Add the parsley, lemon juice and the beaten egg yolks mixed with the cream. Leave for 10 minutes until the breadcrumbs have absorbed all the moisture. Then add the stiffly beaten egg whites. Put either into individual greased dishes or one big one and bake in a hot oven (200C – 400F – gas 5) for about 15 minutes for the small individual ones and 30 minutes for the large one or until they have puffed up and are golden brown.
PORK OR LAMB CISTE
This is a traditional Irish dish – a ciste is a large disc of ‘dumpling’ or ‘doughboy’ used as a pie crust.
6 pork or lamb chops trimmed of fat but bones left in. 3 pork kidneys or 1/2 lb (250g) pig’s liver or lamb equivalent. 2 medium onions, 1 large sliced carrot, 1 pt (600ml or 2cups) approx stock or water, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon chopped thyme, 1 bay leaf, salt and pepper
For the Ciste
8 oz (225g or 2 cups) flour, 4 oz (115g or 1 cup) grated suet, 1/2 cup (100g) sultanas (for pork only),1/2 cup (120ml) approx milk for mixing, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Put the prepared chops around the inside edge of a medium sized saucepan with the bone ends sticking up and the chopped kidney or liver, sliced carrot, onions and herbs in the centre. Season well and add enough water or stock to barely cover the vegetables etc in the middle. Put the lid on and simmer gently for about 30 minutes. Then taste and adjust seasoning if needed. During the simmering time make the ciste by mixing the flour, suet, baking powder and salt to a stiffish dough with the milk. It should be the consistency of pastry so add a little more milk if it seems to thick.
Put on to a floured board and gently roll out to the size of the top of the saucepan. It is then pressed down to meet the stew and if using lamb, the bones should be pressed through it. Cover with a tight lid but to allow for rising, see that the dough does not come to within an inch (2.5cm) of the top. Cook over a gentle heat for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. It is served by loosening the ciste with a knife run around the edge, then cutting into six wedges. These are placed around a deep dish and the stew is ladled into the middle. Each portion should consist of a wedge of ciste, a chop, kidney or liver and vegetables. If the chops are very small the quantity should be doubled. If preferred, Ciste can be cooked in a moderate oven for the same length of time.
1 lb (500g) tripe, 1 lb (500g) onions, 1 pint (600ml or 2 cups) milk, 2 slices lean ham or bacon, 2 tablespoons cornflour, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper
Prepare the tripe, then cut into 2 inch (5cm) pieces together with the ham. Peel and slice the onions and combine with the tripe, ham and milk. Season well, cover with a lid and simmer gently for around 2 hours. It can be cooked in a slow oven for the same amount of time. Dissolve the cornflour in a tablespoon of water, add to pan and let it boil up, stirring all the time. Add the chopped parsley 5 minutes before serving, sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and brown gently under the grill.
Cruibin is Irish for a pig’s trotters – this is a very traditional dish, but it also sometimes spelt and pronounced as ‘crubeens’. Note: the hind feet are the true cruibins, having more meat than the front feet. They are sold by many butchers already pickled but not cooked.
12 pickled pig’s trotters, 1 large carrot, 1 large onion, small bunch of mixed parsley and thyme, 1 bay leaf, water to cover, salt and pepper.
Put all ingredients into a large saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours. They can be eaten warm from the pot or cold when the liquid forms a thick jelly. Served with soda bread and stout.
MODERN METHOD: Take the meat from the bones after splitting the foot down the middle. Roll the meat in beaten egg mixed with dry mustard powder (1 teaspoon mustard for 2 eggs) and dip in breadcrumbs. Delicious fried in bacon fat on all sides or heated under a moderate grill. Allow two per person.
SAUCE FOR TRIPE, TONGUE, PIGS TROTTERS (CRUIBINS) OR CALF’S HEAD
1 teaspoon each of brown sugar, dry mustard and freshly ground black pepper mixed together and added to 1 tablespoon garlic vinegar. When well blended it is stirred into 1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) melted butter.
SAUCE FOR ROAST LAMB (VEAL OR PORK)
1 tablespoon capers, 6 filleted anchovies, 1 tablespoon dry mustard, 3 hard boiled egg yolks, 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, 1/2 pint (300ml or 1 cup) gravy from roast lamb or same of melted butter, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 chopped shallot, pinch of cayenne pepper.
Pound together the capers and parsley, then add the mashed egg yolks and mustard, When well mixed, add the anchovies, well mashed and stir in the oil, vinegar, cayenne and finely chopped shallot. When well pounded in a mortar, stir it into the hot gravy or melted butter and serve with roast lamb, chops or cutlets. It is also good with veal or pork in which case use the appropriate juices or melted butter. It is served hot and makes approx. 2 cups (400ml).