Feature: Garlic Scapes
Georgina Campbell writes about her discovery and love of a lesser-known seasonal vegetable.
It’s fair to say that garlic scapes are a pretty new concept to most Irish cooks, but they came to everyone’s attention in a big way when they famously featured on Donal and Sofie Skehan’s wedding menu in June 2015 – when, in the gorgeous country setting of Lisnavagh House, Co Carlow, the caterers (Jenni Glasgow and Reuven Diaz of Drogheda’s brilliant Eastern Seaboard) included scapes from Drummond House Farm, Co Louth, in two of the dishes served.
Garlic scapes are a bit like asparagus spears and, like asparagus, the season is short, lasting just a few weeks from late May into June.
All of the many varieties of garlic can be divided into two categories, softneck and hardneck. The strongly flavoured softneck garlic is the most familiar type, and it keeps well. Hardneck varieties grow better in northern areas and send up a strong central stalk in summer; they have a milder flavour than softneck varieties and are best used fresh.
Scapes are the flower stalks of hardneck garlic plants and elephant garlic, which is actually a variant of the leek although it looks like a very large garlic; it has an exceptionally mild garlicky flavour which makes it ideal for using raw in salads.
To prevent the plants wasting energy that should be going into bulb production, it is necessary to remove the flower stalks from hardneck garlic in early summer, and this provide a secondary product that can be used in cooking – scapes are ideal for pestos (see below) or garlic scape dressing, for example, and also delicious when deep fried, used in stir fries and barbecues, or to flavour butter.
Garlic is grown on a small scale by producers all over the country and will often be seen at farmers’ markets and speciality food stores in season.
However, as prices for mainstream vegetables are falling to a level that make it unsustainable for farmers to grow them, many enterprising growers are focusing instead on speciality crops, including garlic, that replace imports and can command a premium price.
There are now at least two commercial producers specialising in garlic, and growing a wide range of varieties:
RECIPE: Drummond Farm Garlic Scape Pesto
“Once a year we have the pleasure of being able to enjoy garlic scapes, a part of the garlic that many people sometimes discard before harvesting. But the scapes are an extremely flavourful part of the plant that can be used in salads, eaten whole or pickled. They’re also great for making this authentic garlic scape pesto. Here’s our recipe for homemade pesto which you can use as a dip with bread or as a sauce with pasta.”
You will need
10 large garlic scapes
1/3 cup of pistachio nuts
1/3 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
Black ground pepper and salt
21 June, 2016
West Cork Garlic Scapes
Drummond House Garlic Scapes
Drummond House Garlic Scape Pesto
Event: Irish Gin & Tonic Fest
Last year, Great Irish Beverages produced Dublin Gin & Tonic Fest - a citywide celebration of Irish gins. For 2016, they are taking the festival around the entire island of Ireland to all 32 counties!
Irish Gin & Tonic Fest is talking place from June 20th - 25th and lots of bars, restaurants and hotels in Ireland and Northern Ireland are involved. They are showing their love for supporting Irish drink products by showcasing in their venue one of eight Irish made gins with a tonic of their choice for the duration of the festival.
You, the public, may vote for your favourite Irish Gin & Tonic by using the #IrishGnT hashtag on twitter or by commenting on the Facebook page. The winning venue will receive a host of brilliant prizes and most importantly can lay claim that they have the finest Irish Gin & Tonic in all of Ireland!
In addition to the nationwide promo, a select number of venues will be doing special offers on Irish Gin & Tonics through the award winning food and drink online magazine website www.thetaste.ie. Also, some of the gin brands will be hosting special festival events & workshops - please stay tuned to social media for all updates and visit for a list of participating venues: www.greatirishbeverages.com.
The eight different, premium Irish gins involved this year come from every province in Ireland.
- Blackwater Distillery www.blackwaterdistillery.ie
- Bertha's Revenge www.ballyvolanespirits.ie
- Dingle Distillery www.dingledistillery.ie
- St Patrick's Distillery www.stpatricksdistillery.ie
- Dublin City Gin www.dublincitygin.com
- Glendalough Distillery www.glendaloughdistillery.com
- Shortcross Gin www.shortcrossgin.com
- Gunpowder Gin www.gunpowdergin.com
20 June, 2016
As goat meat is in season, Georgina Campbell hopes the world’s most popular meat may soon be featuring on more Irish menus.
The goat is the most widely used farm animal in the world for its milk, cheese and meat – yet, astonishingly, we hardly use it at all here, except for cheese.
It really is the invisible meat. A quick check through a couple of dozen of the most likely cookbooks in my collection revealed only one or two passing references and no actual recipes at all, and online searches which initially looked promising just churned out masses of recipes using goat cheese instead of the meat requested.
But all that could be about to change here, as a number of leading restaurants are beginning to put goat dishes on their menus and goat dairy farmers are seeing a new market emerging for their male kids.
Siobhan ni Ghairbhith, of St Tola Irish Goat Cheese in Co Clare, is Ireland’s most energetic goat ambassador, having won endless accolades for the St Tola range of cheese over a quarter of a century and constantly introduced new ideas to raise the profile of Irish goats.
Very aware of the growing interest in food tourism as well as artisan produce, St Tola is a leading member of the Burren Food Trail and has opened an Economusée on site, allowing visitors to get a taste of what the farm and cheesehouse is all about without booking the full tour. (This French / Canadian programme, facilitated in Ireland by Teagasc, aims to help craft and artisan food producers to open up small working museums.)
Siobhan ni Ghairbhith and the team at St Tola feel that it’s a shame that goat meat has a poor image. So what’s the problem? “There is some perception that goat or kid meat will be very strong but this is not true. For example Irish lamb has a strong flavour, but even adult goat meat does not taste as strong as lamb (and certainly not like mutton!) There is also still some association that the goat is the poor man’s cow... In this area, there was once a tradition of having kid meat at Easter, a tradition that has died out but that we hope will be revived in the future.”
They also point out that it’s a very healthy meat - “only 3% fat in goat meat and, as it does not marble throughout the meat, the fat is very easy to trim. This is as opposed to 21% in lamb, so quite a difference”. It’s versatile too, and can be substituted in many recipes where lamb or beef is usually called for although, being so low in fat, kid meat is usually best slow cooked: “think of lovely Caribbean Goat Curry...mmm!”
In Ireland most goats are farmed for their milk and cheesemaking, and St Tola is currently the main supplier of meat. “We are delighted to have some outlet for the male kids, this is always a problem in the dairy industry. The season for the meat runs from April to October.
Our kids are reared for a minimum of 12 weeks before slaughter. This is to give them a chance to fatten up a bit: as they are dairy breeds they don't put muscle on as fast as a breed kept specifically for meat (much like the difference between a Friesian cow and an Aberdeen Angus).”
Perhaps not surprisingly, Evan Doyle of The BrookLodge Hotel, Co Wicklow was one of the first to spot the potential of Irish goat meat and St Tola kid meat is on chef Tim Daly’s menus all the time when it’s in season.
One of Tim’s favourite dishes - and a very elegant one in the fine dining category - is slow cooked goat in puff pastry (a sort of ‘goat wellington’), which he serves with baby carrots, celeriac purée and a little wild garlic.
In Dublin, Chef Philip Mahon of The Fitzwilliam Hotel once created - and personally introduced - a whole menu around various cuts of goat meat, goat cheese and foraged/seasonal accompaniments for a Citron Supper Club, using goat sourced from Dundrum. Co.Tipperary. Although intended as a one off, it went down a treat.
“In August, when the weather is kind, we can do St Tola goat kebabs, and billy burgers with pineapple and tomato salsa. Later we would move to the traditional curry, and braised dishes using cumin, coriander etc. We also love trying out traditional dishes using goat as a replacement meat, moussaka, cottage pie, meat balls and salads, all on daily specials.”
Another huge fan of goat meat is Ross Quinn, of Vasco Dine Wine Deli & Eco Adventure at Fanore in West Clare: “Goat is probably our biggest seller apart from fish and seafood. It has become enormously popular from the slow introduction we had with it almost eight years ago. We source our meat from two locations - the Jeuken family organic farm behind Father Ted's house (Glenquin Farm) and from Siobhan at St. Tola.
The Jeuken's offer a special type of kid that is bred for meat whereas the St. Tola kids are bred for milk and then can be better used for hotpots, pies, stews and curries. They both produce wonderful meat.”
“As we move through the year we change our dishes considerably and, in particular, how we use the meat,” explains Ross. “In early spring and summer we do very little apart from sprinkle the cutlets with sea salt and olive oil and grill quickly for two minutes either side, serving them with baby roast potatoes, wild garlic tzatziki and a salad. In early summer we begin to marinate the meat cutlets in coriander, soy, mint, cider vinegar, sesame oil, ginger & honey before grilling them and serving them with a dressing (as above), spiced couscous and a summer slaw. `Then, in mid to late summer and into early autumn, we use lots of the shoulder meat for Caribbean style curries with coconut, allspice berries, coriander and cloves. We also have a great dish with slow-braised shoulder marinated in garlic and rosemary with borlotti beans (see recipe below). Another favourite as the meat develops stronger flavours is to cook it ever so slowly with chanterelles, blackcurrants, red wine and juniper berries, serving with steamed cabbage and baked potatoes.”
And that’s not all: “Our deli at Vasco sells a very popular sandwich based on slow-braised kid goat, apricot and ginger chutney and St. Tola Goat's cheese and our gourmet pie company, Connemara Pies, is also currently developing a pie for market, which we hope will join the rest of our range in being sold across Europe.”
WHERE TO BUY GOAT MEAT:
You may find goat meat in season at the Saturday Farmers’ Market at Harrys of Bridgend, Co Donegal, sold by a local farmer.
In Northern Ireland, the Cole family’s Broughgammon Farm (www.broughgammon.com), near Ballycastle, Co Antrim, rear goats for meat (‘cabrito’) along with several other interesting products, including free range rose veal and hand harvested seaweeds. They operate a farm shop (Tue-Fri and Sun, 10-5), and an online shop offers a range of meat boxes (mixed and individual meats).
In Co Down, Ian and Ann Wilson’s Tynedale Goat Kid Farm at 25 Lisnastrean Road Lisburn BT27 5PB [Tel: 078 4578 6584; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org]
specialises in rearing unwanted male kid goats from the dairy goat industry for meat. The tender young meat is used by chefs - well known restaurants to try include Saphyre, The Square Bistro, Coppi and Molly’s Yard - and may also be available from the farm.
Chef David McCann of Dromoland Castle devised this fun recipe for ‘Billy’ Burgers with Chilli and Onion Salsa for Shannigans ‘gastro bar’ at The Inn at Dromoland, Co Clare.
For the flavoured butter
8 crushed green peppercorns
pinch of chopped parsley / sage,
1 clove garlic, crushed
For the burgers
600g minced kid goat (it’s all very tender)
zest of 1 lime, or to taste
seasoning, a pinch of each: sea salt, ground cumin, paprika & pepper
For the salsa
(best if made 1 hour in advance)
100mls cider vinegar
2tsp brown sugar
dash of soy sauce
2 red onion finely diced
1 red chilli finely diced (seeds removed)
1 peeled granny smith apple, diced finely
dash of rape seed oil
drop of toasted sesame seed oil
drop of lime juice
4 burger buns, good quality Irish (ideally Waterford blaas)
4tsp quality mayonnaise
1tsp prepared horseradish sauce
4 slices of Saint Brigid cheese (semi-soft, made in Fermoy by Frank and Gudrun Shinnick; distributed by Sheridans)
Slow-cooked Burren Organic Kid Goat with Borlotti Beans and Rosemary is one of the most popular goat dishes served at Vasco Dine Wine Deli & Eco Adventure, Fanore, Co Clare. They source their kid goat meat locally from Jeuken Organic Farm, where the goats are bred for meat, and also from St Tola Goat Farm, where they are the unwanted male kids in a dairy herd.
1 onion diced
1 stick celery sliced thinly
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
800g trimmed & diced kid goat shoulder
handful of flour
2 large sprigs of rosemary finely chopped
2 small grated carrots
200g borlotti beans (soaked overnight)
1 bottle of Stonewell cider (from Kinsale, Co Cork)
1 litre chicken stock
600g of baby salad potatoes
sea salt, cracked black pepper
Many recipes for lamb and beef are easily adaptable for goat meat. This Lamb and squash curry from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s excellent River Cottage Every Day (Bloomsbury, hardback) would make a good start.
“Slow simmering renders the meat meltingly tender, while adding a jar of chutney is a great shortcut to creating real depth of flavour. Use a good, spicy, fruity chutney - if it's home-made, all the better. I have no qualms about using a good-quality ready-made curry powder or masala in a recipe like this, but including some freshly ground cumin and coriander certainly enhances the flavour.”
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1.5kg shoulder (or neck) of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 4cm cubes
3 tablespoons rapeseed or sunflower oil
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6cm piece of fresh ginger, grated
3-6 teaspoons medium- hot curry powder, to taste
500g jar of chutney
1 bay leaf
Water or stock to cover
About 750g butternut or Crown Prince squash, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
Cayenne pepper (optional)
A handful of coriander sprigs (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
10 May, 2016
Siobhan ni Ghairbhith at St Tola
Vasco goat sandwich
Vasco goat cutlets
Dromoland's Billy Burgers with chilli and onion salsa
River Cottage lamb and squash curry
Links of Interest
Bord Bia announces Brexit support for Irish food and drink exporters and has prepared a paper outlining Ireland’s trade with the UK and possible implications resulting from the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The Irish Food Writers’ Guild is grateful to the Herbert Park Hotel for their ongoing generosity in hosting our regular meetings in their excellent facilities.
+353 (0)86 815 8066
2014 © Irish Food Writers' Guild. All Rights Reserved.