Tuesday, March 22, 2011



Bouillabaisse is a Mediterranean dish which makes the best possible use of a wide selection of fresh seafood, and we love it at Oscars. Bouillabaisse is kind of a soup and stew hybrid which takes full advantage of a days catch like no other one pot dish can. This is a meal, which when made well and with the best possible ingredients is pure bliss on a warm spring evening. Additionally this dish is rarely made for less than ten persons in one serving making it a great idea for a late together.
Marseilles is the city which is most associated with bouillabaisse with the dish being regarded as a traditional fisherman’s meal. Fish is cooked in two ways in a bouillabaisse with some fish being cooked to the point of disintegration in order to make the sauce, these are normally smaller fish. The larger fish are more lightly cooked in the broth and commonly served separately. What distinguishes this stew is the selection n of herbs and spices used in flavouring the broth which is always parsley, and saffron the broth being made of onion, garlic and tomato. To serve a bouillabaisse in the traditional manner a rouille is required which is a garlic olive oil mayonnaise type sauce with a little saffron. The rouille is spread over thick fresh slices of bread and placed into serving bowls. The bouillabaisse is then poured over the bread and rouille at the table.

For this recipe I’ll give the basics of the dish but feel free to experiment with different fish. Conger eel is very traditional as is sea bass, monkfish, weever fish, octopus and gurnard.
• 1 kg potatoes
• ½ garlic
• 2 large onions
• 6 ripe tomatoes
• 200 ml of olive oil
• Bunch of fresh parsley and a little thyme
• 30 gram fennel
• 9 strands of saffron
• 10 slices of good sour dough bread
The Rouille
• 1 egg yolk
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 cup of olive oil
• 10 pistils of saffron
• salt and Cayenne pepper
1. Cut fish into large slices, leaving the bones.
2. Put the olive oil in a large casserole. Add the onions cleaned and sliced and garlic crushed; add tomatoes peeled and quartered, without seeds, brown at low heat.
3. Add the sliced fish, beginning with the thickest to the smallest. Cover with boiling water, and add the salt and the pepper, the fennel, the herbs and saffron. Simmer at a low heat, stirring from time to time so the fish doesn't stick to the casserole. Correct the seasoning. The bouillabaisse is cooked when the juice of the cooking is well blended with the oil and the water which takes around 25 minutes
4. Prepare the rouille: Remove the stem of the garlic, crush the cloves into a fine paste with a pestle in a mortar. Add the egg yolk and the saffron; blend in the olive oil little by little to make a mayonnaise, stirring it with the pestle.
5. Cook the potatoes, peeled and boiled and cut into large slices
6. Arrange the fish on a dish. Serve the sauce very hot with the rouille in bowls over thick slices of bread rubbed with garlic. Then serve the fish and the potatoes on a separate platter

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Irish lamb and stew

Text and photography by Michael O’ Meara

Connemara Hill Lamb / Uain Sleibhe Chonamara

Parma ham, Feta cheese, Champagne, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Roquefort cheese and Connemara hill lamb. So what do these and a select number of other great foods have in common? PGI or Protected Geographical Indication in other words the lamb reared in exclusive designated areas of Connemara is recognised as being unique, and as such is protected under EU law. The achievement of gaining this unique status is such that Greece has fought a legal battle for the past 20 years to gain this status for Feta cheese. Now that’s something for each and every person in Galway to be proud of. Any one familiar with Connemara hill lamb will have little difficulty verifying why hill lamb is so special. The lambs tend to mature at a slower rate which allows the meat develop a deeper, fuller flavour. Also the diet of the lamb which includes a distinctive selection of herbs and heathers adds considerably to the succulent taste and texture of the meat.
Lamb can be an expensive meat, but only if you have a preference for the prime cuts. The leg when roasted is delicious but can be time consuming so tends to be used mainly for Sunday roasts and the like. However there are many cuts of lamb which are great value for money. A well made Irish stew, although slow to cook when made in quantity this traditional stew is a real winner of a dish. A purist may argue that a real Irish stew simply contains mutton, onions and potatoes but I find the extra vegetables add to the dish.
Have great St. Patrick’s days from all of us at Oscars

Traditional Irish Stew, serves 6
1.5 kg. Shoulder of lamb diced
4 Onions chopped into medium sized pieces
4 carrots chopped medium slices
3 leeks washed well and chopped
4 sticks of celery chopped
6 large potatoes peeled and chopped into large pieces
A sprig of rosemary, thyme, and bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Place the meat into a large pot, cover with cold water, bring to the boil & drain off water. Place aside.
2. Place the meat into the pot with all the vegetables and herbs apart from the potatoes, allow boil. When boiling reduce the heat and simmer gently for around one hour.
3. After an hour add the potatoes and simmer for a further 30 minutes, season and serve.

Simply grilled lamb cutlets.
Season the cutlets with salt and pepper. Brush them with a little melted butter. Cook under a pre-heated grill for around 7 minutes on each side. Serve with a simple mint sauce

Home made mint sauce.
25mm balsamic vinegar
25gram sugar
25 gram fresh mint chopped fine
Simply mix the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved.

Roast leg of lamb.

Stud the leg with 3-4 cloves of garlic and season the meat with salt and black pepper. Cook in a pre-heated oven on a roasting pan at 220 centigrade, allowing 22 minutes for each 1 kg weight. Allow the lamb stand for 20 minutes before carving; this will cook the lamb pink. For well done lamb reduce the oven to 190 centigrade when placing the lamb into the oven and allow 45 minutes per 1 kg of meat plus 20 minutes in total.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Great Irish Pork

Michael O Meara
Oscars Bistro Galway


Really good quality pork is one of the foods that can really make a passionate chef all misty eyed. Pork is a meat which is still great value and when the cuts which are often regarded as the cheap parts are used a meal of outstanding value and taste can be had. For me the two best cuts of pork are the belly and ribs. Indeed these cuts require a little more work and attention than the more often used loin and legs but the little bit of effort is undoubtedly worth the work.
Pork ribs are a cut of meat which can be great fun to experiment with. Various aromatics, seasoning and spices can be incorporated into marinades. Even bacon ribs, when lightly cured make a fantastic addition to a barbeque. The making of a barbeque sauce is vital for the success of a great rib cook-up. I hate to say it, but the secret to a really good barbeque sauce is sugar, and lots of it. You see as you cook the ribs on a grill you must continuously baste the meat with a high sugar content sauce, this sauce will then caramelise with the natural juice of the pork forming a tasty, sticky layer of sauce on the pork which is both sweet and savoury. The sugar content of the sauce is balanced with vinegar; once this balance is achieved all sorts of flavourings can be used in a sauce.

This sauce can be made well in advance and will store in an airtight glass jar for up to a month
500 gram granulated sugar
500 ml white wine vinegar
1 large onion (chopped)
2 red chilli peppers
5 gram coriander seed
3 gram black pepper corn
300 gram tomato paste / puree
50 ml dark soy sauce
25 gram smoked paprika
Place the vinegar and sugar into a thick based pot and allow boil, add the chilli, coriander black pepper and onion and reduce by 25%
Add the soy sauce and tomato paste then season with salt. Blend completely and pour hot into sterilised jars to be used as desired.

To make BBQ pork ribs

Rub the ribs with chopped garlic, chopped rosemary, and olive oil as well as a little lemon juice and allow marinade for around 3 hours.

Place the ribs onto a barbeque and allow cook gently while turning often, when 90% cooked start basting on the bbq sauce while turning the ribs continuously. Allow the sauce to caramelise then add a little more building up a tasty glaze of sauce.