We asked Gerard Reidy, chef at the Delphi Mountain Resort in Leenane, Ireland, to be our "Chef on a Shoestring," and he accepted, agreeing to attempt to make an authentic, three-course Irish meal on our recession-busting budget of just $35, and without a corned-beef in sight!
The resort is surrounded by 400 acres of forest on one side, and rolling green mountains on the other.
Reidy draws his inspiration from the local land and sea, where they catch lobsters and mussels fresh every day in the Killary fjord. Organic lamb and beef come straight from the surrounding farms and hills. At the restaurant, Reidy focuses on wholesome and simple food.
His menu included Steamed Mussels, Irish Stew with fresh Irish Soda Bread, and Banana Bread for dessert.
Reidy also became part of our "How Low Can You Go" competition. The "Shoestring" chef with the lowest total will be invited back at the end of the year to prepare our blowout holiday meal!
Mussels: These mollusks have very thin shells and a slightly-sweet meat that's tougher than the oyster or the clam. When buying, smaller mussels tend to be more tender than large ones. Also, buy mussels with tightly closed shells or those that snap shut when tapped - otherwise they're not alive and fresh. Avoid those with broken shells, that feel heavy (meaning they're full of sand) or that feel light and loose when shaken (signaling that the mussel is dead). Mussels don't take long to cook; you'll know they are done when the shells open up. Discard any mussels that have not opened up after cooking.
Kerrygold Irish Butter: Kerrygold Butter is so appealingly golden, that it looks as though it has been colored, although the color is natural, coming from the beta-carotene in the intense green Irish grass consumed by the cows. Made in the style of all premium European butters, Kerrygold's higher fat content gives its butter a distinctive richness.
Rutabaga: The rutabaga is a root vegetable that originated as a cross between the cabbage and the turnip. It has a delicate sweetness and flavor that hints of the light freshness of cabbage and turnip.
Soda bread: A type of quick bread in which baking soda (otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate) is used for leavening rather than the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk. Other ingredients can be added such as raisins, egg or various forms of nuts. Soda bread can dry out quickly and is typically good for two to three days; it is best served warm or toasted.
2 pounds fresh mussels
1 onion small
1 cup white wine (sauvignon blanc)
1 bay leaf
3 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons butter (preferably Kerrygold)
1 cup fresh cream
1 bunch fresh basil leaf
1 bunch fresh curly parsley
Clean mussels by pulling out the beard and scraping off any barnacles attached to the mussel shell.
Finely chop small onion and place into medium sized saucepan with the butter to sweat for a few minutes.
Add the garlic which has been peeled and crushed and sweat for a further 2 minutes. Throw in the stalks from the parsley and the bay leaf.
Add mussels followed by white wine and cover with a lid. Cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
The mussels are cooked when shells have opened up. (Do not over cook as mussels will shrink in size and will become tough in texture.) Remove the mussels and set aside.
Strain the liquid stock from the mussels into a saucepan. Bring to a boil and reduce liquid by half.
Add cream to the stock and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes over low heat until sauce has a coating consistency.
In the meantime, place the parsley and basil leaves into a food blender and blend together with a little hot water until it forms a creamy paste.
Add paste to cream sauce and mix well together. Season with a little cracked black pepper.
Place mussels into large bowl and pour sauce over mussels.
Delphi Irish Stew
1-1/2 pounds Shoulder of Lamb (cubed)
3 whole carrots, rough chopped
1 rutabaga, rough chopped
1 turnip, rough chopped
3-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 medium potatoes
1 sprigs of fresh rosemary
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
6 cups water
2 pounds potatoes (mashed)
Peel and cut onion into large dice. Place large pot over high heat and add oil.
Place lamb and onion into pot and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes. Add carrot, rutabaga and turnip. Season with salt and pepper, add rosemary, and then cover with water.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
In the meantime peel the medium potatoes and cut into quarters.
Cook the other 2 pounds of potatoes in boiling water until tender to make mashed potatoes, about 20 minutes.
Now add potato quarters to the vegetables and lamb and cook for another 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked.
Finally stir in the mashed potatoes. Your stew is now ready.
Serve in large bowl.
For more recipes, go to Page 2.