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"The Hard times Cook Book, Food on a Budget" with Eamonn O' Cathain

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Eamonn O Cathain
Former proprietor of legendary Dublin Restaurant Shay Beano, is a renowned chef who can be found regularly parading his encyclopedia knowledge of food (and music) on TV an radio and newspapers and magazines.

Mechoui of leg of Turkey

A mechoui is one of the loveliest of Moroccan dishes, usually made with lamb and traditionally associated with some of the more important festivals in the Islamic religious calender. It involves making a rich paste of butter and cumin, slicing into the flesh and rubbing the paste all over the meat and right inside it, then leaving it to work its magic on the joint before a slow roasting. I've adapted the original recipe for the leg of turkey: it works incredibly well, and provides you with a wholesome and cheap treat for a more elaborate weekend dinner or lunch.

Mechoui of leg of turkey

The total cost of this for 2 people is about €5

2 legs of turkey

To make the pommade (paste) for each leg:
. 50g butter
. 3 cloves of garlic
. 2 teaspoons ground cumin 3 teaspoons ground coriander 1 teaspoon paprika 2 teaspoons sea salt

1. To start, you need to cut deep slits into both sides of the leg, almost to the bone. Heat your oven to 220 degrees.
2. Have your butter at room temperature and mix with the crushed garlic, all the spices and half a teaspoon of sea salt until a very smooth paste is formed.
3. Use your fingers to rub this all over the leg of turkey, deep into the slits and all over the flesh.
4. Then put it into a roasting tin and place in the oven for ten minutes, keeping an eye on it, as you don't want the butter to burn.
5. Take it out of the oven, baste it with the juices that have formed, turn the oven down to around 160 degrees and place the leg back in the oven.
6. Leave to slow roast for about three hours, though it may not need even that much, but do turn it and baste it again every thirty minutes.
7. The turkey is ready when the meat is falling off the bone. A nice touch, I find, is to toast some cumin seeds in a pan and add them to the turkey for its last ten minutes in the oven. This mechoui is served with ground cumin and the rest of the sea salt on the side.
8. This is hearty, festive stuff, so you may want to serve with something relatively simple to mop up those juices - such as saffron potatoes, rice, spinach or grilled courgettes.

Apple and Cranberry Crumble

The cost of this crumble is €4.50 and it serves 4 people

The auld crumble has fair stood the test of time, currently being one of the most popular desserts in France. Not content with nicking this most British of desserts, they are adapting the recipe for numerous savoury starters over there - a 'crumble of foie gras' being one of the most daring that I have seen.

In Ireland, cranberries have become very popular, joining blueberries and pomegranates in the 'superfood' stakes, so here's an idea for an apple and cranberry crumble, should the notion take you.

. About 4 apples (roughly 800g)
. 80g cranberries (fresh or frozen)
. 1 knob of butter 'Four-spice' mix
. 100g plain flour
. 100g chilled butter
. 80g demerara sugar or 'cassonade'
. 80g ground almonds

1. Wash and peel the apples, then cut them into small dice, throwing away the core.
2. Melt the butter in a pot and add the apples and cranberries, followed by the spice mix and a little water.
3. Mix well, then allow to simmer for around ten minutes.
4. In a salad bowl, mix the flour, sugar and ground almonds. Slowly add the chilled butter in small cubes, incorporating it quickly using your fingers. The mixture should take on a sandy texture.
5. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put the cranberry and apple mixture in a gratin dish and, using a ta- blespoon, put the crumble mixture on top without piling it up.
6. Smooth it out with the back of the spoon and place in the oven for around twenty minutes, or until the crumble is nicely browned.