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Budget Food with Richie Wilson!

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Richie Wilson Head Chef at the Morrison

In November 2006, the Morrison appointed Richie Wilson as Executive Head Chef in its newly restyled Halo restaurant.
Richie has a wealth of experience and has worked in a number of Irelands's top restaurants and hotels. Richie's love for the kitchen began in The Gresham Hotel and was followed by Jobs in Chez Hugo's and the renowned McGrattain's Restaurant before attending college in Athlone I.T. After graduating as Ireland's Young Professional Chef of the Year, Richie received a scholarship to Johnson and Whales Culinary Arts University in Rhode Island. On his return he took up a position in The Hibernian Hotel before taking a position in Paul Flynn's Tannery Restaurant and after 3 years with Paul he spent 3 years with the 2 Michelin Starred, Kevin Thornton in Thornton's Restaurant. The Westin Hotel was the next stop and most recently Richie was responsible for opening the food operations at the new Hilton Hotel Dublin Airport.

Richie serves up a fusion of modern European cuisine using Irish produce wherever possible. He ensures that all produce used is of the highest quality and he believes that the secret to good food is having an excellent relationship with your supplier. Richie believes in carefully selecting his suppliers and he prefers to deal with small suppliers who take great pride in their produce.
The menu in Halo offers a range of styles to suit every palate and the emphasis is on rounded tastes that are artfully presented. The White Asparagus Mousse starter is a wonderful example of this. Here Richie provides art on a plate with wild asparagus, white and green asparagus, gentle twists of white asparagus mousse and edible flowers including blue salvia and daisies for a pretty and fresh look.

When asked who Richie's influences are he reveals that his grandmother was his first influence. He remembers watching her deftly make pastry from a very young age and he claims she made the best pastry in Ireland - due to her cold hands, but warm heart. His second influence is Delia Smith who according to Richie brought basic cookery skills to the masses and was the Nigella Lawson of the 80's in terms of sexy housewife appeal.

Richie believes in using traditional menu items as his inspiration and then bringing them back to life with new flavours and twists. His Coffee Break dessert is a great example of this. Richie remembers queuing at the counter of a Café with his mum who would take a tray and order a cup of coffee with a slice of cake, dollop of cream and a fork on the side of the plate. His Coffee Break replicates that idea. The plate is the tray, the dried raspberry wafer coulis is the plate, the coffee, chocolate and crème brulee flavoured mini slice of cake sits on top of that with a swirl of fresh cream to the side. He even recreates the cup of coffee with a miniature chocolate cup on a wafer saucer filled with coffee flavoured fondant. The finishing touch is the chocolate dusted fork on the side of the plate.

So how does Richie run his kitchen? "No shouting. I have worked in kitchens over the years where you got roared at and it never made me cook any better. This is a stressful game with long and unsociable hours but it is passionate and I love it. My team are super and I want to keep them and show them what I have learned. I just don't see the point of abusing your own team members to the point where they break down, it's a stressful enough game but I couldn't ever imagine doing anything else."
Tips for keeping food shopping under budget: Richie can talk about these as he goes.

1. Make a list with all the meals for a week you like to cook. That makes shopping quicker and cheaper.

2. Try not to cook more than you need for the meal.

3. Always try to grow as much of your own stuff as possible especially herbs and garlic.

4. Never throw leftovers away. In the fridge or freezer you can store them for at least a few days and create new recipes with them.

5. Go to the supermarket half an hour before it closes, - on the one hand, because there are no queues at the checkout - and on the other hand, fresh products like fruit or vegetables or meat, which they can't sell the next day, are also about 50 % cheaper.

6. Cook less expensive cuts of meat and offals. They often give more flavor anyways - just need to be cooked differently.

7. Never shop when you are hungry!!!!

Sautéed Lambs Liver, Lacour Potatoes
Red Wine Vinaigrette with French Fried Onions and Fine Beans

4 portions

Ingredients: Price Shop

720g Lambs Liver 3.16 Tesco

150g Streaky Bacon 0.74 Lidl

1.2kg Potatoes 0.63 Lidl

1lg Onion 0.11 Lidl

1clove Garlic 0.02 Lidl

10g Parsley 0.17 Lidl

10g Thyme 0.17 Lidl

2each Shallot 0.35 Tesco

100ml Red Wine Vinegar 0.42 Tesco

1each Beef Stock 0.08 Lidl

200ml Milk 0.15 Lidl

100g Plain Flour 0.13 Tesco

400g Fine Beans 3.38 Tesco


Total 9.51


  1. Lamb's liver is perfect for those in the family that don't like strong tasting offal, but, you do need to ensure the liver you buy is fresh. About an hour or so before you intend to cook the liver, slice it into roughly 180g portion sizes, place these portions into a bowl and pour over 100 ml of the milk. Allow this to soak in the fridge for an hour before you serve, this will freshen up the liver and remove any stronger flavors from it!
  2. To make the French fried onions, begin by peeling the onions and trimming the top and bottom off (chop these trimming and save for the beans a little later in the recipe).Once trimmed slice thin circles of onion (it may be better to use a mandolin for this). Once sliced place the onions in a bowl along with the remaining milk and place in a fridge for a few hours. Once ready to serve, remove the onions from the milk and place in a bowl with the flour. Toss the onions well in the flour and then place in a deep fat fryer at 180 degrees. Gently and careful stir the onions as they cook, until they are golden brown. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper to dry. Add a little salt before serving.
  3. For the Potatoes begin by peeling them and cutting them into about inch square pieces, don't worry if each piece is not square, they should be quite rustic so there is no need for waste. Once chopped rinse the potatoes and dry, place in a deep fryer at 180 degrees until golden brown, about 5 minutes.
  4. While they are cooking, chop the bacon into small strips. Add a little oil to a large hot pot over a moderate heat, add the bacon to this once the pot is hot. Turn the bacon continuously until it is crisp. Now reduce the heat on the pot and add one of the chopped shallots along with the crushed garlic and thyme, turn this over a very low heat for 4-5 minutes. Now add the potatoes, straight from the fryer, mix well in the pot and place a tight fitting lid on. Remove the pot from the heat and leave with the lid on for a few moments while you finish the rest of the dish. Once ready to serve the dish, add the chopped parsley to the potatoes.
  5. Place a non stick pan over a high heat. Remove the liver from the milk and pat dry with a little kitchen paper. Drizzle a little oil in the pan and season the liver before placing it on the pan. Cook over a moderate heat for only 2-3 minutes, the liver should be served pink but of course if you prefer it well done just continue to cook a little longer. Once cook remove from the pan and keep in a warm oven while finishing the sauce.
  6. In the same pan you cooked the liver in, add the remaining shallot over a moderate heat until they have softened. Turn the heat up to high and add the vinegar, reduce this by half before adding the stock and a small drop of water to help it mix. Once it has boiled, check the seasoning and your sauce is ready.
  7. As an accompaniment to this dish, blanch the French beans in boiling water and strain well. When you are ready to serve heat a pan and add a little olive oil along with the chopped trimmings from the onion and the French Beans, turn over a high heat until heated through.

To Present

On a hot plate place a small pile of potatoes in the centre and place the liver on top. Scatter the beans around the plate. Drizzle some sauce over the top of the liver and around the plate. Now top the liver off with a generous pile of French fried onions gorgeous. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash and Courgette Risotto

4 portions


Ingredients: Price Shop

300g Arborio Rice 0.95 Tesco

1500ml Chicken/Vegetable Stock 0.08 Lidl

3tbsp Olive Oil

3each Diced Shallot 0.53 Tesco

1Clove Crushed Garlic 0.02 Lidl

1pinch Salt and Pepper

20g Parmesan Cheese(dry) 0.33 Tesco

10g Finely Chopped Thyme 0.17 Lidl

10g Chives 0.17 Lidl

10g Chopped Flat Leaf Parsley 0.17 Lidl

1each Butternut Squash 0.79 Tesco

1each Courgette 0.74 Lidl

2tsp Honey 0.08 Lidl

100ml Cream 0.47 Lidl

50g Unsalted buter 0.34 Tesco

Total 4.84


Begin by preparing the Squash and Courgette, as this is the main accompaniment to the risotto we want to try to get as much flavour from them as possible. Dice the courgette into small even size cubes. Pour a little olive oil onto a very hot pan and add the courgette, season with salt and pepper and add the time. Toss over a high heat for about 2 minutes, the courgette should still have a little bite to it when you remove it from the heat, now add a half tea spoon of crushed garlic and mix well. Set this to one side.

For the Squash:

For the squash, cut in half from top to bottom, remove the seeds from both sides. Peel and finely dice one half and proceed in a pan as you did with the courgette allowing 4 minutes for this to cook. Now take the second half and score with a knife in a cris-cross fashion, season well with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little oil and the honey. Place in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees and cook for about 20 minutes or until the squash has become quite soft. Remove from the oven and scoop the squash from the skin. Now place this into a blender along with the cream and blend until smooth before passing through a fine sieve. Place this into a pot ready to re heat later.

For the Sauce:

Bring the double chicken stock to the boil and add the butter, simmer lighlty and blend before returning to the pot ready to use as a sauce later.

For the Risotto:

Bring the stock to a simmer. In a second pot add a little olive oil over a low heat and add the Shallots and cook slowly for 4 minutes, as the shallots become transparent add a pinch of thyme and garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the Arborio rice, stirring until the grains are well coated in the juices. Add a ladle full of the hot stock at a time, stirring until it has been absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladle at a time until it has all been absorbed or the rice has become tender. This will take about 18 minutes. Now add the diced courgette and squash you prepared earlier along with the grated parmesan. Stir gently now until it has all been mix and the courgette and squash have been heated through. Finally add the chopped chives and parsley and check the seasoning before serving.

To Serve:

Reheat the sauce and Squash puree. Take a large bowl and smear a good size spoon of puree across one side of the dish, on the opposite side spoon on the risotto. Now using a hand blender, blend the sauce until froth is formed and spoon the froth around the dish. A nice garnish to this dish is to take a little grated parmesan and place on a tray in a circular shape and place under a grill to melt, allow to cool before removing from the tray and place the disc into the top of the risotto, now place a flower along side.