A Taste of Ireland: Recipes From Across The Pond | NBC Chicago

A Taste of Ireland: Recipes From Across The Pond

Wayne shares menus and recipes from his recent trip to Ireland

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Wayne Johnson
    Wayne's Weekend: Irish Scone Bread

    I just returned from a wonderful 10-day vacation in Ireland.  It was my first time there and I had a blast.  I toured the counties of Derry and Donegal in the northern part of Ireland and sampled quite a bit of the scenery, culture and culinary delights of this beautiful part of the country.  I thought I’d share some of my dining experiences as well a recipe or two. 

    Traditional Irish Breakfast

    On my first morning in Derry, I was treated to a traditional Irish breakfast.  The standard fare included a fried egg, Irish bacon, bangers (sausages), beans, potato bread, a side of bread (either regular toast, soda bread, wheaten bread, or scones), juice and tea (or coffee). 

    The breakfast was rather filling and a bit heavier than I’m accustomed to eating at that time of day.  But, it was great!  Also, the most interesting elements were the Irish bacon, which is a larger and leaner slice of meat than we have here and the potato bread, which was served under the fried egg.  I loved the bacon but wasn’t a huge fan of the potato bread. 

    Irish bacon is available here in Chicago at specialty import stores and Irish grocery stores.

    Scone Bread

    The mother of one of my hosts made two loaves of scone bread that we devoured rather quickly.  It was perfect with a wee bit of butter and jam.  My friend’s mom wasn’t willing to give me her exact recipe, but here’s my variation:

    Ingredients

    1 cu Dried Fruit (combination of golden raisins, dark raisins, dried cherries)
    2 1/2 cu All-Purpose Flour
    1 tsp Baking Powder
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    1 tsp Salt
    1/3 cu Sugar
    4 oz Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
    1 1/4 cu Buttermilk
    1 lg Egg

    Method

    Soak the dried fruit in enough water to cover for 10 minutes and then drain well.

    Grease and flour a 4” x 8” loaf pan.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Add the salt and sugar and stir to combine.  Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands by rolling the floury butter between your thumb and fingers until mixture resembles the texture of breadcrumbs.  Add dried fruit.  Stir the egg into the buttermilk and then pour over the flour mixture.  Stir until everything is just moist (don’t over mix).  Scoop mixture into loaf pan and shape it evenly.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until crust is golden brown and bread sounds hollow when you thump it.  Because ovens vary greatly, you can also loosely cover the pan with a piece of aluminum for the first 30 minutes to avoid over browning.

    Serve slices with jam, butter and heavy cream.  This bread is also great toasted.

    Scones

    We had tea and scones at cafes and many of the tourist destinations we explored.  Every place had a different recipe but all the scones were tender and flavorful.  Here’s my version:

    Ingredients

    2 1/2 All-Purpose Flour
    1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1 tsp Salt
    3 oz Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
    1 lg Egg
    1 1/4 cu Buttermilk
    2 tbl Sugar
    I cu Mixed Dried Fruit (optional), soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained

    Method

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

    In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder.   Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine.  Work butter into the flour mixture your hands by rolling the floury butter between your thumb and fingers until mixture resembles the texture of breadcrumbs.  Add fruit (optional).  Stir the egg into the buttermilk and then pour over the flour mixture.  Fold with a spatula until ingredients are just combined. 

    Put about 1/4 cup of flour on a work surface and transfer mixture onto it.  Knead the dough slightly and then gently roll it out to about a 1” to 1 1/2 “ thickness.  Cut out scones with a 2 1/2“ fluted cutter.  Dip the cutter in flour so that dough cuts clean (that will help scones rise evenly).  Transfer the scones to a baking sheet with a spatula.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm with butter, jam and heavy cream.

    Pigs In A Blanket

    During a tour of one of the Irish whisky breweries we stopped for lunch in the brewery’s dining room.  I tried these “pigs in a blanked” and definitely thought they were worth having again.

    Ingredients (for 4 sausages, 2 servings)

    4 Sausages
    3/4 cu Bread Crumbs
    3 tbl Onion, chopped
    2 tbl Celery, thinly sliced
    1 tsp Fresh Sage, chopped
    3 tbl Butter
    2 tbl Hot Water
    4 Slices Cooked Ham (or cooked Irish Bacon)

    Method

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Saute sausages in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through.  Set aside to cool.  In a small skillet sauté onions in butter until the onions are tender and translucent.  Add celery and sauté for two minutes longer. Add breadcrumbs and water and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. 

    Slice each sausage lengthwise to about 1/2 of its depth.  Press 1/4 of the stuffing mixture into the cavity.  Roll a piece of ham around the sausage to keep the stuffing place.  Secure the ham with a toothpick if necessary. 

    Place stuffed sausages into a baking dish and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until ingredients are heated through.  Served two pigs in a blanket per serving with roasted potatoes and a salad.

    Egg Salad with Mixed Greens and Bacon

    The food in Ireland ranged from very traditional meat and potatoes to other dishes that were a rather surprising treat.  This salad was a tasty first course dish.  The freshly made tarragon mayonnaise was actually prepared with duck eggs.  But, my version simply uses a packaged light mayonnaise. 

    Ingredients (2 servings)

    3 cu Mixed Greens
    ¼ lb Irish Bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
    2 lg Egg, cooked (boiled) and peeled
    1/4 cu Light Mayonnaise
    1 tbl Lemon Juice
    1/2 tsp Fresh Tarragon, finely minced
    1 tbl Olive Oil
    Zest of half of a lemon

    Method

    Combine mixed greens with bacon.  Divide between two plates.  Slice each egg in half and place the two halves side by side (cut side down) on each plate next to the greens. 

    In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients except lemon zest and pour over eggs and greens. Sprinkle zest on the plate and serve.

    The main course that I had along with this dish was a culinary delight…two simply sautéed fish filets (trout and bass) served with mushrooms and a green pea puree.  Simple, but delicious.

    Those were some of the culinary highlights of my trip.  If you’ve never been to Ireland, I hope you get a chance soon.  If you have been already, I’m sure you’re anxious to get back there again.  It’s a wonderful place and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

    If you have any questions or comments, send me an email at I just returned from a wonderful 10-day vacation in Ireland.  It was my first time there and I had a blast.  I toured the counties of Derry and Donegal in the northern part of Ireland and sampled quite a bit of the scenery, culture and culinary delights of this beautiful part of the country.  I thought I’d share some of my dining experiences as well a recipe or two. 

    Traditional Irish Breakfast

    On my first morning in Derry, I was treated to a traditional Irish breakfast.  The standard fare included a fried egg, Irish bacon, bangers (sausages), beans, potato bread, a side of bread (either regular toast, soda bread, wheaten bread, or scones), juice and tea (or coffee). 

    The breakfast was rather filling and a bit heavier than I’m accustomed to eating at that time of day.  But, it was great!  Also, the most interesting elements were the Irish bacon, which is a larger and leaner slice of meat than we have here and the potato bread, which was served under the fried egg.  I loved the bacon but wasn’t a huge fan of the potato bread. 

    Irish bacon is available here in Chicago at specialty import stores and Irish grocery stores.

    Scone Bread

    The mother of one of my hosts made two loaves of scone bread that we devoured rather quickly.  It was perfect with a wee bit of butter and jam.  My friend’s mom wasn’t willing to give me her exact recipe, but here’s my variation:

    Ingredients

    1 cu Dried Fruit (combination of golden raisins, dark raisins, dried cherries)
    2 1/2 cu All-Purpose Flour
    1 tsp Baking Powder
    1 tsp Baking Soda
    1 tsp Salt
    1/3 cu Sugar
    4 oz Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
    1 1/4 cu Buttermilk
    1 lg Egg

    Method

    Soak the dried fruit in enough water to cover for 10 minutes and then drain well.

    Grease and flour a 4” x 8” loaf pan.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder.  Add the salt and sugar and stir to combine.  Work the butter into the flour mixture with your hands by rolling the floury butter between your thumb and fingers until mixture resembles the texture of breadcrumbs.  Add dried fruit.  Stir the egg into the buttermilk and then pour over the flour mixture.  Stir until everything is just moist (don’t over mix).  Scoop mixture into loaf pan and shape it evenly.  Bake for 50-60 minutes until crust is golden brown and bread sounds hollow when you thump it.  Because ovens vary greatly, you can also loosely cover the pan with a piece of aluminum for the first 30 minutes to avoid over browning.

    Serve slices with jam, butter and heavy cream.  This bread is also great toasted.

    Scones

    We had tea and scones at cafes and many of the tourist destinations we explored.  Every place had a different recipe but all the scones were tender and flavorful.  Here’s my version:

    Ingredients

    2 1/2 All-Purpose Flour
    1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
    1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
    1 tsp Salt
    3 oz Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
    1 lg Egg
    1 1/4 cu Buttermilk
    2 tbl Sugar
    I cu Mixed Dried Fruit (optional), soaked in water for 10 minutes and drained

    Method

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

    In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and baking powder.   Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine.  Work butter into the flour mixture your hands by rolling the floury butter between your thumb and fingers until mixture resembles the texture of breadcrumbs.  Add fruit (optional).  Stir the egg into the buttermilk and then pour over the flour mixture.  Fold with a spatula until ingredients are just combined. 

    Put about 1/4 cup of flour on a work surface and transfer mixture onto it.  Knead the dough slightly and then gently roll it out to about a 1” to 1 1/2 “ thickness.  Cut out scones with a 2 1/2“ fluted cutter.  Dip the cutter in flour so that dough cuts clean (that will help scones rise evenly).  Transfer the scones to a baking sheet with a spatula.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm with butter, jam and heavy cream.

    Pigs In A Blanket

    During a tour of one of the Irish whisky breweries we stopped for lunch in the brewery’s dining room.  I tried these “pigs in a blanked” and definitely thought they were worth having again.

    Ingredients (for 4 sausages, 2 servings)

    4 Sausages
    3/4 cu Bread Crumbs
    3 tbl Onion, chopped
    2 tbl Celery, thinly sliced
    1 tsp Fresh Sage, chopped
    3 tbl Butter
    2 tbl Hot Water
    4 Slices Cooked Ham (or cooked Irish Bacon)

    Method

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Saute sausages in a skillet over medium heat until cooked through.  Set aside to cool.  In a small skillet sauté onions in butter until the onions are tender and translucent.  Add celery and sauté for two minutes longer. Add breadcrumbs and water and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. 

    Slice each sausage lengthwise to about 1/2 of its depth.  Press 1/4 of the stuffing mixture into the cavity.  Roll a piece of ham around the sausage to keep the stuffing place.  Secure the ham with a toothpick if necessary. 

    Place stuffed sausages into a baking dish and bake for 10 - 12 minutes until ingredients are heated through.  Served two pigs in a blanket per serving with roasted potatoes and a salad.

    Egg Salad with Mixed Greens and Bacon

    The food in Ireland ranged from very traditional meat and potatoes to other dishes that were a rather surprising treat.  This salad was a tasty first course dish.  The freshly made tarragon mayonnaise was actually prepared with duck eggs.  But, my version simply uses a packaged light mayonnaise. 

    Ingredients (2 servings)

    3 cu Mixed Greens
    ¼ lb Irish Bacon, cooked and cut into small pieces
    2 lg Egg, cooked (boiled) and peeled
    1/4 cu Light Mayonnaise
    1 tbl Lemon Juice
    1/2 tsp Fresh Tarragon, finely minced
    1 tbl Olive Oil
    2 tbl Warm Water
    Pinch of Salt
    Zest of half of a lemon

    Method

    Combine mixed greens with bacon.  Divide between two plates.  Slice each egg in half and place the two halves side by side (cut side down) on each plate next to the greens. 

    In a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients except lemon zest and pour over eggs and greens. Sprinkle zest on the plate and serve.

    The main course that I had along with this dish was a culinary delight…two simply sautéed fish filets (trout and bass) served with mushrooms and a green pea puree.  Simple, but delicious.

    Those were some of the culinary highlights of my trip.  If you’ve never been to Ireland, I hope you get a chance soon.  If you have been already, I’m sure you’re anxious to get back there again.  It’s a wonderful place and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

    If you have any questions or comments, send me an email at wayne@waynesweekend.com.