Donal Skehan

Irish Creamed Kale


If the thought of kale scares you, then let this be the dish that changes your mind! Think creamy, buttery goodness mixed with delicious soft greens. Like spinach, kale is packed with nutrients, but doesn’t wilt down quite as much as spinach when cooked so it is a great alternative. This is the perfect little side dish to go alongside honey-glazed carrots and a beef pot roast.

Serves 6-8
1 Kale, tough stalks removed and shredded
25g butter
4 scallions, finely shredded
6 tablespoons cream
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the creamed kale. Blanch the kale in a pan of boiling water until just tender but still with a little bite. Drain quickly and refresh under cold running water to prevent it cooking further. Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the scallions for 20 seconds, then tip in the kale and season with pepper. Sauté for a couple of minutes until heated through. Stir in the cream and allow to bubble down and reduce, season to taste and serve.

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Asian Aromatic BBQ Summer Lamb with Tangy Sesame Salad!

If you’ve never BBQ’d lamb before you are totally missing out on one of my favourite flavours.  It works particularly well with the smokeyness the BBQ gives and the addition here of lots of wonderful Asian ingredients really heightens that flavour.  Lamb also BBQ’s equally well with a simple studding of rosemary and garlic.

Serves 4-6

For the lamb:
2kg leg of Irish lamb butterflied
4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 thumbsized piece of ginger
4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of sunflower oil
3 tablespoons of rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of oyster sauce
5 tablespoons of dark soy sauce
3 teaspoons of sesame oil

For the tangy salad:
1 chinese cabbage, finely shredded
3 carrots, grated
1 cucumber, finely sliced
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of fish sauce
1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey
3 tablespoons of sesame seeds, toasted

Place all the ingredients for the lamb into a large resealable bag and seal.  Give it a good shake so that everything is combined and the lamb is completely covered in the dark mixture.  Place in the fridge to marinate for 2-6 hours.

Prepare the dressing for the tangy salad by whisking together in a large salad bowl, the sesame oil, soy sauce, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, honey and sesame seeds. When you are ready to serve add in the cabbage, carrots and cucumber and toss to coat completely.

Remove the lamb bag from the fridge about 40 minutes before you are ready to cook it.  Thread two large metal skewers across the lamb to make it easier to transfer to the BBQ and also to turn.

To cook the lamb on a Gas BBQ, bring the BBQ to a high heat to start and sear the lamb on either side for about 4 minutes, then turn the heat right down low cover with a lid and cook for about 40 minutes until a meat thermometer registers 130˚F (for medium rare), turning the meat halfway through the cooking time.

To cook on a charcoal BBQ prepare the grill by placing a double layer of coals on one side of the BBQ and a single layer on the other.  This way you can sear the lamb on one side and then move it to the side with the single layer to cook for the longer cooking time.  Follow the same cooking times and temperatures. If the lamb blackens too much simply place it on a sheet of tin foil.

When the lamb is cooked, transfer to a chopping board with grooves to catch the juices, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

Slice the lamb thinly and serve with the tangy salad.

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Roast Chicken with Lemon and Oregano

Roast chicken really is one of the dishes I cook the most, so I am always looking for ways to mix it up. My favourite way to roast a chicken is to smother it in a garlic and herb paste, but this method comes a very close second, and makes a nice change. The beautiful thing about roast chicken is that it has so many uses. With some added extras like crunchy roast potatoes and some steamed veggies it will feed a crowd of 4-6 people, but on top of that it’s what you can do with the leftovers, that gets me excited! Chicken noodle soup, Leftover chicken stir fry, Chicken and sweetcorn soup, the possibilities are endless! Whatever you do with yours, this recipe makes a beautifully cooked chicken which is left with delicious subtle citrus flavour. The general rule when it comes to roasting chicken is to cook 20 minutes per pound and then 20 minutes extra.

Serves 4-6
1 chicken about 1kg in weight
3 onions, halved
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon, halved
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
A generous seasoning of sea salt and ground black pepper

For the gravy:
1 teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder
1 glass of white wine
1 tablespoon of plain flour

Preheat the oven to 200oC and place the chicken and red onion halves in a roasting tin. Drizzle the chicken with olive oil and give it a good squeeze of lemon juice. Slice the top of the garlic bulb and push inside the chicken along with the lemon halves. Sprinkle with the dried oregano, sea salt and ground black pepper. Place in the oven for around 50 minutes or until the juices run clear and the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Transfer the chicken and onions to a chopping board with grooves that will allow the juices to run off without loosing any.  Cover with tinfoil and allow to sit while you prepare the gravy. You could scrape the contents of the pan into a small saucepan, and add the wine if you want but I find it just as easy to plop the roasting tin on top of the hob, whack up the heat and add in the white wine.

Whisk the white wine into all the encrusted bits and juices in the pan, it should help to loosen everything up.  Whisk in the vegetable bouillon powder and then a little boiling water (about another wine glass full) until you have a consistency you are happy with. If you want a thicker gravy, whisk 1 tablespoon of flour into the gravy.  Simmer until it reaches your desired thickness and pour into a small jug or gravy boat.

To carve the chicken, I find the easiest way is to start with the legs, cutting each off, by inserting a knife in where the leg meets the breast and jiggling your knife around until you can cut all the way through.  Using a similar technique remove the wings.  I like to slice the breasts off in one foul swoop, so starting at the top of the bird in the middle, slice the breasts off on either side.  You can then slice the breasts into smaller pieces, so that everyone gets a bit of white meat too!  If you want to get every last bit of meat off the chicken at this point I recommend you get your hands involved and pick any remaining breasts meat off along the little bits of meat along the back.

I pop the carcass into a resealable bag and then into the freezer, and when I have 3 or 4 (and am feeling weird about having carcasses in my freezer), I make a big batch of chicken stock!

Serve the chicken with gravy, roast potatoes, some steamed veggies or even my latest obsession creamy roasted jerusalem artichokes.

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New Season Spiced Lamb with Simple Griddled Asparagus

Lamb is in season right now and if you are looking for something a little different try this spicy rub. Today’s recipe is a bit of change up for the traditional lamb chop. While I love the simple and delicious flavours of lamb sometimes it’s nice to mix things up and try something a little different, which is why I love this spicy rub. The spice rub also works well on other meats too so give it a go!

Serves 4
4 Irish spring lamb chops
tablespoon of cumin seeds
tablespoon of coriander seeds
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
tablespoon of turmeric
1 teaspoon of paprika
A generous pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper

For the asparagus
1 large bunch of Asparagus (3-4 spears per person)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
A generous pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper

In a pestle and mortar grind together the cumin, coriander, chilli, turmeric, paprika until you have a really pungent orange coloured powder. Place the lamb chops on a plate and sprinkle on the spice mixture, turn to coat.

Cook the spiced chops under a hot grill for about 2-3 minutes either side until cooked through. While the lamb is cooking, snap off the woody end of the asparagus and toss the spears in a bowl with sea salt, black pepper and olive oil.  Fry on a hot griddle pan until tender for about 3-4 minutes.

Serve the lamb and asparagus with some salad leaves and enjoy.

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Simple Garlic and Rosemary Roast Lamb

Most meats really benefit from the roasting process and lamb is no different. As it is in season now, it needs very little work to bring out the really fantastic natural flavours of the meat. Roasting it with the classic combination of rosemary and garlic is simply the only way to go in my books! You get delicious, mouthwatering end results with a kitchen filled with amazing aromas! Normally I would roast lamb on the bone, so just adapt with whatever cut you can get your hands on.

Serves 6-8
1 leg of lamb, boned and rolled
A few cloves of garlic, sliced into thick studs
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
A generous sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper
250ml of lamb stock (or use beef or vegetable if you are stuck)

Preheat the oven to 180oC/ Gas Mark 4.

Place the lamb in a large roasting tray and using the point of a sharp knife make holes all over the lamb about 2-3cm apart. Insert some rosemary and a stud of garlic in each hole.  Season generously with sea salt and ground black pepper. Place in the oven and depending on the weight of the leg, roast for approximately 25-30 minutes per pound for medium rare.  Alternatively check the lamb with a meat thermometer, 145oF for medium rare.

Remove the cooked lamb from the pan and allow to rest on serving dish.

Tip the juices to one corner of the pan and spoon off the fat.  Place the pan on the hob and add the stock.  Bring to the boil and make sure to whisk all the caramelised meat juices from the sides of the tray.  Decant to a small jug.  You can add a little roux while it comes to the boil if you want a thicker sauce.

Serve slices of lamb with a little of the gravy some roast potatoes and steamed asparagus.

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Good Auld Bacon and Cabbage

This dish would have been traditionally served quite regularly in homes all over Ireland, as the ingredients are quite readily available. It’s real comfort food for me and I love the fresh flavours of the veg.

Serves 4
900g of Shoulder of bacon
1/2 head of savoy cabbage, sliced finely
2 Carrots, chopped
1 onion sliced
2 tablespoons of butter
A good pinch of sea salt and black pepper

Creamy Leek and Parsley Sauce:
2 tablespoons of butter (a generous knob)
2 tablespoons of flour
2 large leeks, sliced finely
100-150ml bacon stock
1 teaspoon of English mustard
A good handful of parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon of fresh cream

Remove the bacon from any packaging and place in a pot of cold water over heat.  Bring to the boil and simmer for approximately 40 minutes or until cooked.  Remove from the water, place on a plate and set aside.  Save the bacon stock.

To make the creamy leek and parsley sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pot and sweat the leeks until soft but not coloured.  Add the flour, mixing to combine, then add a little of the bacon stock stirring until the sauce thickens.  Judge the consistency of the sauce by eye, and you may want to use a little more or less to your taste. Season with a little sea salt and black pepper and stir through the English mustard.

Keep warm until you have the consistency you require and then stir through the chopped parsley and tablespoon of cream.

To make the cabbage, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion and carrots, cooking until soft.  Add the cabbage to the pan and allow to wilt down slowly, turning every now and then until it has wilted down and become tender.

Serve the bacon in slices topped with the creamy leek and parsley sauce alongside the cabbage.  Enjoy!

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Mojito Lime Chicken

One of my favourite cocktails is a mojito and, you guessed it, this recipe was thought up after one too many! But it was an experiment that paid off.

Serves 4
4 chicken breasts
1 garlic clove
4–5 tablespoons of rum
Juice of 2 limes
2 limes quartered
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A small handful of fresh mint
A generous pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Chop the mint and garlic finely and place in a large resealable bag. Add the rum, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper to the bag.

I butterfly the chicken breasts so they cook quicker and the garlic doesn’t burn.

To do this, place one hand on the breast and with the other slice through the thickest part, making sure the breast stays attached on one side.

Put the chicken in the bag and seal. Toss the chicken around in the bag and make sure the breasts are covered in the mint and garlic mixture.

Leave in the fridge preferably overnight, or you can make in the morning and leave for the day.

To cook the chicken, heat a pan over a high heat and fry the breasts and marinade for about 3–5 minutes on either side, depending on the size of the chicken breasts.

Tumble in the lime quarters after you turn the chicken and allow to caramelise on all sides. Serve straightaway with a tasty side salad, couscous and a final squeeze of juice from the caramelised lime quarters.

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Barbeque Cajun Spatchcock Chicken

The combination of spices here are so tasty, but if you are missing some, don’t be afraid to use dried herbs or even whatever fresh herbs you have available to you. Barbecuing can be a little tricky but the cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken, if you are worried, simple insert a skewer at the thickest part and if the juices run clear, the bird is cooked!

Serves 6-8
2 small chickens
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons of paprika
2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons of dried oregano
A small handful of fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
A small handful of thyme
Juice of 1 lemon
3-4 tablespoons of vegetable oil
A generous pinch of sea salt and pepper

To prepare the chicken, place the bird breast down, and using a knife or a sharp scissors, cut along the back bone. Open the bird out and flip it over breast side up and using your fist push down hard on the breast to break the back bone.

Thread a skewer diagonally through the bird from the leg to the breast and repeat on the other side. Score the bird on the legs and breasts. Repeat the whole process for the second chicken. Place the chicken in a large roasting tin.

Prepare the marinade.  Place the rest of the ingredients in a pestle and mortar or a food processor and break down until you have a rough paste. Spread the paste over the chicken until it is completely covered.  Cover the roasting tin in tin foil and place in the fridge to marinate for 30 mins to an hour, if you have time. Place the birds on the barbeque over a medium heat and cook breast side up for 25-30 minutes.

Half-way through give the birds a squeeze of lemon juice.  Turn the birds over and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the chickens are cooked through.  If you find the chicken is blackening too much, place them on some tinfoil until they are cooked through.


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Red Onion and Garlic Focaccia

Good homemade bread never fails to impress. There is just a freshness that you can’t compare to store bought, plus the the smell of a freshly baked loaf wafting around the house, just can’t be beaten!

Makes 2 focaccia loaves
750g of strong white flour
2 teaspoons of salt
15fl oz of lukewarm water
1 x 7g sachet of dry yeast
2 tablespoons of olive oil

For the topping:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, very finely minced
1 red onion, sliced into half moon pieces

Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and with the back of a spoon make a well. Pour the water into the well, and stir through the yeast and oil. Allow to stand for 10 minutes and then slowly combine the wet ingredients with the flour, incorporating in small amounts at a time, until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic.

Oil the mixing bowl, place the dough back in, cover and allow to rise for 45 minutes to an hour or until the dough has doubled in size. Punch down the dough and knead for a further 2-3 minutes.

Seperate the dough into two pieces and form into a flat rectangular bread, place into two oiled baking trays. Mix the garlic with the olive oil and spread over the surface of the the bread dough. Poke parts of the dough with your thumb and then pres the onions on top. Place in an oven at 220oC/425oF/Gas Mark 7 for 15-20 minutes depending on thickness.

When the bread is done drizzle with a little extra olive oil and enjoy!

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Sesame Honey Duck with Broccoli

With just a few simple ingredients this is an easy dish to create and is really tasty.

Serves 2 portions
1 head of brocolli chopped into florets
2 duck breasts
1 teaspoon of sesame oil
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
5 tablespoons of soya sauce
3 tablespoons of honey

In a small bowl, mix the soya sauce, sesame oil and the honey until combined.

Place two duck breasts in a small roasting tray and brush over half the soya honey marinade. Place in the oven at 200°C for 25-30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes of the cooking time brush over the rest of the soya honey marinade, sprinkle with half the sesame seeds and finish cooking.

When the duck is ready, remove from the roasting tray and allow to rest on a chopping board. Keep the roasting tray which should still be full of tasty duck flavours as this makes a great dressing for the broccoli, try to spoon off as much fat as possible. While the duck is cooking steam the broccoli for 4-5 minutes and remove from the heat.

Tumble the broccoli florets into the roasting tray and toss gently until they are completely coated. Slice the duck thinly and serve with the broccoli.  Sprinkle over some extra sesame seeds and enjoy!

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Spinach and Riccotta Stuffed Pasta Shells

This is a delicious pasta dish, which is packed with fresh ingredients. It is a little bit tricky but the tastes are great and well worth the effort!

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