Banish any thoughts of penny-pinching and making do with less than tasty fare. This series is all about embracing home cooking at its very best and making inexpensive ingredients work harder for the money you spend on them, so that you can enjoy delicious food as part of your everyday diet.
“These programmes include episodes where I cook with my Granny, visit BLOOM in the Phoenix Park, learn how to keep chickens, and chat to my local butcher. There is a real emphasis on how to get the best value for money from the ingredients you use” says Donal who has also taken on a new role as a Junior Masterchef judge which airs on CBBC in the UK in November.
“My granny raised my mum and her six siblings with very little income but that never stopped her from producing wonderfully elegant yet inexpensive meals. Her long-ingrained home-making skills, using inexpensive materials and simple methods, are some the greatest kitchen tips that have been passed on to me. There is a whole army of grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles up and down the country who possess and use these skills without giving them a second thought. Many of them may have been brought up in households with tight budgets, where watching the pennies was part and parcel of daily life. Some of my favourite recipes and cooking practices are ones I’ve learnt as a result of just chatting on the topic of frugal cooking with those in the know ,” he says.
Episode 1 – Cheap & Healthy
In this first programme of series two, Donal visits the School of Culinary Arts, at DIT (Dublin Institute of Technology) in Cathal Brugha Street. Despite the fact that many of these students are the chefs of the future, they are no different to other students when it comes to eating – curry chips and takeaways are perennially popular. Donal cooks three recipes that offer a cheap, healthy and most importantly, tasty alternative: beetroot and feta salad, chickpea burgers, and a lemon and poppy seed cake.
Episode 2 – Pork
Traditionally, many Irish households, both urban and rural, had a pig. Today, keeping a pig is becoming popular again and Donal visits teenage brothers Patrick and Hugh McInerney in Tullow, Co Carlow who started keeping pigs a couple of years ago and have transformed what was a hobby into a small business. Using the lesser-known cuts of pork gives great value-for-money and Donal cooks recipes using ham hock and pork belly.
Episode 3 – Entertaining On A Shoestring
Fashion in food isn’t just about flavours and ingredients – blogging about food has become particularly popular in Ireland. Donal’s career in food started as an award-winning blogger and tonight he hosts a dinner party for a group of fellow food bloggers at home. For this special evening, Donal cooks a squash and coconut soup, porchetta, and steamed banana puddings with a salted caramel sauce.
Episode 4 – Summer Fruit Baking
This week Donal heads for Drogheda where he gets a baking masterclass in the Brown Hound Bakery. He then cooks a delicious rustic rhubarb tart, lemon slices, and also a carrot and cardomom cake. “One of my highlights while filming this new series was a visit to the Brown Hound Bakery in Drogheda, Co. Louth – a totally unique and incredibly inspirational spot in the most unlikely location”.
Episode 5 – Speedy Suppers
In programme 5 of Kitchen Hero, presenter Donal Skehan visits the fire station at Kilbarrack in Dublin and meets fireman Vinnie Savage who is responsible for cooking meals for his colleagues. Speed is of the essence for Vinnie when preparing food and Donal demonstrates three really quick recipes: Mexican eggs, spinach crepes with ham and cheese; and mini molten chocolate puddings.
Episode 6 – Seafood
Donal visits Nicky’s Plaice fishmongers in Howth for a masterclass in filleting fish from Martin McLoughlin. He cooks Maki rolls (sushi), Asian-style sea bass parcels and a smoked mackerel salad.
Episode 7 – World Wide Wonders
This week Donal uses soya sauce, fish sauce and Tabasco sauce, among other things, to make Nasi Goreng, Meatballs with Linguine and Delicately Spiced Chicken which he cooks on location at Bloom with Arun Kapil, a spice importer and blender.
Episode 8 – Chicken & Eggs
Kitchen Hero presenter Donal Skehan cooks poultry this week as he heads to Naas, Co. Kildare to chat to one of a growing number of people keeping chickens in Ireland. Donal meets Charlie Ganly who keeps chickens in his small suburban garden, and Donal then cooks a frittata in the garden using the freshly laid eggs. This week Donal also makes a delicious Coq au Vin Blanc, and a Turkey Meatloaf with Spicy Bean Sauce.
Episode 9 – Leftovers
Donal goes to the National Botanic Gardens to meet Colm Gibson who runs a scheme on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency which aims to teach people how to reduce the amount of food waste they generate, and to compost the waste that is an inevitable part of preparing food. All the recipes this week involve using ‘leftovers’ and include Mac ‘n’ Cheese with cauliflower and broccoli, Chicken Caesar Salad, Ribollita (Italian vegetable stew).
Episode 10 – Cooking With Kids
Kitchen Hero presenter Donal Skehan returns to his old school in this week’s programme and meets Miss Fitzgerald, his former Home Economics teacher. The recipes in this programme are all child friendly – easy to make and popular. Donal teaches Miss Fitzgerald’s class how to make real homemade pizza, and explains that homemade pizza does not mean putting a frozen one into the oven, it means making the dough and the sauce! Other recipes include Banana and Oatmeal Muffins and a delicious Creamy Spinach Gnocchi,
Episode 11 – Cosy Autumn Baking
Fruit-based puddings are on the menu this week when Kitchen Hero presenter Donal Skehan makes three of his all-time favourites. Big Do was Donal’s uncle and he used to take Donal and his family out fishing and they ate tinned peached out of the can on the boat. Donal makes Big Do’s Peach and Blackberry Cobbler which is dedicated to Big Do and his fisherman’s tales. He also makes Jam Jumble Crumble Tart and his girlfriend Sofie’s delicious Rhubarb Pannacotta.
Episode 12 – Granny’s Recipes
Donal’s Granny Elizabeth Ryan has been a big influence on Donal’s life, and in particular on his cooking. She lives nearby and Donal visits her often, and when he does, there’s usually some Ambrosia Cake on offer. In this episode, Donal is shown how to make this old family favourite by his grandmother. Donal also makes Boxty Colcannon Pancakes, Skehan Family’s Irish Stew and Irish Barmbrack.
Episode 13 – Beef
This week Donal cooks three beef dishes using less expensive cuts of meat including oxtail and beef skirt in this final programme of the current series. His local butcher, Ray Collier, gets some of his meat from the farm attached to Howth Castle and Donal meets him there to learn which parts of the animal are best for particular dishes. The less expensive cuts benefit from slow cooking and in this week’s programme Donal prepares Beef Slow Cooked Meaty Chilli; Dad’s Braised Oxtails, and Goulash with Paprika Spiced Dumplings.
Episode 14 – Christmas Special
Donal is going to Austria to get inspiration for some sweet Christmas treats, just to make things a little different. He’ll visit a Christmas market, try different foods, go to a Schnapps distillery, do some skiing and cook apple strudel and zelten, an Austrian Christmas cake.