Balllymaloe Cookery Course: Week 8: Tuesday

After a scattered start – I forgot to check this week’s duties and I was actually on early salad prep – Monday was a day spent sitting in demo for the home butchery part of the course. We started easy, jointing a chicken and duck, gradually working our way thorough half carcasses of lamb, pig and a large chunk of a dead bullock. It was not the day to have a hangover as German butcher Philip Dennhardt cut and sawed his way through a small mountain of flesh and bone. As a child I loved being sent to the local butcher, especially if there was a long queue as it gave me an opportunity to gaze, fascinated, at the butcher as he went about his business, reducing large hunks of meat into family-sized portions. Today we watched as chickens were spatchcocked, legs of lamb filleted, pork brined and sausages made. I’m not sure when I’ll next be landed with a lamb carcass to cut up but at least I’ll have the notes at the ready.

Friday night was the first time we cooked together in the Ballycotton house. The Husband enjoyed watching as three Ballymaloe cooks worked on his dinner. It wasn’t just him we were feeding, though, some of our classmates were coming over for a simple meal – Smoked Salmon and Chive Cheese Bruschetta, Roast Chicken with Ham, Stuffing, Glazed Carrots and Cauliflower Cheese, followed by Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and Pedro Ximnez desert sherry (yep, we had a sherry masterclass last week!) and Chocolate Covered Caramelised Almonds (I had a spare 15 minutes during that morning’s cooking). And this was all after we had the usual post-demo plateful. A very relaxed and wine-fuelled meal was followed by a trip to the Blackbird, which was packed with fellow students all dressed up for a Halloween Party. Work hard all week; party any chance we get!



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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7 Responses

  1. Kieran says:

    Sounds like you have your hands full! Enjoy…

  2. triona says:

    oh the chopping up of carcasses is turning my stomach. despite the butcher paragraph the dinner at the house sounds lovely. cant wait to come down and see the masters at work.

  3. Did I forget to tell you that we don’t cook during the week, Triona?! If you come down on a Thursday there’ll be precious little food being prepared – still, we might just find you something if you’re really nice!Kieran – may be in Dingle this weekend so I’m hoping to call into Murphy’s Ice Cream. Are you around?

  4. Sarah says:

    I see they’ve re-vamped the ballymaloe website. I didn’t realise you got to do the home butchery as part of the course. That must have been really intersting. Have you worked in the Crawford gallery yet?

  5. Not yet, Sarah – that’s on 17 November. Looking forward to seeing it from the back end!

  6. John says:

    Hi there,Great info. I was wandering how is the atmosphere at Ballymaloe? Is it competitive – ie students try to get a better ranking amongs themselves. I heard that they will give you a number – graduated 40th out of 47 for example. True?How about the exams? Hard or easy? is it from the notes you take/lectures or demo classes etc.thanks for your help. looking forward to your next post.oh yeah… do you get a certificate? if so how would you and others you know rate it against other certificate programs such as from the Le Cordon Bleu etc.

  7. To be honest, John, I don’t know yet about the grading! We have yet to get the results of the herb/salad leaf recognition and technique exam that we did in Week 6 and that’s been promised for next week. Some people have said to me that they find it very competitive but I have to say that a) I haven’t really noticed and b) don’t really care about that. I’m not interested in being top of the class or in working as a chef – you can look around in the kitchens and easily see who is – I just want to get to the end of the 12 weeks, still enjoy cooking and come though feeling that I’ve acquitted myself well, by my own terms.In exam terms, we will have to do – I think – three written multiple choice papers at the end of the course, including sections on wine and safety, as well as some more ingredient recognition exams. We also have to design and cook a well-balanced three-course menu of Ballymaloe dishes. If we complete all that satisfactorily (fingers crossed!) then we will get the Ballymaloe Cookery Course certificate.When I was looking into doing a cookery course, I considered similar ones in London but decided on Ballymaloe because I wanted to learn how to cook Irish ingredients, grown locally, in an Irish style – and Ballymaloe is certainly the best on offer in Ireland. Are you trying to decide about doing the course yourself? Hope these answers help. If you’ve got other questions, just let me know!

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