Craft butcher Jack McCarthy is a passionate man. Make a visit to his shop in the middle of the main street in Kanturk and be prepared to learn all about his wide range of award-winning meat products. On a quick visit to the town to meet up with the Editor earlier today, I called in to pick up some of my favourite North Cork pancetta. We were only in the door two minutes when Jack had us as a willing audience to taste his intensely savoury air-dried beef. Sliced thinly like Italian Bresaola, it melts in the mouth with a silky texture similar to the finest smoked salmon, leaving a lingering flavour of the spices used in the cure. This innovative craft butcher is like a shark, never standing still – for Jack there’s always something to learn or try, a new product to work on, an old one to improve.
A wide variety of sausages were just asking to meet a barbeque: I picked up some of the ones that he makes with local Ardrahan cheese for the next sunny evening at home but could easily have bought twice as much again, so intrigued I was with the flavours on offer. The shop is festooned with awards, including the 2005 Gold Great Taste Award for Jack’s spiced dry-cured back rashers, which come vacuum-packed in a striking gold foil packet with his trademark bay leaf. The same product also took the prize for Best Irish Speciality Product that year.
As I drove home, I started planning tomorrow night’s dinner. If I can track down some Gabriel cheese, I’ll make a spiky salad from the garden (the rocket and mustard are flourishing particularly well), dressed simply with lemon juice and decent olive oil, topped with the jewel-coloured slices of air-dried beef and some shavings of the cheese. But there’s also rashers to try, the sausages to barbeque and the pancetta to toss with pasta or make into a superlative BLT. Thankfully Kanturk isn’t too far away.
Jack McCarthy Meats, Main Street, Kanturk, Co Cork.
Tel: + 353 29 50178
Web: www.jackmccarthy.ie – Speciality hampers are available to order for delivery in Ireland.
Read Anne Kennedy’s impassioned feature on Jack McCarthy at Greatfood.ie.
Watch Jack McCarthy on Nationwide.