A mixture of stories and demonstrations around the theme of Irish pork made up the afternoon workshop at the Mitchelstown Food Festival on Friday. Carol O’Brien spoke about her pig farming family’s experiences of the dioxin scare and how this incentivised them to become involved with the setting up of Truly Irish. A national cooperative, Truly Irish represents pig producers from the entire island and products – rashers, sausages and ham – sold under the brand will be sourced in Ireland. Truly Irish will be officially launched at the Mitchelstown Food Festival producers’ market on Sunday and the products are available from Superquinn, Centra and SuperValu outlets around the country.
John Finn of Finn’s Butchers arrived in with half a pig carcass and proceeded to demonstrate why you should buy meat from your local butcher, as he explained how to cook the various cuts. His experience and passion was evident as he entertained and educated, pointing out how much of the pig that we waste in this country and the value of a joint like the shoulder. He helped Paddy Ward of Teagasc to demonstrate how sausages are made, followed by Mervin Hodgins describing how Hodgins’ Sausages (their herbal sausages are great in this Baked Stuffed Cabbage dish) started out and Caroline Rigney’s account of how she embarked on producing Curraghchase Free Range Pork (watch out for the Slow Food open day at Rigney’s Farm on Sunday 27 September).
A demonstration from Catherine Beary, head chef at O’Callaghan’s Deli in Mitchelstown filled the room with savoury aromas as she cooked a glazed loin of bacon with a delicious creamy mustard sauce, a roast pork steak stuffed with pear and almond stuffing (this disappeared so fast that I only got to taste a few piquant crumbs) and a sticky Asian pork on a fresh bed of herb salad.
The Mitchelstown Food Festival continues with an open air barbecue on Lower Cork Street on Saturday evening and a producers’ market tomorrow, Sunday 30 August, at the Coolnanave Business Park. After my afternoon, I’m now inspired to make a trip to Finn’s Butchers – it’s about time I got around to trying out Jamie Oliver’s Six Hour Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder!