Born and brown bread and Irish stout ice cream
My Irish clan hail from the village of Sneem, a jewel on the Ring of Kerry. On a rocky promontory stands Parknasilla Hotel, historical haven for luminaries such as George Bernard Shaw, Charlie Chaplin, Charles de Gaulle and Princess Grace of Monaco.
It was there in 1977, as a shy, stuttering, 10-year-old boy, I met the then taoiseach Jack Lynch at the pier beneath the hotel.
Back at the bar, head barman Sonny Looney served my father a beautifully poured pint of Guinness, into which I dunked my rich, buttermilk-laden slice of soda bread.
My dad later told me the O'Connors were the last kings of Ireland, quite possibly because we spent so much time in the bar. Sláinte!
YOU WILL NEED
250ml/8fl oz full-fat milk
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp nutmeg
125ml/4fl oz double cream
2 egg yolks
88g/3¼oz muscovado sugar
20g/¾oz Irish soda bread, crumbled
50ml/2fl oz Irish stout, such as Guinness For the caramelised crumbs 30g/1¼oz Irish soda bread, crumbled
30g/1¼oz muscovado sugar
Pour the milk, spices and cream into a large saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to steam but not boil.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl until smooth. Add the sugar and whisk until slightly fluffy.
Gradually and slowly, pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking continuously to prevent the eggs scrambling.
Return the mixture to the saucepan and place over a low heat, stirring frequently until the custard thinly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow to boil.
Add the crumbled soda bread and mix with a stick blender, then pour the mixture back into the bowl and set aside for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature.
For more rapid chilling, half-fill a sink with cold water and ice and place the bowl in it for 20 minutes. Never put the hot mixture straight into the fridge.
Once cooled, boil the stout until it is reduced by about half and add to the custard. Cover the mixture and refrigerate, ideally overnight but at least for six hours, until thoroughly chilled (at least 4°C). Pour the chilled mixture into an ice-cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Meanwhile, prepare the caramelised crumbs. Combine the crumbled soda bread and sugar and spread over a shallow baking tray. Place under a medium-hot grill, stirring frequently, until the breadcrumbs are softly caramelised. Allow to cool a little.
Fold all but 20g/¾oz of the toasted bread mixture into the ice cream, then use a spoon or spatula to scrape the ice cream into a freezer-proof container with a lid. Freeze until it reaches the correct scooping texture (at least two hours).
Decorate each portion with a few of the remaining caramelised crumbs before serving. Enjoy with a chilled pint of Irish stout.