Rapeseed oil sets gold standard
From Farm to Fork with Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil and Brian McMonagle, winner of Best Chef in Tyrone; If you haven't heard of Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil or Chef Brian McMonagle, my two food heroes this week, you soon will.
Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil is causing quite a stir amongst chefs and consumers alike, with its delicate, nutty flavour and aroma and many health benefits.
Chefs like Brian make it a priority to create seasonal menus using the best of local product and try to inform their customers about the provenance of the food on their plate.
As much as I enjoy good food, what I enjoy more is the story of where the ingredients come from and the people who harvested, toiled and produced it.
Over the years I have heard so many inspiring and often funny stories of how artisan producers started down their path.
Leona and Richard Kane are no exception to this, and as I sat in their kitchen listening to their story, it reinforced my belief in the creativity and sheer gumption that our food producers have.
Brogalsco Farm in Limavady, where Leona and Richard farm, traditionally grew grain and rapeseed for feed and biofuel.
One evening, Leona ran out of olive oil to cook the steaks for dinner, so Richard brought her down a bottle of rapeseed oil to cook with.
Leona looked at the sediment floating in the oil sceptically, but continued to cook the steaks and make the salad dressing.
And that is when the idea for Broighter Gold was born.
It was the first time that Leona didn't burn the steak as she cooked it, and the dressing for the salad turned out surprisingly well.
So from biofuel to gourmet oil, Leona and Richard took a new direction, grew new varieties of rapeseed and set about cold pressing it.
This discovery seemed to mimic a discovery of great historical significance, as the rapeseed crop is grown on the field along Broighter Road where the Broighter Hoard of gold artifacts, dating back to the 1st century B.C., were unearthed in 1986.
The logo on the bottle is modelled after the gold torc that was found among the jewellery.
From precious gold jewellery to precious golden oil, this seemed to be fate.
Over the past few years, Leona and Richard have worked to produce a top-quality product that is one of the best rapeseed oils that I have come across.
The flavour and aroma are very delicate and the oil cooks perfectly at high temperatures.
I quizzed Leona as to how she achieved this: it is a combination of cultivating the right variety of rapeseed, drying the seeds properly and cold pressing the oil very gently and slowly.
This care and attention is vital to produce the best quality oil.
I have had the experience of cooking with some rapeseed oils where it smoked horribly and let off a rancid fishy taste.
This is most off-putting and has really made me wonder if the current love affair with rapeseed oil was a bit of a farce.
But apparently this weird taste and smell is from poor quality oil where the seeds haven't been dried properly or the oil is extracted chemically or with heat to yield more oil. There are good rapeseed oils out there.
I really wanted to take the 'farm to fork' story literally, and dragged Chef Brian McMonagle, head chef at the Brewer's House in Donaghmore (best Gastropub 2012 and winner of the Northern Irish Tourist Board 'Taste of Ulster' award 2013), into Leona's rapeseed field to cook.
We set up a portable BBQ, gathered loads of ingredients and let Brian work his magic.
Brian is a huge promoter of using local producers and the best quality ingredients to create his dishes.
His seasonal menu is designed around the best quality seasonal produce and local artisan producers.
He also makes his own chorizo sausage using local pork and has an extensive herb and vegetable garden.
One of Brian's specialities is his unusual sauces, emulsions and condiments, so I knew he was the right chef to create some recipes using the new Broighter Gold range of flavoured rapeseed oils: lemon, chilli, garlic and rosemary and basil.
The Broighter Gold rapeseed oils have a high smoke point, so you can cook with these oils, not just make dressings from them.
Rapeseed oil is also packed with natural goodness.
It has a balance of Omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids and is also rich in the antioxidant Vitamin E.
It has half the saturated fat of olive oil, so it makes it a good all- around heart-healthy oil to have in the cupboard.
I love rapeseed oil for BBQs as it can reach a high smoke point, which means it doesn't burn on the grill.
It is great to have an alternative to olive oil and to support a local Irish producer who is producing a top-quality food from plants grown and harvested on our doorstep.
Health & Living