Monday 14 October 2019

A dish for my Dad - recipes from some of Ireland's top chefs


Chef Bryan McCarthy pictured in the family home, Glandore, West Cork with his father Patrick. Photo: Clare keogh
Chef Bryan McCarthy pictured in the family home, Glandore, West Cork with his father Patrick. Photo: Clare keogh
Jp McMahon and his dad Gerald in Aniar Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE
Aoife Noonan's Father's Day Strawberry Dessert. Photo: Tony Gavin
Father and daughter John and Aoife Noonan with her Father's Day Strawberry Dessert. Photo: Tony Gavin
Pan fried mackerel, herb buttered new potatoes, garden salad and pan dressing. Picture Clare Keogh
JP McMahon's Father's Day lasagne. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

Some of Ireland's top chefs tell Katy McGuinness what they'll be cooking for Father's Day

Bryan McCarthy

Chef, Greenes Restaurant, Cork, & Dad Patrick

"Unfortunately I won't be cooking for my dad on Father's Day, unless he decides to visit Taste of Dublin! But we will get together soon. My dad, Patrick, is a horticulturalist based in Glandore, Co Cork, and comes from a farming background. His own father was one of the founders of Lisavaird Co-Op.

"When I was growing up, there were bees and an orchard, and Dad grew soft fruit that he supplied to Fields in Skibbereen. They were simpler times; I have great memories of podding peas for hours on the front doorstep. My dad is a great cook - on Christmas Day the texts and photos fly backwards and forwards between us - and he started teaching me from an early age.

"If I was home first from school, he'd tell me to put on the spuds for dinner. Since he's travelled, his cooking has become more eclectic, but he's still very much into growing his own and keeping it simple. He definitely passed that on to me.

"My own kids eat more vegetables when they are at his house - they pick the spuds together and then wash them, cook them and eat them. I'm planning my own vegetable garden at home on an acre near Mahon at the moment. I'd love my children to have the same connection with the land that I grew up with.

"These days, I probably cook for my dad around three or four times a year - his favourite dish on the menu at Greenes is the pork belly and black pudding. He likes the hake too.

"One of my best childhood memories is going out fishing off High and Low Island with him and two of his friends. I must have been about eight. Towards the end of August, the sprats come into the harbour and the mackerel follow them in. You can almost lean over the pier and pick them out. We caught bin-loads of mackerel that day and we did a deal with Sally Barnes at Woodcock Smokery that she'd smoke them for us and keep half.

"A while back I made a trip with two chefs - Philippe Farineau from Ashford Castle and Bertrand Malabat from Barberstown - to Sherkin Island. We all work in fine dining, but there was a special on the board at Murphy's of 'mackerel, new potatoes, bread' and we all went for it. The potatoes grew outside the pub, the fish was landed fresh from a day boat and the bread was made on the premises.

"That kind of food is unbeatable; I think the appreciation of that level of simplicity is something I got from my dad. This recipe is my version of that dish and I'll be cooking it for him over the summer."

Pan fried mackerel, herb buttered new potatoes, garden salad and pan dressing. Picture Clare Keogh

Pan-Fried Mackerel, herb-buttered new potatoes, garden salad & pan dressing

Serves 4


16 medium-sized new potatoes, scrubbed clean

4 line-caught mackerel, butterflied (ask your fishmonger to do this for you), lightly seasoned with salt and pepper

80g butter

1 tsp fresh dill

1 lemon, juiced

½ tsp Dijon mustard

150ml good-quality olive oil

Organic salad leaves, washed

Spring onions, trimmed and sliced thinly

Early carrots such as Amsterdam forced, washed and grated

Salt and pepper


1. Steam the potatoes for 20-25 minutes until tender but still firm. Remove from the heat and leave to stand with a cloth covering to keep hot.

2. In a little oil in a hot pan, fry the mackerel in two batches, starting with the skin side down until lightly golden. Add 20g butter and a pinch of dill at the end for each batch.

3. Add the lemon juice and mustard to the hot pan and deglaze. Whisk in the oil to make a dressing

4. Mix the salad, spring onion and grated carrot, and arrange on a plate.

5. Toss the potatoes in the remaining butter and dill, and season with salt and pepper. Place four on each plate.

6. Add the mackerel and dress with the pan dressing.


Aoife Noonan

Executive Pastry Chef, Glovers Alley, Dublin, & dad John

Father and daughter John and Aoife Noonan with her Father's Day Strawberry Dessert. Photo: Tony Gavin

"My dad is one of the fussiest eaters I've ever met - he's a great cook but he doesn't like anything sweet other than the desserts that he grew up with, like apple tart and rhubarb crumble. He's not a fan of anything chocolatey, but he does like fruit with really nice ice-cream.

"When I was growing up, my mum went out to work and, because he had a foot problem, my dad was the stay-at-home parent, looking after me and my two younger siblings. He made sure dinner was on the table every evening at 6pm - simple and easy dishes such as Irish stew (I'm not the biggest fan) and tasty, light Asian stir-fries.

"He still does most of the cooking at home. It was my brother's 21st birthday recently and he cooked a perfect leg of roast lamb with all the trimmings for the family.

"I always had an interest in food and loved cooking shows on television. My mother had this red cookbook that she used to make fruitcake from. I remember the pages were all sticky. She's started to bake more recently - Victoria sponge, carrot cake, that kind of thing. Carrot cake is my favourite: it's so simple.

"My dad is the worst person in a restaurant; he knows what he likes and that means the dressing or sauce on the side. When I worked at Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, I bought them a voucher to come in for dinner and he asked for a green salad with the dressing on the side. Guillaume [head chef Guillaume Lebrun] went mad! He did have dessert though, and he loved it.

"It's not that he's stuck in his ways, but it's better not to push him. This crumble is very simple and the kind of thing that he does really like."


Aoife Noonan's Father's Day Strawberry Dessert. Photo: Tony Gavin

Rhubarb, Strawberries, White Chocolate Cream & Shortbread Crumble

Serves 4

White Chocolate Cream

400ml cream

200g white chocolate, roughly chopped


1. Put the cream in a medium-sized pan and bring to the boil.

2. Put the white chocolate into a bowl and, once the cream is boiling, pour over the chocolate, mixing well with a spatula to melt the chocolate.

3. Pour the mix into a container and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

4. When ready to serve, put the cream into a large bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. The cream should be light and mousse-like. Set aside in the fridge until ready to assemble.

Shortbread crumble

125g unsalted butter, cubed

45g caster sugar

Pinch salt

185g plain flour

1 egg


1. Preheat the oven to 170˚C fan (190˚C, 375˚F, Gas Mark 5).

2. Prepare a baking tray by lightly greasing and lining with parchment paper.

3. Beat the butter, sugar and salt together until pale and soft. Add the flour, beating well to combine, followed by the egg. When the dough comes together, turn out onto a lightly floured work surface.

4. Place the dough on the baking tray, pressing with your hands to flatten to the edges of the tray. Bake the shortbread for 7-9 minutes, until lightly golden.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tray. Once completely cool, break up pieces of shortbread or blend in a food processor to create a coarse crumble.

Rhubarb compote

3 stalks of rhubarb

50g caster sugar

Juice of 1 orange


1. Chop the rhubarb into rough cubes. Put it in a medium pan over a low heat with the sugar and orange juice, mixing well to combine.

2. Cook the rhubarb for about 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes to ensure that it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. When the rhubarb is completely soft and broken down, remove the pan from the heat and allow the compote to cool completely.

To serve

250g strawberries

Zest of 1 lime


1. Place a spoon of crumble in the centre of the plate. Spoon some rhubarb compote on top of the crumble. Spoon the white chocolate cream over the compote.

2. Very thinly slice the strawberries and arrange around the cream, building up over the top the cream. Serve with a grating of fresh lime zest.


JP McMahon

Chef and Restaurateur, Aniar, Cava and Tartare, Galway, & dad Gerald

Jp McMahon and his dad Gerald in Aniar Galway. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE

"Certain dishes take me back. My father wasn't much of a cook, in that he didn't spend his days dreaming of elaborate ways to feed us, but he did have a few 'signature' dishes that he cooked often. He made us spaghetti carbonara and bolognese, and he always did Christmas dinner and the turkey soup that followed.

"These days, I'd say that he's more of a Cava man than an Aniar man; he doesn't like the 'fussiness' of the food at Aniar. He prefers straight-up, rustic dishes that are full of flavour, like the lamb and cauliflower at Cava.

"Although my mother did most of the cooking at home, when my father cooked he made his presence felt and made us things that we had never had before; one of those dishes was lasagne. While this may not seem too radical to a generation of children raised on Italian food and cheap flights to Venice and Rome, this dish marks my childhood like a branding iron in terms of innovation. It's a pity that the dish now doesn't have glamour because it truly is a wonderful meal, particularly when made with a lot of love.

"You have to remember that most of us growing up in the 1970s and early '80s didn't encounter Italian cooking every day. Meat, potatoes and veggies… Fish on Friday - I used to hate it; I was scared by the bones. That was our daily bread. I don't remember my grandmother ever cooking us pasta or even rice.

"One of my first chef jobs was in an Italian restaurant in Maynooth. I suppose, because of this, Italian food and lasagne will always have a special place in my heart.

"This is a simple kid-friendly recipe, with no parsley or nutmeg in the white sauce, as my two girls, Heather and Martha, hate these ingredients. I've made it as un-cheffy as possible to recreate the version that my dad used to make, although he probably didn't even put in the wine."


JP McMahon's Father's Day lasagne. Photo: Andrew Downes, XPOSURE


Serves 12


For the bolognese: 1 onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Rapeseed oil

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery sticks, chopped

A few springs of thyme, chopped

4 sage leaves, chopped

250ml red wine

250ml beef stock

1kg good-quality beef mince

2 tins of chopped tomatoes

100g tomato purée

Sea salt

For the sauce:

75g butter

75g flour

1 litre milk

1 bay leaf

100g good-quality Cheddar, grated

Sea salt

1 x 500g pack lasagne sheets

100g good-quality Cheddar, grated, as topping


1. To cook the bolognese: in a large pot, fry the onion and garlic in a little oil. Add the carrots, celery and herbs, and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the red wine and beef stock and reduce by half. Then add the mince. Cook until the beef has an even brown colour. Add the 2 tins of tomatoes and the tomato purée. Season with sea salt and lower the heat to a simmer.

2. Cook until you have finished the white sauce. If the sauce begins to dry, add a little more stock or water. I rinse the tomato tins and add the water from them.

3. To make the sauce: in a pot, melt the butter and then add the flour. Cook to form a roux. In a separate pot, warm the milk and the bay leaf. When hot, gradually add to the roux to form a white sauce. When the sauce is thick enough, remove from the heat and fold in the cheese. Remove the bay leaf. Season to taste. If the sauce goes lumpy on you, blend with a stick blender until smooth or pass through a fine sieve.

4. To make the lasagne, place some white sauce and one layer of sheets on the bottom of an ovenproof tray. Next layer some bolognese and some white sauce, then top with more sheets. Continue this process until you reach the top of the dish. On the top layer, spread the remaining white sauce and the rest of the cheese.

5. Bake in a 180˚C oven (160˚C fan, 350˚F, Gas Mark 4) for 35 minutes or until the top is beautiful and crisp.

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