When we had the opportunity to take 5 minutes with super chef Richard Corrigan, we were pretty excited. You’ll be glad to know he did not disappoint. In September, he announced the creation of 70 new jobs at Corrigans Park Hotel, a 100 acre venture in Virginia, Co Cavan. In time, Corrigan will put a semi-professional cookery school in place, and the kitchen garden from the hotel will supply his Irish restaurants. In recent weeks, Corrigan has been teasing the media with the mention of a vegetarian restaurant – we decided to find out what this was all about.
Can you tell us about what visitors to Virginia will experience when they come to the lodge?
A home away from home, something to call their own for a weekend. A gorgeous bit of undiscovered Irish country side – the estate itself has a stable block, pleasure gardens (complete with bandstand), apple orchards, walled garden bearing Muscat grapes, parterre gardens, woodlands and meadows. A haven for leisure pursuits, wedding receptions and cookery classes; as well as growing produce for Bentley’s and Corrigan’s Mayfair restaurants.
You are a long time champion of Irish produce – what three Irish products do you think are overlooked?
Irish beef, cheese and craft beers.
You have hinted that you might be opening a vegetarian restaurant in Dublin soon, using the produce of the Park. What attracts you to the idea of a vegetarian restaurant?
Well the idea is quite new at the moment, I don’t know whether I’ll go for a full-blown vegetarian only restaurant – I don’t know if I will be able to resist cooking a bit of game or wild fish and letting the vegetable play a real star role being that they’ll only be coming down the road from the Gooseberry Gardens.
Do you remember the dish that made you want to work with food? What was it, and why did it move you?
It was the farm, more than anything else, that led me to consider cooking as a career.
What three meals do you eat every week, and do you make them yourself?
Porridge, Sunday roast and soda bread with smoked salmon.
What’s in your fridge right now?
Actually, vegetables that we brought over from the estate last week, cooked ham and Glenilen Farm yoghurt which is just fantastic!
What is your ultimate Sunday roast menu at home?
Very good quality cut of beef, seasonal roots from my Gooseberry Gardens, a bottle of red wine and great company!
What three professional tips would you give the home cook to help them to make their lives in the kitchen easier?
Keep your food really simple, don’t play with the flavours and taste, taste, taste your food!
If you were not a chef, what would you be, and why?
A politician, I have a huge interest in opinion and history…ironically I don’t like politicians much myself!
Richard Corrigan’s Buttered Crab and Mushrooms on Toast
100g wild mushrooms
100g butter, in cubes (about the size of a dice)
2 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs white wine
4 slices of soda bread
200g fresh crab meat
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Small bunch of samphire
1. Take the butter out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to prepare the dish. You don’t want it to be too solid, but don’t let it get too soft.
2. Don’t wash the mushrooms as they will contain quite a lot of moisture as they are. Just clean them carefully (there may well be pine needles and grit) and trim them.
3. Slice the mushrooms and cook them in a little olive oil. If they release a lot of moisture, let it evaporate and the flavour will become concentrated.
4. When they are tender, add the samphire and cook for another minute of two. Set aside and keep warm.
5. Put the wine and the wine vinegar into a non-reactive saucepan. Over a high heat, reduce the mixture quickly to half of its original volume.
6. Lower the heat and whisk in the butter, one cube at a time until you have a nicely emulsified sauce. This is easier than it sounds, to be honest.
7. Put the soda bread under a hot grill to toast.
8. Stir the crab meat into the buttery sauce and let it warm through. Now add the mushrooms and samphire.
9. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Spoon onto the slices of toasted soda bread and serve immediately.