By Yes Chef
There's nothing more I love than growing our own fruit and veg at home. So, to get a chat with Darragh Dooley, Killeavy Castle Estate's Executive Chef, was just a real pleasure as he anticipates a great growing season on the county Armagh estate farm.
Two centuries ago, when Killeavy Castle was built, it would have provided sustenance for residents and locals. Fast forward to this century and the land on this expansive working farm is doing exactly that yet again.
This 365-acre estate has seen much investment in the last four years, with a huge focus being placed on the farm, placing Darragh and his team of chefs in the most enviable position to serve the freshest seasonal produce while protecting the land for generations to come.
This is magical. The walled estate garden is the growing space for the estate's fruit and root vegetables, while the surrounding lush grasslands are the grazing grounds for 70 Longhorn cattle and around 300 Cheviot sheep.
This truly is one of the most veritable farm-to-fork experiences I have come across.
The Galway native. who has been living in Monaghan with his wife and two children for the last 12 years. Tells me that the menus are written around what's available to the chefs from the land
He said: "We pre-plan our menus around the produce and just hope the peacocks don't eat the fruit. We butcher our own cattle and lamb on the estate and we source venison locally whilst processing all of our meat and vegetables in our estate farm store. We are in the orchard county so we get people also leaving us bags and bags of cooking apples. It's about using what the land gives us and we do lots of pickling and preserving. We are not 100 per cent self-sustainable but we are about 70 per cent of the way there. We get oysters from Carlingford Oyster Co. We buy local cheeses and if we need topped up with our root vegetables we buy from Mallon Veg Company.
"Adding to this we are also in the process of getting all of our crockery from local crafters. We are all striving to do our best here and we all believe in doing the right thing for our guests and for our environment. There's an unrivalled passion at Killeavy Castle Estate. We are a very tight team of chefs and porters."
Killeavy Castle Estate has its own Farm Store which sells produce from the estate and produce from other local producers. there are beehives, foraged ingredients from woodlands and it boasts its own blended tea. This is a remarkable place, steeped in history yet spearheading practices which position it as one of Ireland's most environmentally friendly holiday destinations.
I love everything about Killeavy Castle Estate - its ethos, what it stands for, how it protects our environment and the forward-thinking team who are leading by example.
Beef fillet, celeriac, carrot, red wine jus
This is a signature Spring dish available at Killeavy Castle Estate that incorporates the Estate produce grown within our gardens and our Longhorn cattle which are reared on our Estates working farm. It is a hearty dish that is full of flavour and calories
For the beef: 4 x 1609 beef fillets
For the marinade: 4 cloves of garlic | 159 tarragon | 209 curly parsley | 109 horseradish (paste will do, freshly grated if possible) | 50ml pomace oil
For the braised celeriac: 1 large celeriac | 1L beef stock | 509 butter | Salt and pepper
For the boiled glazed carrots: 500ml water | 4 medium whole carrots, peeled | 2 star anise | 10 cloves | 509 caster sugar | 509 butter
For the red wine jus: 500ml of red wine | 3 shallots | 109 white peppercorns | 2 cloves garlic | 300ml beef jus (or if not beef stock and a powdered demi-glace)
For the beef
Place the beef in a container with a lid, blend all the ingredients together to marinade the beef and pour over, leave the beef to marinade for 1½ to 2 hours.
For the braised celeriac
Peel the celeriac, cut into quarters, then slice thinly, and spread the butter onto the bottom of a casserole dish. layer the celeriac into the casserole dish, seasoning each layer, pour over the beef stock until the liquid just reaches the top, cover with tinfoil and cook at 160'C for 1 hour or until the celeriac is soft all the way through, then remove the tinfoil and place a few knobs of butter on top and place back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until you get a nice golden colour.
For the glazed carrots
Take 4 medium carrots peeled and topped and place in a pot that is just the right size for the carrots, add the rest of the ingredients. Cook carrots on low heat until soft all the way through (about 25 minutes) top up with water if needed. When the carrots are cooked, lift them out onto a tray, and keep them warm in the oven. keep the liquid and remove the garlic and spices, reduce the liquid down until it gets to like a caramel stage then add the carrots back in, and cover to keep warm.
For the red wine jus
Add the red wine, peeled and sliced shallots, peppercorns and garlic to a pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a third, add the jus (stock and demi-glace) and allow to reduce to a consistency where it coats a spoon but not thickly, pass through a sieve to remove onions and spices.
For the beef
Remove the beef from the marinade and place it onto a plate to drain slightly season with salt and pepper. Take a non-stick pan and set on a medium heat. add some olive oil and when the pan starts to slightly smoke carefully add the four pieces of meat using tongs. Seal each side of beef for 1 minute on each side until you have a nice colour, then place it on a tray and into a preheated oven at 190'C for roughly 5 minutes. or if you want it over medium for 3 or 4 minutes more.
Want to learn the secrets of the professional chef? Join Darragh Dooley at the Killeavy Castle Estate cookery school. View the cookery school schedule