It was mum’s the word when a Tipperary butcher’s beef dripping won the supreme champion award at the Great Tastes Awards.
“It’s my mother’s recipe,” fifth-generation butcher Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers from Clonmel said.
The dripping, produced from the suet of grass-fed Angus and Hereford cattle, beat some 10,000 entries from Ireland and Britain to take the top accolade.
“It is fantastic recognition for the team of very creative people that I work with,” said Mr Whelan.
Great Taste is the world’s largest and most trusted food and drink awards scheme.
Organised by the Guild of Fine Food, it is judged by 450 food critics, chefs, cooks, producers, and members of the Women’s Institute.
The dripping, wrapped simply in white waxed paper, astonished the judges with its “pure beefiness and savoury depth”. One judge said: “Just a spoonful would add sheer magnificence however it was used.”
The beef dripping made the Guild of Fine Food’s Great Taste Top 50 best foods in Britain and Ireland two years in a row and was awarded Great Taste three stars both years. Three stars is considered the equivalent to a Michelin star.
As well as the top accolade of Great Taste Supreme Champion 2015, the dripping won the Golden Fork Award, making it the overall regional winner for Ireland.
Mr Whelan said bringing beef dripping back into the market would not have been as straight forward 20 or even 15 years ago.
“Over the last few years, with the diet police’s crosshairs firmly on refined sugar and carbohydrates instead of saturated fat, our customers are educated and appreciate this classic flavour enhancer,” he said.
“Fat is an essential part of our diet, protecting organs and aiding the absorption of vitamins and, according to many scientists, we are probably better consuming animal fats like butter and dripping. It’s a healthy option.
“There is an onus on us all to reignite the conversation. When I was a child obesity was not an issue and what we have got to do now is reconnect with that diet. Our beef dripping is nutrient rich, high in omega-3 acids, clean, pure, and carries great flavour, whether for frying a steak, roasting potatoes or spread onto good bread like lardo [Italian cured pig fat].”
Mr Whelan said the dripping was sold “all over the place” including luxury stores such as Harrods and Fortum & Mason in London.
Runners-up in the Golden Fork from Ireland, sponsored by Bord Bia, were Quinlan’s Irish Organic Salmon and Smoked Irish Organic Salmon cured with Irish Atlantic Sea Salt, both from Quinlan’s Kerryfish, based in Cahirciveen, Co Kerry, and Cuinnoeg Irish Farmhouse Country Butter, Castlebar, Co Mayo.
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