A student pop-up dinner has become an established tradition on the three-month course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School, says Darina Allen. Here’s how to put your own together.
A student pop-up dinner has become an established tradition on the three-month course at the Ballymaloe Cookery School. The students who come from all over the world get together with two of our senior tutors Pam Black and Tracie Daly to plan every single detail of the meal from the theme to designing the menus, décor, table laying. They do all the graphics, cooking, and collect the produce.
The theme this autumn was ‘Wild and Slow — Forgotten Flavours and Foraged Food’. The chosen menu had a starter of roast and parmesan-crusted Jerusalem artichokes on Ballymaloe pumpkin purée, with pan-seared breast of pheasant and confit of leg.
The students chose Kuri pumpkins from the selection of 8 or 10 that we grow and magicked these ingredients into a cheffy starter. While the chefs were prepping in the kitchen others were baking a variety of gluten-free sourdough and yeast breads.
Others opted to collect barrel-loads of autumn leaves to make into garlands and scatter on the conservatory floor and over the table tops. The menu design was done by Hermione Hill and Keiko Ebisu from Japan did artwork on the night.
It’s the game season so lots of pheasant for main course were included. The birds were jointed, the breasts were marinated and the legs made into a light confit with flaky sea salt and fresh herbs. This was served on a bed of chestnut and caramelised onion stuffing with scallion champ and organic Brussels sprouts.
Something was needed to compliment the plate so several others went foraging in the orchard and made a Bramley apple, medlar and quince jelly from the autumn bounty. Next a salad of organic leaves and foraged greens to aid digestion and make room for dessert.
For dessert, Ballyandreen meets Italy... a carrageen panna cotta light and super delicious served in little glasses with a wild blackberry and lemon verbena compote.
Alongside was coconut macaroon with lime zest and a chunk of almond brittle.
The proceeds of the pop-up dinner were donated to the East Cork Slow Food Educational Project which teaches children in eight primary schools how to cook and grow some of their own food.
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