Foodies with a passion for cooking should get themselves along to one of the classes currently being run at the James Street South Cookery School.
The Dining Quarter
21 James Street South
028 9043 4310
With the days getting longer, what better way to spend a Saturday morning than to attend a game cookery master class in the assured hands of Niall McKenna at James Street South Cookery School.
When I arrived I was very excited as I do love my game but am a bit wary of how to cook it! Niall soon put me and nine other intrepid foodies at ease. He had a fantastic menu lined up, with Quail, Pigeon, Pheasant and Venison on offer.
He demonstrated how to prepare the birds
– the finer points of butchery – before we all had a go. Then we started the cooking process. First, the birds’ legs and wings were cooked in a vegetable and red wine sauce which would become the “Jus”, before starting the oven roasting process. Paramount to the whole procedure was the sealing of the birds in a pan with the new in thing, “rape seed oil”. This oil, which can now be purchased in all major supermarkets, is fabulous because it has a very high burning point, tastes great and is also healthy.
Once the birds were sealed they rested whilst we got on with making the Venison Pithivier. There was definitely a French theme running through the menu, and these techniques were very intriguing, as previously I had only ever cooked game Indian style. Pithivier is basically
cooked potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks, thyme, rosemary and garlic all minced with cooked venison onto a round sphere golf ball in size. This is then placed into a puff pastry “sandwich” rather akin to ravioli. The edges are then crimped and egg washed before being cooked in the oven. The puff pastry was made in the restaurant but Niall assured me that all the supermarkets had very good puff pastry. A wee tip here is not to buy puff pastry which is very yellow in colour because it will have had food colouring added to it.
Our class started at 10am and before we knew it, it was nearly 12.30 and time to start plating up. There was an absolute mountain of food and I did feel guilty about having to tuck into this glorious feast without my wife, so I decided to take home the pheasant to share.
Niall is a brilliant chef and demonstrates his methods very clearly. He was always willing to answer any questions and share pearls of wisdom when it came to techniques. He has had a good grounding in cooking, starting off with Paul Rankin in Roscoff before moving on to work in London. Since deciding to come back to Belfast he has never looked back and is an absolute asset to the chef culture here in Belfast. His talent and passion can be seen right through all of James Street South Cookery School, Bar and Grill and Restaurant.
Once again the BFM shares the food love!!! Ciao down now!!!