Inspiration

Eating for Nature with the award-winning Two Cooks chefs

Chef duo Josef Zammit and Nicola Curran Zammit of Two Cooks restaurant take food very seriously. Their new project new project ‘Eating for Nature’ is aresponse to eating food that is sustainable, supports our environment ….and tastes delicious! Here they explain the ethos behind their initiative, and share a fantastic recipe for Lamb Tacos.

THE BIG PICTURE

In May 2019 the UN made a shocking announcement: one million species, about an eighth of everything alive,  are currently at risk of extinction. While there are a number of reasons for the threats facing life, many of them relate to what we eat and how we source that food.

About two thirds of Ireland’s land is used for agriculture. The overuse of pesticides, fertilisers, drainage of land and the removal of hedgerows are leading to wildlife silently disappearing. In Ireland alone, many bird and insect populations have declined by 40% since the 1990’s.

But the good news is that most of Ireland’s agricultural land is family-owned. And Ireland’s farmers can – and often do – help wildlife thrive. The trick is finding the right balance.

Two Cooks Restaurant at Sallins

Nicola Curran Zammit, a native of Carlow, and Josef Zammit form Malta opened their restaurant and wine bar, Two Cooks, in 2016

The Two Cooks chefs believe that when that balance is struck just right, something magical happens and the food produced on these farms tastes better, so they want to celebrate the great work of farmers who produce incredible food and boost wildlife at the same time.

Their first featured farm is the Calvey family farm in Achill Island, and Calvey’s  Mayo Blackface lamb will feature on the Two Cooks menu for the month of October.

MAYO BLACKFACE MOUNTAIN SHEEP AND THEIR  CRUCIAL WORK  IN THE ACHILL ECOSYSTEM 

The Calvey family farm Mayo Blackface Mountain lambs. They have the freedom to graze all over Achill island from the mountains to the rocky seaweed shores –  munching on wild herbs, heathers, grasses, mosses, lichens and seaweed.  That’s why this meat is bursting with flavour. You can still taste the sweet herbs and salty air on the plate.

Achill has a unique coastal grassland called the Machair found only in the western seaboard of Ireland and Scotland. Keeping the machair landscape healthy is the job of the Blackface Mountain sheep. By eating down the grasses, they allow lots of native flowers to bloom, which in turn attracts beetles, caterpillars and snails. Birds like the Chough love it here. This highly intelligent crow species that is rare in Europe, but has a stronghold on Achill island.

TWO COOKS LAMB TACO

Achill Island Lamb Shoulder; 1 kg Meat on the bone

200 ml stock

1 Ancho chillie (smoked chilli)

1 Onion diced

2 carrots peeled and halved

1 bulb of garlic halved cross ways

1 orange cut into 6 wedges

2 medium tomatoes cut into 3cm dice

50ml of Irish rape seed oil

150 ml evaporated milk

60 ml of condensed milk

40 gms brown sugar

2 bay leaf

8 whole allspice

METHOD

Brown the meat in a large skillet pan with rapeseed oil, sweat the onions garlic and carrot, add the spices and chilli just till fragrant and hot then add the sugar, tomatoes, oranges and all liquids, bring to the boil.

Cover with a lid cook in the oven at 140 deg for 2.5 hours

To serve, remove the meat from the sauce and shred the meat.

Pass the sauce through a sieve and season with a little sugar and salt.

Serve in a Tortilla wrap with Fresh Coriander, thinly sliced lime, pickled red onions, Spring onions and radish.

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Barbara EganEating for Nature with the award-winning Two Cooks chefs

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