Finnerty’s butchers, which is located on the ground floor of the Eyre Square Shopping Centre and in Oughterard, has just scooped a top award at the All Ireland Craft Butcher Product competitions. It won supreme champion in the sausages and puddings section, quite an achievement when you think that there are about 500 butchers in the association and about 300 in the competition. Nevin Maguire was the main judge at the event so we can assume that the winners were all pretty impressive. I had often passed by the shop but never shopped there, so I decided to call in and try some of the award winning products. The main shop is in Oughterard and it has been supplying locally sourced meat for the last 50 years and supplies many of the main Connemara hotels like the Abbeyglen, Renvyle House, and Cashel House.
I sampled the sausages and the first thing you notice is the meatiness and at the same time they are quite juicy. I am not a huge fan of flavoured sausages but the addition of leeks is perfect, not in the least overpowering. With regards to cooking sausages I recommend you use a temperature probe to teach you when to recognise they are just done; most sausages are overcooked and then they will disappoint, as long as you keep turning them they really cook quite quickly. The black and white puddings are also excellent, and again these are very often overcooked to the point of cremation, they are already cooked in the manufacturing process so all you are doing is heating them up. There was a question on a Newstalk interview last week with Paulo Thulio where a listener asked what is in white pudding. Thulio was hesitant so I asked Tommy Finnerty; bacon/pork, oatmeal, and seasoning is the recipe. The puddings are all made in house, the same as the sausages, and they certainly have my recommendation. A really simple and impressive starter is to place a scallop on top of a piece of fried black pudding and then place a thinly sliced and fried slice of apple on the very top ( sprinkle some icing sugar on the apple before frying to caramelise it a little ), add a little salad and dressing, done.
There is a chicken rotisserie in the shop which, if you can eat the chicken quickly after you buy it, will guarantee a lovely dinner, and if you are in a hurry to get a dinner for one you could pick up the tinfoil container with a cooked breast of chicken and garlic potatoes for €3.99, perfect for a student and cheaper than a burger.
Declan Corry in Loughrea has really excelled this year, winning many awards, but the reason I mention his deli and restaurant is that it delivers top quality homemade products at great prices. The restaurant upstairs is now making all kinds of jams, salad dressings, chutneys, and the best marmalade I have had in years, at a price of €2.99 each or two for a fiver, you would be hard pressed to make it yourself for that. On the butcher’s counter there are offers, offers, and more offers, the one I picked up was two decent sized racks of lamb for €15, one of which will be on the dinner table on Stephen’s Day as they freeze for a couple of weeks with no deterioration as long as you make sure to wrap it well in the freezer. There are also different size homemade Christmas cakes and puddings to suit all pockets and appetites. If you have not been there yet it is worth a detour — it is across from the mart just off the main street.