Monday, August 17, 2009

The Irish Plough boy (in a jar)

Growing up on a farm in Ireland we were always familiar with the famous brown bag lunch known as the Ploughboy’s lunch which had everything needed to satisfy a hungry hard working farmer in the field. Containing goodies such as Irish brown bread and butter, aged cheddar cheese, an apple, sticks of celery and spiced apple chutney. Staple ingredients that would always be at hand in most Irish kitchens. In fact, if you were to go to any pub in Ireland or England for that matter and you may see it on the lunch menu often served with roast chicken or ham, and maybe with a slice of Cashel blue cheese in addition to the vintage cheddar.

But….you’re asking…’how come it’s in a jar?’ After all, mason jars are as Southern as grits, right? Well, the answer is that the Ulster Kitchen was invited to be part of a new Southern cook book concept called ‘That thing in a jar’ and as I scratched my head as to what to contribute it seemed right to do something ‘very Irish’ in order to contrast the ‘very Southern’ mason jar. Get it? Inspired by the Ploughboy’s lunch we crumbled and toasted the bread and baked it with butter and fresh herbs, grated the cheese and layered the apples and celery with the apple chutney to create ‘that rather Irish thing in a jar’. Strange , but true….

So, there it is, and I am glad to say that the ‘Irish Plough boy’ was a huge hit with the ‘foodies’ in Atlanta (phew!). All kinds of folks loved the savory sweet flavors, the tangy vinegar chutney with the sweetness of the apples all blending with the cheese and crunchy Irish bread.

Here is the recipe that I hope you all enjoy! (or, as I should say…hope ‘y’all enjoy!)


The Irish Plough boy (in a jar)

(Serves 4):

1/2 cup Apple Chutney
1 Granny Smith apple (cored and diced with skins on)
1 Red Delicious apple (cored and diced with skins on)
2 stalks of celery (scraped and diced)
4 Tbsp Walnut Vinaigrette
6 oz Vintage Irish Cheddar Cheese (grated)
4 slices of Irish Wheaten Bread or wholegrain bread (crumbled and toasted)
2 Tbsp butter
2 tsp thyme, sage parsley (chopped)

Walnut vinaigrette

5 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
½ tsp white pepper
½ cup walnut oil
½ cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp sugar

Apple Chutney :

4 Lbs Granny Smith apples (peeled, cored, chopped)
1 ½ cups golden raisins
1 Lb Vidalia onions (peeled and chopped)
1 Lb soft brown sugar
1 ¾ cups cider vinegar
¼ cup lemon juice
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp white pepper
1 tsp ginger (minced)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg


1. To make the apple chutney, combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and cook on medium high. When chutney is boiling, turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 1 ½ hours, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
2. Allow chutney to cool completely. (If making in advance follow canning guidelines and place in sealed jars).
3. Prepare vinaigrette by mixing apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, celery seed salt, white pepper, walnut oil and vegetable oil together in a large glass jar. Seal jar and shake well to combine.
4. Crumble bread and toss in melted butter and herbs. Place on large baking tray and toast in 350 degree oven for 5-6 minutes until browned and crunchy. Remove from oven and cool.
5. Chop apples and celery and combine in large bowl. Toss salad in walnut vinaigrette.
6. To layer salad, begin with apple and celery salad, then layer in the apple chutney, followed by more apple and celery salad, then vintage cheddar, and end with toasted wheaten bread crumbles.

(If you wish to print this recipe out for use in your kitchen, I suggest opening Word and cutting and pasting the text onto a new doc. Should only take a few seconds!)