Warm Irish salad with sirloin steak and shamrock greens


First published in 2015
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Did you know that Ireland has the longest grass-growing season in the northern hemisphere? It's true. There are rarely scorching summer days, but there are rarely freezing winter frosts. These wet and drizzling days are a pain for pretty much everyone, except cows.

Ireland's 225 rain days destroys espadrilles, ruins blowdrys, and puts a literal dampener on camping trips. But it does ensure beautiful pastures. No wonder that the country's national colour is green. Four fifths of Ireland's agriculture is dedicated to grass. Delicious, nutritional grass, which is feasted on by the country's cows which results in some of the world's tastiest beef.

So, to celebrate St Patrick's Day, I decided to treat myself to some grass-fed Irish beef. The temptation with beef is to roll out a Sunday lunch, or the classic steak and chips with béarnaise sauce. Both delicious. But the possibilities are endless.

There's oxtail – a somewhat Victorian cut which, which is being revived as more and more people discover the fall-off-the-bone tenderness of the meat in a stew or ragu. Then there's onglet, or hanger steak, which just needs whisking over a searingly hot griddle or barbecue to release the cut's enormous flavours.

I toyed with shin, or brisket, or fillet. But on a trip to the butchers it was the sirloin steak which called me. Often steak salads take on a South East Asian bent, but in the name of St Patrick's Day celebrations, I decided that mine was going to take inspiration from some of Ireland's best offerings instead: soda bread, kale and pearl barley...and, of course, the obligatory Guinness chaser.




Soda bread croutons

  • 150g of plain flour
  • 150g of self-raising flour, wholemeal
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 284ml of buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 tsp rock salt
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary

Warm salad

Green sauce

Sirloin steak

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6
To make the soda bread croutons, tip the plain flour, self-raising wholemeal flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt, in a mixing bowl and combine. Make a well in the centre, and then pour in the buttermilk. Bring together the dough with a knife. Knead, shape, and then put in the oven for 30 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. (For speed, skip this step and buy a loaf of soda bread from a local bakery!)
Once the soda bread has cooled, roughly tear up the roll. Put it in a roasting tray, toss in the olive oil, add the rosemary and rock salt, and return it to the oven for ten minutes until the croutons are golden and crisp
To make the base of the warm salad, sweat the onion in the butter. When translucent, add the garlic and cook for a further minute, and then tip the pearl barley into the pan and stir so that it's coated in the buttery onion and garlic. Add the vegetable stock, and then allow it to simmer for 30 minutes, until the stock has been absorbed, and the pearl barley is plump and juicy
While the pearl barley is cooking, make the green sauce. Grind the walnuts, tarragon and parsley in a pestle and mortar, and then slowly drizzle in the oil so that the sauce develops a pesto-like consistency. Season with a dash of salt and red wine vinegar
Make sure that all the 'shamrock greens' are cut or torn to the same size - so that they all cook evenly. If the pearl barley has absorbed all its liquid, then add 1-2 tbsp of water, enough to create steam to cook the courgette, kale and broccoli. Add the greens to the pearl barley risotto, and stir through for 2-4 minutes, so they're still al dente. Stir 1-2 tbsp of the green sauce through the salad. Divide between two plates
Coat the sirloin steaks in olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Cook on a high heat in a griddle pan, to personal preference
Slice the steaks, and place on top of the pearl barley and vegetables. Top with the croutons, and the leftover green sauce
Top with the croutons, and the leftover green sauce
First published in 2015
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