Irish Cook

More Fabulous Food from Ireland’s Golden Vale

There’s a lot to discover in County Tipperary, Ireland’s “Golden Vale,” and you’ll find fruit farms next to camping parks, gourmet getaways in restored old convents, and great restaurants in the town of Nenagh, where I visited a few months ago and was duly impressed. The Peppermill Restaurant and Wine Bar is one such place.

CheeseFrittersThis chic two-story restaurant/wine and tapas bar has been going strong since 2000. Husband and wife team Robert and Mairead Gill — he’s the affable front of the house host, she’s the head chef along with Karuna Sundramurthi — keep everything as local as possible. The seafood is sourced directly from Robert’s relatives in West Cork, they only use Tipperary Hereford prime beef, and the cheeses, particularly Cashel Blue and Cooleeney, feature in a number of dishes. On the night of my visit, I was guest of a local, Lisa McGee, founder and creative director of Isle magazine ( We were well looked after during our tapas meal, but I think the attention paid by both Robert and Mairead to all their patrons is one of the reasons the restaurant continues to be a showstopper in Nenagh. (27 Kenyon Street, Nenagh;


Serves 4

This salad is one of the most popular on the tapas menu at The Peppermill. If you’re put off by the thought of making duck confit, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is with this recipe from Simply Recipes (

2 duck legs

Salt for spinkling

1 package couscous

1 spring onion, chopped


1 spring onion, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

1/2 red chili, chopped, or 1 tbsp. dried red pepper flakes

Zest and juice of 1/2 lime

1 tbsp. Thai fish sauce

4 tbsp. soy sauce

2 tbsp. sesame oil

4 tbsp. vegetable oil

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Mixed greens with arugula

Pomegranate seeds for topping

Orange segments for topping

Mint for garnish

  1. To make the confit, pat the duck legs dry with paper towels. Gently prick the skin all over, trying to avoid piercing the meat. Place the legs, skin side up, in a casserole dish just big enough to hold them, and sprinkle liberally with salt. Let rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Put the casserole in the oven and turn heat to 300° F (do not preheat the oven). Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours, or until the skin starts to crisp. Turn up the heat to 375° F and cook for about 15 minutes longer (the legs should be nearly submerged in fat).
  3. Remove from the oven and let cool for 10-15 minutes. Remove the legs from the dish, remove the skin (it’s delicious to nibble on), and pull the duck off the bones into long shreds using two forks. (If you want to save the fat for cooking, strain it through cheesecloth into a covered container; refrigerate for up to 6 months. Well wrapped, the duck meat will last up to 2 weeks in the fridge).
  4. Prepare the couscous according to package directions. Stir in the spring onion. Keep warm.
  5. To make the dressing, combine the onion, shallot, chili or pepper flakes, lime zest and juice, fish sauce, sesame oil, vegetable oil, and pepper in a lidded jar and shake to blend.
  6. To serve, place a scoop of couscous on one side of 4 salad plates. Toss the mixed greens with the dressing and top with the shredded duck. Sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and orange segments and garnish with mint.


Serves 4

Another popular dish on the tapas menu is one made with locally made Cashel Blue Cheese. Try this adaptation.


3 tbsp. butter

1/4 cup flour

2/3 cup milk

2 egg yolks

1 cup crumbled Cashel Blue cheese

4 oz. cream cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Flour for dredging

1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water

Seasoned breadcrumbs for dredging

Vegetable oil for frying


Mixed greens

Balsamic vinaigrette for dressing

Orange segments

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and milk and cook for 1-2 minutes, or until smooth. Whisk in the eggs, blue cheese, and cream cheese. Continue to whisk until the cheese melts. Remove from the heat and add the Parmesan cheese, pepper, lemon juice, and parsley. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and refrigerate for 3-4 hours, or until firm. Scoop out the mixture 1 tbsp. at a time, and with floured hands, shape into 12 evenly sized balls. Dredge each in flour, then egg wash, and then breadcrumbs. Return to refrigerator for 30-45 minutes, or until firm.
  1. Heat about 2 in. oil in a deep fryer or large skillet. Working in batches, fry fritters for 2-3 minutes, gently turning each with 2 spoons to brown evenly. With a slotted spoon, remove the fritters and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  2. To compose the salad, toss the greens with the vinaigrette and divide among 4 salad plates. Place three fritters on each and arrange the orange segments over the greens. Top with a few grinds of black pepper.


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