Father’s Day dinner: an excuse to celebrate your dear old dad

Potted crab, roasted pork and a fennel and citrus salad is sure to go down a treat


Father’s Day is a great excuse to celebrate your dad’s life and for getting everyone together. Sure, you can make the most of the opportunity to make fun of your dear old dad – perhaps it’s the way he eats cold lamb chops in his undies and buys you the world’s worst presents. 

If you are lucky, you might have two dads, or a dad that was your mum, that’s a bonus. If you were brought up mostly by your mum, like I was, that is super cool too. It is 2019 after all. 

We are all so busy these days, we sometimes forget to slow down and enjoy a meal with one another. My favourite part of preparing a meal is the journey (am I allowed to say “journey” without receiving an eye roll?).

I’m like a hunter when it comes to ingredients, a cross between Ray Mears and John Rambo. When I shop for them, I like to think of the people I’m cooking for. I always get little extras from our beautiful Galway market on a Saturday, some free-roam pork from the Castlemine Farm boys, or oysters and eggs from Mike’s stall. There might be a doughnut from Danny for breakfast, and a swift cheese top-up from Sheridans, all padded out by a local vegetable purchase from one of the organic growers. Then it’s simply a matter of sitting around the dining table and having a natter, taking the time out to slow down.

My crab dish this week is completely 1980s inspired, with its pink peppercorn garnish. It’s a great recipe that I adapted from Darina Allen’s wonderful book Forgotten Skills of Cooking. Follow that with roast pork with the peach and sage stuffing. To finish off, the sharp citrus and fennel salad is a little flavour party in the mouth.


Serves 4
250g cooked crab meat
50g mayonnaise
50g crème fraîche
2 red chillies, finely chopped
40g/1 medium Granny Smith apple, finely chopped
40g/two sticks celery, finely chopped
40g spring onion, finely chopped
20g fresh dill
20g fresh tarragon
20g fresh coriander
2 limes, zest and juice
Salt and white pepper
100ml clarified butter, or ghee
Pink peppercorns to garnish

Make sure to pick over the crab, twice if not three times, to find bits of stray shell. This is best done on a metal tray so you can hear and feel any little bits of crab shell on your fingertips.

2 Squeeze out any excess water and place the crab meat in a bowl.

3 Add the mayonnaise and crème fraîche with all your chopped prepared vegetables and herbs and mix together gently.

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4 Place the mixture into either a large ramekin or four individual serving glasses.

5 To make the clarified butter, heat the butter in a pot over a low heat. Skim the frothy white milk solids off as they rise to the top, then pour the butter through a sieve lined with muslin or kitchen paper to catch any remaining solids; otherwise you can use ghee, from an Asian food store.

6 Pour the clarified butter over the top of the crab and sprinkle with the pink peppercorns.

7 Leave to set in the fridge for an hour or two.



Serves 4, with leftovers
2kg pork belly
1 small sourdough loaf, whizzed up into bread crumbs
4 peaches, grated on a cheese grater
100g fried onions
25g fresh sage, chopped
10g ginger, finely minced
1 orange, zest of
3 whole eggs  

Place all of the stuffing ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands until roughly combined.

2 Season to your taste and set it aside.

3 Score the skin or the pork belly, or ask your butcher to do this. Lie the pork belly down flat and put the stuffing in a line in the centre.

4 Tie the meat up with twine, starting with one end and making your way to the other.

5 Weigh the pork again when it is stuffed to get an exact weight and place it in an oven heated to 180 degrees, or equivalent. It will normally take 35 minutes per 500g, depending on your oven.

6 Leave the meat to rest for 15 minutes before carving.


Serves 4
4 oranges (or you can use grapefruit instead)
4 fennel bulbs
3 Granny Smith apples
40ml apple cider vinegar
20g raw Irish honey
60ml olive oil 

Peel the oranges and slice them into wheels.

2 Slice the apple and fennel thinly, on a mandolin if you have one. Reserve the frothy fennel fronds.

3 Whisk together the vinegar, honey and olive oil to make a dressing.

4 Put everything into a large dish, pour the dressing over the top and toss together.

5 Add the herby tops of the fennel and garnish with the orange wheels. This is the perfect salad to cut through the richness of the pork.

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