What were we cooking? Our top recipes of 2017

Vegetarian fare, and chicken – of course – were popular with Irish Times readers, and we also liked cooking recipes by Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi

Jamie Oliver’s sticky lamb chops

Jamie Oliver’s sticky lamb chops

 

The community of cooks at irishtimes.com are a vegetable, sweet potato and lentil-loving bunch, who share a fondness for Asian and Indian food. But most of all, they like to eat chicken, a lot of chicken, according to the most-read – and we hope most-cooked – recipes of 2017 from the Irish Times website.

Nigella Lawson’s butternut and sweet potato curry, from her recent TV series and book, At My Table, is the most-read recipe online at irishtimes.com this year, having featured alongside the interview she gave to the Irish Times Magazine in September. It also appeared on her TV show, sending a flurry of readers back to look for the recipe for this vibrant, glowing orange bowl of food, served with dramatic black venus rice.

Donal Skehan’s sweet potato stew with lemongrass and ginger brown rice
Donal Skehan’s sweet potato stew with lemongrass and ginger brown rice

Sweet potato cropped up regularly in recipes that readers liked a lot. Thai sweet potato stew with lemongrass and ginger brown rice is a January warmer from Donal Skehan that made the top 10, and will be a good one to bookmark for the dreary, dark days ahead.

Eunice Power’s spiced chickpea, sweet potato and spinach stew
Eunice Power’s spiced chickpea, sweet potato and spinach stew

Eunice Power’s spiced chickpea, sweet potato and spinach stew is a veritable powerhouse of goodness, and it was another January standout for readers looking for substantial, healthy, one-pot suppers.

Indian dahl with roast sweet potatoes, red onion and chickpeas
Indian dahl with roast sweet potatoes, red onion and chickpeas

The American carb was back in a starring role in Donal Skehan’s store cupboard recipe for Indian dahl with roast sweet potatoes, red onion and chickpeas. So far, so vegetarian (with the exception of the Thai dish, for which you’ll have to find a vegan or vegetarian alternative to fish sauce, or leave it out).

It’s a trend that continued throughout the year, with six savoury vegetarian recipes in the top 20.

Healthy lentil ragu with ‘courgetti’
Healthy lentil ragu with ‘courgetti’

Lentils were a mainstay of the vegetarian listings, with Donal Shehan’s healthy lentil ragu coming in at number eight. Red lentils and spiralised courgettes – remember those – combine here for what the recipe’s creator describes as “a healthier take on classic spag Bol”, in keeping with January’s demand for clean-living, warming dishes.

Soup of turmeric, winter roots, cabbage and lentils
Soup of turmeric, winter roots, cabbage and lentils

The legume reappeared again that month – when it seems we were holed up in our kitchens, cooking nutritious, inexpensive dishes and waiting for winter to retreat – in the same writer’s soup of turmeric, winter roots, cabbage and lentils.

It wasn’t all vegetables that got us rushing to the kitchen though. Jamie Oliver’s 5 Ingredients book has been a runaway bestseller this autumn, and when we met him in London at the launch of the book, he was full of praise for Irish lamb.

Jamie Oliver’s quick Asian fishcakes
Jamie Oliver’s quick Asian fishcakes

So it’s not surprising there was great interest in his recipe for sticky lamb chops, the second most-read recipe of 2017 on irishtimes.com, in which he takes cutlets, carrots, garlic, oranges and thyme and turns them into something magical. There was a similarly enthusiastic response to Oliver’s quick Asian fishcakes recipe, in at number four.

Carmel Somers shares her secrets to the best roast chicken
Carmel Somers shares her secrets to the best roast chicken

But what about all those chicken recipes, I hear you ask? Well, there were five in the top 20 utilising the bird, and the third most-read recipe of the year was for new Irish Times food writer Carmel Somers’s recipe that promised to take your roast chicken to a new level. Brining is part of Somers’s game plan, and she also includes instructions on how to make a delicious chicken gravy.

Chicken Parmesan, an Italian American favourite
Chicken Parmesan, an Italian American favourite

Donal Skehan’s chicken Parmesan, a take on the US classic rather than anything originating in Italy, just nudges into the top 10. This recipe, with a marinara tomato sauce enveloping the cheesy, panko breadcrumbed escalopes, was closely followed in the rankings by Skehan’s sweet and sour chicken, a less sugary version of a takeaway classic.

Chicken dumpling soup for the soul
Chicken dumpling soup for the soul

Two very different chicken soup recipes make up the remainder of the poultry entries in the top 20. Chicken dumpling soup for the soul, is a health-giving elixir of thigh meat dumplings suspended in a gentle, clear broth laced with vegetables. Hot and sour chicken soup, on the other hand is an Asian-inspired broth with a kick.

Hot and sour chicken soup
Hot and sour chicken soup

Traditional Irish food got a look-in on the top 20 too, as Skehan’s Dublin coddle – with the controversial addition of pearl barley and a topping of potato slices – makes an appearance at number five and the same writer’s mum Angie’s Irish stew is at 16.

Dublin coddle . . . reinvented
Dublin coddle . . . reinvented

You cna never have too many meatball recipes, and right up there at number six is American Italian baked meatballs. “Baking the fried meatballs in the oven coated with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese is simply spectacular. Make them tonight,” Skehan exhorts.

Donal Skehan’s ’best-ever’ baked meatballs
Donal Skehan’s ’best-ever’ baked meatballs

Just four sweet things make it into our top 20 most read recipes of 2017. In at number seven is a lemon curd pudding , an all-in-one batter that is simplicity itself, especially if you have a jar of readymade curd to use up.

Lemon curd pudding
Lemon curd pudding

The quick and easy theme continues with Jamie Oliver’s cherry chocolate mousse, another winner from his 5 Ingredients book.

Jamie Oliver’s cherry chocolate mousse
Jamie Oliver’s cherry chocolate mousse

But there’s a bit more of an effort involved in recreating Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s Louise cake with plum and coconut, from their giant book of all things Sweet.

Louise cake with plums and coconut, and a meringue topping
Louise cake with plums and coconut, and a meringue topping

Completing the list of the 20 most-read recipes of 2017 at irishtimes.com, occupying the final place on the leaderboard, is Roz Purcell’s recipe for healthy breakfast cookies.

Roz Purcell’s healthy breakfast cookies
Roz Purcell’s healthy breakfast cookies
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