Eat the season: Head Chef Chad Byrne of Danu restaurant The Brehon Hotel Kilarney, Blackberries and Bella of bybella.iw picking balckberries down a grassy lined country road in Ireland!
Eat The Season Features

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

By on 27th September 2017

‘Eat the Season’

September starts the autumnal season. Summery sunny days (if we were lucky) start to become a distant memory and the weather asks us to wear warmer clothes. Some may think it’s a dreary time of year, the days start to get shorter and for most, they are headed back to school or college. But as with anything, it can be joyless or we can adapt as the seasons change and bring with it an exciting new fruit filled chapter.

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

September, not only a month of fresh copy books and school bags but an exciting one with bucket loads of blackberries! Dotted along every road side, it’s that time of year when those little black on the outside and blushing purple on the inside start to appear in all their glory. Completely free of charge, I might add… These fellas are awaiting you, roadside asking nothing of you but to create utterly delicious dishes with them.

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

When I think of blackberries my mind goes straight to warming pies, tarts and jams. There’s nothing more satisfying than a warm blackberry and apple pie, drenched in homemade custard… Blackberries are famous within sweet dishes but they go just as well in savory dishes too. I wanted to learn how to optimise seasonal treasures like these and so I’ve created ‘Eat the Season’ to do just that. To kickstart this seasonal adventure I went to legendary chef Chad Byrne of Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney to help me understand blackberries that bit further. He’s kindly answered my burning blackberry questions and thrown in an incredible blackberry and apple crumble recipe too – thanks chef!

I’ve spent many afternoons strolling the grassy lined back roads of East Clare, picking basket loads of the beauties. I’ve pricked myself with thorns on more occasions than I have fingers to count. Chad suggests to ‘wear gloves… yes the marigolds would do!’ and ‘use a rake to get the hard to reach ones’.

The plump ones are favored ‘generally go for nice plump ones’ and those unripe ones that fall while picking are beauties too ‘keep these, you could add to a vinegar for three weeks and hey presto you have berry vinegar’ or ‘pickle them in equal amounts of sugar and salt’ to balance the tartness. A revelation… Let thy pantry become seasonally supercharged!  

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

Guilty as charged, I myself have bulldozed bushes in the excitement (did I mention they’re free?…) of filling up my own basket but Chad recommends ‘when you have picked a shrub, it’s a good idea to cut off the branches with a cutter as this will spur on regrowth faster’ and ultimately pay it forward for the next eager blackberry picker!

As for keeping these little jewels fresher for longer, I either bung them into a pie or freeze them for later on. A jam, I suppose would be the ultimate preserver but if I’m honest I’ve never felt the urge to make blackberry jam when you have the likes of Bonne Maman and Clarke’s  doing them so fabulously… To keep them fridge fresh for breakfast toppings and snacks ‘rinse and pat dry, leaving on kitchen towel unwrapped as they will sweat’ and ‘you should get 4-6 days from them’, assures Chad. Alternatively freeze them and ‘serve with a nice gin and use them instead of ice’ or in smoothies or instant froyos.

Eat the Season: A close up of seasonal blackberries on bybella.ie

Fruit compliments many savory dishes, look no further than a cheese board accompanied by chutneys, dried and fresh fruits or the classic combination of pork and apple or duck a l’orange… Fruits are so much more than healthy snacks and sweet classics, they lift dishes and give a gorgeous intensity to them. Chad adds blackberries to ‘jus, a posh word for gravy to go with most game or fowl. I’ve put them with wood pigeon, carmelised foie gras and my own homegrown garden greens’.

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

The vinegar he suggests making with the unripe berries ‘is stunning to cut through fatty foods’ and ‘goes well with mackerel pate and pickled onions soaked in blackberry vinegar’. He also freezes the berries to go as an attractive garnish ‘on an autumnal gazpacho’ – Chad can you just send me some of that now please?

We’ve seen the chef come out in Chad, with his fancy jus and caramelised foie gras but the excitement continues… He suggests making a ‘super blackberry crumble, or a blackberry bakewell with some creme patisserie and poached fruits’ but goes the whole hog and shows proper shnazz by serving blackberries in ‘deep fried wontons with mango and guava strawberry’.

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

Chad doesn’t have any blackberry childhood memories, just like me he was ‘brought up in a  council estate where beans on toast was considered fancy!’. I actually loved beans on toast and remember a babysitter used to melt cheese in the beans too, now that’s ‘posh’, ain’t it Chef! I think the only difference was he’s from the big shmoke of Dublin City and I’m from West Side, middle of the sticks Co. Clare where I spent a lot of time growing up on my grandads farm in the country, luckily surrounded by these little beauties.

Chad rates blackberries as being ‘up there with the best fruit, they are simply stunning and so versatile… I mean blackberry Miwadi!!’ and I’m right there with him, my favorite jam is blackberry, I love them in biscuits, tarts and to tell you the truth I’m feeling very inspired by Chads vinegar!

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

A legend of a chef, Chad is also an inspiration of a guy, he loves ‘the underdog in people’ because he feels as though he’s ‘a bit of a rough diamond’ himself. Coming from humble beginnings, his cheffing journey started in The Merrion and continued in other high end Irish hotels before venturing around the globe to London, France, Australia and America where he honed his skills to come back and climb to the top of the Irish culinary ladder!

Eat the Season: Blackberries with Chad Byrne, Head Chef at Danú at the Brehon Hotel in Killarney

I’ve never met him but had the pleasure of being acquainted through a college mate who was on stage for a year down in The Brehon. For years I’ve been following his foodie adventures, so it’s no doubt I’ve gone to him first to inspire me even more through ‘Eat the Season’. I’m happy to say I’m feeling more blackberry educated and totally inspired! I’m Kerry bound next month for a little getaway to celebrate Miss E’s 27th and I can’t wait to finally meet him at The Brehon!

AuthorBellaCategoryDifficultyBeginner

Chad Byrne's Blackberry Crumble on by Bella. Suitable for vegans, coeliacs and all foodie lovers!
Yields4 Servings
Prep Time10 minsCook Time45 minsTotal Time55 mins
Filling
 4 large bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
 500 g blackberries
 200 g demerara sugar
 2 lemons, zested and juiced
Crumble
 225 g plain or gluten free plain flour
 175 g butter or soy butter or margarine
 55 g demerara sugar
1

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas mark 6. Squeeze the lemon juice and zest over the apple and mix well - this adds flavor and prevents the apples from discoloring.

2

Layer the apples, blackberries, and sugar in a large pie dish.

3

Place the flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs - leave a few lumps of butter so that the topping is not too fine. Add the sugar and mix through.

4

Use a spoon to sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes.

Ingredients

Filling
 4 large bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
 500 g blackberries
 200 g demerara sugar
 2 lemons, zested and juiced
Crumble
 225 g plain or gluten free plain flour
 175 g butter or soy butter or margarine
 55 g demerara sugar

Directions

1

Preheat the oven to 200C / 400F / Gas mark 6. Squeeze the lemon juice and zest over the apple and mix well - this adds flavor and prevents the apples from discoloring.

2

Layer the apples, blackberries, and sugar in a large pie dish.

3

Place the flour in a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs - leave a few lumps of butter so that the topping is not too fine. Add the sugar and mix through.

4

Use a spoon to sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the fruit. Bake for 45 minutes.

Chad Byrne’s Apple and Blackberry Crumble Classic

Serve: With warm custard or vanilla ice cream.

Check out my savoury Blackberry and Goats Cheese Tarts for more inspiration!

For more details on chad and The Brehon check out his creations here – The Brehon Dining   or Chad’s Instagram

Photo Credits

Of Chad: The Brehon Trip Advisor

Of Bella: Deirdre Mc Guinness

Dishes: Chad Byrne

All other: Bella O’Keeffe

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Bella
Ireland

Hi I’m Bella and I am stone cracked about all things food! My love for the stuff started from a young age. When I’m not eating food I’m thinking about it or talking about it or traveling to random places to get a taste of the best that’s out there… An addiction, I admit. But to be fair, it’s not the worst addiction to have, merely the tastiest I reckon!

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