Thursday, March 12, 2015

Blarney Castle Cheese Potato Soup






     Irish Blarney Castle Cheese!
     Blarney Castle Cheese is old world tradition at its best!  This famous Irish cheese has been produced for more than 500 years.  If one seeks a pure Irish cheese that is steeped in tradition, then Blarney Castle Cheese is the one to select. 
     The Blarney Castle is a world famous landmark that has plenty of historical lore.  Everyday, folks worldwide visit this castle in Cork County just to kiss the Blarney Stone. The Blarney Stone is a symbol of good luck and prosperity of epic proportion.  Thousands of people make the pilgrimage to this site each year during the week of the Saint Patrick's Day celebration.
      During the Middle Ages, castles were a primary defense system for local communities and kingdoms throughout Europe.  Castles were not only built to protect people, they were also built to protect the prized possessions of the community.  Back in those days, cattle were worth their weight in gold and they were a commodity that was in high demand, especially by marauding invaders that needed to feed their men.  
     Blarney Castle was built to protect the local community, their possessions and eventually their prized cattle that produced some of the richest milk anywhere in Europe.  A local cheese maker centered his operation within the stone block walls of the castle way back in the day.  Eventually when the age of castle defenses tapered off, the Blarney Castle cheese making operation was comfortably staked in a building that is located in the Cork County countryside.      
     Blarney Castle Cheese is a rich tasting traditional Irish organic cheese that is made with grass fed cattle milk that is free of any chemicals, additives or contaminants.  Blarney Castle Cheese is pure Irish Cork County tradition at its best!  Kerrygold USA is one of the finest modern cheese makers and distributers that there is.  This is because this company respects tradition and old world purity standards.  Kerrygold USA imports their Blarney Castle Cheese directly from Ireland.  
     Many people make the mistake of describing Blarney Castle Cheese as being a White Cheddar, but it truly is a unique cheese of its own.  Blarney Castle Cheese actually is an Irish style Gouda Cheese that is moderately sharp tasting with plenty of cream body that allows the flavor to pleasantly linger on the palate.  
     Blarney Castle Cheese is aged, but it is not aged for such a long period of time that the clean fresh tasting nature of the cheese becomes too strong tasting.  The color of Blarney Castle Cheese is opaque pale white.  The texture of this classic cheese is firm and it is easily sliced.   
     Blarney Castle Cheese has a high cream fat content, so it easily melts.  When I made the soup example for today's recipe, I was surprised to see just how fast this cheese melted into the soup.  It actually liquified after only a few stirs with a whisk.  Since Blarney Castle Cheese Melts quickly, care must be taken to not overheat the soup or the butterfats will separate.  After adding this cheese, the soup must remain at a low temperature.   
     Part of the theme of today's Blarney Castle Potato Soup is eliminating food waste in a restaurant or home kitchen.  To me, there is only one way to peel a potato and that is by using a sharp paring knife.  The highest percentage of minerals are contained in the potato skin, so it should not be tossed in the garbage.  
     When a paring knife is used, the potato peelings can be cut thick enough to be used to make breakfast potatoes, hash or soup.  Thick potato peelings can even be used to make cheap complimentary appetizers for the bar patrons. 
     Any kind of potato scraps from turning, blocking, French precision cutting or peeling should be saved and put to good use!  Any rotten spot peelings should go in the garbage, but the healthy potato peelings and scraps can be placed in a bucket of water, chilled and saved for making recipes.  

     Smoked Bacon Preparation:
     This recipe yields enough to garnish 2 portions of soup.
     Step 1:  Heat a small sauté pan over medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of small chopped smoked bacon.  
     Gently sauté and render till the bacon fat becomes translucent.  Do not brown the bacon! 
     Step 2:  Remove the pan from the heat.
      Drain off the bacon grease and set the rendered bacon aside.  
     *The smoked bacon grease can be saved and used to flavor other recipes or it can be used to make roux.   

     Blarney Castle Potato Soup:
     This recipe yields about 4 cups.  
     Thick paring knife potato peelings from 1 large russet potato were used to make this soup.  Irish Blarney Castle Cheese 
     This soup requires relatively few ingredients, because the cheese flavor should not be masked.   
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add an equal amount of flour while stirring.
     Constantly stir the roux, till it turns a pale golden color and till it just starts to emit a light hazelnut aroma.
     Step 2:  Add 1 1/2 cups of light chicken broth, while stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the roux thickens the broth.
     Step 3:  Add 2 cups of milk, while stirring.
     Stir occasionally, till the soups heats and it becomes a very thin consistency.
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/2 cups of of coarsely chopped thick russet potato peelings.
     Add the reserved rendered smoked bacon.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced shallot.
     Add 1 pinch of rubbed sage.
     Add 1 laurel leaf.
     Add Kosher Salt and white pepper to taste.
     Bring the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the potatoes are tender and the soup is thin consistency that can coat a spoon.  Stir the soup occasionally.
     *The volume will be a little less than 4 cups at this time.
     Step 5:  Add 1/2 cup of chopped Blarney Castle Cheese while gently stirring with a whisk.
     Stir till the cheese blends into the soup.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Gently simmer for a few minutes, so the full flavor of the cheese develops.
     *The volume should be about 4 cups at this time.
     Keep the soup warm over very low heat or in a 135ºF bain marie.

     Presentation: 
     This recipe yields 1 portion.
     Remove the laurel leaf.
     Ladle a 2 cup portion soup into a shallow wide soup bowl.
     Garnish with fresh dill sprigs.
     Garnish with a pinch of brunoise diced sweet mini bell pepper.  (brunoise = 1/8"x1/8"x1/8" dice)

     This soup is perfect for a chilly evening and of course Saint Patty's Day!

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