7th December 2016
Dermot Brennan, owner of the boutique Brook Lane Hotel, Casey’s Bar & Restaurant and No 35 Restaurant in Kenmare, Co Kerry, has won Champion of Ireland 2016 for Best Pork Sausage at the prestigious Fins Goustiers European Championships.
The awards, which are held annually in Normandy, France, is the European Championships for certain meat products, namely sausages and white puddings. Held annually in Alençon, Normandy, France, they are widely regarded as one of the most prestigious awards for processed pork products. The purpose of the awards is to promote these meat products and uphold the standards of production. The awards are only open to artisan butchers who produce their own products. Sixteen products from Ireland competed for the title and the competing sausages were judged on three criteria – appearance, seasoning and taste.
Dermot’s award winning sausages contain 100% pork from his own pigs, use natural casings, and have naturally occurring salt and iodine. They can be found on the menus at Casey’s Restaurant in Brook Lane Hotel and in dishes such as the pork tasting plate with apple ketchup, cider jus and crackling in No 35 restaurant.
David Beresford, Le Grand Prevost of Commanderie des Fins Goustiers du Duche d’Alencon, said, “The standard of entries in the competition for the pork sausage was extremely high. Dermot Brennan did exceptionally well to achieve the award of Champion of Ireland in this category, beating some previous holders of the title who were also competing and some of the best butchers in Ireland.”
Dermot, who owns and runs the hotel and restaurants with his wife Una, began breeding rare-breed, pedigree saddleback outdoor pigs five years ago on twenty acres of land one kilometre from the hotel.
Speaking after the win, Dermot said, “The unique environment where our pigs live gives the meat its distinctive and very special flavour. We are situated two kilometres from the Atlantic ocean which gives our pork its unique flavour from the salt coming in off Kenmare Bay. The high salt levels and iodine-rich content of these plants and grasses that our pigs feed on make the muscle cells in the flesh retain more moisture so the meat is juicier and melt-in-the-mouth tender, a taste that has been largely forgotten in today’s mass produced pork.”
The pigs that produce the free-range pork are born outside and spend their entire lives in the fresh air, with freedom to roam in large paddocks and root around in the soil. They have shelter when they need it in the form of large straw bedded mobile huts, and they grow at a much slower, more natural rate.
Dermot also produces his own chorizo sausage, pork burgers, hams and dry-cured bacon. Most of the produce for the family-run hotel and restaurants is sourced locally, and the Brennans, who have three young children, also keep their own hens which supply their businesses with farm fresh eggs.
About the Fins Goustiers Awards:
Established in 1973, a Best Grilled Pork Sausage category was added in 2005. The judging process is anonymous and carried out by two tables of judges who are overseen by a lawyer. The full title of the awards body is Commanderie des Fins Goustiers du Duché d’ Alençon. It was given the additional title of Confrérie de Gastronomie Normande, which translates as Brotherhood of Gastronomy Normandy, by Tripière d’Or de Caen, the oldest French gastronomy brotherhood. The judging takes place in October and the awards are presented in November at a traditional ceremony and dinner dance attended by members of other brotherhoods. The judging panel consists of the members of the Commanderie des Fins Goustiers du Duché d’ Alençon, members of other gastronomy brotherhoods, butchers and members of the general public.