Who Are They?
Tom Durcan is perhaps Cork’s best known craft butcher and has been trading in the city’s famous English Market since 1985. Tom began in the trade as a young boy, working behind the counter in Kidneys Butcher Shop in Carrigaline while he was still in school. From there, Tom travelled to Denmark to spend time learning about the arts of curing and smoking, before returning home to open his first shop in Douglas, just outside the city. When a stall later came up in the English Market, Tom decided it was too good a chance to miss. And he hasn’t looked back since. Tom specialises in sourcing and selling the finest quality local meats, from dry aged Irish beef and spring lamb, to locally produced fresh Irish pork and homemade specialty sausages.
What are they best known for?
Tom is world famous for his traditionally Spiced Beef, a uniquely Cork speciality and a tradition that goes back centuries, to when the merchant ships that sailed from Cork would cure their beef to give it longevity over epic ocean voyages. The curing or preserving of beef in salt and spices meant that when the joints were kept in a cool larder room below the waterline in a sailing ship, the beef would be edible for many weeks. Once mostly associated with Christmas time in Cork, this cold cut is still a must have for the festive season, but also popular (and available) year round.
How Do They Do It?
Tom’s recipe is adapted from the family formula handed down in Jim Kidney’s butcher shop, where he worked as a young boy. It’s a secret blend of salt and spices. The key is to marinate the joints in the cure for at least a month but preferably two. The marinade is agitated every 24-hours to ensure it fully infuses with the beef, going right through the meat. Tom personally selects the best cut – the eye of the round - which is the cut next to the top side.
Have They Been Successful?
Tom has won many accolades for his spiced beef including three golds, silver and four bronze awards at the Blás na heireann Irish Food Awards and Craft Butcher of Ireland award.
What Is Their Philosophy?
Tom's ethos is to use nothing but fresh, Irish sourced prime quality meat. Grass raised, Sourced locally and butchered by craftspeople, it’s the meat used in the best restaurants in country.
What Does The Future Hold?
Tom’s cooked and sliced spiced beef is now available in Super Valu supermarkets nationwide. And he is busy working on a range of new products including spiced beef carpaccio.
Can I Meet The Maker?
Yes. Call into Durcan’s butcher shop in the English Market. Located by the fountain at the Princes Street entrance. There, you are sure to meet the man himself. Say hello, have a sample. It’s the Cork thing to do!
Are They On Social Media?
And Finally, What’s Their Pro-Tip When It Comes to Food, Drink or Entertaining?
Always check on where your food is coming from and support local where you can. We are lucky here in Cork to have so much great produce and skilful, innovative suppliers right on our doorstep. Cork has so many amazing food producers. Supporting them, not only brings delicious, fresh food to your table, it also encourages the local economy and local jobs. That’s a happy, healthy and low carbon-footprint win for everyone!
For Tom's recipe for Spiced Beef Carpaccio click here.