Rare Dexter striploin with nori and elderberries at Aniar, Galway
Every dish comes with a story at Aniar, J.P. McMahon's Michelin-starred restaurant in Galway. J.P. McMahon is both an award-winning chef and a food columnist for the Irish Times. Ever the Texan, I was curious about the tender and extremely rare steak we were served as part of Aniar's 9-course tasting menu.
McMahon came to our table to explain the curious history of this indigenous Irish beef. "Dexter cattle are quite tiny, no bigger than this," the chef said holding a hand at shoulder height. They are a dual purpose breed, providing both milk and beef, which made them ideal for small landholders in eighteenth century Ireland.
In the twentieth century, the breed was displaced by larger international breeds. But in the past 20 years, Irish cattle raisers have begun to return to the "dwarf" Dexter breed because of the incredibly tender beef it produces and because of the higher price per kilo the meat is getting on the market.
McMahon noted that Dexter beef makes an awesome steak tartare--he recommends the minced raw steak topped with raw Irish oysters.
It's not often I am blown away by a steak served in an Irish restaurant. But I must admit that this Dexter beef is worth writing home to Texas about.