Ever dreamt of running a restaurant or hotel with your significant other?
Ahead of Valentine's Day, Emma Blanchfield spoke to couples around the country about how they manage to work together in the food industry and what they like to eat when they’re off duty. The full story was available in FOOD&WINE Magazine, which which you can read online here. Here, Thelma and Chris Slattery of The Station House Hotel in Meath tell us more about their lives.
Thelma and Chris Slattery, The Station House Hotel, Meath
Thelma and Chris Slattery always planned to go into the hotel business, but only when they both retired.
“We got married in 1973 and bought The Station House as our family home in 1981,” says Chris. The property, a former railway station, had been converted into a house in the sixties.
“At that time, there were seven bedrooms in the main house. But our children were all so young and wanted to sleep together in the tiny little box bedroom next to us,” Chris says. “That left five bedrooms empty and unused, which gave us the idea to open up a guest house, which we did in 1982.”
With a young family, it wasn’t always easy.
“It was very challenging trying to juggle a business and five small children, but it was thoroughly enjoyable, and the children loved growing up in such a busy environment. Our daughters Denise and Suzanne now also work in the business” says Thelma.
“It’s hard to get through a family dinner without talking about the hotel, but we all love it, so it’s not a bad complaint.”
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Our favourite dish
“I handle most of the cooking at home, although Chris does the porridge every morning,” says Thelma. “We love to have this duck dish with a starter of Dublin Bay prawn cocktail.”
Crispy half duck with Grand Marnier and orange sauce
- 2 whole uncooked duck, approx 4lbs each
- Rib beef bones from the butcher
- Sea salt and cracked black pepper, for seasoning
- 2 onions
- 4 star anise
- 4 celery sticks
- 2 cooking apples
- 3 bay leaves
- 8 sprigs rosemary (plus 4 to garnish)
- 3 sprigs mixed herbs
- 4 oranges
- 1 tsp caster sugar
- 120ml red wine vinegar
- 300ml turkey giblet stock or chicken stock
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 level tbsp arrowroot or cornflour, diluted in 2 tbsp water
- 3 tbsp Grand Marnier
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C
- Using a large roasting dish, brown off the beef bones. Peel and slice the onions and celery, and slice the apples. Add the onions, celery, apples, star anise, bay leaves, rosemary, and mixed herbs to the browning dish.
- Season the ducks with cracked black pepper and sea salt, then place them on top of the bones and vegetables, and pour in a quarter of a pint of water. Cook at 200C for ninety minutes, then take out and leave to stand until cool enough to handle.
- Cut duck from the neck to the bottom and remove all the bones.
- Peel the oranges, and cut the peel into thin strips. Boil the peel of the oranges for 10 minutes in a little water. Drain and set aside for garnish.
- Boil the sugar and vinegar until reduced to a light caramel. Add the stock, lemon juice, and juice of three oranges, then boil for five minutes. Thicken with the diluted arrowroot/cornflour and stir until shiny. Strain the sauce, then stir in the Grand Marnier.
- Place the duck halves in a pre-heated oven at 200C on a roasting tray and crisp up to serve, this will take around ten minutes.
- Divide the remaining orange into segments having removed all the pips. Serve each half duck garnished with rosemary sprigs, orange segments, and the peel.
For more from The Station House Hotel, click here.