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Grilled mackerel pamela kelly photo by clare keogh edit
Clare Keogh

Grilled mackerel with chicory, pickles and fennel chutney

This recipe from Pamela Kelly of Farmgate in Cork accompanies the gorgeous feature about her in the October 2020 issue of FOOD&WINE Magazine.


FOOD&WINE Magazine made its triumphant return to print today, available for free with The Business Post newspaper. Did you pick up your copy?

As part of a new feature, our Cork correspondent Joe McNamee caught up with Pamela Kelly, head chef at Farmgate. Alongside her interview, Pamela shared a gorgeous recipe for grilled mackerel with us - check it out below and if you try it out, let us know how you get on!

Grilled mackerel with chicory, pickles and fennel chutney

"Once you have fresh mackerel, you want to do very little to it. The skin should be popping and blistering, almost blackened, yet the flesh underneath will still be pink and just warm. You will already have made the pickles and chutney in advance, even a day or two beforehand. The pickles are there to add tart, citric flavours. Chicory leaves add bitter notes. The fennel chutney provides sweet, aniseed flavours to complete the dish. It is served with Ballycotton Queens, steamed in their jackets until floury and always served with Cork butter and curly parsley—it always has to be curly parsley in the Farmgate!" - Pamela Kelly

READ MORE: It's back! FOOD&WINE Magazine is coming to shelves near you soon

Pamela Kelly. Photo by Clare Keogh.
Pamela Kelly. Photo by Clare Keogh.

Serves four

  • 8 mackerel fillets, lightly brushed with oil and seasoned on both sides
  • One head of chicory
  • Olive oil
  • Freshly ground salt and pepper
  • Lemon zest
  • Grilled lemons, for garnish

For the pickles:

  • 100g yellow carrot, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 100g purple carrot, thinly sliced on a mandolin
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 50g caster sugar
  • Zest of one orange
  • Zest of one lemon
  • One cucumber, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt

For the fennel chutney:

  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, finely diced
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 150ml white wine vinegar
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 200ml water
  • 20g fresh chervil
  • 1 yellow carrot


  1. First, to make the pickles, place the purple carrot and yellow carrot in separate bowls. Divide the wine vinegar and caster sugar equally between the two bowls. Add the orange zest to the yellow carrot bowl and the lemon zest to the purple carrot bowl. Stir both and leave to pickle for at least an hour - the flavour improves if left to pickle for up to three days.
  2. Place the cucumber in a bowl with the sea salt and mix well. Leave for one hour, then rinse in water and pat dry. 
  3. To make the fennel chutney, sauté the fennel and onion with the star anise and fennel seeds until softened, caramelised and nicely coloured.
  4. Add the sugar and cook until it turns to syrup, then add the water and vinegar. Cook over a low heat until the liquid has reduced almost completely. Cool until just warm, then add the chervil.
  5. Remove the star anise and pulse the chutney in a food processor to just bring together. Don't overdo it or you'll end up with a purée - you want to retain sufficient texture to be able to shape it and serve as a quenelle. This will keep in a fridge for up to three weeks. 
  6. Wash the chicory, pat dry and dress the individual leaves with oil, salt and lemon juice to taste.
  7. Grill the mackerel fillets, skin side up until the skin is nearly blackened, popping and blistered, but the flesh underneath is just pink and warm. This should take around 5-8 minutes.
  8. Divide the chicory between four plates, top with the mackerel fillets, some of the pickled carrots and cucumber, and a quenelle of the chutney. Garnish with grilled lemons and serve with steamed Ballycotton Queens potatoes, butter and curly parsley.

For more from Pamela, check out her feature in the October 2020 issue of FOOD&WINE Magazine. Click here for more info or to book a table at Farmgate.

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