James Street Recipes: Niall McKenna’s Smoked Mackerel Pate and Quick Carbonara

On the rare days of the year when we are lucky enough to have blue skies and temperatures above 20°C, we tend to prefer quick and easy dishes that require minimal effort and preparation time.

The first of this week’s recipes is smoked mackerel pâté. With no cooking required, just add the ingredients to a blender and blitz.

When served with fresh bread, salad and a lemon wedge, this dish is ideal for summer picnics, quick lunches or as an appetizer for a dinner party.

The second recipe, a quick carbonara, is made using simple ingredients to create a rich, creamy sauce and topped with crispy bacon for added texture.

This crowd-pleasing pasta recipe is perfect for a quick mid-week dinner to feed the whole family.

For more information or to book a Waterman Cookery School experience, go to cookinbelfast.co.uk.


(For 6 persons)

500 g smoked mackerel, skinless and deboned

25g anchovies in brine, chopped

100g fresh cream

35 g creamed horseradish

Freshly ground black pepper



Place the mackerel, anchovies and horseradish in a blender and mix. The mixture should still have some texture.

Open lid and add crème fraîche, freshly ground pepper and pulse until combined.

Remove from blender, place in ramekins and refrigerate pie to cool.

Serve with marinated vegetables or a small green salad. I prefer to serve mine with baby lettuce, radish slices and capers, dressed in olive oil.

Always serve on toasted sourdough bread or on a French baguette with a wedge of lemon.


1 tsp olive oil

200 g smoked bacon, diced

150 g soft cream cheese

150 ml liquid cream

50 g grated parmesan

500g spaghetti


Fry the bacon in a dry skillet until crisp, draining the fat.

In another bowl, whisk together cream cheese, cream and Parmesan until well blended.

Cook pasta in hot water with salt until al dente. Drain the pasta and stir it into the cream mixture until the pasta is well coated.

Add the bacon and if necessary a spoonful of cooking water to thicken.

When ready to serve, add more Parmesan to taste.

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