“Three days seems like a lot of trouble for a few cubes.” said the Wife. I was finding it difficult to disagree with her. Enthusiasm had once again got the better of me and I set about preparing some seriously reduced beef stock to use as a base for stews, sauces and gravies. My butcher friend, Long John, (not to be confused with his colleague Big John) had very generously dropped off some beef bones. “This shouldn’t take too long.” I mused to myself as I took out my new stock pot. How wrong could I be?
Many years ago, we used to frequent a Chinese restaurant on Pembroke Road in Dublin. To my shame, often, we would hang in pretty late, having “just one more bottle of wine” before making any decisions about falling into a taxi. As night would inevitably turn into early morning, the staff would put us under pressure to finish up and leave. Repeated visits to the table to see if we wanted the bill would be met with orders for “definitely the last” bottle of house red.
“He can’t be that much of a Christmas Grinch, can he?” I hear you think to yourself as you read the headline. It’s true, in the past, I have let the fact that organised religion is taking over the winter solstice celebrations get to me. They are even interfering with good, honest commercial activity by insisting that retailers and offices stay closed on the 25th of December. This is really all too much for me. Christmas is looming over the end of the year like some sort of Behemoth. I really have no choice. I will just have to stop all commercial activity for a couple of days and stick up two fingers to Christmas.
I have seen lots of recipes for Chicken Paprika. Mine is unique (as you might expect). It’s uniqueness doesn’t come from any particular skill I have in the kitchen. It comes from having thoughtful friends and family. Thoughtful friend, Richard McGary sent us a box of chilis earlier in the year. While Richard was cogitating his selection, eldest daughter was busy in Budapest drinking low-priced beer and negotiating strings of paprika chilis for my delight. So in honour of both Richard and eldest daughter, I give you my take on Chicken Paprika.
I blame the lingering recession / bank crisis / political ineptitude (pick whichever one you fancy) here in Ireland for young families following so many from previous generations and emigrating. Back then, it was a big thing. Children left and lost all contact with parents. It was a real life sentence. Nowadays, there’s a lot of emotional claptrap spoken about this, usually by people who like to look backwards into our fraught history rather than forwards into a brighter future. With low-cost air fares, Skype and generally improved living standards, the long journey is not the trauma it once was. The other end of the world, yes. But not the end of the world.
If you are planning to cook rack of lamb, it’s best to get your maths right before you go out to the shops. It is not difficult. There are eight chops on each rack. If there are less, it is either rack of (insert other animal name here) or somebody has been scoffing what is rightfully yours. If there are more than eight then it is rack of (insert name of animal that lives near a leaky nuclear power plant here). The maths problem comes about because rack of lamb is a “three chops each” dish.