Let’s get to the rules first. Stuffing is just that – Stuffing. It should be carefully crafted, blended, seasoned and finally stuffed. It should be rammed into the opening in the unfortunate creature you intend eating. It needs to be shoved in so far that there is no space left for doubt. There is no arguing about it.
Those who know me know I am not a great fan of the ‘season’. I react badly to being told what to do. I detest enforced jollity. I can’t stand the festive messaging that is driven to fever pitch with recycled TV programmes, regurgitated as nostalgia, while the ‘civilised’ world prepares itself for the outrageous excess that is Christmas. Though, there are a few things I do enjoy during the weeks of ‘traditional’ build up to overcooked turkey and drunken arguing with the relatives.
I hope I won’t offend you. But really, meatloaf? How dull and dreary can a slab of mince meat be? It’s so often overcooked, grey, crumbly and tasteless. Yet, so many of you go all dreamy and wistful at the mention of the hateful lump of meat. This is a bit of nostalgia that needs to updated. I need to improve your meatloaf for you. Many ‘traditional’ recipes require no more than some beef, some lamb, some sawdust, a chopped onion, salt and pepper (OK, the chopped onion is optional. You need the sawdust to get the traditional gritty texture.).
I’d like to be a totally trusting sort of guy. I wish, when you promise to be here at 7:30, I could believe you, even if the last time you showed up at 8:15. I wish I could believe the Nigerian prince who emails me offering me 40% of his family fortune. Sadly, life has made me a little wary. I don’t take much on faith. This Goat Rendang is a case in point. I have no faith that it “tastes better the next day”. There is no proof and I doubt there ever will be.
Try saying that with a few drinks on board. “Tongue Numbingly Wonderful Sichuan Pepper Prawns” is a bit of a mouthful, in more ways than one. This is a really easy dish to prepare. There are very few ingredients and it is an absolute delight. I can only encourage you to try it. But, be warned, those Sichuan peppercorns will literally numb your tongue.
In part 1 of this two parter, I had a go at some of the French living here in Ireland. I need to spread my net wider. A good bit of racism goes a long way and we have plenty of it here in Ireland. My problem isn’t with the dumb-assed outrage at women wearing burkinis or even with the Brits for Brexiting. No, my issue is with the wily way so many of the ‘Bloody Foreigners’ are making it difficult for me to hate them. Let me tell you how the Breton and the Mexicans conspired to confound my natural distaste for anybody from anywhere else.
House prices are doing it. The political system is having a run at it. Crime is always at it. Inflation hasn’t had a go for a while. Anybody over the age of 40 will remember when it too was “spiralling out of control”. But, it’s not something I’m going to allow to happen to me. When I spiral, I’m totally in control. But, there’s no headline in that. Imagine “HOUSE PRICES SPIRAL IN CONTROL” or “CRIME SPIRAL IN CONTROL”. The poor tabloids wouldn’t sell a paper. Thankfully, I’m not touting newsprint. I’m in control because those very nice people at Morphy Richards gave me a Spiralizer to try out. They gave me a nice set of recipes too. But, where’s the fun in copying a recipe when you can prepare Sweet and Sour Cucumber Spirals – An original recipe and very definitely spiralling ‘in control’.
We Irish look proudly at great cities like New York or Chicago and boast that our forbears built them. Our little island has sent its sons and daughters to all points on the compass to start new lives and to put down roots. Our influence spans the globe in science, engineering, literature and politics. When one looks to France, one sees so many of the great wine dynasties founded by the Irish ‘Wild Geese’. Names like Barton, Phelan and Lynch are all Irish and are now intertwined in the multi-generational success of the French wine trade. We have a lot of which we should be proud.
Do you see what I did in the headline? That subtle little play on words. A sort of culinary double entendre. The pig’s cheeks, cooked sous vide are cooked rare. Pig’s cheeks are not very easy to come by. Both play to add a bit of wit to the headline. You will just have to take my word for it, this is a rare treat. It is not very difficult to prepare any element of this dish but, you will need to have your timing chain well adjusted.
Back in the early 1960’s, there was a TV programme called The School Around the Corner, on RTÉ (Ireland’s then sole broadcaster). It was presented by the affable Paddy Crosby. On the show, he would interview schoolchildren. He had a way with him and managed to extract stories from the young ‘uns. Stories that were charming in their innocence. One infamous interview had a young lad telling a story about a horse that fell into a hole in the road. The horse was beyond saving. A vet was called and he decided to shoot the horse. Paddy asked the innocent child “Did he shoot him in the hole?”. “No” replied the youngster, “he shot him in the head”.