I had a conversation with my friend, James Lawlor, who runs the butcher shop that bears his name (on the Upper Rathmines Road in leafy south Dublin). It was over the counter while he was putting my weekly order together. He mentioned that he had some Wagyu beef at the end of his 21 day dry ageing process. I am a sucker for a nice Wagyu, so James fetched the side from which to cut the rib that you see in the picture.
We chatted as he passed his butcher’s knife through the meat with only the gentlest of pressure. As he did this he filled me in on the provenance of the meat. It was supplied by Ridgeway Farm, located in the west Wicklow Mountains. We have cycled that way in many occasions, oblivious to the rare Japanese cattle that are reared there. On the website the owners claim; :On Ridgeway Farm we are committed to creating a stress-free and healthy environment where the cattle are fed grass and olive feed to produce the finest Irish Wagyu beef.” There is a lot in that short sentence. Our expectations are high…
One can’t expect to eat dry aged, rare breed beef without paying a premium. The question is “Is it worth the premium price?” To find out, I put the meat on the rack, both figuratively and literally.
As you gaze at the meat, you may be tempted to say something stupid like “There is an awful lot of fat on that steak”. Let’s be plain here. Fat equals flavour. If you are one of the seemingly innumerable band of people who like “a nice lean steak”, then look away. In fact, go away. This is not the place for you.
To give the meat every chance of proving itself to me (and the Wife, a far sterner critic), I simply seasoned the meat with salt and pepper and cooked it on a hot barbecue. My barbecue instructions are really easy to follow.
Place the seasoned meat on the grill. Leave it there until it is half cooked. Turn it over. Leave it until it is three quarters cooked. Take it off and let it rest for ten minutes. Carve it. Serve it. I cooked ours on the rare side of medium.
So, how did the beef stand up to the grilling (a pathetic word play, I know)? It was beautifully tender, juicy, soft-flavoured (in a good way) and generally delicious. The crispy edges of fat adding a lovely bit of flavour and texture too. We enjoyed it with a big pile of slow cooked onions and some English mustard, made fresh from mustard powder.
If you get a chance to try some, do so. It’s a rare treat.
Footnote on commercialisation: I have never met the people who run the farm. I would be too embarrassed to charge my friend. So it looks like I’m doing this for the love of it. #notanad