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Author: Conor Bofin

Pretty well every quotation about failure makes a virtue of it. None of us set out to hash things up. So, why celebrate it? When I set about preparing beef cheeks sous vide, making a bags of it was far from my objective. But, with the beef in a bag, a bags was made and I’m not overjoyed.

I have a theory about so many of the highly flavoured and sugar laden ‘rubs’ that are used to enhance pork on the grill. I think that the reason they exist is to try to bring a bit of life to otherwise insipid and uninteresting meat. Some of you may spring to argue with this assertion. You might say “If you ever tasted my Uncle Jessey’s ten chilli rub, you would know how flavour can punch you in the gullet.” or “Sue Ellen does a mean brown sugar, corn syrup and honey wet rub.” I don’t deny that either of these probably have some value to add (Lord help us!). My issue is with the unfortunate meat that so many rubs serve to aggrandise. I’m not trying to cause any friction with my rubbing. I’m just making the case here for high quality meat, a balance of rub flavour and some gentle smoking.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce (1 of 10)

Just over a year ago, I was asked to come up a recipe for a fundraising barbecue. The brief was straightforward. It had to use pork. It had to be simple, as it was going to be prepared in quantity, and it had to be a real crowd pleaser. With all that and seasonality in mind, I devised a delicious Pork with Ancho and Cherry Sauce. I was delighted with it. Then it all went wrong.

As Oriental as they get.

Globalisation is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that it introduces us all to foods and flavours from all points on the compass. It also has a very annoying habit of promoting fake food. Many Brits are shocked when they discover that the most popular Indian dish in Great Britain the ‘classic’ Chicken Tika Masala is English not Indian. Tempura is Portuguese and Sauerkraut hails back to the building of the Great Wall, not a German in sight. Not that any of these are fakes they are just misunderstood. The fakes are in the ranges of foods like the Tex Mex crud of which any Texan would be ashamed or the Oriental sauces that sell themselves by combining fake flavouring with too much sugar. We buy it because it has a picture of a junk  and  some vaguely oriental looking text on the label. Thats globalisation for you.

Lamb with fennel, honey and chilli (1 of 10)For the uninitiated amongst you, a lepidopterist is a butterfly expert. I wouldn’t know a Painted Lady if she landed on my face and a Comma would only give me pause, as it were. I do a pretty passable job of butterflying a leg of lamb but that doesn’t makes me a butterfly expert. As I was feeling fairly lazy when shopping, I bought my leg of lamb butterflied. So, I spent my time thinking about a marinade. This Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Fennel, Chilli and Honey will have you all a flutter.

Should this really be all about the fish? The salmon is nothing spectacular though it was pretty tasty. All that was involved in the prep was to sprinkle it with some piment d’Espelette and whack it under a medium grill. Should it be about the wine? All that was involved there was putting a bottle of Gewurztraminer in the fridge and pulling the cork later. Should it be about the dhal? Perhaps it should. But, the thing of which I am most proud is the ingredients photo. She’s a beauty!

I prepared some home cured, home smoked pork loin a couple of weeks back. It was fantastic and most of the comments I had from the European side of the pond were pretty positive. One of my American friends had to make the point that bacon is made only with pork belly. He had to make the point in the way only an American would. That is he was unequivocal, forthright and definitive. He was certain that bacon can only be made with pork belly. Anything else “just ain’t bacon”. (Put on a Southern drawl while reading that.) So to run with the stereotype, here’s how to prepare good ole’ rootin’ tootin’ American bacon (All Americans use the “good ole’ rootin’ tootin'” type language pretty well all the time.

Fillet steak with bone marrow butter (2 of 6)

Let’s face facts. Not everybody who looks in the mirror likes what they see. Some of us are just sub-standard, below average and generally crappy. That’s the way of the world. If the advertising slogan of l’Oreal was true of us all, it would fail in it’s prime objective, to make the user feel special. If we are all ‘worth it’ then what we are worth is not worth much. But, I didn’t start writing this to have a go at the haircare market. No, I want to show you some real luxury, some delightful, upmarket beef with some very special and rare bone marrow butter. Be honest with yourself. Look yourself square in the mirror. Put away the hair products and decide if you are really “Worth it.”

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