HomeArticles Posted by Conor Bofin

Author: Conor Bofin

Lamb and Cumin Burgers (11 of 11)As I write this, it’s a cold January day in Dublin. Not the time to be thinking of the barbecue (or of salads). We need to hunker down for a few more months of stews, curries and roasts. However, I have a broader vision than most. I know that while we are suffering in the gloom of short, dark days here in Ireland, my friends in Australia and New Zealand are enjoying a warm (too warm, I hear), long summer. So, while we may be suffering a gloomfest, the guys and gals on the bottom half of the world need this simple, tasty recipe for Lamb Burgers with Cumin. 

Meatballs – they are not the most challenging thing to produce. Start with great meat, add some decent aromatics and be sure to serve them in a tasty sauce. If you do that, everything is bound to turn out fine. Fine, that is, if you don’t ask your daughter to choose between Thai and Italian. I made that mistake and she punished me for it. When I mooted the meatballs idea, she immediately said “Mmmmmmm, in a nice tomato sauce”. As I have already posted Italian style meatballs, my suggestion that I needed something new for the blog didn’t go down well. But she didn’t leave it there. 

Pork with Juniper (6 of 9)

You can see it now. The backdrop is the inside an old red-brick building housing a gleaming modern copper still. The guy, wearing skinny jeans and an old check shirt, is mid 30s with a beard of which Grizzly Adams would be proud. He is holding a glass up to the light, as if he is inspecting a rare diamond for clarity. He’s not, he’s looking at one of the easiest to produce spirits, gin.

If I called this “The best chicken casserole recipe in the world, ever”, I might get a bit of pushback from some purists who would tell me they have a superior list of ingredients. “What about lardons?” may be a valid question too. “Goodness, no white wine?” would be in the mix also. Some people may have views on my method too. However, I didn’t call it “the best chicken casserole recipe in the world, ever”. No, this is better than that. It’s Chicken Casserole Like Mum Used to Make and it really can’t be improved upon.

Sticky Pork Cubes

Many, many years ago, my great aunt Anna passed away. She was on my mother’s side of the family and a pretty fantastic woman by all accounts. She left to my mother, (amongst other things), a fine bone china tea service. Despite my being only a callow youth at the time, I well remember the beautiful translucent cups and delicate plates. The story went that the only person to whom tea and cakes had been served on that set was the Archbishop of Armagh. Back in the day, he was a man of great influence in Irish society. Having such a service was a rare thing. We really didn’t appreciate it. It spent most of it’s life in our house gathering dust on a basement shelf. I tell you this because there needs to be a good reason for any Irish person to get the good plates out. This easy to cook oriental delight is a great reason. So, with distant memories of Great Aunt Anna’s tea service, I present you with Sticky Oriental Pork Squares

My eldest daughter has, as they say in polite circles, some issues. She doesn’t like gravy. As if that’s not bad enough, she claims to like sauces, jeu and reductions. So, when I am preparing our regular Sunday family dinner, her expectations need to be managed. Beef with a pan reduction is wolfed down while beef with a pan gravy will be rejected out of hand. As if cooking for my extended family was not difficult enough! So, when I decided to serve them with a leg of lamb with anchovies, thyme and garlic and a rich gravy, I knew that there would be a sales job to be done.

I was visiting a new cook-shop in a local village. The proprietor, a pleasant enough young man gave me a good run down on the pots, pans, dishes and bowls. We were talking about food when he said “You write that blog, don’t you.” Flattered, I admitted that I do. he then said, almost to himself “Yeah, the style is very traditional home cooked type of stuff.” I muttered something in reply and left the shop. I was slightly miffed by the thought of my cooking being very traditional. So, I had a look at the blog. There are more than 50 oriental dishes and over 40 sous vide dishes hanging around. So, if that’s traditional Irish cooking, here’s what might be thought of as traditional Irish sous vide chicken ramen.

Recently, I had the great pleasure of making a presentation to the Associated Craft Butchers at their annual conference and exhibition in County Kildare’s K Club. My talk was titled “Can Butchers Fight Back?”. Independent butchers face huge challenges from a variety of directions. Life is hard for the average butcher. But, they are a stoic lot by nature (stoic is another word for grumpy) and are slow to complain openly. I hope that my talk gave those in the room something to think over. At the end of the conference, I was saying farewell to a couple of chaps from Irish Country Meats (they distribute lamb to the independent butchery trade in Ireland). The lads were clearing out their fridge and offered me a couple of lamb tomahawks to try. I couldn’t say no…

Last October, a bunch of us MIDRA (men in denial of the reality of ageing) went on a seven day cycling trip to the mountains of Southern Spain, taking in exotic, historic towns including Seville, Ronda and Granada. We also cycled up and down some huge mountains, some of our group conquering the Pico de Veleta, one of the greatest cycling challenges in Europe. The mountain is the third highest peak in Spain, and the highest paved road in Europe. Spain is a beautiful country and well worth the trip if you have the inclination. As in any group of men, there are leaders and followers. On the Spanish food front, our buddy Seamus is a leader. He has spent more time in that part of Spain, than the rest of us. Using his experience of the region, he took charge of some of our restaurant bookings. His thought, to give us some insight into local food traditions. One of the highs of the trip for me was the night we had the Spanish Oxtail Stew.

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