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I’m not sure which is the star of this show. The 5 spice duck legs, cooked sous vide were really easy to prepare and tasted delicious. However, the cherry sauce is a seasonal treat and really added an extra dimension to the lovely duck meat. So, if you are guided by the picture above, it’s the cherry sauce. However, I am as yet undecided as it’s a bit like comparing apples with oranges (Comparing duck legs with cherries will never catch on as an expression.).

Before we start, though I am from an advertising background, this is not a paid post. Nor is it a sponsored post, I just want to say thanks to some nice people, for doing nice things. A friend of mine, Andrew Watchorn gifted me some coffee beans to try from Blue Butterfly Coffee. Andrew had developed a new corporate brand for Blue Butterfly (a great job) and his enthusiasm spilled over so much that he wanted me to try the product. It is lovely coffee. If you are buying coffee in a café, restaurant or hotel around Ireland, keep an eye out for the brand.

I like to post my cooking victories here. I love that people see me as a cut above when it comes to home cooking. Having sous vide in the armoury really helps in that perception. This was a delicious crumble. It was elegant, flavoursome and had the perfect balance of softness to crunchiness. The addition of the Grand Marnier added a layer of sophistication that I could use to elevate my reputation. But, I have to be at peace with myself when I go to bed at night.

There are some advantages of having a top end butcher as a friend. (There are plenty of disadvantages too, but that’s for another story.) One of the great benefits is having access to stock bones without having to demean myself by asking for “a few bones for the dog” as some are reputed to do. In chatting with said butcher, we got to talking about the possible difference in stock quality by using bones from a Wagyu carcass. The conversation led to an experiment. The rest, as they say is history.

So this post really should be titled “Don’t forget to photograph the sauce”. That is as close to an admission of stupidity as I am going to get. You will note one or two pouring shots further down. One of peppercorns and one of smoked paprika. The sharp eyed amongst you will notice that they are both poured into the same pan and they are both going into the pan empty. The truth is, I was playing around with a couple of lighting approaches. I wanted to be able to really freeze the stuff mid-air. A blur in a pour is a failure. So, I spent about an hour getting the two shots, picking peppercorns off the floor and out from under the fridge as well as cleaning the oven dish repeatedly. I think I got there in the end. However, I should have spent my time thinking about what I was doing. I was preparing Smoked Bourbon Beef Short Ribs and that needs a sauce. It had one. It was delicious. But, I don’t have a picture to prove it. Damn!

There is a lot of China bashing going on right now. This may be because of fear of the Covid 19 virus or it may be because of fear of a Chinese ascendency in a globalised world, or both. For now, sitting here in Ireland, half way between the US of A and China, I really don’t care which is the cause, give it a rest please. We are here to try a delightful dish inspired by the flavours of Sichuan, particularly the Sichuan peppercorn. It really is not a peppercorn. It doesn’t add any heat to dishes. But, it adds a fantastic flavour combined with a lip numbing effect. Lovely! So, with the politics out of the way, let’s get on with the cooking.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a brace of wild trout recently and decided to cook them in an Oriental style. This caused a bit of a of stir (not a stir fry) at home. The rational used by my detractor (the Wife) was that as they were such a fine pair of fish, they could be let stand on their own merits and there was little need to “Mess around with them with all those ingredients”. Under normal circumstances, I would be the last person to go against the views of the Wife. But, I really wanted to make the most of these delightful ingredients. I pressed ahead and hoped against hope that I would turn out a delicious dish. Wild trout is a delicate fish and needs to be treated in the same way as one might treat an argument against the instincts of the Wife. That is, proceed with caution.

“What is the old fool on about now?” “What’s with the +1?” I can hear you thinking to yourself. Give me a chance to explain. We have all heard people saying “It tasted even better the second day”. At least you should have heard that if you ever made a decent curry or spiced stew. If you haven’t been subjected to such praise, perhaps you don’t know how to cook in the first place. Then all the better for you because I am suggesting that when you cook this delightful spicy lamb and apricot stew, you leave it for 24 hours, reheat and enjoy. It really is so much the better for the day of melding flavours.

This post is a bit of an experiment. I have noticed that when I post on a Friday, I get a bit of a bounce on the numbers. As my posting schedule (to call it a schedule is an insult to German train efficiency) has become a bit erratic of late, I thought I should try Friday again. If you are reading this on another day, the recipe is equally valid. It is not the first sous vide halibut I have done. It is the simplest and in my opinion, the tastiest by far.

Let’s face facts, many of the burgers one encounters in the big, bad world, are pretty bloody awful. Most of you see the sun come out, rush to the convenience store and buy a box of frozen patties (Who is Pattie and what did she do to deserve this treatment?). Then it’s home to the garden, to wipe the cobwebs off the barbecue. Then you take the wire brush to the grill. Next you fire it up and burn off last season’s leftovers. You throw the frozen patties on the grill along with some jumbo sausages, ribs, bacon, cofti, chicken wings and pork chops. You take pictures of the whole lot burning on the too-hot grill and share it to your social media. You swill a few cans of beer, over-eat, get the “meat sweats” and retire to snore through the worst excesses of your piggery. But….., there is a better way. Better for you and better for small producers creating great product sold through independent butchers who know their trade. The way forward is the Way of the Wagyu.

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