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.
The barbecue season is just about on top of us here in Ireland. It is that brief window where Gender Neutral Adult Figure Nature (Mother Nature to the less sensitive amongst you) strings three or four days together like pearls on a necklace of summer sunshine. Not that I have any issues with Father Nature wearing pearls. But, I digress. When we get the few days of tepid sunshine leaking through the damaged ozone layer above the Emerald Isle, we immediately strip to the waist and fire up the barbecue.
Many of us love cilantro. We adore the fresh, fragrant tanginess of the delightful herb. Some hate coriander. They can’t abide the soapy, earthy taste. This is genetic and there is little that they can do about it. For clarity, coriander is cilantro. They are the same thing. It’s not like “vest”. American’s wear a vest over a shirt. Europeans wear it under. It’s also not like “rubber”. Europeans use it to erase pencil marks. Americans, well Americans do something else altogether.
All good things must come to an end, they say. All good things except an Irish summer, it seems. We have had a few weeks of great sunny weather and temperatures in the mid 20s. The last time this happened, I was a small youth
Ireland is experiencing a period of glorious hot, sunny weather. It’s currently the warmest spell since 1977. In Ireland, when the warm weather hits, we strip off, rush out and burn our pasty skin to a nice lobster red. Families and gangs of what are euphemistically described as ‘youth’ descend on our beaches. Following long periods in the sun, blistering themselves and spreading a desecration of used nappies (families) cans (youth) and litter (everybody, it seems), they return to their homes for an evening family barbecue. Most satisfy themselves with spurious meats in radioactive looking sauce from the supermarket. Life can be better than this. Let me show you how.
There really is no such thing as authentic regional cooking any more. We live in a globalised world where there is a Burger King on every other street corner that isn’t occupied by a McDonalds and a Starbucks in every unit in between. Mediocrity has
A tandoor is a type of traditional Indian oven that generates huge heat. Using a tandoor requires a deft touch and really accurate timing. Using my barbecue in the back garden is a lot more forgiving. I really enjoy a good Tandoori chicken. But, not being armed with the right equipment could be a handicap.
One other handicap many of us in the western world face when preparing ‘authentic’ Indian dishes is the pretty awful marinades and spice blends available. This is very often the fault of the sauce manufacturer’s marketing department (SMMD).
I came in for a lot of stick the other day. A chap, whom I don’t know, gave me a really hard time for promoting beef consumption. He had all his arguments at hand. We eat too much beef. Cows fart and they are responsible for a huge chunk of global warming. Cheap beef is facilitating the general populace in eating too much and getting fat. This leads to the medical system being overrun and innocents dying as a result. With his beef arguments in mind, I had better get a bit of balance in the diet. So, here’s a recipe for pork burgers.
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.
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.