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Spanish Style Pork Burger (10 of 10)Or, getting a bit of balance into the diet.

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.

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.

Belted Galloway Burger (1 of 8)

The use (or misuse) of the English language to promote food provenance makes it hard to choose. Is that chicken ‘barn raised’ or ‘free range’? Why is my pork not ‘Dry Aged’? Where is the Local of ‘Locally Produced’? What does ‘Natural’ mean? Do you really want my beef to be ‘Grain Finished’?… What do all these terms mean? Do they mean anything?

(Barbecued Lemon Balm Chicken)

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (1 of 10)I’ve been reading up about click baiting. Facebook are having another go at putting the kibosh on the practice. I have some issues with the approach. I understand that they will not allow headlines that don’t directly relate to the  content following. I do accept that there is a need to prevent the “Ten things that rich people do that you don’t.” and “At last, a simple cure for your flatulence.” headlines. But, this line of reasoning will, ultimately, lead to writing with no creative content. Where the headline needs to relate directly to the following content and subject needs to be SEOed into the text, the ability to write around a subject, as I am doing now, becomes very difficult. 

Butterflied leg of lamb (2 of 3)DIY. Now there’s a subject that we men like to treat as our own. If there is a shelf to be put up or a picture to be hung, I’m your man. Your man, as long as you aren’t a perfectionist. So what if the shelf slopes slightly to the right and the picture hangs just a little down on the left? Perfection is boring. When I was a bit younger, I managed to saw through the corner of our kitchen table while preparing a plank for the garden shed. That self-build garden shed was another story altogether. To my credit, I have never driven a nail into a water pipe. Though to balance that I have managed to screw straight into a live wire while hanging a picture hook. In short, with most DIY, you should really do it yourself. Don’t let me near it.  But, when it comes to DIYing a Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Lemon, Thyme and Garlic, look no further – I really am your man.

Thai chicken thighs (9 of 12)When it comes to cooking chicken on the barbecue, low and slow is the way to go. Here in Ireland,  we tend to only have a decent spell of what any reasonable person might call summer every four years or so. When a period of sunshine arrives, we tend to go a bit crazy. Sallow fleshed white men don ‘summer’ shorts (and little else), repair to the garden and swill vast quantities of cheap lager. They then do the only bit of ‘cooking’ they are capable of handling – the botulism fest known as the ‘barbecue’. 

Sous vide beef burger (9 of 9)

After a winter of being cooped up in the kitchen, I checked the weather forecast and saw that it would be dry and bright. Having spent the dark winter days trying to time my cooking to coincide with the available light, I decided that I would prepare the food and cook outdoors. My plan was to do some beef burgers. I wanted to take advantage of the warm afternoon. So, I donned a t-shirt and headed outdoors.

Steamed trout with fennel (1 of 13)“Go West” – a gay pride anthem, an Ulster Rugby chant and advice dispensed by the then editor of the New-York Tribune, Horace Greeley in 1851 as “Go west young man, and grow up with the country.” The pride anthem was originally released by the Village People in the late seventies and brought up to date by the Pet Shop Boys in 1993. I have that version on my iPod.  I sang the Ulster Rugby version, with tears in my eyes, along with 18,000 others at my hallowed Leinster Rugby ground, the RDS, to honour Nevin Spence, a very talented Ulster Rugby player who died in a tragic accident on the Spence family farm in 2012. I can claim no association with Horace Greeley.

Beef Brisket Sous Vide My cycling buddy James Lawlor, of the Rathmines butchery of the same name, was wondering if I could come up with any half interesting recipes for brisket (We tend to talk of little else except food when we are out in the mountains). It tends to be a tough enough cut so, it tends to be inexpensive. The dual attraction of tough beef and low price made it an ideal candidate for an experiment in the sous vide bath. 

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