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Beef

North African Meatballs (12 of 12)There is something pretty exotic sounding in ‘Tajine Virgin’. Visions of fleeting glances at the desired mysterious, shrouded in veils, on the edge of a Souk, conjure up that feeling of raw animal anticipation. The allure tends to fade a bit as one realises that the virgin is in fact a baldy, past middle-aged man, with a penchant for flinging himself in at the culinary deep end at every opportunity. Having said that, I suspect there are few better ways to consummate your culinary coming of age than to cook this version of North African Meatballs in Spicy Sauce.

Sous vide beef shins (1 of 3)“57º for 48 Hours. They will be delicious.” Or, so came the casual (too casual as it turned out), throw-away remark. I gave a good bit of thought to what would go nicely with the Beef Shins Sous Vide, over the two days and nights the dinner was cooking. They were going to be epic. I would serve them with a parsnip purée. Beef and parsnip is a match made in heaven. I would make a delicious thick gravy from the bag juices. This would tie everything together perfectly. 

Fillet steak sous vide (9 of 10)

A properly cooked fillet steak is a joy to enjoy. Cooking a fillet (tenderloin) is not difficult either. Simply sear it on either side and throw the pan into a hot oven for a few minutes and the job is practically done. You can complicate the process and clog your arteries by finishing it (and yourself too) with butter. I have never seen the need to do this. A good fillet is a good fillet. Right? 

Rib steak How many of them have you read? The recipe for the ‘perfect steak’. Every (male) idiot who ever owned a barbecue believes that he holds some mystical secret that makes his steak better than every other. They (you, if the cap fits) are almost all wrong. I have seen grown men squeezing the base of their thumbs and then poking their flaming steaks in an effort to prove perfect doneness. Most don’t know what they are doing. If I try that approach, I mess up the arthritis in my talon-like hands. I can prove nothing except that I can inflict some pain on myself. Blokes with fat hands only demonstrate that the steak is as thick as themselves. 

Coffee and orange beef cheeks (7 of 7)One of the great deciders in life is how we deal with anticipation. I often feel that the joy of expectation can, in itself, be a greater pleasure than a desire satisfied. So too, can the dread of a potential negative outcome be far worse than the eventual reality. Keeping a balance between these two extremes can also be difficult. I tend to lean on the side of the optimists. That way, I get the pleasure of anticipation and, when things turn out well, the additional pleasure of having things go my way. 

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. 

Steak Sous Vide (1 of 12)Let’s agree on something. This Sous Vide thing is pretty upscale. It delivers accurately, perfectly and deliciously cooked food every time. The soft texture of a piece of fresh fish cooked at 50º C for 30 minutes is sublime. The meaty taste and consistent ‘doneness’ of a nice steak given 53º C for between 1 and 2 hours will not be experienced by everyone. I have now, unwittingly become part of a distinguished, elite echelon of international gourmets.

Side note on echelons and gourmets: For those of you not in the know, echelons are always elite and gourmets always international. That’s just how it is. 

Spiced Beef (2 of 3) I have to caution you. I have conspired with others to break the law in bringing you this tale. I had decided I should tell you the story of Spiced Beef and the Spoiled Brat. It would be relevant and would allow me to post something festive without having to deck the kitchen with holly. All I had to do was cook the spiced beef. That’s where my descent into the murky underworld of international criminal activity began.

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