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Beef

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.

Beef Cheeks (1 of 1)

Yes, the picture really does tell the story. Beef Cheeks in Red Wine. A good friend of mine was suggesting recipes to me. He talked me into cooking beef cheeks (a first for me). He got to my penny wise side by extolling their value. They really are a cheap cut. That appealed, as anybody who knows me knows, I have a Scrooge side. The skinflint in me was happy until I decided to follow a recipe recommended by a more extravagant friend. 

Beef short ribs (1 of 1)When I had my recent poor experience of trying to buy some lamb shanks, I thought it was an isolated incident. However, I was wrong. There is an oft used expression in marketing circles. That phrase is ‘Retail Theatre’. You know the sort of stuff; a rotund, jolly looking chap carrying freshly baked bread on a tray above his head or the vegetable aisles that look similar to a Shakespearian street scene. I am all in favour of a bit of the theatrical when I’m out and about buying the staples. But, when style pushes a knife through the arras and kills substance as effectively as Hamlet saw off Polonius, It’s time for me to take to the stage.

Fillet steak with porcini crust (15 of 16)In a café beside our office in Sandyford, they serve the scones on little wooden boards. I think they are called shingles in the building trade. Weatherproof, very trendy and they only need a wipe with a cloth between servings. When we have our coffee there, we have fun watching patrons scrabbling around on the floor to retrieve the mini jam jars that slide off the shingles like rain off a roof. The madness of using building materials in food presentation doesn’t stop there. No, we have grown used to the ‘trend’ for serving chips in buckets. With every shovel of the cement of fashion into the mixer of dining, we seem to move further and further into the building site.

Barbecued Faux Fillet (9 of 9)The cock crows. It’s about 4.30 in the morning (or so it seems to me) and it is time to get out of bed and get busy. The Wife, lying beside me, grumbles and turns her face to the wall. In the half-light, I stumble to the kitchen and make a ‘tray of tea’ to tempt her into wakefulness. Why do we need to be up so early? We are on holidays for goodness sake! Move the clock forward by an hour or so. We are in the car, driving towards a market. They start early. Long before any civilised nation would be thinking of a mid morning coffee, they then close for lunch. The lunch closure lasts for a number of hours. So if one wants to get anywhere in time to see it open and populated by French people, one needs to be up with the lark. Some holiday!

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