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Beef

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!

Beef fillet with hazelnut herb crust.“Only a fool would mess with such a beautiful piece of beef.”

“Pepper it, salt it, fry it.”

“Are you sure you want to experiment with that? It must have cost more than the national debt!”

My expected guests were all of similar minds “Don’t mess with the beef.” seemed to be the unanimous theme. Like the late Margaret Thatcher, I was not for turning. Unlike the late MT, I was not wearing a blue dress. I was cogitating a new recipe for beef fillet.

Beef and BroccoliThis is probably the simplest of the easy oriental series so far. While I was doing my online research (seeing how others have photographed the dish) I came across the phrase “takeout standard” on a couple of blogs. I won’t provide links here as it probably is not fair to diss the efforts of fellow food bloggers. But, let’s get real. If the height of culinary ambition is to match the dross sold in most Chinese take-out, we are wasting each other’s time. So, either read on my friends, or reach for the phone and that menu you found in the letterbox. 

Beef stock (1 of 15)“Three days seems like a lot of trouble for a few cubes.” said the Wife. I was finding it difficult to disagree with her. Enthusiasm had once again got the better of me and I set about preparing some seriously reduced beef stock to use as a base for stews, sauces and gravies. My butcher friend, Long John, (not to be confused with his colleague Big John) had very generously dropped off some beef bones. “This shouldn’t take too long.” I mused to myself as I took out my new stock pot. How wrong could I be?

Red Wine Mushroom Risotto (15 of 16)THIRD PLACE! I don’t do third place when it comes to my cooking. When the weekend comes around in our house, I am master of the kitchen. I rule. What I say goes and everybody likes what I produce. Possibly because there is no competition but that is another story. But there was little I could do in this instance. Shockingly, the Wife and Stefan both conspired against me….

Steak FritesFor a while now, I have been planning to cook the simple French classic of Steak Frites (steak and chips to you and me). As chance would have it, I was out and about and called to see the new James Whelan Butcher shop in the Avoca store just off the Naas Road outside Dublin. I was lucky enough to bump into Pat Whelan, son of James and the driving force behind the growth of the business. We had a good chat and Pat’s passion for Irish beef and all Irish farmed food really drove the conversation.

Osso Buco“So, what’s your blog all about Conor?” 

“It’s a food blog”

“Oh! You write about cooking. What’s it called?”

“One man’s meat.”

“I see. So you focus only on meat dishes. Is that right?”

“No. I do a range of stuff. I do a fair bit of fish and some desserts and so on and meat, of course.”

“Why’d you call it One Man’s Meat then?”

So wandered a recent conversation. I stoutly defended my right to call it what I like and I went on (at some length, no doubt) to labour the point of the “One man’s meat is another man’s poison.” analogue. Meaning the blog was not for everyone and perhaps it was not for him. I reckoned I put the guy in his place. He was being pretty pedantic and, I suspect, winding me up a little. 

Beef chiliNothing is likely to upset a Texan more than telling him you can cook a better chili than he can. No doubt, his recipe will have been passed down through generations of trail hardened cow-pokes. The exact mix of chili, the cuts of meat to use and the number of cans of beer are all closely guarded family secrets. They demonstrate their culinary prowess by boiling up great pots of the stuff on the back of pick-up trucks while downing slabs of beer, tipping back their ten gallon hats and belching to each other. Or so I hear…

Beef Ribs with Ancho Chili Rub (8 of 9)For those of you that don’t know the story of Richard McGary’s combination of extreme fun and generosity, you need to read about the McGary Chili Challenge. For those of you who do know the story, you will appreciate that there was plenty in that food parcel. Given the continuing downbeat economy in Europe, I need to let you all know that we are very happy to receive such gifts in Ireland. Particularly, if they are as well thought out as Richard’s.

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