“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.
This 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.
“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?
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….
For 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.
“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.
Nothing 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…
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.
Pretty aggressive headline, don’t you think? There are a couple of reasons for this. Reason number one is because that’s what the people around the table told me. Reason number two is that I want some reaction. I am fed up reading recipes for meatballs (and all sorts of other stuff) that just can’t be any good. In my research for this post, I came across one recipe that recommended boiling the meatballs in the sauce for three hours. Fine if you want to fire them out of a canon to sink a ship but not much use if you want to eat them. Get real.
Over a year ago, I posted about my home-made burger. On reflection, I have to admit that there was little to make it stand out from the crowd. Time for a big rethink. Time for a reheat and while I’m at it, time for a challenge. There are over 300 million of you out there who believe that you make the best burgers in the world. Yes, Americans, I’m talking about you. You certainly make and eat the most burgers, consuming over 40,000,000,000 of them each year. Yes, forty billion burgers. But the best? I doubt it. Not withstanding the growing horse meat scandal across Europe, that will run for donkey’s years, we have the better ingredients here in Ireland.