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Meat

Rabbit and prune stew (1 of 1)The headline looks a bit long-winded to me. This is the last in my mini series so you will just have to put up with me being long-winded. We were in the Libourne market and I was suffering from a dose of ‘let’s get creative’. This is not a good condition for me. I was bereft of ideas and decided I needed to do something out of left field. That part of the park can often deliver good results. Hopefully I could translate that into French. With that in mind, I set out to ‘create’…

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!

Would he be an overbearing, arrogant Frenchman?

Would he be an overbearing, arrogant Frenchman?

I had some trepidation growing in me as our pre-arranged meeting with Stéphane Gabart, the author of the delightful My French Heaven blog loomed. The arrangement was made some months before our trip to France in July. As the time got closer, I found my psychosis growing and was asking myself “What if he is a pompous French git?”, “What if he lords it over us with his superior French attitude?” “What if he doesn’t speak English?”, “What will we talk about?” I allowed the pressure to build and build inside my head right up until Stéphane greeted the Wife and myself at his beautiful home. “This is a mistake.” were the words that nearly escaped my lips as we got out of the car to meet the man.

Barbecue Rack of Lamb (9 of 9)It seems that my “Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients” series is gaining some traction. I was happily cooking, writing and posting about the fantastic foods we are so blessed to enjoy in Ireland. Happy, that is, until I got the call from the Section for Magnificent Dining Experiences. Yes, such a Section really exists.  It is housed in a secure area in a sub basement below the Department of Agriculture. Secret access is through warren-like passages hidden behind a false freezer door in the kitchens of a well-known Molesworth Street hotel. The secrecy is vital, I am told, to protect the Section from the now regular attacks by disgruntled farmers who, depending upon market pricing and rainfall levels, overrun the Agriculture offices with sheep, cattle or pigs.

Spiced leg of lamb (4 of 5)

I know, I know, I posted a spiced leg of lamb a few weeks ago. That one was pretty delicious. The herd (or heard if things are not the way they want them) were fulsome in their praise. So, I thought it would be good to get a leg of lamb in as number two in my occasional series Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients.

Having prepared a pretty fine dish, this one didn’t raise a single complement. Not one word. Five of them sat around the table and said nothing. Not a single word…

Fruit Stuffed Pork Steak (19 of 20)

No, I have not become a vegetarian or a vegan or anything else beginning with ‘v’. No, my instincts about stuffed pork steak was honed and formed many years ago. Back in the day, pork steaks were stuffed with breadcrumbs, parsley and some scant seasoning. They would then be cremated “…to be sure the meat is cooked”. Dry pork steak stuffed with even dryer breadcrumbs makes me think of eating a piece of wet leather retrieved from a sawmill floor. Not that I have ever done such a thing. Though, I think you get my drift….

Indian Lamb Shanks (24 of 24)I had a great post organised. What could be easier to write about? Indian style lamb shanks made from delicious Irish lamb.  Also, we had decided to make our own coconut milk from scratch. That had to be something most of you haven’t tried. This was going to be easy. So I concocted the recipe, organised the ingredients, cooked the meal and photographed the proceedings. Why then, did I find myself writing, scrapping and re-writing this post four times? That was until I saw Karen’s recipe for Lamb Shanks with Gremolata Crumbs. That fired and inspired me. 

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.

Spiced Leg of LambLet me set out my stall nice and early here. I subscribe to the ‘Craft’ school of cookery. Please don’t confuse this with the similarly named conglomerate, I don’t subscribe to them. My ‘subscription’ to craft rather than science is based on my own laziness rather than any dark art that I have evolved or inherited over the years. As any regular reader will know, I tend to throw things together based on what I think should work. The results are not always perfect. In fact, the results are often pretty disappointing. My supportive family sits around the table lying to me. “No, it really is pretty good.” “I love the chewy texture of the meat.” “Actually, I like my vegetables nice and watery.”

Toad in the Hole

A friend of mine was suggesting something fun to cook in celebration of Ireland’s imminent victory played away against old rivals England in the 6 Nations Rugby Championship. One of us mentioned Toad in the Hole, as classic an English dish as one can find and a suitably juvenile play on words. There is a bit of the teenage sniggerer in many of us and when I found myself in the butcher’s later in the morning, I had to buy some Toulouse sausages (another pun, in case you didn’t get it) to make this simple and extremely lardy (Perhaps like the English rugby team?) dish.

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