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Meat

Venison

Not the sort of thing one expects to have delivered. Particularly as I’m not a butcher.

Question 1 “This early in the season, is this a piece of legally shot doe?”

Answer 1 “I’m told it is. The now infamous Wicklow Hunter tells me that they were out on a night shoot on the 31st October and ‘…just after midnight’ he downed a young doe. That brings it into the November season where that sort of thing is OK in Wicklow.”
In short: Doe.

Question 2 “What recipe are you going to use?”

Answer 2 (Here’s where the Homer like d’oh! could come into its own.) “I am going to try something totally original. I am going to cook Venison and Plum Stew.” Given that I had no real idea what to do with the venison, this was a brave outburst on my part. An outburst, fuelled by a glass or three of Rutherford Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon.
In short: D’oh!

A couple of months ago, my good friend P put himself on a gourmet cookery course. This was a major step for him, he being a ‘can’t boil an egg’ kind of guy. P is also what the female of the species would call “A typical man.” He is not big on chit-chat. He hides a veritable candelabra of lights under his bushel. So, while we were supping a pint or three of Guinness in our local, the Galloping Green, it surprised me, in fact it shocked me, when he said that he had cooked a Lamb Tagine as part of his course. The shock was three-fold. Fold one was that he had been on a cookery course. Fold two was that he had admitted to being there. Fold three was that he actually cooked something excellent (his wife told me). My reaction was not what it should have been. I let myself down.

Shepherd's Pie People are so easily thrown off the real issue. Food people are the easiest of all. Suckers. Ask them about Shepherd’s Pie and it’s simple to move them away from the real deal and distract them with talk of “Beef or Lamb?”. A quick search of the internet will expose the great and the good arguing why it must be lamb. Others take the view that beef is essential. Some miserable scribes show their complete lack of moral fiber by suggesting that a mix of the two is the answer. Pathetic.  

Beef ribsThe other evening, I was ruminating about what to cook for Sunday dinner. I was thinking of doing something totally Irish and I had got as far as deciding on beef ribs when my musings were interrupted by the Wife;  “Whiskey, Honey?” she asked with her usual economy of language. “Yes” I replied as inspiration dawned, “That’ll do it”. So I enjoyed a glass of Bushmills and plotted Sunday’s feed. 

Lamb piecesDuring the week, I got a call in the office from the Wicklow Hunter. He enjoys winding people up and one never knows the real truth behind many of his activities. I forgive him a lot as he does his thing with good humour and a twinkle in his eye.

WH: Are you in?

Me: I am, sure did you not just ring?

WH: I did. I have some lamb for you. 

Me: Lamb? You don’t keep sheep, do you?

WH: No, this is the best tasting lamb there is. Trespass Lamb.

They say that God removed a spare rib of Adam’s to make Eve. I find this very difficult to believe. Not because I want to start a fight with the Creationists. That argument is for another time and a different place. Perhaps at Easter on the Galapagos Islands?

I can think of far better things to do with spare ribs. I am not starting to show cannibal tendencies either. For this fine rib recipe, I use pork ribs. I also use this fantastic smoked paprika emblazoned with the Lord’s picture. Perhaps my sub-conscious treats it as a kind of insurance?

Got Ya! My fashion headline did the trick and has roped you into the first paragraph. We had family over recently and I decided to barbecue. The forecast was for rain. This meant that it probably wouldn’t. In Ireland, the weather likes to do its own thing. Like the weather, I like to do my own thing too. Back in the day when I was a youth and interested in my appearance, I did some pretty funky fashion stuff, believing myself to be the coolest thing on the catwalk.

Hermione – One of the many frog adornments in my Mum’s house.

“No” replied the waiter. “It’s these pants, they are a little too tight.”

Now, let’s dispel the myth. The French are not great lovers of frogs legs. Just in the same way as true Italians look down their nose at Spaghetti Bolognese and the British don’t enjoy getting Toad in the Hole when out in restaurants (One needs to be careful how one puts that.).  All stereotypical ‘National’ dishes.

Our European leaders can’t agree on the future of the Euro. Here in Ireland, we were lucky enough to be the first bailout boy of the current financial shambles. The God-like Greeks stepped in and took on the mantle of shame for a while. The poor chaps over in Cyprus were hardly noticed when they asked for a couple of billion to keep the dole queues queueing and civil servants civil. As I write, Spain is attracting the interest and Italy is only a few bond auctions away from the fun.

I have carried the weight of this around for more than a decade and now I have to clear my conscience. We had been holidaying in the Poitou‑Charentes region of France. We had made the short trip into Saintes for the weekly market. I was feeling ambitious and wanted to prepare a butterflied leg of lamb. I circled the market and located the lamb butcher, having previously tried to buy beef from a boucherie chevaline (horse butcher), causing much mirth for the butcher and embarrassment for me. In my dire French, I conveyed that I wanted the joint boned. With much smiling and what I thought was comprehension, the master craftsman set to work.

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