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If he didn’t, he ought to have. Back in the 1980s, when he and Philip Michael Thomas were speeding along the Miami coast, in an offshore racing boat, I was a callow youth, trying my best to impress the girls at house parties around Dun Laoghaire in County Dublin. No self-respecting house party would be thrown without large pots of goulash and chicken a la king. I remember the chicken gunk as being particularly clawing and disgusting. The goulash was often watery and pretty pathetic too. Both were usually served with undercooked rice and, if at a fancy do, garlic bread. But, none of this mattered as we pushed the sleeves of our sky blue Armani style jackets up our skinny arms, hoisted our high waist baggies and got down to the thumping music of Jan Hammer. 

Spanish Style Pork Burger (10 of 10)Or, getting a bit of balance into the diet.

I came in for a lot of stick the other day. A chap, whom I don’t know, gave me a really hard time for promoting beef consumption. He had all his arguments at hand. We eat too much beef. Cows fart and they are responsible for a huge chunk of global warming. Cheap beef is facilitating the general populace in eating too much and getting fat. This leads to the medical system being overrun and innocents dying as a result. With his beef arguments in mind, I had better get a bit of balance in the diet. So, here’s a recipe for pork burgers.

Summerhill Farm (4 of 41)

When we Irish say “grass fed” we mean “grass fed”.

Competition is the life blood of commerce. However, many Irish retail businesses have suffered a perfect storm over the past few years. None more so than the independent butchers. While there are huge problems, it’s not all bad. And for those of us interested in real food, there might just be a nice fatty lining to the meaty retail cloud.

Pork Wellington Sous Vide (12 of 12)

Or, “How Far Will I Go To Keep It Local?”

If you don’t know by now that we were on a break in the Dordogne, you need to read the blog more often. While there, we prepared a meal with strict guidelines. Everything had to be really local. Leave aside that I had driven a round trip of about 1,800 kilometres to get all ‘low food miles’ for the dish. It was more of a challenge than a protest for me so I got cogitating. I settled on the above using local air dried ‘black ham’, local mushrooms, local free range pork, green beans and potatoes from the local market, walnuts from the huge farm down the road and we drank wine from the vineyard next door. It doesn’t get more local than that. The meal was a great success and I vowed to recreate it at home.

I have a theory about so many of the highly flavoured and sugar laden ‘rubs’ that are used to enhance pork on the grill. I think that the reason they exist is to try to bring a bit of life to otherwise insipid and uninteresting meat. Some of you may spring to argue with this assertion. You might say “If you ever tasted my Uncle Jessey’s ten chilli rub, you would know how flavour can punch you in the gullet.” or “Sue Ellen does a mean brown sugar, corn syrup and honey wet rub.” I don’t deny that either of these probably have some value to add (Lord help us!). My issue is with the unfortunate meat that so many rubs serve to aggrandise. I’m not trying to cause any friction with my rubbing. I’m just making the case here for high quality meat, a balance of rub flavour and some gentle smoking.

Pork with ancho and cherry sauce (1 of 10)

Just over a year ago, I was asked to come up a recipe for a fundraising barbecue. The brief was straightforward. It had to use pork. It had to be simple, as it was going to be prepared in quantity, and it had to be a real crowd pleaser. With all that and seasonality in mind, I devised a delicious Pork with Ancho and Cherry Sauce. I was delighted with it. Then it all went wrong.

As Oriental as they get.

Globalisation is a blessing and a curse. It is a blessing in that it introduces us all to foods and flavours from all points on the compass. It also has a very annoying habit of promoting fake food. Many Brits are shocked when they discover that the most popular Indian dish in Great Britain the ‘classic’ Chicken Tika Masala is English not Indian. Tempura is Portuguese and Sauerkraut hails back to the building of the Great Wall, not a German in sight. Not that any of these are fakes they are just misunderstood. The fakes are in the ranges of foods like the Tex Mex crud of which any Texan would be ashamed or the Oriental sauces that sell themselves by combining fake flavouring with too much sugar. We buy it because it has a picture of a junk  and  some vaguely oriental looking text on the label. Thats globalisation for you.

Lamb with fennel, honey and chilli (1 of 10)For the uninitiated amongst you, a lepidopterist is a butterfly expert. I wouldn’t know a Painted Lady if she landed on my face and a Comma would only give me pause, as it were. I do a pretty passable job of butterflying a leg of lamb but that doesn’t makes me a butterfly expert. As I was feeling fairly lazy when shopping, I bought my leg of lamb butterflied. So, I spent my time thinking about a marinade. This Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Fennel, Chilli and Honey will have you all a flutter.

I prepared some home cured, home smoked pork loin a couple of weeks back. It was fantastic and most of the comments I had from the European side of the pond were pretty positive. One of my American friends had to make the point that bacon is made only with pork belly. He had to make the point in the way only an American would. That is he was unequivocal, forthright and definitive. He was certain that bacon can only be made with pork belly. Anything else “just ain’t bacon”. (Put on a Southern drawl while reading that.) So to run with the stereotype, here’s how to prepare good ole’ rootin’ tootin’ American bacon (All Americans use the “good ole’ rootin’ tootin'” type language pretty well all the time.

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