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Meat

Beef Brisket Sous Vide My cycling buddy James Lawlor, of the Rathmines butchery of the same name, was wondering if I could come up with any half interesting recipes for brisket (We tend to talk of little else except food when we are out in the mountains). It tends to be a tough enough cut so, it tends to be inexpensive. The dual attraction of tough beef and low price made it an ideal candidate for an experiment in the sous vide bath. 

Ancho honey ribs I’m a considerate sort of person. If I’m having a vegetarian over for dinner, I will restrict the number of animals that we slaughter and serve. If there are a group of ‘lads’ I will throw lots of chilli heat into everything and serve gallons of beer, by the neck, so we can behave like teenagers and pretend that our middle-aged stomachs are not in turmoil. If my beloved Mum is coming to our regular Sunday dinner, I tend to respect her desire for moderate heat in everything. Like I say, I’m a considerate kind of guy. I employed such deference last weekend when preparing Ancho Chilli and Honey Pork Ribs. But, it seems, I can’t get everything right.

Spring Lamb ShoulderWe are social animals. Some more social than others. Some more animal. Communication between us can be very complicated. We misunderstand each other and often end up not talking. We take offence. We get petulant and complicate our relationships through our always-on communication that for the best part really does not communicate at all. Look at the things we use to keep our friends close – text, Viber, Snapchat, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and, for some of us, LinkedIn. Despite all the ‘communication’ many of us have never felt more alone, more isolated and out of touch. Not me though. I KNOW how to stay in touch. All I have to do is prepare some very simple Spring Lamb Shoulder and they will arrive at the table, ready to talk. Ready to share stories. Ready to really communicate. 

Leg of Lamb Sous Vide (14 of 15)Spring has well and truly sprung in these parts. The daffodils have shown their smiling yellow faces to the world and retreated into their subterranean bulbs to see out the next three seasons. The weeds have bloomed again in every flowerbed and paving crack they can find and the horrendously expensive spring lamb has reared its bleating head (metaphorically, if not physically) in the better butcher shops around Dublin.  So I knew I was going to have to do something with a leg thereof.

Pigs head terrineMy butcher friend James takes some pleasure out of things that make others a bit squeamish. He regaled me with tales of tying a piece of string to the ear of a pig’s head, displayed in their shop window. The grown men behind the counter, taking great sport out of frightening both young and old with a wiggling ear. While chatting, I regaled James with tales of my recent pigs trotter adventures. He asked me if I had ever cooked a pig’s head.

Ethical pork belly (1 of 1)What’s a guy to do? When you are buying a big piece of pork from a nice woman, you really can’t come out with stuff like “That’s a very nice belly you have there, my dear.” In fact, you need to be very careful how you refer to the big, attractive, fat laden hunk of meat. So, when Ety from Ethical Pork sold me the fattiest, tastiest, porkiest piece of pork I have ever seen, I really had to be on my best behaviour. 

Lamb shoulder sous vide (6 of 7)When I was a very young lad, we holidayed on Valentia Island, just off the Kerry coast. I still have memories of seeing a sow and her numerous porky offspring resting in the kitchen of a farmhouse. At the time, I didn’t think much about it. On reflection, they were much simpler times and we kids were happy sleeping three to a bed in our holiday home. There was no internet, no television, one channel on the radio and only a small river to amuse us children.

Jacobs Ladder Sous Vide (5 of 6)“What’s the ‘But….’?” you ask. The beef looks delicious in the picture. It tasted delicious, particularly with a beautiful, highly tasty, beef and wine reduction. The soft stem broccoli was lovely on the side and the celeriac mash was perfect too. So, what’s the problem? 

CrubeensI have been keen to post the photo above. It was taken, on 35mm, by my late father, in 1967 while we were at Puck Fair in Killorglin, Co. Kerry. The picture of a ’67 food truck gives a great insight into Irish life at the time. The typography tells me that Fish and Chips was the lead offer. Crubeens were a staple and Hamburgers were something pretty exotic. I had never cooked crubeens. Oh, they are pigs feet, for those of you not in the know. So, when Ety from Ethical Pork offered me a few, I knew I could redress the situation and have an excuse to show a wonderful bit of Irish social history from almost 50 years ago.

Lamb and Aubergine Curry ingredientsI like to have a plan, have all my ingredients lined up and get things done in pretty military fashion. At lest, that’s the aspiration. Sadly, often, the reality involves opening the press during the cooking, shouting some profanity at the empty space and then driving in a panic to the supermarket to get some essential spice or aromatic. This time, it needed to be different. I have been to cookery school (Yes, I have!). I have learned from the experts. I simply have to be able to prepare a Lamb and Aubergine Curry without the use of the car. 

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