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.
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.
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.
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 think that this post will appeal to the food bloggers amongst you. The rest of you will think it’s all a bit nutty. When I’m not in the kitchen, slaving over a hot camera, I get a great deal of fun finding the occasional prop or gadget that will help make this blog that bit more my own and original. I do this partly through using old crockery and cutlery. It is getting increasingly difficult to source quality at a rock bottom price.
I have a bit in common with apricots. I can be a bit dull and uninteresting, often outshone by others. However, like apricots, if I’m pickled in brandy for long enough, I too am transformed into a thing of glorious beauty and attractiveness. Perhaps I might abandon the analogy at this stage as this personal transformation only goes on in my head, the effects don’t last and the memory tends to make me shudder with guilt and remorse.
The traditionalists amongst you might be a bit horrified at the prospect of drinking red wine with fish. Particularly with a fish as ‘white’ as hake. The key is the other ingredients in this sort of stew / soup / bowl of deliciousness. When you have got over your shock at my suggestion of red wine with fish, I encourage you to try Poached Hake in Tomato and Red Wine Sauce. Anybody who enjoys a good read will love preparing this.
Pretty well every quotation about failure makes a virtue of it. None of us set out to hash things up. So, why celebrate it? When I set about preparing beef cheeks sous vide, making a bags of it was far from my objective. But, with the beef in a bag, a bags was made and I’m not overjoyed.
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.