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Duck with mango sauce (8 of 9)I’m a sucker for fruit. I love the taste that makes me feel so alive and that feeling of fresh fruit juice, dribbling through my unkempt beard. One of my absolute favourites is mango. Living here in Ireland, I don’t get that feeling too often as we tend to get a pretty poor substitute for the real thing. The supermarkets conspire with international fruit companies to supply what is oft referred to as ‘market appropriate produce’ to different countries. They also charge ‘what the market will bear’ when setting prices. Hence, we in Ireland end up with mangos that would be more use in a civil disturbance than they are as a fresh fruit. I believe that we overpay for the privilege too. 

Holy Lord! It’s cold around here. Temperatures had dropped below freezing and I had got myself into a real deep winter gloom. This was driven by a number of factors. Firstly, it’s winter. Secondly, we seem to be living in very pessimistic times. Thirdly, the media have been whipping up a storm about the cold weather. One newspaper here in Ireland was telling us to expect “Thundersnow”. They also reported on roads grinding to a halt and flights being cancelled. Thankfully, I’m not completely gullible to this shock tactic journalism. I read elsewhere that “Thundersnow” is not a meteorological term. I also found out that the only flights that were cancelled from Dublin were because of snow in London. Pathetic standards. But the sort of journalism we must expect in a clickbait, post truth world. Now, back to the chicken…

I’ve been doing a bit of cooking with amarena cherries of late. A special offer in the supermarket sent me over the edge of reason and I bought more jars than I will need this side of a catastrophic meteor strike. They say that necessity is the mother of invention and I needed to find some additional recipes for these delicious biter-sweet balls of shininess. A small amount of thinking brought the thought of Sous Vide Duck Breast with amarena cherry Sauce. A conversation amongst friends led to the idea of cooking the skin separately and a delicious dish was born. 

(Barbecued Lemon Balm Chicken)

Barbecue Chichen with fresh herbs (1 of 10)I’ve been reading up about click baiting. Facebook are having another go at putting the kibosh on the practice. I have some issues with the approach. I understand that they will not allow headlines that don’t directly relate to the  content following. I do accept that there is a need to prevent the “Ten things that rich people do that you don’t.” and “At last, a simple cure for your flatulence.” headlines. But, this line of reasoning will, ultimately, lead to writing with no creative content. Where the headline needs to relate directly to the following content and subject needs to be SEOed into the text, the ability to write around a subject, as I am doing now, becomes very difficult. 

Sous vide chicken with herb polenta (8 of 9)The Americans are gas. They have the biggest democracy on the planet and they end up with the Donald as one of the two contenders for the most powerful position known to man (or to woman, if Hillary gets the gig). ‘The Donald’ has tried to attract specific groups by playing to their fears. This will prove to be a mistake. If I were to take a similar approach, we would build a wall in the Irish sea and I would call out some lovely Irish blogs (like Donna Hennessy’s A Cookbook Collection or Katia Valadeau’s Proper Food and say that you shouldn’t vote for them because they are run by women. Worse than that, Hennessy is the name of a drink and that Valadeau one is not even Irish. How can we let these people into an awards competition, let alone into the country? But, I’m not ‘The Donald’. Have a look at their blogs (if you must) and then vote for whoever you think is worthy. 

Smoked duck with orange ginger sauce (14 of 14)Most middle aged (be kind to me, late 50s is middle age) men have some unusual stuff in their garden sheds. More than half a lifetime collecting tools and labour saving implements and lots of redundant technology means that we have little space for that what really matters. When I say “we” I don’t mean me. No. I threw out all that gardening and domestic repair nonsense to make space for the Bradley Digital Six Rack Smoker. Just what every every self respecting old fart needs in his life.

There’s little point in having the latest and greatest six rack smoker if you aren’t going to smoke something. So this weekend, I smoked a brace of duck. For ye who think duck grow in a foil container in the supermarket, a brace is two. I got these in the butcher so using the old world description is good. What better way to serve duck than with some bittersweet sauce. Hence, I concocted Smoked Duck with Orange Sauce.

Thai chicken thighs (9 of 12)When it comes to cooking chicken on the barbecue, low and slow is the way to go. Here in Ireland,  we tend to only have a decent spell of what any reasonable person might call summer every four years or so. When a period of sunshine arrives, we tend to go a bit crazy. Sallow fleshed white men don ‘summer’ shorts (and little else), repair to the garden and swill vast quantities of cheap lager. They then do the only bit of ‘cooking’ they are capable of handling – the botulism fest known as the ‘barbecue’. 

Chicken and bean stewI was going to title this ‘An Idiots Guide to Cooking a Stew‘. But, I reckon the folk over at Dorling Kindersley would sue my idiot carcass all the way to illiteracy and back. They are the rightful owners to the Idiot’s Guides. So, I can’t use the title. Instead, I’m being a bit more general in my descriptor. I’m also being inclusive. Inclusive is good in this day and age. I don’t want to offend any particular minority grouping so I am making the statement that “Any Idiot Can Cook This Italian Chicken and Bean Stew”. Yes, that includes you. 

Chicken wiht 40 cloves of garlic (1 of 1)It’s such a wheeze. Blog posting, I mean. All you have to do is have an idea and start typing. Easy. It’s so simple, particularly when you have a dish called Chicken and 40 Cloves of Garlic. It practically writes itself. All you have to do is type out the various ’40’ related ideas that present themselves and fling in a simple recipe. What could be easier?

Chicken Kiev (11 of 12)

The chicken kiev is of Russian origin. I’m sure the Ukrainian people are not too happy about that. However, I wanted to do an original and I thought the Russian vodka in the shot was appropriate. Sorry, Kiev, if I cause any offence. I could have used a glass of Horilka, a traditional Ukrainian spirit? Matching a dish named for the Ukrainian capital with a Russian vodka is not politically correct in this day and age. But, the kiev has a Russian heritage and that is that.

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