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Poultry

Poussin with garlic (8 of 8)One of the great pleasures of the week is ‘Family Dinner’. We have this every Sunday evening. All are welcome and there is shame felt by any family member who “can’t make it”, no matter what the excuse. For over 20 years, my Mum has joined us for this weekly occasion. Her place is, rightly, at the head of the table and she has dispenses great wit, wisdom and example to the younger generations.

Time to get the shirt monogramed. Freshly pressed or what!

Time to get the shirt monogrammed. Freshly pressed or what!

Many years ago, to maintain my razor-sharp weekday appearance and to keep the dry-cleaning bills to a minimum, I invested in a trouser press. The device keeps a nice sharp crease on the suit pants and I only need to think about dry-cleaning when my lunch spills out of it’s glass. To set up a bit of contrast and to keep a good self-image during the working week, I sloth my way around in old jeans or tracksuits at the weekend.

Pad Thai (1 of 15)One of the time-of-times in a sad superstitious old man’s life is approaching. My youngest is preparing to emigrate. She has finished the formal part of her education and wants to spread her wings. This is not a lucky time for me. So I suspect that it’s appropriate that number thirteen in this series is a meal that she has begged me to cook as one of her departure treats. It’s my take on seafood-free Pad Thai or ‘Dad Thai’ to take it for my own. The ingredients are all in the photo above. For superstition’s sake, there are fourteen.

Duck Breast and Plum Sauce (8 of 8)We were blown away by the range, price and incredible freshness of the produce in the French markets we had visited on this retreat. On one such early morning visit, I found myself in a state of some trepidation, wondering what to buy for that evening’s meal. The apprehensiveness was brought on by a decision made about ten hours previously. Saying “Yes” to the voice in my head; “Will I open another bottle of Rosé?” was not a good idea. An excess of wine, no matter how pleasant, is of no assistance to decision-making. I couldn’t make a choice. The lamb looked nice. But, what to have with it? The beef looked lovely. But they cut it in such a strange way. The fish also looked excellent but, which fish? How might I cook it? What would I serve alongside?  Too many decisions.

Soy Braised ChickenThis is one of the easiest oriental dish I have ever cooked. The only difficulty is in carving the chicken. The oriental style of bird slicing involves chopping through flesh and bone. This requires a fair deal of heavy-handed work. This is best for authenticity but, those weak-willed amongst you can carve it in a western fashion. On the positive side of things, this will feed five to six people and they will all want you to cook it again and again. I have never tasted it cold. If you prepare it right, neither will you.

Duck with redcurrant sauce (13 of 13)You can keep a secret, can’t you? Good. Then I’ll let you in on something. Just do me one favour, keep it under your hat and whatever you do, DON’T TELL THE WIFE. She’ll kill me. Anybody who knows me knows I am motivated by getting value. So when I saw nice looking 2 kilogram ducks in a local supermarket at a paltry €8 per duck, I had to get one.

With the bird secured, I got to contemplating the sauce. Orange? No. Been there, done that. Plum? No. Ditto. Redcurrant? Hmmmmm, that sounds nice and they have a lovely colour. Let’s go for it! So began the road to familial deception and an evening of half-truths and ducking the truth, if you will pardon the awful pun.

Chicken and pancetta pie (16 of 18) My blog has got incredibly popular of late. This is a good thing, right? Sadly, no. Very wrong. It’s not my regular visitors and friends at all points in the free and not so free world that have me exercised. It’s those hard-hearted, vexatious, spotty people who spend their time spamming my virtual home here on WordPress. I checked today and have 475 spam comments in the darned efficient spam catcher used by WP. That means that of the time I spend here on the Internet, more of it is spent clearing out the dross and less is spent on the stuff you are here to see.

Kung Po Chicken (18 of 18)I was tempted to dedicate this post to Frank Sinatra, he of the “I did it my way”. But given everything I have heard and read about the man, I think we should say that he was a good singer and leave it (and all reference to the little man with the oversized ego) right here.

Over the years and decades, I have eaten Kung Po Chicken dozens of times. It is (as is “My Way”) a standard. There should be only one true recipe for Kung Po. But, you have guessed it, there are as many ways of cooking it as there are Chins in the Peking phone book. 

Fried Chicken

America is a great place. There are 49 states and one independent country (Texas). We Europeans often sneer at the gastronomic endeavours of “them over there”. I don’t really subscribe to the “They all eat nothing but burgers and tacos” school of thought. However, of the 49 states, the one with that has some culinary questions to answer is Kentucky. I have done my research. Kentucky has more elk, deer and wild turkeys than you could shake a bottle of bourbon at. But, they are not famed for cooking any of them. Those good old bluegrass lovin’ Louisville folk are famed for sending buckets, yes buckets, of spiced, fried chicken to all points of the globe.

Chicken Casserole (16 of 17)It looks just like any ordinary chicken casserole, does it not? But this casserole has an added ingredient that makes it extremely chickeney. In fact, it’s fair to say this is the most chickeney chicken casserole since the first chicken escaped from the egg. And, yes, the egg came first.

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