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Sous Vide

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In part 1 of this two parter, I had a go at some of the French living here in Ireland. I need to spread my net wider. A good bit of racism goes a long way and we have plenty of it here in Ireland. My problem isn’t with the dumb-assed outrage at women wearing burkinis or even with the Brits for Brexiting. No, my issue is with the wily way so many of the ‘Bloody Foreigners’ are making it difficult for me to hate them. Let me tell you how the Breton and the Mexicans conspired to confound my natural distaste for anybody from anywhere else. 

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We Irish look proudly at great cities like New York or Chicago and boast that our forbears built them. Our little island has sent its sons and daughters to all points on the compass to start new lives and to put down roots. Our influence spans the globe in science, engineering, literature and politics. When one looks to France, one sees so many of the great wine dynasties founded by the Irish ‘Wild Geese’. Names like Barton, Phelan and Lynch are all Irish and are now intertwined in the multi-generational success of the French wine trade. We have a lot of which we should be proud. 

pigs-cheeks-sous-vide-3-of-5Do you see what I did in the headline? That subtle little play on words. A sort of culinary double entendre. The pig’s cheeks, cooked sous vide are cooked rare. Pig’s cheeks are not very easy to come by. Both play to add a bit of wit to the headline. You will just have to take my word for it, this is a rare treat. It is not very difficult to prepare any element of this dish but, you will need to have your timing chain well adjusted. 

belted-galloway-rib-2-of-10Dutch Courage – I know, I know. You will be assuming that I’ve been at the wine again. Perhaps having a couple of ‘swifties’ while the beef cooks. That warm glow of a nice glass or three of red while a meal cooks can be a delight. But, no, on this occasion, it was not me gathering the Dutch Courage. 

Walnut risotto with pigeon (19 of 20)This happens to me most weeks. I wonder what I’m going to cook for the Wife and myself on the weekend. I usually get my ideas by perving the windows of butcher shops and fishmongers.  I’ve even been asked to leave one butcher’s shop when I explained, in response to his “What can I get you?” that I was “just looking”. This approach works most of the time but, like any creative process one can’t time the arrival of ideas to coincide with the warming of the saucepans. A couple of weeks back, I had done my window gazing, I had thumbed the couple of yards of cookery books that live in my ‘blog room’ and even spent some time Googling everything from cheese sandwiches to filet mignon. Then I had a look through the Irish Food Bloggers page on Facebook. 

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. 

Fish and chips (10 of 10)

Ahhh….. How the passage of time alters our perception of reality. We look backwards through grease splattered glasses and see ourselves biting through crunchy, crispy batter into flavoursome, chunky, freshly caught cod. This fishy delight accompanied by the most delicious ‘crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside’ potato chips. This wonderful serving enjoyed every Friday in Holy Catholic Ireland by God fearing, clean living, cap doffing, hopeful people, who paid only one and sixpence to feed the entire family.

Was it ever thus? Or, has the ticking of the clock shifted the focus on the lens of reality? Why are so many chippers today serving such poor food? Like defrosted, grey fish, of dubious origin, encased in stodgy batter ,served with a ‘smaller than I remember’ bag of greasy chips. The average family needing appropriate paperwork and bank approval to afford a serving. Where has it all gone wrong? Why do we put up with these standards?

Cap of the rib (2 of 12) I had the particular pleasure of dining out at a fundraiser hosted by a friend of mine Aidan Sheeran, who is cycling from Paris to Nice (in France). He is doing this to raise funds for Pieta House, a very worthy cause and one dear to his heart. I would encourage you to hop over to his fundraising page and be generous. In a fit of selfishness and malevolence, I am putting the link at the bottom of this post in the vain hope that it might get you to read all the way through. 

Beef Rib Sous Vide (11 of 11)Take pity on the poor Irish blogger. We are a simple lot. We are not used to being regulated. Many of us have been happy to purloin images from around the Internet for our own use, not knowing nor bothered that those images, and the revenue rights appended, are owned by others. The Irish Bloggers group on Facebook has been doing a deal to educate us of late. However, our situation has been made much worse with the news that The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland has brought us within their compass. Now we have to be upfront when we post for profit. No more can we secretly trouser a few quid and say that we love those gravy granules. We have to say clearly and unequivocally that we are in receipt of funds for saying the glorious things about those hateful globs of granulated gunge. 

Oriental Pork Belly Sous Vide (11 of 13)

I have a dark secret. I lock myself in a darkened room. I make sure there is nobody around to catch me. Then I do it – I watch TV cooking competitions. Yes, I have even seen a couple of episodes of The Great British Bake Off, where Mary Berry with the help of a comedian (and the girl in the heavy specs), separate the competent from the inept. I’ve sat aghast at some of the efforts on Irish Masterchef. I’ve suffered foul-mouthed tirades of Gordon Ramsey on Hell’s Kitchen from the safety of my couch. Greg Wallace and John Torode regularly put in an appearance, criticising the pathetic efforts of people who obviously can’t cook and should not be asked to try. Why do I do this? 

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