In just 0.24 of a second, Google found me thirteen million, six hundred thousand roast chicken recipes. Surely, that’s enough for you to be getting on with? So, I should just leave things here. I shouldn’t bother buying a top quality, free range, Irish chicken. With that many recipes out there, there is little purpose. It would be a waste of time. There is no point in selecting some fine olive oil to bind the stuffing ingredients. It’s a fool’s errand getting my hands on some delicious and nutritious walnuts. No matter what I do, somebody has done it before. Those Google lads have all those recipes in their rows and rows of filing cabinets. Why should I waste my time, lovingly slicing onions, zesting a lemon and delicately plucking sage leaves from their woody branches? It would be very silly of me to lay my hands on some very finely sliced streaky bacon to drape across the decollage of the plump naked bird. All that so I can give those chaps over in Google another recipe and some more photos to add to the prodigious filing pile. It’s no wonder their office in Dublin is so big.
Perhaps this should be retitled “We have a decent bottle of Spanish wine and we had better drink it before it goes off.” My only reservation with that is, while true, it might not tell the recipe story. It is the inspiration but not the dish. So, let’s stick with Spanish Inspired Monkfish, Chorizo and Bean Stew as the title and please forgive the mentions of the seventeen year old bottle of Faustino 1 that went with (and in) the food.
There is an old saying about poor cooking: “Tastes like hospital food.” I suspect that this really doesn’t have currency nowadays. Generally speaking, the food served in Irish hospitals appears to be a pretty good mix of carbs, proteins and other goodness designed to keep the patients in reasonable health until they depart the hospital or the world. This was not always the case.
My late father was, amongst many other things, a pathologist. For some years, he operated from a lab in the basement of the Richmond Hospital in Dublin city centre. In my 20th year, I got an attack of acute appendicitis. This was back in the 70s when this meant being rushed to the hospital and having a large incision in the gut to remove the offending and offensive organ.
No, I did not steal the fish. Though, the fish was a bit of a steal. John Dory fillets can be horrendously expensive. When one sees JD on restaurant menus it tends to be priced up there with the lobster and truffles. In my own experience, it tends also to be overcooked and pretty awful.
On my Saturday shopping trip, I saw that they were on special and I bought the John Dory thinking “These will be nice.”
First, the back story, then the recipe. My youngest was earning some extra cash by helping with some shredding in the office. A huge pile of shredding if the truth were to be told. She managed to fill 37 sacks of shredded documents in one day. Given her great work rate and in an effort to keep the “How much ‘ya payin’ me?” conversation to a modest enough number, I brought her out for lunch at a local cafe. While we were waiting for our food, we were discussing family dinner for the following Sunday. A leg of Wicklow lamb had made its way into my possession and this was to be the base of the meal.
The better part of the ingredients. A good bag-full of fresh Dublin Bay Prawns
It seems like every day somebody asks me “How do you make prawn stock, Conor?” or “I was thinking of making some prawn stock, how would you do it?” Given that I am a pretty average type of guy, I know that you too must be harassed on a regular basis with prawn stock conundrums. So I am going to tell you how to do it.
Sorry about the long headline but I have been talking to my butcher. He tells me that beef short ribs or Jacob’s Ladder, as it is known in trendier spots, is becoming quite chique. If the normal rules of economics prevail, prices will rise as popularity increases. So, don’t cook it. We want to avoid inflation here in Ireland. Things are bad enough. It is not as nice as it looks so don’t cook it. Please.
My recent fish pie with waves post has inadvertently reignited an old controversy. Not the lamb v beef cottage / shepherds pie polemic but something I had not foreseen. It started pretty innocuously. At work, Matt started out being quite complementary about my wavy topped fish pie. This led to a discussion about the right toppings for different pies. The conversation moved around the office but agreement was not reached. I now need to make a stand and draw up the definitive set of rules.
As you look forward into another new year full of promise, you want your life to be simpler, less pressured and healthier. You are thinking about joining (or rejoining) the gym. You have resolved to eat healthier, to exercise more and to get up earlier in the day. It’s time you looked at your alcohol consumption too. Not that it is too high. It’s just average amongst the people (drunks) you know. If you are a smoker, you are going to give up the evil weed as soon as you go to bed in the early hours of January 1st. You know you are going to do all these things because it’s a new year approaching and a time for renewal. A time for hope. A time to make a list of promises to yourself…
I used to think it was pretty straightforward. “Build it and they will come” was my approach. A pork stew was a pork stew. If I announced it and cooked it, they would be there, happy to be fed in the family kitchen. In more recent times, I have noticed a worrying trend. The casual conversation is no longer “Whatyacooking Pops?”. No, it has shifted slightly towards “Oh, Pork Casserole. How are you cooking it? What are you adding? What will make it really special this time?”.