Thursday, 26 August 2010

All about meat

Once or twice a week, I always have meatless dinners, but truthfully I couldn't live without meat. I love meat. Some of my favourite animals are steak and pork chops.

Not a long time ago, I was one of those people who have never thought or wanted to know or ever questioned where their meat comes from, how it’s fed, looked after, slaughtered or butchered. ‘Why would I want to know in the first place anyway?’

I used to think that meats from the supermarket are all just the same; and I never really care if they are organic, free-range, etc. All I care was if they’re reasonably priced. Meat is just meat, right?

I was wrong. These extra qualities make all the difference to the quality of your meal. When I started the project I bought my first organic, once-had-a-good-life chicken, to make roasted chicken breast with cherry tomatoes and asparagus; and honestly, I didn’t think it would be as delicious and as moist if I were to have made it with supermarket ‘standard’ chicken.

I have tasted top-quality meat and I don’t want to go back to the ‘standard’ quality meat. Yes, these organic and free-range meats are not cheap; everything comes with a price, but when I understand what goes into producing meat I soon realise that organic meat isn’t overpriced.

Chapter 3: Meat

Melt-in-your-mouth shin stew? Oh-so-good. Pan-fried sirloin steak with simple Chianti butter sauce and olive oil mash? Yum. But nothing excites me more than a big piece of red meat. It looks magnificent on the table and tastes delicious. My most requested dinner has got to be ultimate rib of beef with rosemary and garlic roast potatoes. It's a giant steak to feed a crowd.

the handsome rib of beef in question

As well as roast fore rib of beef with beetroot and horseradish.

It's confusing me why lamb is not to everyone's taste, but I just adore lamb. It's a very versatile meat and works well with a range of flavours. It's great as a steak or my favourite is to cook it slow and long until the meat is meltingly tender. The meat stays so moist even after long cooking because lamb is a fatty meat. Well, depending on the cuts.

Incredible baked lamb shanks is one of my favourites. One, because it's meaty and delicious; two, lamb shank is a cheaper cut of lamb. So, great for the wallet as well. The lamb shank here is stuffed with flavoured butter with rosemary, sage and thyme before roasting in the oven on a bed of veg and more aromatics for 2.5 hours. I served this for a dinner date and it went down really well... of course, the red wine and the chocolate dessert at the end helped too...

On colder days and you want comfort, I suggest lovely lamb shank pie. Just saying the word 'pie' you know it's gonna be good. The shanks here are stewed and then covered with puff pastry and baked.

Also like beef, I love to see a big piece of lamb, like roast leg of lamb with aubergines and onions which I served for Christmas last year. Not very traditional, but it was fantastic! Cooking lamb with aubergines is apparently very common in Italy and like many Italian recipes, this lamb is dead simple.

For something that looks different, try Mad Moroccan Lamb. When I saw this recipe for the first time, I thought it was weird and I was hesitant to try it. I'm not sure with idea of roasting a shoulder of lamb for a couple of hours and then burying it with couscous and then bake again for another hour... Jamie says this may seem a bit of a palaver, but actually it's a pretty easy dish to make. Yes, the lamb took about three hours to cook, but I didn't have to do anything while it roasts in the oven. And the result was meltingly tender lamb... yum.

My last meal on earth will have to include some sort of pork dishes. Pork meat is so sweet and so delicious. Just the thought of slow-roasted pork belly with the sweetest braised fennel makes me drool all over my lap top. From the bottom, you have a nice thick layer of tender white meat, followed by a nice layer of fat that keeps everything so moist and then the top is the crunchiest pork scratchings. The drool is now all over the floor if you must know....

Old-school pork chops with apples and sage is my day to day recipe. It's quick, easy and utterly delicious. I love this recipe so much and I've cooked this way too many times. My friends and I are never bored though.

The last recipe I yet to make, which I have been saving for the last dinner is overnight slow-roasted pork. The reason is, I think it's a celebratory dish and I know the taste will be out of this world. I know I shall not be disappointed.

The most wonderful, and the humblest bird, the chicken. There's really no end to how you can cook a chicken. I love it roasted, steamed, stewed and of course, grilled, like grilled spatchcocked chicken with new potatoes, roast asparagus and herby yoghurt. It's a great dish for a summer barbecue.

I also love pot-roasted poussins agro dolce. Agro dolce if you don't know is a delicate Italian sweet and sour sauce. Jamie says there's something so comforting, deep and dark about this dish. And it's true. This is a fantastic dish to be served in the colder months of the year or perhaps a rainy summer evening.

I love how the dish came together. It's so earthy with the scents of rosemary and cinnamon; but not at all heavy. I particularly love the sauce. The tangy-ness of the sauce is provided by a mixture of red wine vinegar, sun-dried tomatoes and Chianti wine. And the sweetness comes from the orange and sultanas. Have I mentioned the poussins are covered in pancetta?

I'm sorry the post must ends here or I'm gonna eat myself...


  1. Wow, what a post! I love the insight you shared on the beef, lamb, pork and poultry. Your photos look absolutely delicious. YUM!

  2. Awesome post! As much as I like meatless meals, I'll definitely agree with you...going totally vegetarian would be ridiculously difficult!

  3. Teehee I'm one of those odd people who doesn't like lamb! The texture and taste just gross me out. I blame years as a child being given overcooked, dry lamb with lashings of cheap mint sauce for Sunday Lunch (and probably why I don't like Sunday Lunches either...)

    I'm not too keen on pork either, but again I think it's because my mam has always served it very overcooked (I think she has a phobia of undercooked meat).

    You missed out my favourite meat though - duck! Nom nom nom ;DD xxxxx

  4. What a great post, Michael. I learned a lot and enjoyed you beautiful photos. I'm waiting for that overnight pork roast. It sounds like something really special. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. Give me a side of beef and I am one happy girl. I am not sure I could become a vegetarian, or at least not a full-time one. This was such a cool post, thank you for sharing.