Irish butchers are coming out from behind the counter. No longer content with just selling quality meat, they’re now talking about it as well. They’re telling people exactly where that particular joint comes from, how it is raised, humanely slaughtered and properly aged before it is handed over. Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers in Co Tipperary goes one step further with An Irish Butcher Shop. This is a cookbook that will ensure that customers have all his expertise at their fingertips when they arrive home.
There are plenty of traditional recipes – Irish Stew, Steak and Kidney Pie, Corned Beef and Cabbage, of course – but Whelan also introduces, gently (chilli is often marked optional!) dishes from other countries and traditions. With Persian Kotfah and Pork Schnitzel or Chinese Pork Balls and Beef Satay to choose from, week night dinners should get a little more interesting.
Whelan is also good at bringing attention to the oft-neglected, cheap cuts. Shoulder of lamb gets marinaded, then roasted for six hours, or stuffed and pot roasted; lamb shanks are for soup or, Tamasin Day-Lewis’ superb Braised Lamb Shanks with Rosemary and Balsamic Vinegar. Salt pork becomes Pork and Beans, a one pot winter warmer, or there’s Braised Oxtail and several alternatives for braising beef (Braised Beef and Guinness Casserole, Beef Stew with Dumplings). Game also gets a look in, with recipes for venison, rabbit and phesant, and Whelan makes sure that meals are well balanced by including side dishes (Potato and Onion Casserole, Baked Tomatoes with Garlic Butter).
I would like more offal, although I accept I’m in a minority, but Whelan more than makes up for that lack by the inclusion of Black Pudding Potato Cakes and retro classic Beef Wellington. Bringing a good selection of recipes together under one cover, An Irish Butcher Shop is, quite simply, the story of a man who loves meat.
Must Cook: staying local for Tipperary Chicken with Apples; Christmas Turkey with Cranberry Sauce (still looking for recipes for my duo down the garden); and, it might not be meat but it certainly sounds good, Corn Fritters.
James Whelan Butchers are online at jameswhelanbutchers.com and offer an exceptional online shop, with free nationwide delivery for orders over €100. Should I have whetted your appetite, he is also stocking free range bronze turkeys for Christmas, complete with a free turkey timer. Pat Whelan has a blog with lots of recipes, tips and video guides and is also on @Twitter.
An Irish Butcher Shop is published by Collins Press, who kindly sent me this review copy.