Ballymaloe Day 23: “Bred to be grass fed”

Alfred was settling into his new surroundings. The kitchen was warm, and more often than not there was plenty of activity going on to keep him entertained – even if life in a jar wasn’t his preferred option…

Today Sophie and I collected our sourdough starter from Tim Allen, and like most starters that have made their way through Ballymaloe Cookery School, we gave ours a name.

A civilised and quiet young chap so far, we hope that Alfred will grow up to be a charming sourdough bread!

sourdough

This Tuesday was very much unlike the ones that went before it, and instead of heading into the kitchens, we popped into demo for lessons on butchering meat.

“A butcher is not just someone who cuts up beef”, Darina remarked on the importance of building up a relationship with their local butcher.

They have the “judgement and knowledge to know when an animal is in their prime”.

At one stage I found myself practically salivating at the roast rib in front of me. Like a wolf eying up its meal, my eyes wandered to the golden crisp layer covering the beef as it came out of the oven. My stomach rumbled.

beef321

Speaking of the Irish breeds of cattle Darina pointed out that our native cows are “bred to be grass fed”, and that’s why they taste so delicious.

We were treated to a lunch that was more like a banquet, and as I tucked into a sliver of that beef and a selection of stuffed breast of lamb, lamb shanks and cassoulet, I knew I was in meat heaven.

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Though not potato-crazy (don’t judge me!), I did go a bit bananas for the roast spud and let’s just say, the loose-fitting pants were definitely needed.

Following our lunch, we wandered back into demo where we took in oodles of information on preserving, menu planning and job opportunities.

One thing that stood out for me that Darina said was this; “If you do something just for money, you’ll never have enough”.

This is something I firmly believe. With life, as they say, you only get one shot and I don’t want to do something just for the sake of becoming rich. I’d lead a much richer life doing something I want to do and enjoy – sounds simple but sometimes you forget where your life is heading.

Anyway, enough philosophy, back to what happened today!

We collected Alfred from his residence in Kitchen 3 and brought him to his adoptive home in the Coach House.

Tomorrow I’m going to attempt to make a full cake – which is a first for me since I don’t really have a sweet tooth – Bonne chance!

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Some things that I learned today:

  • There’s a great love of mustard here in Ballymaloe, and when you know how to use it correctly (for me that’s in small doses), it can lift meat, especially a roast. “Nobody should be without this in their handbag!”, joked Darina.
  • When cooking a roast, cooking time is usually 10 minutes to each pound.
  • You can give a good guess as to whether your roast rib has been grass or grain fed. White fat will be that it’s been grain fed, and the more goldeny-yellow is more than likely grass.
  • Parts of the animal that take the most exercise take longer to cook but they’re of no lesser value and are usually cheaper.
  • The breast of lamb is in the belly and the lamb shank comes from the shoulder!
  • Some Irish breeds of cow: Dexter, Irish Moiled and Kerry (go on the Kingdom)
  • Fresh horseradish leaves are a great addition to any salad in the spring.
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