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Posts from the ‘Meat & Poultry’ Category

Taking Part in Bumbles of Rice’s A Week in Dinners

Bumbles of Rice is a parenting and lifestyle blog I like to read. Lately, the author’s been posting some of her family’s real life dinners – the good, the bad, and everything in between. I think it’s cool to see how food bloggers really eat – especially since you usually only see the successful dishes on the blog – so here’s my family’s last week in dinners (please note: I’m a mom of one and am still technically on maternity leave, so my dinners probably haven’t changed too much since before Maeve was born).

A week in dinners from April 27th to May 3rd:

Sunday

I had planned a big Sunday roast. We still try to avoid bad stuff during the week (though we fail a lot more these days as you’ll soon read) so Sunday was going to be our big dinner day. But then Maeve hadn’t slept well the night before and I suddenly felt ill and exhausted. Sooo Pat got us Supermacs. That would be a quarter pounder burger with all the fixins and chips with garlic sauce on the side, please. I was “good” and got a bottle of water instead of coke. Maeve had rice porridge for dinner and then complained until I gave her a chip (bad mommy).

Monday

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Maeve goes to a child minder on Mondays and Wednesdays now (as I am flat out busy working on the Top 50 Restaurants in Canada for Vacay.ca). Since she was out of the house, I had a bit of extra time and made that pork roast I had planned for the previous day. So much for eating healthy during the week! I stuffed it with breadcrumbs, lardons, onion and apple. I made mashed potatoes, roasted cauliflower, green beans and a rich gravy to go with. Maeve loves cauliflower and green beans – not so keen on the pork.

Tuesday

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I had some ground lamb in the freezer and we were pressed for time last Tuesday so I made my never-fail, 30 minute baked lamb koftas. Ground lamb, spices, garlic and ginger – mix, shape and bake. I served them with some brown rice, a small salad and a tahini-buttermilk sauce. This is one of my favourite dinners. Maeve had fruit and porridge earlier since we ate past her bedtime.

Wednesday

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I had some leftover spice mix from the koftas, so I sprinkled it on some salmon filets, placed some sliced lemon over top and baked them for about 10 minutes. I served the salmon with sriracha-mashed sweet potato. Maeve loves both salmon and sweet potato – we just have to make sure there are no bones in the salmon before giving her a piece.

Thursday

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I made my version of cashew nut pork. It’s so quick to make, healthy and, in my not-so-humble opinion, better than a takeaway. Broccoli, sliced pork, onion, garlic, ginger, toasted cashew nuts, chili, a sprinkle of brown sugar, soy sauce and rice vinegar and you’re good to go. We had leftover rice in the fridge from the koftas so I fried it with an egg. Simple. Maeve had already eaten at this stage but wanted some broccoli. I sucked off the sauce and let her chew on a floret (gross, I know, but that’s me).

Friday

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I had been craving a curry all week, and as it was the Friday before the bank holiday weekend I went all out and made Vij’s Chicken Curry and homemade naan bread. Vikram Vij is one of Canada’s greatest chefs. His restaurant was #1 on our Top 50 list a few years ago and remains a contender – it is just so good. His chicken curry is full of depth, has a touch of heat and is full of melt-in-your-mouth chicken pieces. You don’t need rice with it – just scoop it up with the naan. Maeve loved her naan bread, but the curry was a bit too spicy for her.

Satruday

We were in Tipperary for the long weekend and it was quite late before Pat and his dad came home from the farm. A new chipper had opened in the village so we tried it out – as suspected, it was pretty terrible. I got curry cheese chips. Blah. Maeve was sound asleep by the time we sat down to supper.

So there you have it – a typical week of dinners for me and my little family. Looking back, I think we eat too much junk on the weekends. That will have to be remedied! Thanks Bumbles of Rice for inviting your fellow bloggers to take part in the real life dinners series! If you want to share your dinners and see what others have shared, click here.

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What’s On My Mind:

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  • Over the April long weekend we took a gorgeous drive along the Copper Coast from Tramore to Dungavan. I’ve been hearing about The Moorings‘ outdoor patio for some time now. As every Canadian knows, there’s nothing better than beers on a patio on a beautiful, sunny day. This patio didn’t disappoint (and neither did the food or beer).
Scrummy fish chowder & zingy chicken wings at The Moorings

Scrummy fish chowder & zingy chicken wings at The Moorings

  • Breathedreamgo is one of my favourite travel websites. It specializes in travel – mostly to India but also to other areas – and focuses on solo women travelers. Even though I’m married with a bebe I still like to travel alone and I enjoy following the author, Mariellen, on Twitter to see what she’s up to. There’s an amazing giveaway on her website right now: a 14 day food adventure to India, in partnership with Intrepid Travel. You can enter here.
  • I know Maeve’s only 8.5 months old, but I think she may have a promising future in hip hop. She poo-poo’s Raffi but goes crazy for Wu Tang. I’m both proud and slightly scandalized.

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  • The World’s 50 Best Restaurants was announced last night and I wasn’t surprised to see there are still no Canadian restaurants making the cut. As chair of Vacay.ca’s Top 50 Restaurants in Canada I know there’s some pretty amazing stuff happening in Canadian restaurants, from old-school Newfoundland cuisine to fine dining with Aboriginal flair. Maybe more 50 Best judges should visit more often.
My favourite Huevoes at Mildred's Temple Kitchen, Toronto

My favourite Huevoes at Mildred’s Temple Kitchen, Toronto

  • I ate at La Bohème again last Friday. They have some great value prix fixe menus – an early bird for €29 and a Market Menu, which is four courses for €35. The Market Menu had more interesting selections so we went for that. We also indulged in a kir royale made with the chef’s own creme de cassis – amazing. So many fine dining restaurants fail to hit the mark for me – trying to be creative, they get lost along the way. Chef Théze sticks to his French roots and doesn’t mess around when it comes to flavour.
Waterford Lamb Rump with Almond Cream at La Boheme

Waterford Lamb Rump with Almond Cream at La Boheme

  • I have been loving the spring-time weather in Ireland! Warm, sunny and beautiful. It puts you in a great mood. Hope you all have a wonderful week!

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Visiting Porto: The Mighty Francesinha

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Every city has its quirky signature dish that sets it apart. Chicago has deep dish pizza, Halifax has donairs, Osaka has okonomiyaki and Shanghai has xiaolongbao (you know, those awesome steamed dumplings filled with crab soup). Porto has the Francesinha, a sandwich of epic proportions.

The Francesihna is bad-ass. It’s not a sandwich for sissies. It’s disgustingly massive, full of any kind of meat you could conjure up in your mind. It’s really, really bad for you, which means it tastes amazing. The idea of it leaves you flustered – there’s no way it makes any logical sense.

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Whoever invented it (some say it was a guy named Daniel Da Silva who wanted to make a Portuguese-friendly version of a croque monsieur) just threw every kind of available meat into a sandwich with cheese and then smothered it in a tangy, rich sauce.

In other, more simpler words: it’s heaven.

As a Canadian, the best way I can describe a Francesinha is as such: it tastes like poutine, Swiss Chalet sauce and a Montreal smoked meat sandwich had a delicious love child. Any Canadian will agree: this is the best combination of things, ever.

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In actuality, the sandwich usually consists of beef fillet, mortadella, cured ham, regular ham, roast pork, cheese and two kinds of sausages. The bread is unremarkable, especially for a country that boasts delicious, crusty loaves, but that said, the bread isn’t supposed to be the star of the show. It just holds all the other, more awesome bits together.

When the sandwich is assembled, it’s covered in more cheese and then broiled to allow the cheese to melt. Then, the whole thing is smothered in a sauce that is usually made with a combination of beer and tomatoes, though each establishment has their own recipe and will never divulge exactly what goes into it. Honestly, it tastes exactly like Chalet sauce.

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The best place in Porto to get a Francesinha, we were told, is at Café Santiago on Rua Passos Manuel. The portions here are massive: large triple decker sandwiches surrounded by a sea of crisp French fries. They smother the sandwich in the perfect amount of sauce – nothing is soggy, per se, but everything is covered (and there’s enough sauce left to dip your fries).

A regular Francesinha with fries cost €9.25, while the Francesinha à Santiago (topped with an egg) cost €9.50. It’s good value considering the amount of food you’re getting, but Café Santiago is also one of the more expensive Francesinha joints in town. You can get one at nearly any snack food restaurant for around €5.00. It just won’t be as good.

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Francesinha are usually washed down with copious amounts of Sagres or Super Bock (the Portuguese beers of choice). We had our baby with us, so one beer each sufficed. A cold Super Bock with the meaty, salty sandwich is really a match made in heaven.

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In the end, the sandwich defeated me. I just couldn’t eat all that meat in one sitting. Pat, on the other hand, seemed like he’d been eating Francesinha all his life and gave me a good smirk over his empty plate.

You win this time, Francesinha, but I’ll be back.

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The Whole Duck, and Nothing But.

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The other day, I was doing a quick shop in Lidl when I saw they had a special on whole duckling for roasting.

Now, if I want a good duck, I’ll get it from a local butcher. It’s worth the money because the bird is meatier and fattier – better for roasting as you’ll end up with much more of the succulent meat. But these whole ducks at Lidl were €8.00! For an entire duckling. I couldn’t pass it up. I mean, we are a family on a budget.

So I got this duck and wasn’t sure what to do with it. The thing about roasting whole duck is that the different parts are at their best cooked different ways. I like roast duck. The best I ever had was in an old restaurant called Hua’s on “Ghost Street” in Beijing – it was expensive, but the duck at this place was so good, my friend and I ended up ordering two. But I prefer a nicely seared, pan roasted duck breast and slowly confit’d duck legs.

So when I got home, I got out my sharpest boning knife and broke the duck down completely. I used every single part, getting four meals out of one bird. Here’s how I did it and what I made:

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  1. Make sure the bird is right side up. That means, the breasts should be facing the ceiling and the legs should be facing you, the butcher.
  2. With a sharp knife, slice down either side of the breast bone (or the back bone). It’s found at the very top and goes vertically from one end of the bird to the other. Give it a good slice on either side.13868049975_2e415afcc4_z
  3. Once you’ve done that, choose a side to work on. Now’s the time to remove the breast meat. You probably won’t be very good at this the first time you do it (I would practise on some chicken first, since there’s less breast meat on a duck and you wouldn’t want to waste any). Using your knife, lightly scrape (don’t slice) down the side of the duck, leaving as little meat on the rib cage as possible. Once you have enough of a cavity made, you can use the tip of your knife to scrape down the sides. Once the breast is nearly severed, slice through the remaining skin and fat to remove it completely.13868047445_cf2acbbcca_z
  4. Now, do the same thing on the other side to remove the other breast.13868422344_09f927e03f_z
  5. Once the breasts are removed, it’s time to take off the legs. Use your hands to move the leg around. Once you feel where the hip joint is, give the leg a good twist to dislocate the joint. Once the joint is dislocated, use your knife to slice through. First, hold the leg to one side to tighten the skin around the joint, then slice through it. Once you’re through the skin, you can see where the leg joint naturally separates from the body. Use your knife and slice through the hip joint.
  6. Again with your knife, slice through the skin above the leg to see where the thigh meat is located. Once you see it, scrape down the rib cage until you’ve removed the thigh meat.13868420284_f26983f7c4_z
  7. Repeat this on the other leg until both are removed.
  8. Once you have the major joints removed, take off the wings. I just, again, find the main joint, give it a good twist to dislocate, and then slice through the joint with my knife, removing the wing.13868066933_766f5efd49_z
  9. Now it’s time to remove all the skin and fat from the duck. There will be a lot of fat in the skin and a lot of fat in between the skin and meat and, also, just inside the cavity. Remove all the skin and fat from the bird and, also, clean the joints and breasts of any excess fat. Save all the skin and fat.13868038265_56b61ff328_z
  10. You should be left with the carcass (the body cavity). You can use a larger knife to chop through the bone or, if you have a big enough pot, leave it whole. Congratulations, you’ve just deboned a duck.

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Here’s what I did with the different parts:

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The Breasts:

  • Lightly score the skin of the breasts with a sharp knife or razor blade. Season well with salt and pepper – rub it into the scoring marks. Leave to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  • Heat a frying pan on medium-high. You want the pan hot enough to render all the fat from under the skin of the breast, but not so hot that you burn the skin in the process.
  • When the pan is hot, do not add any oil or butter. Lay the breasts, skin side down, onto the hot pan. The fat will render almost immediately and will begin to crisp up the skin. Let the majority of the fat render from the breast – cook it on the skin side for the majority of the cooking process.
  • When the fat is mostly rendered and the skin is crispy and brown, turn over the duck and immediately transfer the pan to a hot oven (about 200 degrees Celsius). Depending on the size of the breast, cook for 7-12 minutes for a nice medium-rare.
  • I served the duck with green beans amandine (made with lemon, olive oil and toasted slivered almonds) and a buttermilk mash.

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The Skin and Fat:

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  • When all the skin and fat was removed from the carcass, I transferred it to a Dutch oven and immediately put it over a medium- low heat to slowly render all the fat.
  • As the fat rendered, the skin got extremely crispy. When the skin was completely crisp and golden brown I knew all the fat had been rendered.
  • I strained the duck fat into a container to save away and seasoned the crispy skin with some sea salt. I squeezed some sriracha chili sauce onto a plate and Pat and I had a delicious snack of crispy duck skin to eat while watching Game of Thrones (the best way to spend an evening, in my opinion).

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The Carcass and Wings:

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  • I could have kept the wings and fried them for some crispy duck wings, but I didn’t really feel like it. I added them to the carcass, put the carcass and wings in a stock pot, added a chopped carrot, two chopped onions, some chopped celery, a few peppercorns, some whole star anise, some coriander seed, some lemongrass and ginger, a bay leaf and fresh parsley and coriander.
  • I covered it all in cold water and gently simmered for 2 hours. It made a beautifully aromatic broth.
  • I put the hot broth in the fridge overnight. As it cooled, the fat collected at the top of the container and I easily scraped it off the next day.
  • I made pho with rice noodles, rose oyster mushrooms, crispy fried cod, scallion, basil, fresh coriander and sriracha. I seasoned the duck broth with lime juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, sriracha and some tom yum paste I had in the fridge. It was amazeballs.

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The Legs:

  • I saved this for last because I haven’t actually cooked the legs yet. They’re in the freezer. The duck fat is in the fridge. This Friday night I’m making duck confit with lentils and Toulouse sausage. Traditionally, you’d have duck confit with cassoulet but that’s a bit too much work for a Friday night!
  • I’ll season the duck fat with bay, peppercorns and juniper berries before scooping it (cold or room temperature) over the legs. Then I’ll cook them in at a low heat in the oven for a few hours, until tender.

Say what you want about Lidl, but €8.00 for a whole duckling is a steal. They’re Irish ducks, too and they’re still available.

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