The dawn of the supermarket meat counter

by rich on July 21, 2014

“In his way, the meat cutter is an artist”.

Here’s a wonderful little American promotional film from the Fifties, that walks through the process of butchering a side of beef into cuts suitable for selling shrink-wrapped in those new-fangled supermarkets. Just look at the marbling on that beef.

Try to ignore the naïve sexism about packaged beef being ‘what the housewife wants’, etc, etc …

That sort of stupidity might sound old-fashioned in a period film like this, but is it any different from the rubbish written on the bag of charcoal I bought today, which encouraged men to ‘give mum the day off’ by barbecuing, implying that a) only men can barbecue and, b) that men only cook at all when there’s fire involved?

Credit to David Lishman, of the frankly superb Lishman’s butchers in Ilkley for posting this on facebook, from where I nicked it.

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Chicken chukka - chicken curry, made with coconut and spices

Chicken Chukka

by rich on July 14, 2014

On the way home on Saturday, I stopped off at an Asian supermarket close to where we live.

It’s a ramshackle, haphazard kind of place, piled high with a huge range of things. There are sacks of rice piled high, fruit and vegetables – big bunches of coriander, five for a quid, coconuts, curry leaves, chillies, small aubergines, and – this time – crates and crates of watermelons for £1.50 each. There are racks full of spices, in big, heavy bags for pennies, everything from cumin, to paprika, mustard seeds, coriander seed, cinnamon, turmeric … absolutely everything under the sun.

I never tire of these places. They’re exciting and vibrant. They’re the places that make Bradford a great place, and they’re a great resource for anybody who cooks. There’s absolutely no need to pay a supermarket an exorbitant amount of money for small and mean jars of past-it spices when there are places where you can buy far, far better spices for a fraction of the price. I’d bet that a tenner spent in one of Bradford’s many Asian supermarkets would establish a very fine store cupboard of spices, enough to make pretty much any curry you fancied.

This time, I bought one of those watermelons with the sole aim of decanting a bottle of vodka into it through a funnel (I know, I know … ), a big bunch of coriander and a bag of spices to make this curry. It’s a basic chicken curry, but one that has a deceptive depth of flavour. There’s a lot going on in there, but it’s very easy to make.

The backbone of this curry is desiccated coconut, that’s been gently roasted in a dry frying pan until it turns a golden brown. The coconut’s natural nuttiness starts to shine through when coconut is toasted like this, but it’s a dangerous game – a second’s distraction can mean that your coconut burns, so keep an eye on it. Toast about 50g in total, and set it aside in a bowl when it’s done.

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Aegean Flavours, by Didem Şenol Tiryakioğlu

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Aegean Flavours, by Didem Şenol Tiryakioğlu - book review

There are a lot of cookbooks emerging at the moment that concentrate on Eastern Mediterranean food. It’s a broad and interesting cuisine, shaped in large part by geography and the region’s position as the buffer between East and West. Nowhere is this more acute than in Turkey, whose largest city straddles continents, a foot in the east, […]

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How to make pulled pork

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How to make easy pulled pork in a slow cooker

I’m one of those people who take photos of  food to post on Instagram. I make no apologies for this – it’s what Instagram is made for, but sometimes the application of a vintage filter on a perfectly normal photograph makes it look a little … different. Just take a second to look at the picture […]

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What’s your identity worth? … or how to make falafel

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What's your identity worth? ... or how to make falafel

In real life, I manage information security for a big financial organisation. It’s the most fascinating job in the world, this juggling of risk versus reward versus control. We have to get things just right, so that our business can do  business, but our customers remain safe. I know that the biggest asset we’ve got […]

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How to make corned beef

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Brining beef brisket to make corned beef

One of the many curious things I remember about my childhood is corned beef hash, an odd dish of potato and corned beef served up on those nights when mum seemed to have run out of inspiration. It was always made of mashed potato, with corned beef similarly mashed right into the potato, then fried until […]

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