Eat Fresh

Posted on Tuesday, July 15th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

If you’re just up it might take a second to wrap your brain around this but stick with me.  New research has just been released that suggests people are not fat because they are lazy and don’t move but instead are lazy and don’t move because they are fat!  It took me a while too, but I’m got it in the end.  Basically this study was all about junk food and processed food and the long term health effects they have on the human body and, more interestingly, on the human brain.

Lamb KebabsOn the surface the results seem pretty obvious but they’ve discovered that long term ingestion of junk food and highly processed foods actually contributes to cognitive impairment.  This is a big discovery.  Who would have thought it could slow and damage the brain, essentially making us lazy and unwilling to move.  Now again we must be clear, the results are based on long term and consistent ingestion of these types of food, short term or a once in a while encounter will have no effect.  Of course the natural progression then is that when you become overweight from this type of eating and you then become sluggish and tired all the time you are into a disastrous cycle.  Eventually the weight gain will lead to further complications as it has been regularly linked to heart disease, strokes and certain types of cancers.  As someone once said we are digging our graves with our teeth!

Family BBQ

Many people are mindlessly eating junk more regularly than they like to acknowledge.  Drive through any town in Ireland at lunchtime when the secondary schools spill out and you will see lines of uniformed youths outside fast food restaurants getting their daily fix.   Most children have a daily ‘treat’ of something unnatural and chemical laden while others are on a constant diet of processed convenience foods from the centre, long life shelves of the supermarket when it comes to weekday meals.   “We don’t have time to cook”, is often the mantra from overburdened parents.

I don’t want to get all preachy, especially during a nice summer, but now is the time to make a few changes because there’s so much great fresh produce around at this time of year.  All the berries are out, the plums are ripe, fresh lamb is in abundance, asparagus, baby new potatoes, tomatoes, baby carrots, beetroot, celery and spring onions.  A huge variety of salad leaves abound and pots and hedgerows overflow with herbs, edible flowers and vegetables as they respond to the bright sunshine and warm rain of a proper Irish summer.  It’s also a great time to cook lightly, simply and fast on a grill or barbecue outside or even inside on a pan or in a wok.  Poultry is a meat that cooks quickly – chicken or duck perhaps with a glossy and light fruity sauce.

If we’re planning or thinking ahead we can even spend a little time in these long evenings making jams, chutneys and sauces in plenty of time for the autumn and winter ahead and you can even preserve fresh herbs by freezing them.  Just wash and dry the herbs and place them in freezer bags, you’ll be glad of them come the winter.

With the kids off school maybe now is the time to let them have a hand in preparing, choosing and planning meals.  Do not be tempted to change the diet of the whole household in one fell swoop.  It will be overwhelming and you’ll end up with resentment and failure.  Instead of taking away the junk or processed foods if you feel there is too much of it, try instead introducing one or two new fresh ingredients or recipes.  The changeover is a process, a step by step, day by day journey with food that should be enjoyed.  Eating is one of the great sensual pleasures and we take it so much for granted.  Take the time this summer to really taste your food, including the junk and see, indeed, if you really like it.

I love the lightness of summer evening eating; lamb skewers done on the barbecue, steak sandwiches with lots of salad leaves, red onions and a great tomato salsa or chutney on a fresh bread or even a home made olive flat bread.  How about a little pan fried chicken with some fresh herbs or even a little home made pesto?  Use cheaper cuts such as chicken thighs and coat them in a mix of natural yoghurt, sweet chilli sauce, a little chutney, curry powder, grated fresh ginger and crushed garlic.  The thighs only need to marinate in this mix for about 30 minutes or so (or leave them all day in the fridge) and then bake them in the oven at about 200° C for about 40 to 50 minutes.  You could serve them with rice or a huge bowl of salad.  You could make homemade burgers but instead of beef mince try some lamb mince and make it all a little Greek with a homemade coriander raita; 6 baby tomatoes deseeded and chopped up, 250g of Greek yoghurt, a handful of fresh coriander and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.  Just mix it all together in a bowl and set it aside to pour on your lamb burger.  You could even swap the burger bun for a pitta pocket maybe or use the burger mix to create meatballs rather than burgers.  These are all great family favourites and are so easy to prepare.

Sometimes the reality is that we’re just too lazy to think.  Aha……is your laziness caused by eating a diet of junk or processed foods?  Maybe you just need some new ideas.  Drop by James Whelan Butchers in the Oakville Shopping Centre, Clonmel any time for a bit of great fresh food inspiration.


Posted on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

There’s nothing better in the summer than eating outdoors.  If you’re a fan of barbecuing then any excuse will have you outside wielding those long tongs and smoking up the air.   While we’re all about Barbecuing at James Whelan Butchers at present because of the ‘Tipperary BBQ Idol’ competition that’s ongoing for the month of July, it’s also a really great way to cook.  Ultimately it means less mess in the kitchen and if you prepare in advance dinner can be ready quickly and healthily.

Perfect burger

The Perfect Burger

While inviting friends and family around for the big weekend outdoor cooking extravaganza requires plenty of advance prep, for most of us it’s just about having something easy and different at the end of a long day.  Barbecuing can be kept simple and understated and is a great way to cook on the long summer evenings regardless of whether you plan to eat indoors or outdoors.  If you plan in advance and prepare the food early, the evening meal can be really simple.

Aside from steaks, it’s hard to imagine a barbecue without burgers but I’m trying to encourage everyone to make their own.  Once you try some of the homemade variety, grilled evenly over the hot coals, then you’ll never go back.  With a homemade burger you are getting much more flavour, there’s no strange additives or preservatives and you know exactly what has gone into the mix.  It’s the only way to control the salt and fat content.  Processed burgers deserve the bad press they get but the home made variety can sit proudly in a healthy, balanced diet and made correctly they can be very tasty.

When we think of burgers it’s more than likely that the steak variety will spring to mind.  Burgers, like meatballs, have plenty of variations.  You can use so many different kinds of meat from red meat to poultry and even fish. You can keep them mild and meaty or spice them up with Cajun flavours.   The added extras also add to the overall experience.  While the simplicity of a few rings of onion and a slice of cheese is always delicious, burger recipes these days can include marinades, spices, herbs and plenty of other extras.  And naturally the bun, while traditional, is not obligatory.

James Whelan Butchers homemade burgers

James Whelan Butchers homemade burgers

Burgers transcend age.  Adults and children alike are happy to tuck into a decent burger.  If you have kids in the house home made burgers are fantastic because you can make them bigger or smaller according to the size of your child’s hand, so ultimately they are less messy.  It is also a dish that can be customized and personalized with ease.  I have friends who include things like chopped garlic and peppers while others have been known to grate a little parmesan into the mix.  A recent recipe I found suggested using oyster sauce instead of salt, while some puritans wouldn’t dream of doing anything except using excellent quality mince, finely chopped onion and some seasoning.  Many won’t go past the traditional burger bun while others like experimenting with baps, ciabatta bread, pitta pockets or even soft floury blaas.

There are some rules however, that should be obeyed.  Never compromise on the quality of meat you are using, particularly mince meat, always buy the best you can afford.  Be conscious of the thickness of your burger; if it’s overly thick it will be overcooked on the outside and undercooked on the inside.  Burgers should have a consistency throughout; rare, medium or well done, but not all together.  Whatever your recipe, I find that it’s good to make a batch of burgers and leave them in the fridge for about 30 minutes to an hour before cooking.   Once cooked, burgers should be treated like any other piece of meat and left to rest for about five minutes.

We all like to get a little ‘chefy’ now and then and build towers of food to impress people when serving.  The burger is perfect for this because it stacks rather well.  Rather than dress it, I like to lay out all the condiments, accompaniments and even salad leaves and just serve a simple undressed burger on a bun bed, leaving it to the individual to create the taste and textures they want.  Slices of cheese, crunchy onion rings, softly fried onion rings, crisp lettuce, warm bacon, scrambled eggs, chutneys and sauces – the list is endless and it’s all about imagination.

It’s always prudent to get a good basic burger recipe and then change it up as you see fit.  On the other hand you could always pop into James Whelan Butchers where we do a range of burgers ready to cook.  They have all the hallmarks of homemade burgers and they are made to our traditional and specific recipe.  What you’ll find is that they will cook well on a barbecue, retain their moistness and they won’t crumble or loose their shape.

If you do love to barbecue then don’t forget the Tipperary BBQ Idol running in conjunction with Tipp Fm and Dunnes Stores in the Oakville Shopping Centre.  Check it out on Facebook or visit to find out more.

The Perfect Burger

Posted on Monday, June 30th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in BBQ Recipes, Beef Recipes, Recipes | No Comments »

perfect burgerI think everyone strives to make/cook the perfect burger.Making a small batch of burgers for an occasion gives you licence to be really creative.This original recipe was given to me by a great friend Adam Perry Lang.I have tweaked it over the years but I think these burgers are really special and worth the effort

Process: Simple
Cooking: Beef
Preparation: Quick Cook (up to 30 mins)

Making patties from lean ground beef and hoping for perfectly juicy burgers is like building a ship out of bricks and hoping it floats. You have to start with the right meat. For me, the ultimate is a blend of 70 % lean and 2o%fatty and i like to include 10% pork.That generous touch of fat and and mixture of pork brings just the right amount of richness and lubricates the meat while it’s cooking.I always only season the outside of each burger as i am about to cook it rather than adding salt to the entire mix as i think this approach makes the meat chewy.

And also remember that the secret to an amazing salty, slightly crunchy crust is not high heat but a super-hot surface—an important distinction.


  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 4 to 4 1/4 pounds 70/30 (70% lean, 20 %fat) ground beef, 10% minced pork preferably a combination of chuck, and brisket

Seasoning Salt:

  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon pepper

Basting Butter:

  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, halved, germ removed, and grated on a Microplane grater
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons coarsely ground fresh black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
  • 2 sweet white onions, cut into 1⁄2-inch slices
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, plus additional for the buns
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch thyme tied in an Herb Bundle
  • 8 sesame seed buns
  • 16 small slices mild cheddar cheese, or other sliced or crumbled cheese of choice (optional)

Serves: 6-8

To Cook

Combine the water and Worcestershire sauce and, using your hands, blend into the beef until evenly distributed. Divide the meat into eight equal parts, roll into balls (but do not overwork the meat because it will toughen your burgers), and flatten into discs about 1⁄2 inch thick and 41⁄2 to 5 inches in diameter. Chill for at least 1 hour or up to 1 day. 2. Place a cast- iron griddle on one area of a well- oiled charcoal or gas grill. Preheat all areas to high.  3. Combine the seasoning salt ingredients. Combine all of the basting butter ingredients over medium heat and pour into a baking dish or disposable aluminum pan. Cooking Method 4. Swab the oil on the griddle, top with the onions, close the lid, and cook until golden, about 3 minutes. Flip, close the lid, and cook for another 3 minutes. If you have a grill press(es) or a firebrick( s) (see Sources page 378) wrapped in heavy- duty aluminum foil, it is ideal to keep on hand to maximize the caramelization. Brush the onions with the 2 tablespoons of butter, sprinkle with the pepper flakes, and continue to cook until caramelized and tender. Transfer the onions to a bowl and cover to keep warm while the burgers cook. Do not clean the griddle.  5. It is preferable that the burgers be moved to a clean area of the griddle and grill every time they are flipped. Depending on the griddle and grill size, they will need to be cooked in batches to ensure there is a clean portion of the griddle and grill to flip to. (It is best to read the full step below first before continuing.) Season both sides of the burgers, using about half of the seasoning salt. Place 4 burgers on the exposed grate, keeping the other half clean to flip to. Close the lid, and cook the burgers until the meat easily separates from the grate and is well marked, about 2 minutes. Flip the burgers to the clean section, close the lid, and cook without moving them for 2 minutes more. Season the burgers with the remaining seasoning salt. Transfer the burgers to the griddle, brush with the basting butter using the herb bundle, and continue to cook, flipping once (at this point the second 4 burgers can be started on the grate, see below) until you reach the desired doneness. Cook 2 to 3 minutes for rare, about 4 minutes for medium, and about 5 to 6 for well- done. Once the first 4 burgers are on the griddle, scrape the grates, re- oil, and repeat the grilling process. As the burgers reach the desired doneness on the griddle, transfer them to a sheet pan and cover with foil while the other burgers cook.  6. When all the burgers have been cooked, turn off the heat on all areas of the grill. Brush the buns with butter and top the burgers with the cheese, if using. Close the lid for 1 to 2 minutes to melt the cheese and toast the buns. Serve the burgers on the toasted buns. © 2009 APL Creative Inc from Serious Barbecue

Tipperary BBQ Idol

Posted on Saturday, June 21st, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

I’ve got great news – The Tipperary BBQ Idol has just been launched thanks to Tipp Fm, ourselves here at James Whelan Butchers and Dunnes Stores.  Besides the fun that we are all looking forward to during this month long competition, there is a fantastic prize attached; a top of the range BBQ, AND FREE MEAT FOR A YEAR!  Worth €1000 What an amazing haul for the winner and all for just outdoorsy cooking over the fire.  So if you are the Keeper of the Flame or the Master of Meat in your house you have to enter.Tipperary BBQ Idol

I’ll tell you more about the competition later but during the recent heat wave as the whiff of charred meat hung in the urban air each evening as I drove home I began to ponder our love affair with the grill.  It doesn’t take much to get the BBQ enthusiast to take their place in front of that sizzling altar with all the pomp of a top class conductor ready to wow the thousands gathered for the orchestra’s gala performance.  The long handled tools are wielded expertly, the apron is donned and suddenly the BBQ King or Queen emerges.  Why have we become such big fans?   Besides the influence of Australian TV soaps since the mid ‘80s the introduction of the gas barbecue and the ease at which you can buy those little disposable BBQs seems to have created the tipping point.  Essentially the fact that you don’t have to wait all evening for the coals to heat has been a great advantage.

There seems to be a natural assumption that the BBQ is the domain of the male of the species while women are resigned to washing salad leaves.  This could be a throwback to man’s early days when fire was new and there was a real magic about cooking food. I think that the Tipperary BBQ Idol competition is set to change that perception. This competition is open to all – male and female, you just have to give good BBQ.

Now to the competition: For the next few Fridays there will be BBQ heats staged live and on air courtesy of Tipp Fm, at the Oakville Shopping Centre in Clonmel where the potential winners will battle it out for a place in the grand final on August 1st.  Each heat has a theme.  The first heat falls on Friday July 4th and is appropriately themed – Independence Day.  The second is 11th July – Locally Sourced Produce. Friday 18th July – Traditionally Irish and finally 25th July – Be Creative.  The Grand Final takes place on August 1st.

If you are chosen to participate in the heats it will be run along the lines of Masterchef in that you will be provided with a BBQ, an apron and a choice of ingredients.  As a contestant you are allowed use your own BBQ utensils.  The efforts of the contestants will be judged by local chefs and each week a winner will be chosen to take a place in the grand final. It’s a sizzling, summer competition and should provide great entertainment every Friday in July at the Oakville Shopping Centre.  While you are there you can drop into James Whelan Butchers and pick up some of our huge range of ready prepared BBQ meats and accompaniments to take home.  Indeed we have largely taken the work out of BBQ so even if you’re not an expert or enthusiast you can still produce great results.

Family BBQ

The trick with fantastic barbeques is to have good quality ingredients to start with.  The second thing is to care about temperature – even gas barbecues need time to heat up.  Barbecuing is not meant to be an overly fast process, it is intended for leisure rather than speed.  When executed properly this is what gives it that great, unique taste.  It is also quite a healthy option as most of the fat drips off and into the flames during cooking.  If you think about it barbeques are the original health grills as little is added to create the flavour.

When barbequing food it is important not to burn the outside and leave the inside undercooked.  If you are a BBQ novice use a meat thermometer; they are readily available and are inexpensive.  While meat that is not cooked properly can be a health risk, overcooked meat will be tough, dried out and unpleasant to eat.  Below is a little guide that you can cut out and keep for the rest of the summer.


  • Whole poultry: 74°C (Insert thermometer near the joints)
  • Poultry breasts: 74°C
  • Ground poultry: 74°C
  • Hamburgers, beef: 71°C
  • Beef, veal, and lamb (steaks, roasts and chops):
  • All cuts of pork: 71°C
  • Medium rare 63°C
  • Medium 71°C

If you do have access to the internet I would also suggest that you check out for more tips on barbecuing safely.

So how do you enter the Tipperary BBQ Idol?  You can find out more at www.Jameswhelanbutchers,com, read all about it on the Tipp Fm Facebook page or drop into our store in the Oakville Shopping Centre and find out more.  Do it soon as the competition gets underway on July 4th.  Meanwhile please put the dates in your diary and come along to the heats as a spectator. It will definitely be good fun and no doubt there will be some great grub and good BBQ ideas for all to share.  See you at the Oakville Shopping Centre this July when we will crown the Tipperary BBQ King or Queen.  Let the battle commence.


Tipperary BBQ Idol

Posted on Wednesday, June 18th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

James Whelan Butchers and Dunnes stores of Oakville Shopping Centre have come together with Tipp FM this summer to bring you the ‘TIPP BBQ IDOL’ competition.

Are you the envy of your friends with your BBQ skills? Are you the ‘Rachel Allen’  or the ‘Nevin Maguire’  of the BBQ?

Do you have what it takes to be crowned the Tipperary King or Queen of the BBQ?

If you think you have a genuine flair & passion for the BBQ and if you are ready for the Challenge of a lifetime then this is the perfect Competition for you. Tipperary BBQ Idol


Each Finalist wins a BBQ and the overall winner also gets Free Meat for 1 year to the value of €1000.00

What is involved in this competition?

  • 4 BBQ Cook off heats over 4 consecutive weeks starting on July 4th
  • A different theme each week
  • 1 qualifier from each week to go through to through to the  Grand Finale
  • Grand BBQ cook off Finale on Friday 1st  August


4th July:                 Independence Day – American Theme

11th July:               Locally Sourced Produce Theme

18th July:               Traditionally Irish

25th July:               Be Creative Theme (You on a Plate)


How to Enter:

If you would like to enter this competition please send us a picture of your best BBQ Dish or a picture of the BBQ dish of the person you are entering and let us know which ‘theme’ you prefer from the above list.

The 16 contestants to take part in the BBQ Idol Competition will be chosen from all the entrants  by our Judging Panel.Family BBQ


Details of the BBQ Qualifier:

On the Day of the Theme that you have chosen, each contestant will be give 20 minutes to source their ingredients from James Whelan Butchers and Dunnes Stores.

The contestant will be given 20 minutes to prepare their  ingredients and outline to the judges the Dish they are going to create.

Each contestant will be interviewed live on air by Tipp Fm at each of the above stages.

There will be 45 Minutes then to BBQ your chosen dish which will then be tasted by our judges.

A winner will be selected from each day of the Qualifiers and will go forward to take part in The BBQ Finale on the 1st August.

Grand Finale:

1st August            Create a BBQ Platter

All 4 winners  from the previous 4 weeks will ‘Cook Off’ on the BBQ to be crowned the King or Queen Of the BBQ!

No-one goes away empty handed – all 4 finalists take home their BBQ and the overall winner also receives €1000.00 of meat.


Terms & Conditions:

Entrants must be 18+. Competitors must also supply their own utensils but will be provided with aprons which they will wear when redeeming their ingredients.

The heats will consist of four people with the overall winner from each going through to the Grand Final.

Free meat for the year is to the value of €1000

For further Information contact

Derek Davis Tipp FM -

Hot Brazillian

Posted on Thursday, June 12th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

You don’t need me to tell you how to cope with Irish summers.  I shouldn’t have to remind you that just because it says June on the calendar you still shouldn’t leave the house without being prepared for any and all weather eventualities – sun screen and bug spray will reside harmoniously with wet weather gear in the boot of any Irish car.

And so we are in another Irish Summer with a World Cup on the horizon.  It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since our summer was filled with the incessant background buzzing of the vuvuzela in South Africa.  This year the World Cup is in Brazil and who knows what Latin American delights we’re in for.  When it comes to food it is already seeping through in the trend for hot barbecue.  Chilli prawns, spicy marinades, mango and summery cocktails are all on this sunny menu.  It often causes a wrinkle in my brain that countries where the temperatures are naturally scorching also enjoy hot and spicy food.  To the Irish palate it’s almost counter intuitive.  However what these countries do so much better when it comes to heat, is getting the balance right.  Along with the hot spices they will add mild flavours, honey and lime, a grilled cheese, a chilled cocktail. Beer Basted BBQ

I have no doubt that over the coming weeks we will become familiar with ‘churrasco’ – it’s the Brazillian term for barbecue.  Originating in the south of the country, churrasco uses a variety of meats, pork, sausage and chicken often cooked on a native purpose built grill called a churrasqueira.  It’s similar to a barbecue grill but it often has supports for spits or skewers.  The main difference would be that many just have the supports for skewers and don’t bother with the grill at all, leaving the skewers to roast above the burning embers.  Alternatively the meat might be cooked on huge metal or wooden skewers stuck into the ground and roasted over the embers of charcoal or wood.  For anyone visiting Brazil they will become very familiar with the ‘churrascaria’ which is a restaurant that serves grilled meat.

So why not create your own churrascaria in the back garden.  The trick is all in the sauces and marinades you use with the meat and don’t be afraid to mix it up.  It is perfectly acceptable to have meat, poultry and fish all on the same menu.  If your barbecue doesn’t support a rotisserie just improvise with skewers and keep turning them on the grill.

The great thing about skewers is that they can be prepared in advance and while this may seem fiddly it’s all over before the party starts.  (Also you can probably buy pre prepared skewers in most good butchers these days.)  Along with the skewers the sides can also be prepared in advance to so it means that you can just fire up the barbecue and cook at your leisure.

bbq beefJust a quick note about chilli.  In some hot barbecue recipes you will notice quite a few chillies.  I found a recipe for roasted chilli prawns the other day that called for 4 red chillies!  However reading through the recipe I noticed that you dry fried the chillies first, effectively roasting them and then they were mixed with vinegar.  This takes some of the heat out and instead of reducing your ‘churrasco’ guests to eye watering wrecks you get a much more mellow and smoky flavour.  However the amount of heat you want is really a personal thing and don’t forget you can get a mild piri piri (chilli) sauce these days too and don’t be afraid to use it.  I would particularly say that if you are introducing hot food for the first time in a family setting, go easy and do it by degrees. Taste buds, and particularly the taste buds of the young, are a delicate thing. They should be teased and gently caressed at all times rather than assaulted.

Flavour matching is also something to be considered.  Beef can take the stronger flavours such as cumin and onion while poultry often fairs better with the slightly milder citrusy flavours.  Lemon and garlic (with a hint of chilli) work particularly well with chicken for example.

As a side I can’t recommend corn on the cob enough.  Barbecued corn is a great treat.  Corn on the cob can be messy when eaten inside, but for alfresco dining there is great abandon with it.  Butter dripping onto the grass isn’t a problem.  The main thing is to remember to cook the corn on the cob early and just leave them sit in the cooking water until you are ready to barbecue them.  I like to brush them with a little garlicky mayonnaise before putting them on the grill and then when I feel they are suitably done on the barbecue, just scatter over some grated parmesan and coriander.  This is great colourful addition to any barbecue plate but also works really well as summer evening snack.

For more ‘churrasco’ or even general barbecue ideas drop by our website at or call into the store in Oakville for a complete barbecue range where you can take all the credit and we’ve done all the work.  Don’t worry, your secret is safe with us.

The Power of Food

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

In Cork City last week I found a little treasure near City Hall.  It’s called L’atitude 51 and is situated in what used to be The Lobby Bar.  Indeed throughout the 1990s and I remember upstairs at the Lobby for the hundreds of great music gigs held there.

Outside hasn’t changed much from those heady days of single life visiting Cork but the inside has been transformed by the clever use of a pale colour palette with plum accents.  Stylish but not in the least pretentious, it is a Wine Café as opposed to a pub or a wine bar or a café or a restaurant – but with all the best elements of those types of establishments.  While the philosophy hangs on the wine offering it had everything I love about traditional European restaurants while still retaining the charm of an Irish pub. You could easily spend all day in L’atitude 51 as they open for morning coffee right through to light evening meals seven days a week.  They have a huge selection of wines with over 25 varieties available by the glass.  Along with wines you can try craft beers and interesting ciders along with gourmet coffee.  So if you are visitingCorkit is only a short walk from the main shopping area and it’s the perfect place for a little breather.  Even if you are just after a coffee in the middle of the day L’atitude 51 is worth the extra few steps.  It is the antithesis of your typical chain coffee shop.  It’s got character that would be hard to replicate and roll out across the country.  Sitting there, as I was, on a quiet afternoon accompanied by just the paper, you got that wonderful feeling of discovering a little oasis that you will return to again and again. latitude-51-logo

However as I glanced at the flyers for the evening events on offer one in particular caught my eye.  Along with wine tastings and wine workshops they also, throughout the winter, have a film night specialising in films about food and or drink.  What a great idea, it’s a food and or tasting event followed by a movie.   It got me thinking about the movies I’ve seen where food is one of the main themes.  The mainstream films come to mind immediately, Julie and Julia – a film based on two real people in different times.  Julia Child the famous cook who taught America the art of French cooking and Julie Powell the food blogger who attempted to cook and document 365 Julia Child recipes in a year.  The film combines both the book that stemmed from those efforts and Julia Child’s memoir, My Life inFrance.  The result is a movie that might just make you want to cook beef bourguignon for dinner.  Sideways with Paul Giamatti is another favourite.  For anyone interested in wine this might be the movie, although it may be difficult for you to watch a 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc being downed from a disposable cup rather than the finest crystal.  I’m convinced that Ratatouille is not just an animation for kids.  It’s probably food preparation at its most charming.  Linguini, the kitchen boy and Ratatouille the little country mouse who together cook amazing food.  It’s a Pixar classic and one for all the family.  If you’re looking for something a little more art house then Like Water for Chocolate might tick some boxes.  This is all about food at a sensual level and the power of food on the emotions.  I’m sure you’ll find it on Netflix, but make sure you’ve eaten before watching it.

There are many more films and documentaries that hang their core around the food arts and let’s not even mention the novels and books that have food and eating as a central theme.  There’s no doubt about it, food and drink are so much part of every facet of our culture that it never ceases to amaze me how many people are willing to eat just for fuel.

Even if you are having a quick snack, it should be important.  I’d go far as to say if we all ate with such consciousness there would be less obesity.  We eat tons and tons of processed food each year almost unknown to ourselves. Yet the taste that is compromised in these chemically laden, manufactured substances is off the scale.    There is also the great myth about processed food being cheaper and so you get more for your money.  In quantity, perhaps, but in satiety, nutrition and taste the numbers don’t add up.  Less is more where real food is concerned and your body and taste buds will thank you for it in the long run.  The magic lies in paying a little more and eating a little less to treble the satisfaction levels.  This rule could be easily applied to how the French eat.  On the face of it the French diet could be derided for having too much white flour and fat but they win on the quantities.  The French eat smaller portions, don’t tend to go back for seconds and have no real snack culture.  When we try eating a ‘French’ diet we pile on the pounds because our portions are far too big.  French sticks, croissants, cheese, red wine, rich sauces, wonderful pastries; the list goes on.  The French don’t get fat on French food but the rest of the world does.

Whenever you eat, choose the best and choose less of the best rather than more of the mediocre or poor and cheap.  It should be a rule for life, insist on only putting something truly worthy into your mouth and your priceless body.  Cook something simple but delicious with real food.  For great ideas check out the mini how to videos and the great recipes at or drop by the store in the Oakville shopping centre for a little food inspiration. I welcome your feedback to





Fun Food not Junk Food

Posted on Monday, May 26th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles, Good Food | No Comments »

I’ve just finished reading about a new study coming out of America that has just shown how lethargy, and its close cousin obesity, can come from consistently eating processed foods and not just processed foods in huge amounts.

Now we probably didn’t need another study to prove that junk food will make us lethargic and fat, but the research went on to show that the long term affects of eating junk food could lead to cognitive impairments. This information might make us think twice when we are packing those little school lunchboxes.

All of this leads back to the same thing time and time again. Real food is better for us. It is also about where you are in the world and how your body will always respond well to food local to your region. It’s great that we can access a myriad of exotic ingredients in the local corner shop these days, but our main diet should be made up of food grown and sourced as close to home as possible. It’s not what we do occasionally that causes the problems, it’s what we do everyday.

In my family we apply one simple rule, if you’re going to put it into your mouth ask yourself is it really food? Just because you bought it in a food shop and it was made to be ingested doesn’t make something food. As one person put it, many of today’s new products are just ‘industrial novelties’. Many of the new products have been cooked up in a laboratory, processed and doused with chemical additives to make them taste like foods we recognise. Hence the words ‘strawberry flavour’, ‘bacon flavour’, ‘cheese flavour’ and so on. If you see a real food name and the word ‘flavour’ close behind it, you can be pretty sure it is a chemical concoction. James Whelan Butchers homemade burgers

I’m an advocate for the pleasures of food. While we need it for fuel and nourishment, I think we should enjoy every morsel. I’m also keen not to spoil the fun for my kids. I don’t want them eating junk food but I also want them to be normal and not have to say things like, “I’m not allowed eat fast food/junk food.”. Unless we are talking medical allergy, a child shouldn’t have to say they are ‘not allowed’, they should be able to say ‘I prefer’ or ‘I don’t like’ or ‘I choose not to’. .

A friend of mine has an 8 year old and a 5 year old. Both are as familiar with the golden arches as any other modern children. During the Easter holidays they did an experiment. Effectively she made really good homemade burgers, with all the trimmings. Instead of processed cheese slices she used some really good local cheese and grated it on the top. There were also several additions in chopped fried onions, local lettuce and a little tomato ketchup. All of this was served on a burger bun from the supermarket so it wasn’t 100% natural but it was a close as possible. Real potatoes were peeled and chopped into chunky chips. While that was all cooking Dad was dispatched to the local international fast food outlet where he picked up some ordinary burgers, a cheese burger and some fries. It was a well executed and slightly involved event in that household but one that proved to be very well worth it.

First of all the homemade burgers just looked so much better (God bless Facebook). Even in their shop bought buns they stood several inches higher on the plate than the rather sad and limp patties in their flat and deflated burger bun jackets beside them. The comparison between the chips and the fries was amazing – the colour alone would make you plump for the homemade chip every time.

There was no contest. The homemade burger and chips won hands down; much better on taste, on looks and particularly on texture as voted for by the kids. There was a final part to this experiment and that was leaving the food overnight to see how it faired. This was the area where real food parts company with processed. The next morning the real chips, while cold, were certainly edible. The real meat burger still retained its flavour and could have been reheated and eaten. The bought food was a sorry sight indeed. The French Fries were practically inedible and the burger from the previous evening wasn’t even good enough to give to the dog let alone reheat. In the cold light of day, literally, it was quite obvious what you would ‘choose’ to eat. Interestingly since then these two children haven’t asked to visit their local fast food outlet, however they have both lamented over the missing toy element with the home cooked version. And suddenly there it was, laid bare for all to see, there wouldn’t be a need for the gimmicks and toys if the food was simply outstanding!

Make homemade burgers, create real hot dogs with local sausages, stop buying strawberry ‘flavour’ anything and buy real strawberries instead. Let’s teach our children how to eat well but their health and their enjoyment. If you are looking for child friendly recipes drop into James Whelan Butchers today or check us out online at

Irish Beef Masterclass in Brussels

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

On Monday of this week I had the privilege of presenting a masterclass in Irish beef at the Irish Ambassador’s Residence in Brussels. The audience for the masterclass were members of the “Irish Chefs Beef Club” in Europe which was established some time ago by Bord Bia.

“The Club which includes some of Europe’s top chefs has grown from strength to strength. Today, the Club boast a membership of over 35 chefs through its contact events in Belgium, Britain, France and the Netherlands.  With plans underway to launch the Italian Chapter by the end of the year, the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club will have an extensive presence in the most important European markets. The Chefs’ Irish Beef Club is an exclusive international forum which brings together some of Europe’s leading Michelin Star chefs who collectively endorse the high quality of Irish beef. The Club sees award-winning chefs market the advantages of Irish beef by serving it in the finest of restaurants. The result is an increased presence of Irish beef in the restaurant sector, which ultimately builds product reputation and its positioning in international markets.”  -  Extract taken from Bord Bia website

*Images courtesy of Bord Bia

We have so much to be proud of with all our Irish produce and it is a wonderful privilege for me to work with and showcase Irish beef internationally. There is a great sense of pride in both our culture and heritage and beef is an intrinsic part of this.

Eat Yourself Well

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles, Good Food | No Comments »

With the chocolate eggs of Easter already a memory, the longer evenings and brighter mornings are just bursting with potential.  I feel summer is only around the corner and with it comes an urge to think carefully about what I’m eating.  Maybe it’s the fact that we can go outdoors again without three layers of fleece lined clothing that makes me feel healthier and more conscious of what I’m doing to and for my own body.  Eating well and feeling well are as we know, intrinsically linked.  This is by no means a new revelation; as Hippocrates famously said, “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.”

There is no doubt that there is a historical case for eating yourself well.  Perhaps our problem is that we only think about being well or getting well once we are sick or have some sort of complaint.  In this instance we will look for the causes and sometimes it takes a small illness to turn us on to thinking about vitamins, minerals and nutrients.  Some will immediately invest in the local health food store and stock up on herbal remedies or supplements.  These are all good things to do, but surely it makes more sense to nourish our bodies through the seasons using wild plants and herbs to supplement our everyday cooking where possible.  In doing this we are increasing the taste of our food while healing and helping our health.

In our industrialised and technologically advanced world we have largely forgotten the treasures available freely in nature.  Each season produces different plants to help us with exactly what we need.  After a long winter the body needs a good boost and that is why nettles are at their peak throughout spring.

Wild stinging nettle is a wonderfully nutritional plant. It is rich in chlorophyll, calcium, silicon, chromium, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. It contains vitamins A, C, D, and E, along with the minerals sodium, copper, and iron. It’s very high in protein and traditionally it has been used as a spring tonic. Past generations always capitalised on what nature had to offer but our ‘know it all’, prepackaged, convenience driven mentality has long since forgotten such benefits. Hopefully this generation will re-discover what our ancestors have known all along.

We are currently in nettle season and I can’t encourage you enough to go out and grab some immediately.  Just make sure you’re wearing gloves and don’t worry, drying and cooking kills the sting.  Possibly the reason we have such poor associations with nettles is the nasty encounters we all remember from childhood.  There was the joy of running through a field on a spring or summer’s day only to have your bare ankles cruelly attacked by a stinging nettle.  I seem to remember it burning for hours afterwards.   These days I actively go out looking for nettles to harvest instead of trying to avoid them.  A pair of gardening gloves and something to put them in that can be sealed for the trip home, should lead to a happy nettle finding excursion.

While we mainly associate nettles with liquid foods such as nettle tea or nettle soup, effectively it is a green and can be used just like any other green; spinach, cabbage or kale.  Nettles can be substituted for any of the above in recipes you may already have for lasagne, quiche, stew or even pesto.


Nettles are excellent for the blood system; detoxifying and removing unwanted impurities.  They help with lowering blood sugar, improving digestion, relieving pain and lowering high blood pressure. They also enhance the operation of the circulatory, immune, endocrine, nervous, and urinary systems thereby reducing fatigue and exhaustion.  It is even claimed they can eliminate chronic headaches.  For expectant mothers it is a very helpful source of iron and calcium and together with red raspberry and alfalfa nettle is a good prenatal herb.  And, saving the best until last, if all the body systems such as the kidney and the bladder are in good working order this will also help with weight loss.  So anyone trying to get beach ready could help themselves by exploring nettles as food and a delicious food at that.  Nettles are best harvested at this time of year before flowering and can be easily dried for use later in the year.  The stems, leaves, flowers and roots of the nettle plant all have powerful medicinal properties so take the whole lot.

Nettle tea couldn’t be easier and doesn’t require any milk or sugar.  Use about 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh nettles to each cup of boiling water.  (For God’s sake remember to continue wearing your gloves when handling and chopping the fresh nettles.)  Leave it to infuse for five to 10 minutes before straining and enjoy.

Nettle Soup

Here’s a simple and delicious recipe for Nettle Soup.

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 handfuls nettle heads
  • 1 pint of vegetable stock
  • Olive oil, salt and pepper
  • 150ml single cream

Peel and chop the onion, garlic and potatoes and fry them for 3-4 minutes in a large saucepan in a little olive oil. Trim away the stems from the nettle tops, wash well and add them to the pan. Pour over the vegetable stock. Boil fairly rapidly for 15 minutes until the potatoes are cooked. Add cream, liquidize and return to the pan to keep hot. Season and serve.

Friends have used variations of the above with great success.  Some have added carrot, the calorie conscious have swapped various things for the cream, some one even used chicken stock and said it was a triumph.  So feel free to experiment and remember, “The sting of the nettle is but nothing compared to the pains it heals.”  Eat and enjoy the week.

Let’s Party

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

There’s nothing like a little sunshine and a raise in the average temperature to get us all thinking about having a party.  This time of year is also confirmation and communion time so celebrations abound.  2013 is also the year of the ‘Gathering’ and even if you haven’t invited your long lost cousin home from Kathmandu to contribute to the Irish economy, it’s probably a good excuse to have a little local gathering of your own.

The trouble with parties, particularly at home, is that they start off as humble affairs with the simple aim of just having some people over, enjoying their company and celebrating whatever the occasion is. The difficulty is that more often than not a simple party gets overly complicated and by the time your guests arrive you are so exhausted and frazzled from the preparations you can’t wait for the whole thing to be over and to get these ‘bloody awful people’ out of your house so you can rest and relax.  Let’s face it as the party loomed it all got out of hand and suddenly you ‘needed’ to buy new garden furniture and bedding plants to spruce up the garden.  The lawns all had to be cut and that caused a few rows and heated exchanges.  The original plan for inexpensive homemade burgers and a few chicken legs on the barbecue with some crusty bread suddenly escalated into costly steaks and an array of fancy, jewel coloured salads that would rival the Avoca salad bar any day.  To accommodate the salads you had to borrow a trestle table from the neighbours and still had the expense of covering it with a new tablecloth. Then of course you had no choice but to invite the God damn neighbours to the bash.  There was the stress of worrying about the weather; if it rained would you have enough room inside? And finally there was the military precision planning for the food preparation.  Throw a few religious ceremonies in the mix with the whole family having to be suited and booted and at the church before the party and you have nothing short of a Molotov cocktail that can push the best of families over the edge. 

Whether it is a big celebration or a small informal gathering the key is to really keep it simple and not to allow the inner domestic god or goddess to seduce you down the path of madness and expense.  Few can afford to throw money away these days and we all need to constantly keep sight of why we are doing these things in the first place.  It is a celebration, a time of coming together, opening your home to your nearest and dearest, breaking bread and creating great memories.  It is always a communion of sorts regardless of the reason for the gathering.

Having a party at home is the only answer these days.  It has many advantages outside of the budgetary concerns.  Because you are in your own home the children and the guests’ children are free to run around as much as they want and more freedom than they do in a hotel or restaurant.  We’ve all witnessed bored youngsters hanging around hotel foyers trying to amuse themselves.  Usually the adults will sit huddled in a nearby group and every now and again as the noise escalates and the running reaches fever pitch someone says, “Hey lads, calm down”.  The miniature marauding gang will usually stop for all of thirty seconds before the cycle starts again.  It’s unfair to ask children to be quiet just because the environment doesn’t lend itself to their games, particularly if is a child’s day you are celebrating.

So how do you keep it simple but at the same time make it simply stunning within budget?   It’s an easy answer, bring in the experts!  Outside catering is the solution.  When you add up the time and cost of shopping and preparation it is also the most economical way of doing things.   The first thing with any form of party planning is to draw up a list of guests.   This will often dictate the catering needs.   If there are elderly family members for example there may be special dietary requirements or a buffet may not suit at all.  If the numbers allow perhaps a sit down meal would be a better arrangement.  If you do decide on a buffet style, the options are many; finger food, full plate hot or cold buffet; there are a myriad of choices.  So all you’ve done so far is sit and think and now all you have to do is start shopping around.

Because home entertaining has become so popular, here at James Whelan Butchers we have put a huge effort into our outside catering menu.  It features hot, cold and finger food options all delivered to your door without any of the hassle (and you can still take the credit. We don’t cook and tell).  Some people rely on us entirely to do the work while others will just augment with just one or two things from us.  The full range is available to look at online at  Of course we’re not the only ones doing take away/delivery party food and there are plenty of options all worth exploring.  One of the other benefits to having the celebrations at home is the leftovers!  You are not returning tired and hungry to a cold house in the early evening having to make do with a sandwich.  This way the party can go on all day and, if planned correctly, there’ll be little cooking to do the following day.

While you still may have to cut the grass and clean the windows, taking the hassle out of the food and being confident that it will taste amazing will remove much of the stress.  The other great thing about taking a look at our range of party food is that you can literally have an informal party on the spur of the moment.  With the food taken care of all you have to do is enjoy the occasion and that really is what parties are all about.

This post was written by me, Pat Whelan, owner of James Whelan Butchers and a passionate advocate of local artisan food. My family have been producing quality Irish Angus beef for generations using a traditional dry aging process. This tradition is one that I continue to practice at our abattoir on our family farm in Garrentemple, Clonmel. These posts aim to impart some of the wisdom to readers and help them get the best out of the meat they eat! Our meat is available online here! I welcome your feedback to


Posted on Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

The stretch in the evenings, the early morning sunshine, a carpet of colour in the fields; spring has sprinkled its magic everywhere.  The minute the clocks go forward it heralds the promise of all things outdoors.  Suddenly those lonely looking tables outside urban coffee shops are spilling over with people and life and not just those battling the elements in order to get a nicotine hit.

Just like the way the evenings seem to have shrugged off the darkness, we get to shed a little as well.  The concern for the coat, the gloves and the scarves are gone.  Lighter clothes and shoes are called for, bare arms and legs start to make little appearances; there are always a few with the shorts and t-shirts to hand in order to test the temperature for the rest of us.

Lamb Kebabs

Even if it’s not quite time to clean off the grills, these brighter evenings call for a slightly lighter touch in the kitchen.  While the weather is always better when Easter falls later, it can also inform the Easter Sunday lunch menu.  My own personal view is to keep it simple.  In my opinion keeping it simple is one of the greatest life lessons.  Just keep it simple and apply that to everything in life, including the kitchen.  For example a good quality, flavoursome piece of meat and the freshest vegetables you can find are often all you need to have them cheering in the aisles.  The difficulty is that somewhere along the line simplicity was traded for the smoke and mirrors antics of the celebrity chef.    The idea that some things can never be reproduced in a domestic kitchen to any great degree of competency is nonsense.

I love lamb at this time of year.  I know it’s traditional, but it just conjures spring in the taste buds.  However traditional needn’t mean boring or samey.  For example this Easter why not try a rack of lamb rather than a leg of lamb?  This is something that is often seen as only perfected by the professional.  The key to this is buying the best lamb you can get your hands on and then following the traditional rules of cooking it.  With a little preparation, the meat itself and the oven do all the work!  The same theory applies to the accompaniments.  Two excellently chosen sides will trump quantity or variety any day.

So why are people so afraid of rack of lamb?  I suppose it is considered quite a luxurious dish, probably stemming from the fact that it is the most tender part of the lamb and therefore considered quite exclusive. It also has quite a regal look about it and that’s why sometimes you see those little paper hats covering the ribs.  Preparing the rack involves cleaning the fat of those ‘sticky out’ bones, (this technique is called ‘frenching’) however, if you go to a good butcher they will do that for you.  I would suggest three to four cutlets per person.

Leg of Roast Lamb with Mustard and Herb DressingTake your time when preparing the lamb.  I like to coat it in a little oil mixture that I make using olive oil, chopped fresh rosemary, two garlic cloves (chopped) and a pinch of mustard powder.  I lightly coat the rack with this mixture and then I heat some oil in an oven proof pan and sear the meat.  Do not put the meat into the pan until it is good and hot and then be very careful not to let it burn.  It will only take approximately 2 minutes on each side to sear.  Do not leave it go past 3 minutes or you could be in trouble.   Once it is seared, wipe any excess fat from the meat, cover the bone tips with a little tinfoil to stop them going black during cooking and put the meat, bone side down onto an oven proof dish ready for the preheated oven.  You could, if you wanted to, roll the whole piece in breadcrumbs at this point, but that is optional.

Painted Easter eggs

Usually you are trying to achieve a nice brown colour on the outside with a little pink still in the centre of each cutlet.  Have the oven preheated and then the general rule of thumb is 20 minutes for rare and 25 minutes for medium rare; the latter being my preference.   Once again I make the comment about owning a meat thermometer.  It is a foolproof way of checking if the meat is cooked through and no kitchen should be without one.  It should be left to rest for 10 to 20 minutes before carving and for a real sense of theatre, carve at the table!  I prefer to cut and plate up out of sight, but don’t let me stop the showman in you.

At James Whelan Butchers we take particular pride in our naturally reared, wholesome Tipperary lamb with its deep red colour and remarkably sweet, grass fed taste.  There are several spring lamb recipes and serving ideas on our website so do check that out also and don’t let anyone tell you that a perfect rack of lamb is only achievable in a restaurant.  Try it out this weekend and see if home cooking a rack of lamb is not only delicious but tremendous value too.  The only thing for afters at Easter is a chocolate egg, which couldn’t be simpler.  Enjoy the indulgence. Happy Easter.