James Whelan Butchers Beef Dripping wins 3 star Great Taste Award!

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

James Whelan Butchers Beef Dripping wins 3 star Great Taste Award! Selected as a 2014 Top 50 Food

Beef Dripping, produced in Clonmel, Tipperary by Pat Whelan, a fifth generation butcher, has just been announced as one of the Top 50 best foods in the UK and Ireland. Of 10,000 entries to the Great Taste Awards, just 153 were awarded a Great Taste 3 Star, and James Whelan Butchers Beef Dripping has now been further selected as a 2014 Top 50 Food and shortlisted for a Great Taste Golden Fork Award.Great Taste Top 50 2014

Great Taste Awards 2014 3 Stars - Selected as a 2014 Top 50 FoodPraised by the Great Taste judges as “an absolute showstopper” with “tremendous, deep beefy flavours” which “blew us all way”, the Beef Dripping is made from the suet of grass fed Angus and Hereford beef. Rendered down and clarifed into a pure fat, James Whelan Butchers Beef Dripping is simply packaged in white wax paper and stays fresh for up to six months, when stored in a cool dark place.

Seeing the upsurge of interest in heritage foods and traditional ingredients, Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers was inspired to create his own Beef Dripping. With the very best of beef available to him, he soon perfected a product that he was proud to share with is customers.James Whelan Butchers Award Winning Beef Dripping

“It’s the taste of my childhood” said Pat Whelan. “Our Beef Dripping is nutrient rich, high in omega-3 acids, clean, pure and carries great flavour, whether for frying a steak, roasting potatoes, or simply slathered onto good bread.”

The Great Taste Awards, organised by the Guild of Fine Food, is the benchmark for speciality food and drink. Judged by over 400 of the most demanding palates belonging to food critics, chefs, cooks, members of the Women’s Institute, producers and a host of food writers and journalists, Great Taste is widely acknowledged as the most respected food accreditation.

The Beef Dripping, priced €3.99, is available now online at www.JamesWhelanButchers.com or from James Whelan Butchers at Clonmel, Tipperary, Avoca Food Market, Monkstown or Avoca, Rathcoole.

The Golden Fork Award winners will be announced in London on September 8th. See #Top50Foods @GuildofFineFood

James Whelan Butchers: Tongue and Roast Beetroot Salad with a Balsamic Dressing

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Beef Recipes, Recipes | No Comments »

tongue and roast beetroot saladLots of people these days seem to be nostalgic for the ox tongue of their childhood, but few attempt to cook it. A whole ox tongue does look rather terrifying, admittedly, but we think it’s worth the effort. Brining the tongue before you cook it gives the meat great flavour, but does turn it into almost a week-long project. You have been warned. Tongue and Roast Beetroot Salad with a Balsamic Dress – Printer Friendly Download


  • 1 ox tongue

For the brine:

  • 100 g sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • 3/4 teaspoon curing salt (this is for colour rather than flavour and can be omitted)

To cook the tongue:

  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • handful of parsley stalks
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • flaky sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 250 g panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 litre vegetable oil
  • for the salad:
  • 8 medium beetroots roasted (see page 115)
  • 300 g mixed leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • aged balsamic vinegar

To Cook:

In a large saucepan, combine the salt, peppercorns, cloves, and bay leaves in a litre of water. Bring to the boil and stir until the salt has dissolved. Remove from the heat and add 2 litres of cold water. Leave to cool. Place the tongue in a large bowl and cover with the brine. Place in the fridge, covered, for five days, turning once. Remove the tongue from the brine, rinse well, put in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and discard the water. Cover with fresh water and bring to the boil again, and add the carrot, onion, celery and parsley stalks, peppercorns and a large pinch of flaky sea salt. Simmer gently until tender but not falling apart, about 4 to 5 hours. Remove the tongue from the cooking liquid but retain the liquid. When the tongue is cool enough to handle, strip it of its skin and any unsavoury-looking bits. Return the tongue to the cooking liquid to cool. When it has reached room temperature, place it in a bowl in the fridge, with a weight on top of it to press it down, for 24 hours. Prepare the roasted beetroots. Whisk the eggs and place in a shallow bowl. Prepare separate bowls for the flour and breadcrumbs. Slice the tongue into slices about 1/2 cm thick. Heat the vegetable oil to 190 C in a deep fat fryer. Dip the slices of tongue first into the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown and hot through. Drain on kitchen paper. Dress the leaves and roasted beetroots with olive oil and a little flaky sea salt and divide between six plates. Place the slices of fried tongue on each plate and top with a drizzle of aged balsamic vinegar.

James Whelan Butchers: Barbacoa Beef Cheeks

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Beef Recipes, Recipes | No Comments »

Barbacoa Beef CheeksBeef cheeks are one of our favourite cuts. The meat is intense, full of robust flavour and has a richness that is not at all cloying. Don’t be put off by what might seem like a bizarre combination of ingredients; this recipe is a cinch, and it takes very little time to prepare. The recipe serves four, but our recommendation is that you make a larger batch and invite over your friends to watch a match, have a few drinks and shoot the breeze. An Irish artisan cider such as Stonewell would go nicely. Barbacoa Beef Cheeks – Printer Friendly Download


  • 1 kg beef cheeks, trimmed
  • 1 ancho chilli
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or Irish rapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons Highbank apple syrup or maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 250 ml chicken stock
  • 4 limes

to serve:

  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced (or guacamole)
  • 4 wraps or tortillas
  • roasted tomato salsa
  • fresh coriander
  • sour cream
  • grated cheese — a strongly flavoured Cheddar-type such as Hegarty’s from Whitechurch, Co. Cork

To Cook:

Remove the stem and seeds from the ancho chilli, chop it roughly and put it in a little warm water for a few minutes to rehydrate. Blend the chilli (and its water), garlic, peanut butter, espresso powder, 2 tablespoons of the oil, syrup, cumin, paprika, coriander and salt into a paste. Marinate the beef cheeks in the paste for a few hours, preferably overnight, in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 140Åã C/fan 120Åã C/gas mark 11/2. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a flameproof casserole dish and brown the cheeks on both sides. Don’t move the cheeks around too much when you’re browning them — the less they move, the more colour and flavour they’ll pick up. Pour the rest of the marinade into the pan with the stock, then squeeze in the juice of 3 limes.

Put the lid on and place in the oven for about 31/2 hours, turning the cheeks once or twice while they cook. If the liquid dries up, add a little more stock. By now the cheeks should be very tender. Pull them apart with two forks and mix with the juices in the pan. Add a squeeze of lime to taste, and a touch more syrup if you like. Serve the barbacoa in a wrap or corn tortilla with guacamole or slices of avocado, roasted tomato salsa, sour cream, a sprinkling of fresh coriander and grated cheese.

James Whelan Butchers: Pomegranate-Marinated Hanger Steak with a Warm Farro Salad

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Beef Recipes, Recipes | No Comments »

Pomegranate Marinated Hanger Steak with a Warm Farro SaladAsk your butcher to prepare the hanger steak for grilling; it will probably be in a few pieces once the sinew has been removed. This recipe will work equally well with sirloin or skirt steak, but check the cooking guide and adjust the timing accordingly. Farro is a nutty-tasting whole grain from Italy; you could use brown basmati rice or a barley couscous instead. Pomegranate-Marinated Hanger Steak with a Warm Farro Salad – Printer Friendly Download


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or Irish rapeseed oil
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 500 g hanger steak
  • 200 g farro
  • 1 large bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only
  • 100 g walnuts, toasted
  • sea salt

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
  • 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or Irish
  • rapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • pinch of ground coriander
  • pinch of ground allspice
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of sea salt

Serves 4

To Cook

Mix the rapeseed oil, pomegranate molasses and sherry vinegar in a bowl. Put the steak in a flat dish and cover with the marinade. Leave for an hour or two, turning a couple of times. Meanwhile, simmer the farro in a litre of water for about 35 minutes or until tender. Make the dressing: blend or mix the ingredients together and check the seasoning. When the farro has been simmering for about 15 minutes, heat a griddle pan until smoking, season the steak with sea salt and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until nicely charred. This will bring the steak to medium- rare/medium — cook it any longer and it will be tough. Cover with foil and leave to rest. When the farro is tender, drain it and dress it while still warm. Add the pomegranate seeds, parsley and walnuts. Slice the steak in strips against the grain. Divide the farro salad between four plates and serve with the slices of steak on top.

James Whelan Butchers: Blackberry Time

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles, Good Food | No Comments »

The kids and I did some blackberry picking at the weekend.  It’s hard to believe that it’s that time of year again.  And where there are blackberries there are new school bags, packed to gills with new books and virgin stationery waiting to fulfil their very purpose.  In nature the schoolbag would be seen as one great big bag of potential seed.  If the student uses the contents wisely and on purpose the results can be explosive or perhaps the contents will be wasted, rushed through, thrown aside at every opportunity – the potential within never fully realised.   There’s something about blackberry time that, for me anyway, always heralds positive new beginnings.  It’s like the start of a new year all over again, which it is in a way.  It’s a chance to lay down new rules and have another fresh start.

There’s a different feel to the start of the new school year than there is to the start of the real New Year in January.  On the first of January we are all about resolutions, rousing ourselves from the winter lethargy and shaking off the excess of Christmas.  The beginning of the new school year however feels a little more supportive of change.  Like the start of the year when we are surrounded by new stuff from Christmas, the start of the school year is also about new stuff – but the ‘new stuff’ is much more utilitarian.  New lunchboxes, new schoolbags, new pencil cases and new uniforms speak silent motivating messages of work, routine, productiveness and learning.

Apple and blackberry crumble

With all of us on the cusp of this change it might be a good time to take stock of our eating patterns which also need to fall in line with our new routines.  The kids’ systems need to adjust also.  During the summer they have free access to the fridge all day.  At any time during play they can stop and announce “I’m hungry” and food of some sort will be provided.  School isn’t as relaxed and those little bodies will need enough fuel in them to take them from breakfast, through to lunch and on through the day.

While the kids face the routine of school we must also be a little more disciplined in our food preparation.  Once again we are working with both the clock and the body clock, both equally demanding.   My first bit of advice is to keep it simple and the second is to plan.

As students work out their timetables for school work and all the various extracurricular activity that seems to be the norm these days, it’s no harm for us to take a leaf out of their homework diaries and work out our own schedules.  How about stocking the larder first and then the freezer with quick meal basics?  What about sorting out a month’s worth of recipes and seeing where batch cooking, bulk buying and the clever use of leftovers for consecutive day cooking might just save you time and real money, not to mention stress.

While we are all well aware of the ills of long life foods, you should have a good supply of tinned tomatoes, beans, pasta, cous cous, quinoa, stock cubes, spices and the like to hand at all times.  With a well stocked home larder and a few fresh items a delicious meal can be whipped up in minutes.

I also think that the internet is your friend.  The inspiration and food education at your fingertips is immeasurable.  Check out the James Whelan Butchers website for some great recipes, ‘how to’ videos and you can even order your meat there and have it delivered to your door.  After a certain point in the order the delivery is free.  By all means pop in store too where you will see our range of ready prepped meals that are family winners in quality and value every time.

Beef & Vegetable CasseroleA good kitchen clear out before the kids go back to school is another good idea.  The work in the kitchen changes come school time.  Lunches have to be prepared once more and so the supplies for that should be handy and plentiful.  Setting up a proper lunch making station (a cupboard or even a shelf in a cupboard – just to mind the lunch stuff is really handy and stress relieving.)

I mentioned it briefly earlier but getting ahead is really the best way to save time and more importantly, money.  You don’t even have to cook full meals, just prep the main ingredients and pop them in the freezer.  You can also make all the freezer friendly winter favourites like stews, pies and homemade burgers for example.  And it just seems so much easier making them at your leisure during time off rather than at the end of a busy day.

Finally where we prepare our food and eat is just as important as what we eat.  Study after study has proven the cliché that families who eat together just do better!  The why is unimportant, but in these crazy, madcap days of the technology centric 21st Century, human contact is more important than ever.  At least a few times a week, if not once a day, sitting together to break bread and create some great food memories can be very nourishing.  Talking through the day, sharing the good moments and the bad, is important for our mental health as much as food is for our physical well being.  Sitting in a lovely space to eat with family together with natural and healthy home cooked food and it’s a great foundation for a very happy new school year.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

James Whelan Butchers:Value over Cost

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

It can be quite the battle these days to get people to focus on value rather than price.  The two are not interchangeable.  It is also a folly to compare sectors.  Wearing a low quality t-shirt cannot be compared to eating low quality or poor food.  

Before we get to the value over cost debate it’s important to ask ourselves why we eat in the first place.  While I’m aware that the industry has spent a fortune in linking food with lifestyle and creating a veritable past time out of all things ‘foodie’, eating is not a ‘hobby’ and eating good food is not a luxury, nor should it be considered the preserve of the rich.

In a modern, first world country, like the one we are blessed to live in, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves some questions.  Have we lost all sense of respect for our health and well being when we only use price as a guide to what we eat?  Are we just blindly ignoring the blatantly obvious correlation between what we eat today and our health tomorrow and the associated costs of sickness and disease?  Do we leave our thinking brains at the door of the supermarket and get sucked into the idea that food with a long shelf life is acceptable when the truth is the shorter the shelf life the fresher the food.  Why do we blindly count calories without ever considering the energy value of the calorie; not all calories were created equal.

In any business there are three main pillars.  You will often hear it discussed as “Price, quality, service; pick two”.  The theory is that you can only build a business on two of the three. Look at any retail business and you can easily pick out the top two core values they operate from.  Personally, I don’t run my business from this expert point of view.  Instead I essentially approach it by asking why we eat in the first place.  I believe we eat first and foremost to nourish our bodies with energy giving and life supporting foods in order to live long, healthy and productive lives.  Secondly, I consider taste and variety.  Thirdly we constantly keep that difference between value and price at the forefront of our minds. Irish Times Best Butcher

I appreciate choosing value and quality over price may seem difficult given the financial demands of modern day living.  Families are acutely aware of this in the present back to school season.  Our little bundles of joy seem like bottomless walking money pits at this time of year as we contend with the costs of school books, school bags, school uniforms, stationery, voluntary contributions to the school and shiny new lunchboxes.  I can quite understand how there is a tight budget left for the contents of those same shiny new lunchboxes!  However for many of us, myself included, we have allowed our children to be taken over by hype and advertising.   We are happy to shell out over the top for the special lunchbox with One Direction, Peppa Pig or the Marvel Comic characters adorning the front, while we baulk at paying a little extra for the better quality content of the sandwiches the little boxes will eventually hold.  So One Direction, the Peppa Pig creators and Spiderman’s inventor get rich while your child’s diet becomes poor.

In an average supermarket the shopper is constantly faced with these choices and I know it can be a minefield.  Usually supermarkets stock three ranges, the value range, the mid price range and the luxury range.  Some people believe that the only difference is the packaging, but I can tell you it’s not as simple as that.  Looking at meat offerings in particular for example I can see how the large bulky value pack of mince meat is often chosen over the Irish steak mince in the obviously smaller pack with the greater price tag.  I can honestly tell you that you would be better off buying the smaller pack and bulking it out with vegetables and grains.  This is a mindset we need to acquire.  It is always better to buy the smaller local free range chicken than the large water injected, battery reared chicken.  Eating less of greater quality is always to be preferred when it comes to food.  Why? Because food is fuel.

Would you knowingly put cheap, substandard petrol in your car?  Of course you wouldn’t.  More to the point, would you put fake petrol in your car?  Not a chance!  While the fake petrol may get you from A to B in the short term, the long term damage it would do to the car’s engine would prevent you choosing it every time.  Yet we constantly buy ‘fake’ food; items that are over processed and stripped of all goodness or food created from chemicals in a laboratory that never existed outside a test tube.

At James Whelan Butchers all our food is real food.  The meat we sell is nutritious, natural and supportive of health and well being.  We know our suppliers, we know where they are and I can honestly say that some of my customers travel from a further distance to my shop than the meat and produce that we sell.  I am aware of the provenance of every item of food inside the door of my shop; I’ve always known it.

At James Whelan Butchers we are constantly aware of the financial pressures families are under and so we strive creatively to make best quality into best value.  Come and see our range of ready to cook foods.  If I’m honest I don’t want people shopping at James Whelan Butchers because we have the cheapest meat in town.  I want people to come because they know they will get quality, excellent service and the best value for money around.  Surely your family is worth it.  I welcome your feedback to info@jwb.ie

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers



James Whelan Butchers: What’s the difference?

Posted on Friday, July 25th, 2014 by Pat Whelan in Foodie Articles | No Comments »

Generally I’m not that fussy about how people use words.  Language is for the living and it evolves as we do.  Read any Chaucer poem and you’ll see how far we’ve come.  I’m not for jumping up and down at the omission or misplacement of an apostrophe, but there is a problem when we start to use words interchangeably when they are not.

Food has many terms that have become commonplace in our lexicon, often taken from the French and nestled neatly into English.  A simple example would be ‘vol-au-vent’.  It needs no explanation as to what it is but it literally means “flies like the wind” a reference to just how light the pastry on a vol au vent should be. prosciutto and melon canape

If you are ever offered an Aperitif it should be a drink before dinner.  The word comes from the French term for an alcoholic drink that stimulates the appetite.  The route of the word is the Latin verb, ‘aperire’ which means ‘to open’ – essentially an aperitif should ‘open up the appetite’.  Aperitifs were considered quite medicinal and were alcohol flavoured with strong herbs and spices.  That distinctive taste of vermouth is no accident.  The nice thing about indulging in an aperitif is that it is traditionally considered medicine or a health drink, you’re not actually drinking!  So the idea was that you sharpened your appetite and gave the system a little bit of a boost too.

Now you may find yourself enjoying an Aperitif with a canapé.  The canapé became popular in France (yes the French again) in the mid 1700s.  Traditionally a canapé is a little carbohydrate base; toast, pastry or a cracker loaded with a variety of different foods.  The canapé was also meant to pique the appetite.  They are generally salty or spicy and encourage those eating them to drink some more.  The canapé should be small enough to eat in one bite and you should be able to hold a drink and eat a little pastry tower without too much trouble (that’s if it really is a canapé).  The word itself has little to do with food and more to do with furniture – the original root describing a lounging couch or sofa.  It is assumed that someone suggested that the little pieces of toast or pastry topped with savoury food looked like a sofa covered in cushions so the word took on the additional meaning.

Meanwhile hors d’oeuvres are closely related to the canapé.  Hors d’oeuvres are a more substantial canapé.  In the 1900s any good restaurant worth its salt anywhere in Europe kept a hors d’oeuvres trolley.  Pies, salads, terrines and tarts of many varieties would have adorned the trolley.  The idea was that rather than looking at the menu and choosing by the description of the dish, you could actually see the dishes and choose with your eyes, not unlike the dessert trolley in some establishments today.  The word is an architectural word meaning, wait for it, out house or out building.  Effectively it was a building separate to or not incorporated in the main design.  In food therefore it became something outside the main meal.  Hors d’oeuvres became popular in Paris and it was a great way for chefs to put their work on display.

Now tapas is something we are all familiar with.  Tapas are simply a little bite of food that goes with a drink.  Spain has developed a whole cuisine around it from simple olives to slices of chorizo or lovely steaming calamari rings.  Tapas has also become common outside of Spain too.  Like most popular trends Tapas began with the masses and was borne out of simple lifestyle.  In the traditional Spanish working day which began at first light due to the heat, the main meal was at 1pm and then workers would take a siesta, returning to work in the cooler late afternoon.  Then from the middle of the evening until bedtime they would socialise, drink and eat lightly – mainly finger food.  The word comes from the Spanish word for ‘lid’.  In the evening when the Spanish drank wine the tavern would serve little slices of bread that you could rest on top of the glass to keep the flies out of your wine; very clever.

prosciutto canape

The digestif; this is another alcoholic beverage that is specifically served after a meal and, as the name suggests, it aids digestion.  Liqueurs and fortified wines such as port and sherry are frequently served as digestifs and the tradition is very popular on mainland Europe particularly.

And finally, one that gets us all, the difference between dessert and pudding.  Now personally I would rarely use the word ‘pudding’ to describe the sweet course after the main, finding it to be very British and not something I would have grown up with. ‘Sweet’, ‘afters’ and ‘dessert’ are all much more familiar.  I would use the word pudding if indeed it was one; Christmas pudding, sticky toffee pudding, bread and butter pudding or rice pudding.  And therein lies the difference, pudding is generally heavier, cooked and a little stodgy while dessert is usually lighter, uncooked such as fruit or maybe jelly, sorbet or mousse.

It really doesn’t matter if you get them all mixed up, it’s not the end of the world.  However it is unfair to tell someone you are serving hors d’oeuvres when in fact you only have canapes.  What you risk is hungry guests and that’s never a good thing.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers


James Whelan Butchers: 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.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

James Whelan Butchers: Burgers

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 www.jameswhelanbutchers.com to find out more.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

James Whelan Butchers: 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.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

James Whelan Butchers: 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 www.safefood.eu 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.

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers

James Whelan Butchers: 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 - derek@tippfm.com

We hope you enjoyed reading this post by Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers. Pat is a 5th generation butcher, cook book author and the director of  James Whelan Butchers with shops in Clonmel, the Avoca Food Market Monkstown and Avoca Rathcoole. Sign up to our newsletter for more updates from James Whelan Butchers