Today’s Wednesday word doesn’t sound all that appealing, but as cookery legend Theodora Fitzgibbon explains in one of her many classic cookery titles published by Gill Books (now sadly out of print), Irish butchery is quite unique...
"People who say that there is no such thing as Irish cooking completely forget that butchering in Ireland is different from that in any other country: because of this, many cuts of meat exist here which are not found elsewhere and require different methods of cooking. The butchering is perhaps nearer to the French method than the English, hence the ’gigot’ chops which, although they have a French name, come from the shoulder and not the leg.
Other Irish cuts of meat are the lean ’housekeeper’s’ cut of beef from the end of the rib, which is ideal for a pot roast and cheaper than rump: the way of cutting a leg of lamb with a large piece of the flank which wraps round the top (good for basting a lean cut, but annoying if it’s too thick and you’re paying leg price for it), and of course the pork fillet known as pork steak.
The idea of removing this fillet whole, and not incorporating it in a joint, is purely Irish, not to be found elsewhere in Europe although it is found in the United States – no doubt brought there by Irish immigrants. As late as 1830 pigs were to be found nosing around the garbage bins along New York’s now chic Park Avenue, and this must have inspired many an immigrant to think longingly of a succulent pork steak. Even with the price of meat rocketing up, it is still a fairly economical cut to buy, for there is no bone and practically no fat."
Pigs on Park Avenue! Who knew?