Pat Whelan is the fifth generation of his family to be involved in farming and meat production and has established a reputation as the foremost butcher in Ireland, recognised as an Irish Food Hero by Rick Stein. He shares the benefit of his inherited expertise in his upcoming book, The Irish Beef Book. But what makes Irish beef so special? Pat explains in his blog post.
In January 2013, chefs from around the world competed at the prestigious Bocuse d’Or international culinary competition, regarded as the Olympics of the food world. Irish beef was selected from amongst all the beef submitted for consideration as the principal meat with which the chefs were to work. It was chosen on the basis of its world class quality, taste and tenderness. Only the very finest ingredients are selected for this rigorous competition, and it was a great honour for Irish beef farmers to have the quality of their product vindicated in such an important forum.
In Ireland, we have the best climate in the world for growing beef. The combination of abundant rainfall, relatively warm summers and mild winters makes for ideal grass growing. So we can console ourselves, as we wake up to yet another ‘soft’ day, that at least our growing season is longer and our grass lusher than any other country in Europe.
In some parts of the world, beef cattle are reared mainly indoors, fed on concentrates and given steroids and growth hormones to enhance their yield. In other places, if the climate is inhospitable to good quality grass, cattle are reared on dirt. In these countries, grass-fed beef is a premium product that sells at a premium price. Yet here in Ireland, grass-fed beef is the norm – just look around you the next time you are driving through the Irish countryside and you will see what I mean. The milk and beef that’s sold in Ireland today comes from these animals, in much the same way that it has for thousands of years.
The definitive guide to Irish beef, The Irish Beef Book by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness, is to be published on October 18th by Gill Books.
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