As a kid, I sneered obnoxiously at other people’s Christmas dinners. “We,” I lorded in the boastful voice of a nine-year-old boy, “have turkey, ham, and roast beef.”
Surprisingly, my face went relatively unpunched. Even though my folks would have been far from flathulaich, the rules of reason went out the door for the Christmas dinner. They still do. It’s a convention of all the vegetables, a selection of different types of potatoes, a mountain of Yorkshires, a stuffing load of stuffing, plus the meats with multiple sauces and gravies, followed by all the desserts and enough sweets to bring you to the point of either sleep or sickness. Or a sleepy sickness.
On their insane annual hoarding, my parents recently stumbled across Farmhouse Foods, an unassuming wholesale butcher in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath. Here, they discovered a top rib roast, weighing in at 2.75lb, for the gasp-inducing price of €6. They also saw what they describe as “a full pig of pork” for €20, and lots of other slightly mad prices for meat.
They bought the rib roast for “a Christmas road test”, and invited me to give my over-valued opinion. This meat was beautiful: tasty and tender and juicy, as good as the exported Irish beef that shocks Irish people abroad. I couldn’t believe it had cost so little.
So, it may well be worth a trip to Dunshaughlin to get your Christmas meats this year. I can’t attest to the quality of their other products but if the beef is any indicator, they’re likely to be winners.
Readers, can you recommend any good value butchers?