Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Loaded Breakfast Muffin

The best way to start tackling a bastard of a hangover is quite obviously with breakfast, regardless of the time of day you get around to consuming it. I'm fond of a good breakfast sandwich. And by good I obviously mean full of absolute shite.
The filled breakfast muffin is a popular item in the U.S and has been brought to a certain level of worldwide acclaim/notoriety/indifference by the mega stars of the fast food industry... If you like your eggs delivered in a shape and texture similar to that of an empty tin of shoe polish stick to the big lads. I, on the other hand, like to take the best parts of their breakfast and combine it with the best parts of ours.

Obviously while a lot of the sandwiches I make are influenced by my own hangover or with the average hangover sufferer in mind and thus it's generally accepted that they'd be consumed while alone in a darkened room it's perfectly acceptable to eat them in the company of friends and family.
Not this mess though.
Please assure that you are utterly alone should you ever plan to eat one of these.
My quest to find a bread that will contain the contents of this boxset of arterial damnation adequately so that it doesn't shatter under the weight of its own depravity without sacrificing on overall taste continues... I will always prioritise the quality (I mean taste) of food over the ability to consume it with dignity in the company of others. This lad is gonna disintegrate in your hands and you'll have to accept that you're gonna be sucking melted cheese mixed with rasher juice and egg yolk off each and every one of your glistening knuckles.

I've done a fairly significant amount of research into the subtleties and nuances of the perfect breakfast sandwich, so much so that I probably don't need to worry too much about saving into a pension account, and what I quickly realised is that this is an arena with many possibilities and no outright winner. Feel free, obviously says you, to change or add anything should you attempt this sandwich, this is merely one of my favourites. One word of warning though, I'll explain more later and it'll sound quite unusual coming from me: "Don't triple the cheese".

The ingredients of this particular equation are:
  • A Breakfast Muffin
  • 2 Slices of Processed Cheese
  • 2 Sausages (plain ones, nothing fancy)
  • 1 Rasher
  • 3 Hash Browns (small)
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Thin Slices of White Pudding
Two notable absentees from the list are Black Pudding and any sauce. While I like black pudding in a fry up or in the odd breakfast roll, I find it has too strong and overpowering a flavour for the majority of breakfast sandwiches. There's no sauce because cheese is my sauce, baby.      

I'll presume that it is within your capabilities to fry up these few bits. (The hash browns are in doing a bit of time in the oven)

Pull the muffin apart with your hands instead of cutting it, it makes for a much nicer toast.

Now I'm not saying you have to but if you felt the need after you'd toasted your muffin to sit both sides face down in the hot frying pan so they soaked up the grease and flavours from the rasher, sausages and pudding that have recently been cooked there, I for one certainly wouldn't judge you.

Now that everything is cooked we face the difficult part... The Assembly...

I'm not currently in possession of a degree in engineering but I doubt it would make much difference to the structural integrity of this sandwich if I was. This is not staying together for long. You really need to build quick and eat even quicker... The cheese I used here being a double edged sword... For the first 30 to 60 seconds, while the cheese is in the first phase of it's melt, it'll act like a glue. Any longer than this (as it approaches its near perfect liquid phase) and it'll only serve to lubricate the constituents of the sandwich and they'll slide apart. I mentioned earlier about not tripling the cheese; This sandwich looks to me anyway, like it could handle more cheese. It can't. I've made these with 3 slices and that much just distracts from all the pig meat you should be savouring equally. That and the fact that the particular budget priced fast melting brand I use state on the packaging that each slice is only 48% cheese. Not that I worry too much about that side of things but... 48%?!

 Right, on with the building. After I'd toasted and grease soaked my muffin I went with a sturdy base of hash browns, a slice of 48%, the sausage and then a rasher...

On top of that went a fried egg (this is actually one of my better looking fried eggs), another slice of glue and finally the white pudding before I closed it up...

I don't know if this strikes you as a thing of beauty but for me it doesn't get any better. The melted cheese clinging onto the egg white giving it a purpose in life, the egg yolk mixing with the white pudding, the delicious but massively underrated combination of sausage and hash brown doing their own little cheesey dance all the while the rasher is in the middle just being an absolute rasher... And then after one bite it all falls apart to shite... It matters not a jot though, just get stuck in with your two hands, and hopefully, if you've taken my advice, nobody is watching.
Now I ate this yesterday and, admittedly, though I don't feel great now I'll put that down to the fact that apart from 4 pints, a few cans and an off license impulse purchase of something vaguely apple flavoured called a "Nutron"* this was the sole nutrition to enter my body in the last 24 hours.

*I have it on good authority that the 'Nutr' in "Nutron" has fuck all to do with Nutrition.

Anyway, chance it, the sandwich, not the test tube yoke, just maybe eat an actual apple or something later on...

- Boozey Swine

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hot Dogs Both Ways (Sober and Drunk)

I and, I think I'd be right in assuming, a lot of other Irish people have a complicated relationship with hot dogs. They don't offend me, I like them, but I eat them quite rarely in comparison to the other fast food staples. Put this down to their lack of availability, comparatively speaking to other countries where they're on every corner and in every shop, or the fact that most chippers make an absolute hames of them by thinking lettuce and red sauce are appropriate combination of toppings and by burning the absolute bollox out of the dog in the deep fat fryer, if you'll excuse the imagery.
Personally I want something more substantial and a burger is always going to fill that void over a hot dog anyday.... But I do like the occasional hot dog... and I think they can be something better so this is where that journey begins.
Unknown hours (likely in the region of 2) of research were spent running videos past my eyes and reading recipes and tutorials about 'The Perfect Hot Dog' before I landed at this, my main event of Hot Dogs (we'll get to my other, drunken, variety later on), a combination of a few of the best ways of eating hot dogs out there which I rolled into one super dog and proceeded to double in size and package in a common as muck roll.
I guarantee if you eat one of these you'll never go back to a simple dog again.

At first glance some of the techniques in this operation may seem a little excessive, but trust me, they all serve a purpose, so stick with me...

Round 1: Sober.
Let's address exactly what this beast is right from the start: 2 hot dogs stuffed with processed cheese, wrapped in bacon, fried in a load of onions and green peppers, laid down on a bed of the aforementioned bacon infused vegetables along with some mayonnaise, topped off with the traditional red sauce and mustard all encased in a freshly baked baguette.

The ingredients are very straight forward; your sauces, onion and pepper, streaky rashers, hot dogs of your choosing, a standard aul par baked baguette (the stuff of bread purists horrors) and shit cheese... I say 'shit' cheese, firstly because that's a fact but more so because I've recently come to realise for functions such as this, where quick and consistent melting is paramount, the cheaper and lesser known the brand name the better. The brand name I'm using escapes me but I'm picking up slices regularly from a German dealer in town for a unit cost of 7.5cent when bought in 10's. You'll also need some cocktail sticks to hold the rashers in place.

Carefully slicing a hot dog length-ways and shoving bits of, what can doubtfully be legally considered, cheese into it is not the most satisfying or glamorous thing you're ever going to do in a kitchen but persevere with it.

Wrap a rasher around it and stick a cocktail stick through both ends to hold it in place.
(A sentence I never envisioned typing) 

Set those lads off with a bit of oil in a hot pan. Now is also a good time to tell you that you should have put that baguette in the oven before even touching the hot dogs.

Chop up about half an onion and half a pepper per double hot dog roll.

Fire them into the pan along with the hot dogs. Don't be concerned about cheese leakage (another sentence I never thought I'd type), it'll either burn and crisp into the rashers or get lost in the mix of peppers, onions and rasher grease that's all going to end up in your roll anyway.

One of these baguettes takes about 10 minutes in the oven to hit optimal breadness, leaving it to chill out for at least 5 minutes afterwards ensures you won't get severely burned and more importantly the roll won't disintegrate in your hand when you go to cut into it. I suggest cracking a bottle of Finkbrau from the aforementioned German dealer (from which I received no commercial incentive to mention) while you wait. Slice it open and get very generous with the mayonnaise.

When the rashers look cooked and nice 'n' crispy you're ready to roll, if you'll pardon the pun. Get them out of the pan and remove all the cocktail sticks, you'll have a bad day otherwise. 

When the peppers and onions are tender and a little brown you know you're good to go.

Load them into the roll.

Hold that gloriously bacon and cheese infused veg in place with the 2 hot dogs laid end to end on top.

Top with the traditional combo of American mustard and red sauce. Serve with a freezing cold beer and thank me for the next 5 to 7 minutes of Heaven that you're about to experience....

Round 2: Drunk.
And then, unsurprisingly, after my evenings business was attended to and a few pints were consumed down my local, I arrived home with the urge for a bit of grub pestering me...

Now I have it ingrained in myself not to operate any more kitchen equipment than is absolutely necessary while mildly, or otherwise, intoxicated. If you can get away with just operating an oven and leaving the hot frying pan out of your life then I thoroughly recommend it for the well being of yourself and the fellow occupants of your home.

It's highly unlikely, at the stage of the night, that you'll be arsed with all that stuffing cheese into the hot dog carry on. The drunken gut wants strong flavours, hot spices, cheese and none of your fancy stuff. Quickly and with as little hassle as is drunkenly or humanly possible bake a roll and then put a few slices of cheese into it arranged like above...

You can be sure I still wanted fried onions though so I compromised and chopped some up onto a plate and poured a little olive oil and black pepper over them then threw them into the oven along with the cheesed up roll for a few minutes to heat and melt all that stuff nicely.

Then as I put the onions on top of the cheese I remembered I had Tabasco Sauce. Ace.

After I destroyed the onions with Tabasco I lashed on a load of mayo and threw in 2 hot dogs that I microwaved to perfection, and topped it all off with the obligatory mustard and red sauce. This was an utter success, I'd be only delighted to eat it sober. The only problem I had was I still wasn't full and I was out of baguettes.... And there was only one measly slice of bread left...

The Bonus Round: Desperation.

I think you see where this is going. One slice of bread, toasted, cut in half, topped with a folded over slice of cheese on each side, onions, pepper and olive oil and into the oven....

Then topped it off in the now familiar manner....

And if my memory serves me correctly, there wasn't a damn thing on Earth wrong with this effort either... 

Hot dogs are great, we just need to, as a nation, put a little bit more effort and imagination into what we do with them, it's not that hard at all to make them feel a little more special... They're back on the menu in my world...

Boozey Swine

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Rasher Sandwich - An Exercise in Hangover Obliteration.

This post was originally written for, and published on, 'The Thread' in June 2014. It is an update/extra strength version of  My Favourite Rasher Sandwich...

Streaky Bacon
White Cheddar Cheese, sliced.
Red Cheddar Cheese, grated.
Cream Cheese.
1 bread roll with plenty of backbone.

I'm fond of a rasher sandwich. Quite fond indeed.
A couple of years ago I stumbled upon, in my less than humble opinion,  the perfect combination of ingredients to make the best rasher sandwich you will ever eat. It's very simple; White cheddar (not melted), rocket and a bit of mayo on a soft, white, lightly toasted roll.
I'm not changing my stance on that one inch but today I've taken a slightly different angle on that sandwich and stepped it up a notch. A fairly unhealthy notch. 
I, from time to time, suffer from a brand of hangover that can only be described as 'hollow', both in the physical and psychological sense and I need something all encapsulating to fill that void. Grease and cheese tends to work. 
Rasher sandwiches form an all too significant part of my diet. They're by no means reserved for the aftermaths of heavy sessions, but on occasions such as this they need to be persuaded to go the extra mile by adding just a little more propellant. Propellant in this instance being more cheese, more types of cheese and much more of the staple known as bacon...

The first step on this journey is to get those rashers into the grill. As this calls for a lot of them I've gone with the streaky ones. 7 of them. With a less weapons grade sandwich I'd tend to go with a lesser amount of regular rashers but that's not what I'm dealing with here.

Picking the right roll is important. I went with a crustier roll than I normally would just because I knew anything less would disintegrate with the amount of shite that'll be going into this. 

I normally wouldn't put any sauce on one of these sandwiches, I usually use mayonnaise but its purpose is purely for lubrication and not for any added flavour. I've left the mayo in the fridge altogether this time and left the lubricating side of things to something that kinda looks like coleslaw. But it ain't coleslaw. I decided to mix half a tub of cream cheese with a shit load of grated cheddar. I don't know if this is a thing people do but I can certainly live with my decision.

When the rashers were nearing the top of their game I threw the roll in to give it a bit of a warm....

...then took a lot of pleasure in lashing on that creamy cheese mess.

Then the real fun begins...

A good solid underlay of rashers followed by a carpet of sliced white cheddar cheese.

 And repeat. I can attest that cold, i.e not melted, white cheddar on top of rashers is just about the nicest flavour sensation there is.

A load of rocket goes on the top half of the cheesed up roll and the work is over...

 Just serve it up with a well iced fizzy drink of choice, I recommend a nice rock shandy for this trip...

The point of a hangover cure is to provide complete distraction from all of its symptoms. If you've made this right you're entire being should be consumed by the cheese and rasher overload. If you can count backwards from 10 you haven't put enough of something on there. This should hopefully get you to the place you want be before you get that all important nights sleep (the cheese will work wonders in that department too) that with any luck will have you back to your old self the following morning/afternoon.

Boozey Swine.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Late Night Fast Food: A Plea For Reason and Sanity

The system is broken and we don't even realise there's a problem.
Green to me means go, proceed, etc... This is confusing.

Let me bring something to your attention.
Two occasions in the last month have made me realise that we can do better as a society.
The first time was one night when I was walking home at approximately 1.20am, not hungry or looking for a snack, just listening to a few tunes when a car pulled in beside me and in a panicked fashion the driver asked me was there anywhere they would get food. This being a Tuesday or Wednesday night I told them they'd have to make do with whatever they could get from the 24 hour garage. She pleaded "But is there no takeaways open?!?!", my heart sank a little as I had to crush that last little ounce of hope she was clinging to.

Only one week later I was in a strangely similar predicament, this time I was starving, but I already knew the answer. At least my brain knew, my stomach wanted to believe another story. Leaving work just after 1am, a Wednesday night, I knew there was nowhere open, that 4 packets of crisps and a loaf of whatever bread was left in the 24 hour would be my only solace.

Crisp sandwiches are exceptionally difficult to construct on the walk home.

But what the gut wants, the gut wants: Fried Chicken. I emerged onto the Main St. to some kind of shit version of Las Vegas. The place lit up like a bonfire of cheap neon.
I knew the chippers were closed. The chippers knew the chippers were closed. Were they dressed accordingly? Not a chance. If I see lights, I think open for business. Chippers would claim they leave lights on for advertising. It's a sick and twisted act of temptation; shining a light on what you cannot have, illuminating the empty chasm of your stomach.

Chippers you're doing yourselves absolutely no favours. Here's a simple rule of thumb;

If it's late enough that you're closed, anybody who is out in public wants fast food. 

Your brightly lit beacons of disappointment are pissing people off. Nobody sees them and thinks "oh, maybe I'll get food from there tomorrow"...
Their only thought is "Chicken skin. Now".

Now I'm not one to go ranting about this seemingly trivial problem without presenting a solution. And my proposed solution is twofold.

1. The Traffic Light System.
Chippers want to advertise at all hours of the day and night as is their right and are highly unlikely to change that policy after hearing the ravings of a guy with a nickname like mine. What I propose is a lighting system, just like traffic lights. Green for open. Red for closed. Maybe even an orange light to signal that they're on their last orders and you better get there sharpish. Their name is still illuminated, just in one very clear colour.

Just so we're absolutely clear: THIS IS  ALL WRONG.

That solves that problem. If there's a simpler or more rational way to fix this issue I'm all ears.

This has no relevence to this story other than it being a tray of sauces that looks like a traffic light.

2. Rotating Mandatory Takeaway Opening.
Just like pharmacies rotate which ones open late at night or on a Sunday, chippers should be made do the same as a form of service to the people of their respective town. At a quick count, just using Newbridge as an example, I can think of at least 8 takeaways on the Main St. that if they took it on a one week rotating basis they'd each only have to open late (until 7am the next morning, when hot deli counters start opening) about 6 weeks a year. Hike up the prices 10, 20, even 25% to cover staff and security costs, we wouldn't care. The business generated would be minimal, I know, but think of the smile that'd be put on the face of the person coming off the late shift in work who can't face another Pot Noodle sandwich or the happy drunk stumbling home from a few late cans in a mates house who wants the last mile of his journey home to be spent trying to solve the puzzle of how to dip a large battered burger into a tub of curry sauce. It'd bring happiness to the hearts of everyone involved. Again in conjunction with the 'Traffic Light System' identifying which chipper is on the late night opening would be simple. 

Lets not stop the Traffic Light System there though, put it into play within bars and niteclubs for people who, unlike me, aren't so acutely aware of last order times.

I'm only trying to make this country a better place for all of us. If you agree with what I've said please forward this not only to your local Chippers & Takeaways, but now in this time of elections, send it to your local politicians imploring them to put this system into law where it rightly belongs.


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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chocolate, Banana and Raspberry Milkshake

I had a few "Monday Pints? Be Grand" last night. Now while I was far from suffering from a hangover, my tastes were a little off kilter this morning. So after the chicken curry, chicken balls and chips that I had for breakfast I was in the humour for making a milkshake at home. One of the by products of the few pints, while I'm still not conceding it being a symptom of a hangover, was having absolutely zero interest in reading instructions on how to make a milkshake or measuring out the quantities involved...

So I gathered up what I had....

...and fired 'some' of each into the blender...

I've made a terrible mistake.

I immediately knew I had put in too much milk so I compensated by upping the ice cream, chocolate and raspberry content. It eventually ended in me adding 3/4 of the entire tub of ice cream to bring it to any sort of a milkshake consistency. 

Glass 1...

It was quite nice, considering I had to drink the best part of a litre of the stuff. 

Next time it'll be less milk and I'll be making it later in the evening so I can justify firing a few lashes of Bailey's into it. That'd be the business.

As a quick aside I've been making a few smoothies lately...
Milk, plain yoghurt, a banana and frozen blueberries. It's a quality drink.

A drop of Bacardi will give it a lift if consuming after 6pm. 

Now I've tried this lad with a spoon of peanut butter thrown into the mix and while not bad I feel it best to treat peanut butter as you would a fine whiskey, ingested only neat, unsullied by the creations of God or men.


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