The bad news is, those who slept through it were the lucky ones. It was a really, really bad match. We were playing the USA, in case you didn't know. The USA wouldn't be known as a rugby powerhouse, also in case you didn't know. We were expected to hockey them comfortably; shite form during the summer series notwithstanding. That didn't happen. We won 22-10, which sounds like a great result on paper, but which is really quite alarming from a team who were ranked third in the world less than a year ago, against a team whose highest world ranking ever was 14th. On the day, the US looked like the hungrier team and Ireland just couldn't seem to make any cohesive play. It says a lot about the match that, out of three tries, two were scored by a guy who couldn't touch the ball without knocking it on for the first half an hour and the other by a hooker who "retired" years ago. And, in the dying minutes of the game, after 10 minutes of play where it looked like we actually might have snatched the bonus point out of nowhere, what did our one player who'd had a decent summer series do? He kicked away possession. Game over, ball burst, as Emmet would say. Only it wasn't even game over - out of nowhere, Paul Emerick intercepted a BOD pass and was gonzo, as we Coffeys are wont to say - over the line, for a try that would be converted, making an even bigger dent in our tries for/against stats. It made for a very morose post-match analysis, both at home and in the RTE studio. As I've said, you'd swear we'd lost the game. We might as well have; if we play like that against the Wallabies next week, we might as well cede from the (rugby) union. I do, however, have faith in the lads, if not in Declan Kidney. If he gets the right people on the pitch, we're still in there. Anyone who has a Kidders voodoo doll, get working on it now.
However, the bitter taste left by our under-par performance was soon erased by the yummy breakfast provided by my eldest sis, Clo. I was tempted to Dublin with the promise of Hueveos Rancheros, but got Huevos á la Flamenca instead. I forgave her, just about - she did ply me with ample quantities of mimosa. There's a certain frisson to being drunk before 10am.
Anyhoo, Emmet and I had come to Dublin the night before, to save ourselves having to get up at a completely offensive hour. We briefly toyed with the idea of going out to eat, but I decided that I wasn't arsed putting on make-up, so I said I'd make...
Beer Chili - serves 4 (generously)
500g stewing steak, very finely diced*
250g pork mince 100g bacon lardons
330ml beer 2 beef stock cubes
2 onions, diced 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, diced 2 chilies, diced (skin & membrane left in)
1 red pepper, chopped 1 tin tomatoes
2 tbs tomato purée 2 tbs chili powder
4 tbs Frank's Red Hot Sauce
1 tbs oregano 1 tbs cumin
1 tbs dried basil 1 tbs ground coriander
1 tbs paprika 1 tbs mustard
1 tsp brown sugar Juice of 1 lime
Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped
Before we start: I may have mentioned before that I'm totally addicted to chilies. However, even if you don't like hot food, you should totally try this recipe - it is A-MAZ-ING. Just cut down on the fresh chilies a bit. And it's so easy to make; you just go as far as step 3, before the lime & coriander, and then leave it all to simmer for as long as you like - the longer, the better. Eat it the next day, and it'll be better again. Just add the last two ingredients before you dish up. The recipe I've given you here is actually halved from the original - but feel free to double everything, make the monster pot, and freeze in individual portions for lunches/weekday dinners. It's all good.
*Stewing steak - do not attempt to make this chili with mince. Buy stewing steak, which should already be in strips, and dice it nice and small. Yes, this is a bit of a pain, but it's worth it. Chili made with chunky beef is, quite frankly, the only way to eat chili at all.
Anyway, onwards and (hopefully) upwards:
1. Heat a (very) large pot over medium heat. Add your diced beef & pork mince and brown, breaking up any clumps with a fork. Drain off any excess fat.
2. Add the onions, celery, garlic and chilies. Cook briskly for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the beer, bring back to a simmer, and cook for another 5 minutes.
3. Add all the remaining ingredients except the lime juice & coriander. Stir, lower the heat, then leave to mellow at a very low simmer for as long as you have. Just before serving, stir in the lime juice & coriander, check the seasoning, then serve in warm bowls with cheese, tortilla chips (see below) and lots of lovely cold beer.
A note on tortilla chips: I don't eat rice and, to me, chili should be eaten with tortilla chips anyway. However, with one eye always cocked towards the rag on a stick, I try to avoid the shop-bought tortilla chips. I am aware that that's what's in the photo above, but that's just cause Emmet misread the shopping list - I usually make my own. I'll tell you how to make these some time this week, I promise, but tonight, I'm just too tired - too tired, even, for a Top Tip. I'm off to Bedfordshire, folks - g'night...