As the weather turns colder and the evenings draw in, everyone is starting to think about Christmas. The presents, the decorations – and most importantly, the food. Christmas is a time to treat your loved ones to the very best, a time to bring everyone together around the most delicious feast you can create. If you’re looking for inspiration for your big family gatherings this Christmas season, look no further than Ó Crualaoí. As your expert family butcher, we have decades of experience in helping make Christmas special.

This year, along with our traditional Turkey and Ham, we have to talk about our award-winning spiced beef. It’s a traditional Cork dish that speaks of hundreds of years of history. But it also gives a fresh and exciting take to Christmas meals that can often become uninspired after years of cooking the same dishes. Traditionally eaten cold on St Stephen’s Day, this festive favourite is a great addition to any meal or snack over the Christmas period.

Here’s what makes our spiced beef so very special…

1) Our finest quality meat

We care deeply about the quality of our products, and believe that the best meat comes from maintaining the highest levels of welfare amongst cattle. Our produce is sourced from local farms and we are proud to apply stringent ethical standards to all of our offerings. Farming in harmony with our beautiful local environment is at the heart of all we do, and goes right back to our roots. Kevin Ó Crualaoí and his wife Máire began the Ó Crualaoí business back in 1957, having both grown up amongst Cork’s rich pastureland. The couple had a deep connection to the farming world, and their rural beginnings gave them an in-depth understanding of food production. Kevin’s first outlet was in Ballincollig, with the business growing into the chain of Ó Crualaoí’s local family butchers and delicatessens. Now under the guidance of Kevin and Máire’s son Michael, the family credit their success to the food philosophy that is at the heart of what they do: excellent-tasting food requires complete integrity and full traceability. From the farm gate, to our processing facility, to the butchers and delicatessen; the Ó Crualaoí brand consistently represents trusted, local, natural food.

2) This recipe’s rich history

If you’re looking for a dish that has an Irish heritage, spiced beef is a perfect choice. The recipe originally came about when merchants travelling long distances on ships would cure meat for longevity. Cork was a centre of the beef export trade, and so curing was essential to allow the meat to keep on long voyages. Using salt and spices, the meat was cured and would then keep in a cool larder room for several weeks. This centuries old tradition slowly evolved from a necessity into a delicious choice for any meal where you want to eat in true Cork style.

3) Our spices

Our spice blend is a closely guarded family secret, making our spiced beef recipe unique and extra special. We source the finest quality ingredients from Holland and apply them using our family’s secret recipe, which has been handed down from generation to generation. Spices are synonymous with the festive season, and you’ll have only to catch the scent of our spiced beef cooking before you’ll be transported straight into the Christmas mood!

4) Our expert advice

If you’re cooking for a large gathering at Christmas, it can feel stressful. You might be worried about producing a high quality meal, especially for lots of people. But Ó Crualaoí can help. Our staff are knowledgeable about all aspects of preparing and cooking our products, so ask their advice for the best ways to make the most of your Christmas meat selection. Spiced beef is a great option for a nervous cook, as it gives you a straightforward way to make a really special meal – and Ó Crualaoí can give you all the top tips you need to allay your worries.

5) So many recipe options

There are many ways to cook your spiced beef, and it fits perfectly into the Christmas roast spread. To make spiced beef your Christmas centrepiece is easy. Simmer on the lowest possible heat for one hour per lb of meat. Serve with your favourite selection of root vegetables for a memorable Christmas feast. It can also be boiled or steamed in stout, for a delicious variation. Many of our customers enjoy our spiced beef cold – thinly sliced it will soon become a buffet favourite. Simple accompaniments such as caramelised onions, pickles, chutneys, and crusty buttered bread work wonderfully. Or perhaps you already have a favourite way of serving this Cork classic – let us know how you eat yours! Recipes are often passed down through Cork families and we are always eager to hear about new twists on this classic dish.

6) Spiced beef is easy to cook!

Our expert butchers will already have selected a prime cut for you, marinating it in our special spice blend for more than a month. Decades of knowledge inform our unique rolling technique, which we’ve found to be the best way to infuse the meat with all the spice flavours. By the time you get your Christmas cut, all the hard work has been done and you can cook it simply but still enjoy a stand-out meal.

7) Spiced beef is a crowd pleaser

If you have a lot of guests coming, you probably have a lot of varying tastes to cater for. Spiced beef works really well in this context. Simply use it as the star of an extensive buffet, ensuring you have a wide range of accompaniments to suit all comers. From roasted vegetables to salads, chips to breads and chutneys, spiced beef makes for a truly flexible meal – set it out and let everyone help themselves.

8) Spiced beef looks the part

Have you ever watched a cookery programme and seen the celebrity chef turn out a meal that doesn’t look fantastic? No, of course not. That’s because we begin eating with our eyes. If you’ve got a big crowd coming over, you really want to create a meal that looks amazing set out on your festive table. And spiced beef is an excellent option. You can style your buffet well in advance of guests arriving, with delicious baskets of crusty bread sitting amongst colourful salads and a wide range of chutneys. Bring out all your best serving ware, and don’t forget the details such as coordinating napkins and serving spoons. Your meat then makes an attractive centrepiece. And as spiced beef is traditionally served cold, you can take your time to carve it into perfect thin slices – without the pressure of being watched.

9) Spiced beef embodies the traditional Irish celebratory spirit

While Christmas is celebrated in many parts of the world, spiced beef is special to the Cork area. When friends and family are gathering from far and wide, give them a taste of something truly local to remind them of their Irish roots. With flavours that prompt memories of home and embody a truly Irish spirit, there’s no better way to get your celebration started than with Ó Crualaoí spiced beef.

If you’re looking for a simple way to make your Christmas extra special, look to Ó Crualaoí’s award winning spiced beef. Simple to prepare yet exceptionally flavoursome, and drawn from the rich farming landscapes of Cork, it will make your festive gathering one to remember. It’s a Cork tradition perfect for sharing with those you love the most.

To order our award winning Spiced Beef, click here

Think Christmas, think Ó Crualaoí.

For all your quality meats and Christmas essentials – it has to be Ó Crualaoí. Pop in to your local Ó Crualaoí store in Ballincollig, Fermoy or Wilton Shopping Centre. Or order online: www.ocrualaoi.com

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