Irish Beef Book - The definitive guide

Some years ago now I was sharing an amusing story with a customer in the shop when, on hearing the punch line, she laughed out loud and said, “Go away you, you blackguard, there’s a book in you somewhere!”

Some years ago now I was sharing an amusing story with a customer in the shop when, on hearing the punch line, she laughed out loud and said, “Go away you, you blackguard, there’s a book in you somewhere!”

“There is”, I ribbed back, “a book about what butchers have to put up with from difficult customers.”

It was all good healthy banter, but who’d have thought it was so prophetic. It turned out I didn’t have just one book in me, but there was a second one lurking in the background as well, only recently birthed and so, naturally, my pride and joy of the moment. Both, by the way, are about food and not demanding customers.

Taking the bull by the horns so to speak

While the first book was a general look at meat cookery, this time I decided to take the cow by the horns and create the definitive guide to beef. The result is The Irish Beef Book and it’s now available at the shop in Oakville, online and in all good bookshops across the land.

Published by Gill and Macmillan I can’t tell you how excited I was when I saw it completed for the first time. They did a super job in bringing it together in a beautiful book that’s packed with information and recipes about beef.

If you want to know more about beef, beef cuts and beef cookery then the Irish Beef Book is all you’ll ever need. While I appreciate that any cookery book stands or falls on the quality of its content, I also believe that if at all possible it should be a thing of physical beauty, built to last with great inspiring pictures and fresh new ideas. I can say plainly that The Irish Beef Book ticks all of these boxes.

Personally I have poured my entire canon of beef knowledge into this book so along with the recipes it is an enjoyable and informative read.

Over the years of rearing, butchering and selling beef, I have also fielded questions on beef from award winning experienced chefs to young innocents whose entire culinary achievements amount to successfully pouring cornflakes into a bowl. When I look back, probably one of the most common queries is about choosing the right cut.

The other issue for people these days is that we are exposed to recipes from all over the world and some cuts have different names in different countries.

This book breaks it down and sorts out your brisket from your chuck, your top rib from your wing rib, and anything else you will need to know about what part of the animal each cut comes from; it is beef butchery/cookery 101 and is accessible for all. While the book obviously contains recipes and information on the ever popular steak and mince, it also takes you on a heady gastronomic trip from nose to tail and all the various sides you will need to bring it all together. We have taken the mystery out of beef while keeping every ounce of the magic.

I say, ‘we’, because food writer Katy McGuinness gave me invaluable help in making The Irish Beef Book a reality and our collaboration turned out to be a great one. I will also be very honest in admitting that the timely release of the Irish Beef Book in the last quarter of 2013, was indeed intended as an ideal Christmas present. But now that Christmas has passed I hope sales of this timeless book will continue for years to come, it is a perfect gift.


This book is for everyone who enjoys cooking and will be cherished by anyone who enjoys cooking beef. The even handier note is that if you buy it direct from any James Whelan Butchers, or from our online shop, it will come to you ready gift wrapped which is always a bonus.

The Irish Beef Book also takes in my work with breeding and rearing indigenous Wagyu cattle at my farm in Tipperary. Wagyu are an ongoing obsession, but you will understand so much more by reading all about it.

There is also a very handy address section at the back of the book containing all the various artisan producers that make up the Tipperary Food Producers network.

Anyone who knows me will be well aware of my passion for local food and my belief that the more we can buy and cook local produce the better it is for our health and economy.

In conclusion the publishers have kindly commented that the Irish Beef Book, covering every aspect of buying, preparing and cooking beef is “the only guide to cooking beef the domestic cook will ever need.”

For me there is no greater compliment than that. The majority of my customers are domestic cooks, eager to feed and nourish their families with great Irish food. If I can provide the grass fed Irish beef they require and now a definitive guide as to how to buy, prepare and cook it – then my work here is done.

Feel free to drop into James Whelan Butchers in Oakville and leaf through the book for yourself. I just know you will enjoy it.