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Fuelling the fighting fit

Tasting

MUSSELS FOR MUSCLES They hold essential minerals and nutrients necessary for a glowing nervous system, and plenty of protein for muscles.

Food

Redmond Cabot

It’s All-Ireland final week, when our mighty Mayo players and team face Dublin. The momentous occasion got me thinking, if I were were feeding the Mayo team next Saturday in preparation for Sunday, what would serve them to give them the energy and stamina they need? Obviously, I’d use the best of home produce, and ensure our players would be packed and loaded with all the necessary nutritional and energy constituents they’ll need to smash the Dubs. Here’s what I came up with: Mussels in tomato sauce, served with sourdough for lunch, and Mayo lamb-shoulder chops with spuds and greens for dinner.

Mussels in chilli tomato sauce
More people than ever are enjoying mussels as a healthy, economical and nutritious home-cooked dinner. They hold essential minerals and nutrients necessary for a glowing nervous system, and plenty of protein for muscles. Dig in and fill up. They won’t hang around your system, slowing it down, either: they’ll all be processed and gone within 24 hours. Virtually fat free, they provide essential minerals for a tiptop athlete. The chillies have antioxidant properties and are cleansing.

What you need

  • 1 kilo local mussels
  • 1 tin plum tomatoes (not chopped)
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 2 red chillies
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Glug rapeseed or olive oil
  • Seasoning

What you do
In one saucepan mix the tomatoes with the chopped onions. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add your chopped red chillies, season and add a dash of balsamic vinegar. You can whizz this mix at any stage, or just break the tomatoes with a fork. I prefer to whizz it after first boiling, but before cut chillies go in.
Wash the mussels well, remove their beards and rinse again under running water to remove any grit. Heat a good dash of oil in a big pan or wok, add the mussels and cover with a lid. Simply jiggle the pan every minute or so until all the mussels have opened and released their seawater (free stock!). Pour in your hot tomato sauce, stir, and simmer for five minutes. Serve with sourdough or wholegrain breads good for the gut.
Lamb-shoulder chops with spuds and spinach
Nothing too fancy ahead of the game. Good, honest, straightforward food, guaranteed to settle the nerves and keep the mind focused on what’s important.
Spuds are a good source of complex carbohydrates, and they’re high in potassium and vitamin B6. Lamb is a mild meat, and the economical shoulder cut is full of flavour and streaky with tasty fat, essential for our brains, boosting decision making—and quick thinking on the pitch.

What you need

  • 2 shoulder chops from your local butcher
  • Local spuds
  • Butter
  • Seasoning

What you do
Simply scrub the new potatoes under the tap, boil in water, strain, bang around in saucepan with lid on, and cook for another five mins on a low heat with a dash of olive oil and butter, shaking pot every couple of minutes.
To grill your chops, place some tin foil over a grill tray and lay seasoned, room temperature, chops on top. Place under a hot grill. When the chops are spitting and top side crispy, turn and repeat the process. The second side will take less time. Serve with steamed spinach, mint sauce and enjoy.
Up Mayo!

Red Cabot is interested in food, nature and small things. He sells his food at Westport Country Markets in St Anne’s Boxing Club, James’s Street car park, Westport, every Thursday, from 8am to 1pm.

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