Paul’s Caul… Kris’ Birthday Quackalicious Jenga

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Kris’ birthday quackalicous jenga.

So I get the text saying that it’s “Kris’ 40th next week and I need some dinner suggestion?” This was from my wonderful sister Zoe, and Kris, as you can most likely piece together, is my brother in law… so this pleased me as I love them both dearly, and Zoe is also pretty decent in the kitchen so I could suggest anything and she’d have a crack, or in this case a quack!

Yes I truly reckon that’s the worst joke to date that I have typed and placed in front of your eyeholes… I‘m better than that, I wouldn’t normally worry about such poultry matters but I have always said “no foul no game”… booyah triple bird pun!!!!

(Not entirely sure on reading that back whether I have proved anything at all)

Any who back to the mission to feed Kris so he’ll stop freaking out about being 40, yes 40 years out is not the new 50 as most 40 year olds have you believe, no it is in fact still 40 and that is getting on in anyone’s language.

So what to cook?

Do we cook his favourite?

Shall we do something visually spectacular?

Strippers?

Stick with the classics?

Well I’ll tell you what we’re going to cook and it will very quickly become his favourite, as it is visually spectacular and strips away all the rules where classic cant be fucked with, as they can/should/must be tweaked and played with as that is what being a chef is all about…. It is mixture of a few classic dishes and styles of cooking, still kept simple as not to lose its warmth.

Society makes us conform to names for dishes, it dictates that I should call this dish…

‘Duck leg confit on a bed of steamed Asian greens, hand cut chips served with a sour cherry sauce’

Well that sounds like bollocks!

I want to call it…

‘Mr Crispy and his sour mates play jenga’

But I may settle for…

‘Crispy skin duck confit, sour cherry greens, thrice cooked spud jenga’

With the naming of said dish complete I shall give you the recipes and hope you all embrace Mr Crispy into your life.

Duck confit
4 duck legs (Maryland)
rock salt
aromatics (star anise, bay leaves, garlic, thyme)
Enough duck fat to cover (1lt perhaps, remember you can never have enough duck fat on hand)
• Salt the duck legs over night, then wash salt off and dry the legs really, really well. Pat dry with paper.
• Heat fat with aromats, in this instance use 2 bay leaves, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon (chilli if you want 1 dried would work best)
• In a high sided dish place legs and cover with warm fat, make sure completely covered and place in the oven covered and cook for 3-5 hours at 110c
• Check if cooked by carefully pulling out and you will know as the meat has to close to falling off the bone
• Once there just pull out legs and carefully place on a wire rack out of the fat to cool.
• Strain fat and once leg is cooled pour the fat back over it.
• When you come to actually cooking and serving, you will need to clean fat off. They don’t have to be completely cleaned as you will be cooking in fat anyway.
• Just heat a bit of the stored fat in a pan so you have at least a 1cm of fat in base of pan, place the legs very carefully in the smoking hot fat (they will spit so be careful) and once they settle down check to see its well crispy then quickly flip over for a second.
• Remove from pan and cook in a hot oven for 5-10 until hot.
• Serve ☺

Sour cherry sauce (the tits)
2 shallots
4 shitake (or any mushroom if you don’t like strong mushie)
50 ml red wine vinegar (pedro ximinez vinegar would be best)
100 ml port
5 g sugar
1 star anise
½ cinnamon quill
1 cardamon
200 ml stock (chicken, duck, veg, whatever… could just be water)

180g sour cherry from jar or tin (get the best)
• Whack everything but the cherries in a pot and simmer for 20 minutes
• Pour the sauce over the chopped up cherries and gently heat before serving
• This sauce is nice without the cherries and just toss the sauce around steamed kai lan or brocolini

Thrice cooked duck fat jenga
4 large royal blue spuds (cooked in skin and only just cook)
normal deep fryer
duck fat
salt
• Square off the cooked spud and cut into 4 massive chips, one cut down the center lengthways then cut each half again lengthways and job done
• Fry off once in a deep fryer with oil, but only just get a crust then drain and cool
• For serving shallow fry in duck fat until crispy as fuck
• Salt those crispy homeboys.

For final plate up I recommend, stacking chips like jenga to one side of plate, then get some steamed kai lan and cherries and toss them in the sauce and make that into an insanely tasty bed for Mr Crispy.

Enjoy your Birthday Kris, love ya brother

Easter-ness

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Mmmmm. Roast lamb in the fire

Mmmmm. Roast lamb in the fire

I know. I’ve been offline for over a week now and all I have to offer is the same ol’ tale of a man who works in the hospitality industry and is tied to the stoves during holiday periods. A man who loves the customers that demand so much of him during these times. A man who always returns home with a smile on his face… mostly. A man who talks an awful lot of bollocks… definitely. Anyway, I am back like a dirty old stalker. You will never really get rid of me. I’ll always be there, lurking in the shadows, just around the corner, armed only with my dirty beard and mind.

Cyberdyne industries is ready to go online.

Our humble home played host to another couple of guests this week; me old mates Nozza and Troppo. These guys are some of my favourite peeps in the world, so needless to say, I couldn’t spend my whole time on the tappy-key-screen-thing writing stories for you… that may have been mostly because I was drunk… or cooking… sometimes both.

So Nozza and Troppo were here. We, as good hosts, thought it appropriate to start with some canapés and witty banter, and then realised we were far from this “good hosts” couple we were speaking of, so we started off in the usual manner; beer consumption and stories of times gone by…

Old skool catch-ups are the best.

We were both by-standers and protagonists in the over-consumption of Easter eggs. We ate hot crossed buns for no other reason than “because it is Easter”. I like to anoint a toasty grilled bun with something similar to it’s own weight in butter – really lube that shit up. We also ate many great food. Very, very nice indeed. And what, may I ask you, would any festive type holiday period be with the consumption of a beverage or two? That’s right; it wouldn’t be a very fucking festive holiday at all, would it? So we also drank festive amounts of booze.

When all was said and done, and chocolate eggs eaten and dodgy theories about Easter discussed, this was a damn fine weekend. It was a weekend I needed like a royal needs stupid looking pets and what can only be described as WTF sporting obsessions.

This shall be somewhat of a visual diary of the week that has past.

Duck sausage, pork rib, mushroom and kale pasta

Duck sausage, pork rib, mushroom and kale pasta

The photo doesn't look that crash hot but this shit tasted good

The photo doesn’t look that crash hot but this shit tasted good

Chicken, coconut and kaffir lime broth, noodles and dumplings

Chicken, coconut and kaffir lime broth, noodles and dumplings

Have heaps of lime with this one

Have heaps of lime with this one

Lamby rubbed down with garlic, anchovies, preserved lemon and rosemary followed by three hours in the coals of the fire

Lamby rubbed down with garlic, anchovies, preserved lemon and rosemary followed by three hours in the coals of the fire

Nothing wrong with this picture

Nothing wrong with this picture

Served up with roasted potatoes and baby capsicum from the coals and chickpea and cavolo nero pilaff

Served up with roasted potatoes and baby capsicum from the coals and chickpea and cavolo nero pilaff

That pilaff

That pilaf

The boys made frittata omelette for breakfast

The boys made frittata omelette for breakfast

Tomato, mushrooms, cheese and herbs… and fully made by the kids to boot

Tomato, mushrooms, cheese and herbs… and fully made by the kids to boot

I hope it was a good one and fulfilled all expectations for you and yours. Lots of love from your friends at foodisthebestshitever.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch…

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It was a damn good lunch, but free it was not

It was a damn good lunch, but free it was not

Over Christmas and new years we had the pleasure of the company of our good friends, Troppo and Lexi. They stayed for a lunch or two and a good catch up old skool styleez (that involved many beers, heaps of food, board games, kuncho and many, many laughs). While they were here Jennee got it into her head that we would paint the house… yeah, paint the house. I like to oblige Jennee when she sees that crazy big light bulb above her head, but paint the house… bloody hell woman!

Troppo's sanding attire

Troppo’s sanding attire

Safety Jennee

Safety Jennee

Lexi...

Lexi…

A well deserved drinky when we were done. And what better place for a drinky then on the roof. Safety never takes a holiday around here...

A well deserved drinky when we were done. And what better place for a drinky then on the roof. Safety never takes a holiday around here…

Anyway, the plan came off for Jennee, as we do now own one freshly painted house. This is how simple it was.

Jennee: “We were thinking we might paint the house. Would you guys be keen if we provide the food and drinks?”

Troppo: “Sounds good. I need to try more handy man type shit.”

Three days later we were done.

This was the painters lunch…

Cheesey goodness

Cheesey goodness

Pork and giblet terrine. Extra sexy styles

Pork and giblet terrine. Extra sexy styles

Pork and duck heart and liver terrine
1kg pork mince
4-5 duck livers, trimmed and diced
4-5 duck hearts, diced
1 brown onion, diced finely (bruniose)
2 cloves garlic, crushed, micro planed or pounded
2 tablespoons picked thyme
a bay leaf
1 cup red wine, port, brandy or marsala
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 tablespoon salt
12 or so rashers of bacon, prosciutto or speck
• Sauté the onion and garlic in butter until translucent. Deglaze pan with booze. Add bay leaf and reduce until almost dry
• Remove bay leaf and set aside to cool
• Once onion is cool, combine everything except bacon and mix thouroughly. Now put that in the fridge while you line your terrine dish, or ready your bacon for the extra sexy stlyes.
• If you are using a terrine dish, line it with enough bacon side by side so when the mix is in there you will be able to wrap it totally with bacon. Now fill the dish with the mix so it is about 1cm over the top. Pat it down with your hand to push any air pockets out. Tap it on the bench a couple of times so you look like a pro. Fold the bacon ends over the top of the terrine and bake in a pre-heat 180C oven for about 45 minutes. Check the center temperature with a thermometer, you want it to be about 70C or so. Refrigerate overnight or for a few days to really let the flavours get to know each other… who knows, they may find love…
• If you would like the extra sexy style cylindrical terrine you will need to lay a large piece of glad wrap (cling film or whatever the rest of the world calls it) on the bench. Now lay 6-7 pieces of bacon side by side about 2cm from the front edge of the grad wrap. Make sure you leave a 2cm border on the sides as well (don’t ask questions, just do it. The answer should become apparent when you roll it). Now lay half the mix on the end of the bacon closest to you and form it into a big sausage. Using the glad wrap like a sushi mat, roll the bacon around the terrine. Keep rolling until the entire glad wrap is encasing the terrine sausage. Now pinch it at the ends and keep rolling so it gets super tight and compact like the virgin midget carnie. Now wrap it again in another piece of glad wrap and tie it at the ends just to be sure it’s sealed. Do it all again with the rest of the mix. Poach or steam terrine for 45 minutes or until 70C in the center. Set in the fridge overnight etc

Eat with cheese, pickles, green tomato chutney (recipe here), more cheese, cauliflower pickles (recipe here), pate and bread

This is a great way to appreciate a bit of offal if you currently believe that you do not appreciate offal. Or you can leave the offal out if you are a total pussy.

Monday dinner

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Monday dinner…SAMSUNG CSC

I had some confit duck marylands plus a few other things lying around so we had duck with white nectarine and cabbage salad, fondant sweet potato and tamarind caramel.

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Mondays are rough.

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’nuff said.

Cooking duck for the duckman

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…and then the duck farmer returned for one last hurrah

Why?

I know many of you people out there are curious and I know many more of you couldn’t even give one single fuck. But it appears one duck cook up (you can suss that here) wasn’t enough to satiate the appetite of the ravenous duckman. So he returned for one last night of drinking fine ales, wine and possibly a port or two, duck consumption and, of course, the mandatory late night table dance with a drunken midget cobbler from the salt mining districts of Siberia. Apparently there is quite a call for good shoe repair in those parts.

Cooking duck for the duckman and a few other friends

Have some cheese while you're waiting

Have some cheese while you’re waiting. These are some more offerings from the Nimbin Valley Dairy

Duck is a huge fan of a few root veg from the farmers market

Duck is a huge fan of a few root veg from the farmers market. Roast those bad boys up in a little duck fat

Duck, glorious duck

Duck, glorious duck

I’ve said it before and (you guessed it) I’ll say it again; get your self some duck marylands (thigh with leg attached), season them with a good hit of sea salt and freshly ground pepper, roast them in a pre-heated oven at 170-180C for two hours, basting regularly with their own fatty juices. That is quite literally all you need to do for a delicious roast duck dinner.  Well, that and a few kick ass side dishes, but I think you’re more than qualified to sort out a few sides by now… hopefully… maybe… shit, just eat it with a piece of bread.

My lack of recent posts is definitely relative to the arrival of “the duckman”

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I know I haven’t posted anything for a week or quite possibly longer… or maybe even less… I couldn’t actually be 100% sure. But there is a valid and just reason for my absence; drinking. I’m not talking about performing the task we all need to complete to keep our body hydrated and there fore survive. No. I’m talking about drinking. The same drinking that has been the ruin of many a man through out the annuals of history. The same drinking that has caused great wars, helped create great pieces of art, caused a billion white trash children and inspired great self confidence for the ugly man for centuries gone by (and maybe even a bit of false vision for that girl he’s trying to chat up).

Just drinking. Drinking and barely hanging on to the love of my beautiful wife. Who I might add is still here, so maybe she still holds some kind of interest in what I do and there fore may still be reading this crap I write, so I figure this is pretty much an apology. All good? All good…

Now I shall need to digress a little just to make sure we’re all up to date on what’s going on. Which clearly means I need to check to make sure I’m up to date on what’s going on. It’s been a big week.

“AJ the duckman”

Anyone who has been following this blog for a while (although the role call of followers around here is not dissimilar to that at an aged care home. I’m not saying that you’re all old and senile and possibly share a love of crocheting blankets for orphaned bridge trolls in Slovakia, I’m just saying that followers come and go ‘round these parts… they come and go) would know of the man we called “AJ the duckman”.

“AJ the duckman” received small time notoriety on these pages through our late night drunken market cook ups… and a special night he spent with one stupid duck!

A year ago he packed up his ducks and left for Australia’s top end. Chasing the sun and a chance to possibly bag himself a real live barramundi. With nary a tear or a glance backwards he left us. Our weekly duck feasts became a thing of folk tales and mutterings of toothless old carnies. Just like that, the duckman was gone.

Until now.

The druids had foreseen the return of this man in the still beating heart of a 52 year old ox… that ox died for a reason that night, only to be reborn the next day as a small river trout named Geoffery. Life works in mysterious ways…

So the duckman has returned. For the last week or so he has been staying with us, slowly working away at the nerves of my good wife and tempting me into the perils of the white mans devil water. He has been supporting the local publican and quite possibly handed him enough cash to put his first born through a tertiary education (as long as it’s a back end, second rate sort of agricultural college that is. Not one of the top end universities). So we drank, but also we ate. A weeks worth of drunken cook ups later and here you go. Some were great, others just good, but all enjoyed with great company and many beverages, and then re-enjoyed through hundreds of blurry assed photos on our new camera!!

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Ceramic R2D2 holds heat and smoke…

Smoky beef ribs

… and smoky beef ribs

Left over beef rib stir fried with eggplant and bean sprouts. Absolute cracker!

Left over beef rib stir fried with eggplant and bean sprouts. Absolute cracker!

This was a win for left overs

This was a win for left overs

Braised pork hock with duck and smoked chicken

Braised pork hock with duck and smoked chicken…

Pickled beetroot salad

Pickled beetroot salad…

Put them both together and voila

Put them both together and voila. A win for the common man

Nimbin Valley Dairy's blue cow. Not an actual cow but a damn fine blue cheese if you can ever get hold of it!

Nimbin Valley Dairy’s blue cow. Not an actual cow but a damn fine blue cheese if you can ever get hold of it!

Proof that it is an actual cheese

Proof that it is an actual cheese. Still winning

AJ is a drunken fool. Hehehe

AJ is a drunken fool. Heheheh. The kid is pumped!!

Beef rib eye roast with pretty carrots that AJ made

Beef rib eye roast with pretty carrots that AJ made

Cauliflower and broccoli gratin

Cauliflower and broccoli gratin

...and some yorkshire pud

…and some yorkshire pud

Add some red wine gravy and it ready for my belly. See the pretty little carrots AJ made

…add some red wine gravy and it’s ready for my belly. See the pretty little carrots AJ made

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Duck is good. These marylands were roasted at 180C for 2 hours, basted regularly with their own rendered fat and juices. Eff yes!

And that, my friends, is that… I think. I shall knock up a recipe or two in the not too distant future…

The duck kill…

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“It’s people like you…” Is always a bad start to a conversation. Just saying…

This week we killed some of our ducks. Some people call it dispatching but let’s face it, I am not here to sugar coat my monologue for your over sensitive eyes. We were killing the ducks.

When ever this event (and trust me, it is an event) occurs at our place it reminds me of my Gran plucking chooks on the verandah after dad had “dispatched” them with an axe and a wood block down near the clothesline. We would watch in in amazement as the Tom and Jerry-esque show would unfold before our eyes. The chicken would flap around with blood spurting from the now naked neck which once held it’s head. “Oohs” came from the crowd as the chicken would do a flip and then fly down the yard, no pilot at the helm, and dad in tow.

This was a time that this was still widely accepted as a way to an honest meal in the country.

Today we had the help of our dear friend Sammy the Gelfling, who you may remember from the early days of this blog and a little segment called “What’s Sammy having for dinner tonight?” Or, as I’m quite sure there were only a couple of followers (possibly Jen’s sister and a lonely goat named Ryan), you may not have the memories to call upon, thus making my query somewhat superfluous and just downright silly. Anyway Sammy and Jennee were chief pluckers, I was head dispatcher (pun intended) and stomach removalist, and Dave (our friend who came over mid kill) was in charge of looking awkwardly towards the sky and hanging out around the corner.

Once again I will not lie to you, it’s quite a 1600’s sort of experience but a worthy one just to have that knowledge of where you meat comes from and what kind of life it’s led.

The marylands would be roasted in the camp oven (which could be done quite happily in a baking dish in your oven) and the breasts are being gently smoked (on the crown to keep the moisture in there) under banana leaves away from any direct heat. This can be achieved in your home smoke house but will probably only require 10 minutes or so. Because mine are getting done with very low heat I’m thinking they should be right for an hour or two. I’ll be keeping a close eye on them and I’ll let you know.

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The ducks were happy as larry roaming in the orchard

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I’m not going to lie. This is a messy job

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The marylands were destined for the pot and the breasts would get smoked on the grill

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The banana leaves help keep the smoke in

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Good looking legs

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…and beautiful breasts

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Delicious

Duck marylands roasted with potatoes (for 4)

4 duck marylands

4 potatoes, chopped into 5cm chunks

salt and pepper

  • How obscurely simple does this look? This is simpler still than the half brother you have kept under the back stairs for the entirity of his life, feeding him only dirty old prawn heads and chicken bones, his only entertainment Womans Weekly magazines from the early ‘80’s…
  • Season the duck legs all over with salt and pepper. Bake in a heavy based oven dish at 160C for 1½ hours, basting regularily with rendered fat and juices
  • Add the potatoes and back into the oven for another 30 minutes. Now check the duck by gently pressing on the thigh… it should start to moan, err, I mean yield a little. If not it can all go back into the oven for another 15 minutes and then check again etc, etc, etc.
  • Once the duck is tender its good to go. Check the potatoes and if they aren’t quite done remove the duck from the pan and put the potatoes back in at 180C for another 5-10 minutes. Should be cracking now

Smoked duck breast (for 4)

4 duck breasts

salt and pepper

a source of smoke (a low fire with some nice hard wood or hickory chips is good. A raging inferno in a youth hostel is not so good)

  • This is a bit hard to put a time on because it’s all about the heat and smoke that you have to deal with. I kept my duck breasts on the crown (both breasts left on the top half of the carcass) to keep the moisture in and make sure I still had a med-rare end product, covered them in banana leaves and smoked them on the edge of the grill for 1½ -2 hours. The heat does fluctuate quite a bit on the open fire so you’ll have to keep eye on them if you’re going to try this. And at the end of the day, if it doesn’t work try again. Fire and smoke are hard things to grasp (mostly because they’re hot and whispy) but it doea get easier the more you try. And if you do manage to fluke a primo product first try, well then you just look like a bloody champ!

May the force be with you…

 

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