Special fried rice. Why is it so special? It just is, that’s why.


This cracking way to use up extra Christmas ham (that you will probably want to book mark for next year) is based on the Aussie-Chinese take away restaurant classic – the special fried rice.

Why is it called special fried rice?

I am not really sure, but maybe it had the little pink shrimpy things in it and the bog-standard fried rice didn’t.

Whatever the reason, I do remember the special fried rice costing an extra couple o’ bucks a portion and it was worth every penny.

My big tips for cooking fried rice are;
Cook the rice in the morning or the day before so it breaks up nicely and doesn’t get all clumpy and shitty.
Get everything ready. This is called your mise en place. Translated this literally means “putting in place”. Mise en place is super important in the world of wok cookery because it’s such a hot and fast process and you really don’t have the time to be fucking around trying to chop things while the rest is cooking.

The mise en place says it all
Seriously. GET. IT. SORTED!
I used hot coals as my heat source and let me say, it worked a treat
Get all up in that!

SPECIAL FRIED RICE (serves 6)

1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 knob ginger, grated or chopped
3 cups finely diced zucchini, corn, frozen peas, carrot, capsicum etc
1-2 cups diced ham
1 cup diced cooked prawns or shrimp
1 cup chopped omelette or scrambled egg (from 3 eggs)
6 cups cooked rice (white or brown is good)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
Salt and pepper to season
½ bunch shallots (spring onions, scallions), sliced
Vegetable oil
A wok and a hot fire source

Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in your wok hot over a high heat.
Add onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add vegetables and stir fry for a further 2-3 minutes.
Add ham and prawns and stir fry for a further 2 minutes.
Add omelette and rice and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
Add soy and shallot and stir through.
Taste to check seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper.
Serve it with extra soy sauce and some kind of chilli sauce on the side.
Pretty easy – really good.

Ham


Ham.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of different stories floating around the world wide super-web at the moment all tell you how to cook a decent ham… well, in actual fact that may be more applicable to the couple of weeks prior to Christmas but, as we all know, I am not the most talented at being super organized for this sort of thing so for now I shall just be pretending I am super organized and on the program (and not just the methadone program for a change).

So, about that ham…

Like I said, there is a lot of different ways to cook a ham much like say, skinning a cat or pleasuring a lady-man. I am not here to tell you my method is more righteous and will light the path to the heavens for you, but let me tell you it is pretty damn good and I am feeling more than just a little enlightened right now.

Hallelujah!

The other thing about what I did is, well, I cooked the ham from scratch which automatically gets you 300% more kudos than just glazing a store bought smoky leg o’ pig. Also smoking a ham is not nearly as hard as you think it might be, as long as you have a smoker (Bullet/barrel or off-set is what I have used) and a probe thermometer.

You will also be needing a brined (or pickled) leg of pork for this exercise. You should be able to hook this up from your local decent butcher if you give him a little notice.

This recipe is for 9kg of pure porcine glory. If you have a smaller leg, or even half a leg, the cooking time is going to be reduced. Just keep an eye on that internal temperature and hoist it when it hits 170F.

You’re gonna need a smoker
This is a very sexy sight
Get the skin off it (but save it for something like baked beans at the end of the week), glaze it up and get it back into your heated barrel
Carve it at the table like a boss because let’s face it, you are definitely a boss

SMOKED HAM

(serves a small village)

1x 8-9kg leg of brined (pickled) pork
A smoker
Lump charcoal
A few bits of flavoursome smoky wood. I used ironbark

Get your smoker on and get it up to 225-250F. The ham will take somewhere in the vicinity of 8 hours to cook, so bare this in mind when you are setting up your pit.
Add a piece of smoky flavour wood.
Get that leg of pork into the smoker, insert temperature probe into thickest part of the leg and put the lid on so it may do its thing.
Drink a beer.
If you are happy your pit is going to hold its temp for a few hours you could go and have a nap or watch I little bit of that carnival folk pornography I know you love so much.
Now it’s all about keeping that temperature and chucking a bit of smoky flavour wood on the coals every hour.
Once that internal probe tells you it’s 170F in the middle of that leg it’s time to pull it out.
Now you have ham.
Rest the ham for half an hour or refrigerate for a later date. Remove skin, leaving as much of the fat as you think you like (I like to leave it all for flavour and moistness), score (I gave it 10 out of 10 ;)), place in a baking dish and glaze with something sweet and sexy – this year I used 1 cup of honey and a little rosemary.
Whack it back into the pit or a suitably heated oven for another 1-1.5 hours, reglazing with the pan juices every 15 minutes.
Carve that thing at the table like a boss.
Amen.

Enjoyed by parents and children alike

Steamed pork rib with black beans


There is not much I do not enjoy about the yum cha (dumpling) table.

Normally I would write a few more words to introduce a recipe.

Not today.

This Christmas thing makes a chef’s life too bloody busy 

A few things I consider to be essential at the dumpling table

Pieces o’ pork
That pork ready to hit the steamer
The sticky rice ready to be tucked in covered with its #cheflife ALSCO towel
Dish that up

Just like that

STEAMED PORK RIBS WITH BLACK BEANS, STICKY RICE AND A FEW OTHER DUMPLING HOUSE GOODIES

500g pork belly with or without rib, pork spare rib or St Louis cut pork ribs, cut into 2cm pieces (your butcher might do this if you are nice to him/her. Otherwise you may need a meat cleaver…)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine)
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 clove garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of a knife
½ onion, diced
1 long green chilli, deseeded and diced
½ red capsicum, diced
2 tablespoons Chinese black beans
2 cups glutinous white rice, soaked for a day or overnight in 1lt of water
1 bunch choy sum
A splash of oyster sauce
Assorted store-bought dumplings
Sriracha, soy sauce and/or whatever it is you like to dunk your dumplings into, to serve

Combine sugar, Shaoxing, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and garlic. Mix through pork ribs to marinate. Set aside overnight or at least one hour to do its thing.
Add onion, chilli, capsicum and black beans, and transfer to a bowl that will fit in your steamer basket.

Set up steamer in the usual fashion – simmering water in the bottom, and then the layers with the holes in them go over that (dumplings, vegetables, rice and steamed pork go on these levels), and then the lid looking thing goes on top of them.

Line the bottom level of your steamer with a towel, add strained rice and then wrap extra cloth over the top like you were tucking the rice into bed. Now you should say goodnight to the rice. Place steamer basket over simmering water.
Place bowl with pork ribs into top basket. Place onto steamer and cover with lid.
Steam for 25 minutes or until rice and pork is fully cooked.
Remove rice and pork from steamer. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.

Line bottom steamer basket with baking paper. Place dumplings in basket, ensuring there is ½ cm between each dumpling so they don’t stick together. Place over simmering water.
Place choy sum on a dish that will fit in steamer basket and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons oyster sauce. Place steamer basket over dumplings and then cover with lid. Steam choy sum and dumplings for 6-8 minutes or whatever the instructions on the packaging of the dumplings might tell you.

Get it all on the table now.
Now is the time to eat it.
Place your chosen morsel into the big hole in your face, chew it a little or a lot and then swallow.
You are now eating.
Thumbs up.

BBQ sausage burgers from that book, “Pitmaster”


Tonights dinspiration* was taken from the book “Pitmaster”, by Andy Husbands and Chris Hart.

The book looks almost exactly like this… except maybe a little more 3D

I would just like to add; although Father’s Day was a few days ago, this would have certainly been a damn fine burger to make your father on said day, if smoky deliciousness is your father’s thing. A time machine modulus ala Napoleon Dynamite could transport you back if you’d like to appear that you love your dad more than someone who might measure the love they have for this pillar of a man using the currency of a shitty pair of socks.
Yeah we ate it with crisps and pickles

So, basically, I made the burger from the book.

This method of recipe writing is a heap easier than the method I would normally employ, I don’t mind telling you.

That’s the recipe… you might need to zoom in a little

Being a week-night dinner for the family (or myself and my two boys), there was no way this thing was going to hit the table without some side of roughage factor to it. Yes, we can all heartily argue that a pickle is a vegetable or that the burger mix has a little capsicum (pepper) in it, but there is no way on gods good earth that this would fly in our house hold. Long story short; there was a big fat tomato that came from Jennee’s garden staring me down, so, not to be labeled weak by a fricking tomato, I sliced that bastard up and that went onto the burger along with the king of burger lettuce – the iceberg. And it was damn well delicious.
I had a really good feeling about this…

Smoky, sausage-y, deliciousness.

A really fricking good burger.

Dear good lord yes

*Dinspiration. Inspiration for dinner. A term that will shortly (if it hasn’t been already) be coined by a TV celebrity chef who is speaking heartfelt words on behalf of a major restaurant chain on the subject of healthy, quick and affordable eating and how achievable these goals can be if you simply follow his/her recipes and shop and save at rah-di-rah supermarket. I think I just threw up a little…

Nachos supremo


This is a story about some really good nachos.

I am not implying that you don’t know how to make nachos, it’s just that these nachos are, well, probably better than yours. Soz.

And these nachos also involve one of my favourite sort of early week cooking scenarios – using up the inevitable pile of smoked meat or other random goodies I have left from my weekend of backyard experimentation (just to make it clear I have not been sewing chickens bodies to pigs faces or anything freaky like that, and I certainly haven’t been doing any of that your-turn-to-take-me-roughly-from-behind, keep it in the garden shed type experimentation either. Just above board, smoky meaty goodness. Thumbs up)

If you have the skill set you could defo make a pile of delicious smoked meat and awesome condiments, (which is something I do enjoy doing with my spare time and that is the truth) but the fact of the matter is that I am a cook and that’s what I do with my life and I am not so stubborn and/or dumb that I can’t realise that often times your kitchen skills may be borderline mediocre at best and you need a little help with a meal that may involve more than one pot and indeed a slew of ingredients.

So I guess my point is this – either a) make friends with someone who loves to BBQ and more importantly is quite decent at it, and clean up their BBQ leftovers after the weekend or, b) head down to your local BBQ joint of good repute and purchase some tasty meaty goodness from someone who can actually cook this stuff, and then it’s onto some kick-ass nachos.

In the words of the late, great Ramones – let’s go!

Still life featuring nacho ingredients

Heating my pork ribs on the ol’ Warm Ray
Choppy choppy pork rib

Nachos supremo

NACHOS SUPREMO (serves 4)

1 family pack of corn chips
1-2 cups chopped left over smoked or roasted meat (I had smoked pork ribs)
2 cup of pit beans or nacho beans
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup guacamole
1 cup sour cream
½ cup tomato salsa
Pickled onions and jalapenos
Coriander
Hot sauce
BBQ rub or some kind of nacho seasoning

Spread corn chips over an oven tray, sprinkle grated cheese over the top and then bake in a pre-heated 200C oven for 5-10 minutes until chips are warm and cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, heat your meat and beans (separately) and set them aside.
When chips are where you want them, slide them off the baking tray and onto something a little cooler to serve or, you know what, just eat them the heck straight off of the oven tray. I fricking love that shit.
Scoop beans onto the chips followed by meat, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, pickles, coriander, hot sauce and seasoning.
Eat that, drink beer and thank the dear sweet lord for BBQ left overs!

I would suggest the couch is a good place to eat these

Pulled pork burgers with celery and apple ‘slaw


My opinion is that celery can be pretty savagely under-rated by the average punter (not that I’m calling you average – you are a bloody unique and beautiful, individual little snowflake. Fuck yeah you are). Pulled pork, on the other hand, is not.

I figure that if I can combine the two in a dirty little ménage au trois with the ever-willing burger bun, then it would be kinda like wing-manning that red headed, freckly kid into a coital union with someone other than his second cousin on his mother’s side. The celery would be lifted to dizzying new heights, the pulled pork would be humbled by the true love it never really thought it would find and the bun, well the bun would just mosey on outta there before anyone woke up in the morning, probably stealing a half smoked pack of fags and a warm beer on its way out, never to be heard from again… because we all know that’s just what the buns are like…

Eat celery – it’s good… and so is pulled pork.

The ‘slaw looked very ‘slawish
I made some oven chips out of potatoes which I blanched in boiling water for 1 minute and then cooled, followed by seasoning and 15 or so minutes oven time
Onion and pickles all day
A good time in my mouth, to be sure

PULLED PORK BURGERS WITH CELERY & APPLE ‘SLAW

Pulled pork (you’re pretty pro at that by now, yeah?)
Buns
Pickles
Sliced onion
Mustard sauce
BBQ sauce

Make your burgers with a bit of all of these things. Nice work.

CELERY & APPLE ‘SLAW (enough for burgers for the fam and some left for your lunch tomorrow)

3 cups shaved/chopped cabbage, from approx 1/4 – 1/8 drum head, honky dory, just like from the olden days, green cabbage
1 cup finely slice celery heart (including leaves)
1 apple, julienned (I would normally use granny smith apples for a little tarty tart, but today my refrigerator told me all I could use was the Pink Ladies so that’s what it was)
‘slaw dressing (½ cup of mayonnaise mixed with ½ cup of apple cider vinaigrette works pretty well for me – recipes follow)

Mix salad ingredients together and then dress with as little or as much ‘slaw dressing as you damn well want.

MAYONNAISE

2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (or something else acidic)
Salt and pepper to taste
200ml vegetable oil
50ml olive oil (or use an extra 50ml vegetable oil)
A splash of water if it needs thinning out

Put the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper into a bowl if you are hand whisking this, or into a round tub if you live in a country that has electricity and you have the common sense to own a stick wizz.
Whisk until the yolks start to fluff up and turn pale.
While whisking, slowly add the oil in a light trickle. Don’t stop whisking while you’re doing this.
You should notice that it is all binding as one glorious spreadable mass. Do not be tempted to pour the oil in quickly. Take it nice and slow and worry about getting it done quickly when you’re married.
Once all of the oil is in there add A DROP or two of water to get it to your desired consistency, and check seasoning. Always check in with the seasoning.
If this is your first time, smear some of your finished mayo on a piece of fresh bread and eat it like you are an eight-year-old trailer park kid with his school lunch.
Mmmmmm.
Mayonnaise will last for a week in the fridge.

APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE

1 cup yellow mustard, or whatever mustard it is you like
¾ cup castor sugar
400ml apple cider vinegar
1200ml blended oil
Salt

Slowly emulsify oils into other ingredients. The same as that mayonnaise thing you just learnt about.
Remaining vinaigrette will last for for-ever in the fridge.

pulled pork burgers with celery and apple slaw
Go that ‘slaw. Good work celery and co