Meatballs in tomato sauce on the Weber


This was one of those times where I wanted to fire up the BBQ but I needed to do something different than the ol’ standards.

Enter the meatballs.

Meatballs are absolutely banging when they’re cooked in any type of BBQ, and also tasty as when cooked in the oven. The choice is yours. But these meatballs? These meatballs were desitined for the Weber kettle today.

NB This recipe for meatballs is not one my own brain created, but in fact it is a recipe given to me by a previous employer who is of Italian descent. When I say recipe, I do believe there was not so much a recipe as a (very) short list of ingredients… two ingredients in fact; “ricotta and pinenuts”. I think maybe she was losing her mind a little and was just muttering some random words to herself as she walked by, never-the-less I took this as a sign from baby Jesus himself that I should be putting ricotta and pinenuts into my meatballs. So into my meatballs the ricotta and pinenuts went.

Also, just remember meatballs are so easy to make even a child could do it… so, well, you know… don’t be afraid to get your kids to help or even force them to take the whole process and make it their own.

All of the good things

Those balls all rolled up and bally looking

Just having a little simmering-over-the-coals party

MEATY BALLS

(serves 4-5)

500 g beef mince
500 g pork mince
1 onion, peeled and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup fresh ricotta, crumbled
¼ cup pinenuts, lightly toasted
¼ cup currants
1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
1 small handful of parsley, chopped
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Zest of half a lemon
2 slices sour dough bread, crusts removed, processed into coarse breadcrumbs
A big pinch of salt and pepper
3 cups of your favourite pasta sauce – Dolmio, tomato pasatta, nona’s home made special tomato sauce, tinned tomatoes or heinz tomato sauce (depending on your own personal preference and presence of taste buds) – tomato pasatta wsa my choice
Grated parmesan, to serve
Soft polenta, to serve

Preheat your BBQ or oven to 200 C-ish (390 F).
Saute onion and garlic until softened and just starting to colour.
In a large mixing bowl combine all ingredients excpet tomato sauce and mix until amalgamated.
Roll your meatballs*. I rolled mine somewhere in the vicinity of the size of a golf ball.
Pour your sauce of preference into a baking or casserole dish that will fit your balls (heheh).
Place the meatballs into the sauce and then into the BBQ or oven for somewhere between 45 and 60 minutes.
Check to see if they are cooked by whatever method you see fit.
Check seasoning in the sauce and adjust if necessary.
Serve on soft polenta with extra sauce, a splash of oilve oil and grated parmesan.

*there is no ‘wrong way’ when it comes to rolling meatballs.

Really good meatballs

BBQ leftovers moussaka


There is one huge problem for me in the colder weather. No, I do not have rheumatoid arthritis. Neither do I make a living from selling swimwear to people more beautiful than myself. And lastly, it has nothing to do with my carnie troupe needing warm weather to survive.

No. for me it’s more about the lack of ‘slaw in my diet and, as we all know by now, I am a big fan of ‘slaw.

A large portion of ‘slaw is normally the stuff my dreams are made from but, well, it’s just not so enticing in this weather.

On the flip side though, there is the slow cooked deliciousness that is moussaka (and a heap of other things but we’re going to concentrate on the moussaka right now) that will be the proverbial tissue for me to dry my teary eyes.

Although a little less traditional then a traditional moussaka made by a person with Greek ancestry living in the actual countryside of Greece, this is some avant-garde, tasty shit that will use up those delicious smoky leftovers from your weekend BBQ* and have you impressing the crap out of yourself while simultaneously warming the very cockles of your heart.

Get on it.

That meaty goodness just waiting to be tucked in with a bechamel blanket.
Bechamel time.

BBQ LEFTOVERS MOUSSAKA

Serves 6 – 8

MEAT SAUCE

3 – 4 cups chopped BBQ leftovers. I used brisket and pork ribs
1 onion, diced
5 – 6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
400ml water
½ tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper
1 large eggplant

Heat a large splash of olive oil in a medium pot. Add onions and garlic and sauté over medium heat until soft.
Add chopped meat and sauté for another 10 minutes until browned a little.
Add all other ingredients except eggplant and stir to combine.
Simmer on low heat for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes so that shit don’t stick!
While that’s going on, char whole eggplant over open flame**, rotating often until almost soft. Peel eggplant as best you can, or it might be easier to cut eggplant in half down the length and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Chop roughly and then stir through sauce.
Set sauce aside.
Now move onto instructions below to assemble your moussaka.

THE REST OF IT

The sauce you made already from the recipe above.
1 kg potatoes, simmered whole until just cooked
1.25 lt béchamel sauce (chef Google will defo help you with this one).

Preheat oven to 180C (360F).
Slice potatoes into 2cm disks and place them side by side in the bottom of a medium baking dish.
Cover potatoes with meat sauce.
Next add the béchamel sauce and smooth over with a spatula or something similar.
Place in the oven for 1 hour or so, until béchamel is browned and bubbly.
Once cooked, give it a minute or two before you start scooping it into your gob because that shit will peel off the roof of your mouth.

*Or after a BBQ competition if that’s your jam (I always save a bit of BBQ after a competition weekend because I know that it will only take a day or two for my BBQ coma to reside and then I will be craving the smoky goodness again).

**This gives the eggplant a nice smoky flavour and makes hem delicious even for people who think they don’t like eggplant.

Nacho good times bowl


This bowl can be a little bit of whatever the eff you’ve got lying around really. Except for your old dog – you just leave him lying where he is.

NACHO GOOD TIMES BOWL

Pulled pork doused with your favourite BBQ sauce. Left overs are perfect for this
Black beans cooked in bacon fat (recipe follows)
Tomato, onion and coriander salsa (You don’t need a recipe for this. It is those three ingredients plus a little splash of red wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper. That’s it)
Sliced avocado
Feta
Jalapenos
Hot sauce
Brown rice – cooked is probably best. White rice will also do the job
Lime
Store bought corn chips or tostadas, or make your own if you have the skills

You did save the bacon fat, right?

One of those “so simple, so good” moments

BLACK BEANS IN BACON FAT

(Serves 4 as a side)

Quite simply this is actually black beans in bacon fat – you save your bacon fat, right?

1x 400g tin of black beans, drained
1 -2 tblsp bacon fat
½ small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Sauté onion and garlic in bacon fat until fragrant and softened a little.
Add bay leaf, beans and a splash of water.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer 10 minutes, adding another tablespoon or two of water if it dries out.
Check seasoning.
Do the “nacho good times bowl” thing with them.

Maple baked beans


This is a pretty darn easy recipe for some pretty darn good beans.

Surely that’s enough to encourage you to have a go.

If you were smart enough to put your Christmas ham bone in the freezer so it may wait for a good and noble use, now is the time to rip that sucker out.

The beans go into the pot with all of the good bits of smoked pig

MAPLE BAKED BEANS

(serves 8 as a side)

1 ham bone with last skerricks of ham (or 300-400g chopped ham, bacon, smoked pork, smoked sausage or whatever smoky-porky goodness you may be hiding)
1 brown onion, diced
4x 400g tins cooked pinto beans
½ cup maple syrup
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons yellow mustard
1 tablespoon chopped jalapeno
1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
1lt water
A pinch of salt and pepper to season

Sauté the onion with the ham.
(This can be done in a kettle BBQ or bullet for a little extra smoke if you like it like that. I like it like that).
Add all other ingredients and cook over low-medium coals with the lid on for 45 or so minutes, adding a splash or two of water if it starts to get a little dry (this could also be cooked in a preheated 160C (320F) oven or on the stovetop).
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Remove bone and pick over for any little bits of ham that want to be thrown back into the beans. Throw said ham back into the beans.
Eat beans with a fat slab of ham on the side… or some BBQ…or eggs… you get the picture, right?

All good to go

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