Special sauce

This is my recipe for special sauce. We use it at our restaurant, the Stockpot Kitchen, and lots of people ask me for the recipe.

Here is the recipe.

My debt to you is paid in full.
It is especially good in a burger or three

SPK SPECIAL SAUCE

This is enough for a round of burgers and then some to put in the fridge to add to everything else you eat (especially hot chips) until your honeymoon obsession is over.

2 cups mayonaise – make it or buy some good stuff
¼ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
¼ cup roughly chopped dill pickles
¼ medium onion, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon each yellow mustard, hot sauce and worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to season

Blitz all ingredients except mayonaise in a food prossessor or blend or with a stick wizz.
Fold into mayonaise and mix until thouroughly combined.
Eat it with whatever you find fit.


Paul’s Caul – Hash in all of its glory.

Now I’m sure you are either thinking where the hell have I been for the last two years, or more likely who the hell am I? Regardless of which group you fall into I don’t feel I have to answer to any of you so just relax, you don’t own this blog! We don’t work for you!

But with that said I have missed you all and have felt somewhat lacking in my expressive outlets and lets be fair that’s what this is all about, myself and G-balls scribbling about food as a cathartic exercise, that on a good day actually discusses food and on an exceptional day teaches you guys something other than we can ramble on for hours about next to nothing.

I could go into detail about the past few years but lets face it you don’t care, you don’t have the attention span to actually take it in even if you did care and most importantly it’s none of you god damn business. So lets just say I was doing what I love best, which is travelling the world cooking food, making other people cook my food and then watching with baited breath as people eat said food. All of this hoping for the all important smile or groan of love as the flavours and textures I have spend my life trying to achieve elicit the required response in people bellies and taste buds. What I haven’t been doing quite obviously is learning where to place commas or even basic grammar, but this is on my to do list.

Beyond that I did actually marry the best person I know, so as you can imagine for people like G-banger and myself this task takes up a lot of our time. Convincing good people that we are also good people is a very elaborate rouse, which is exhausting, but the end game is so worth it (not the movie as I’m yet to see it, but I did see the new spider-man the other day and managed to fucking ruin the plot of end game for myself like a complete bell-end) so all in all I’m happy, I’m married and cooking somewhere in the world loving food in every form possible from growing to eating and from cooking to serving.

Seems like a good time to actually delve into some legit food talk, I’m going to talk about hash today. Now before you start thinking this is not appropriate for such a wholesome blog to discuss an illegal substance such as hash, I assure you no actual hash was consumed by anyone involved in this website and we do not condone such reckless although hilarious and even relaxing behaviour.

When we talk about hashes in the cooking world its used to explain a mad concoction of ingredients cooked together (with potato being the star) in manner that really gets them knowing each other very intimately. Imagine loads of ingredients just hanging around having a BBQ, or just chilling at the beach. You will often find Mr Potato leading the way, he does like to invite everyone as he a social whore but the party is best when Senor chorizo comes along with his missus ‘senorita pomodoro’. They are just so much fun. I best stop that analogy there otherwise I’m at risk of writing a kids book with an ending that with scare the fuck out of any child cause let’s face it, all of your lead characters being killed is never good unless you involve some dragons, loads of incest and a dwarf.

For me cooking a hash is about using up what’s in the fridge and cupboards – it’s usually chorizo, spinach, potato, tomatoes, chilli, herbs, more herbs, some spices like paprika/cumin/fennel seed and some more herbs. Now if this doesn’t sound like what is left in your fridge and you are thinking how the hell am I going to turn a tub of margarine, a bottle of ketchup and some milk on its way to evolving into something less liquid like, then perhaps go rob your neighbours fridge or heaven forbid go to the shops and start buying some proper food in the hope that you end up buying too much leading towards a day you will have some delicious leftovers ready to cook this incredible hash.

But if you were to have tinned corn, beans of any kind, nuts, meats in any form, veg in any form, cheese can get involved, as far as spices all will work, herbs I cant think of a bad one. So basically anything will do but as with everything in life restraint is the key to success. This style of dish can be vegan it can be the most carnivorous dish you could dream up and everywhere in-between, perhaps think of a dish you already love and break its flavours and ingredients down and re-vamp them into a hash.

As a chef I actually end up having loads of pre-prepped items like confit cherry tomatoes or puy lentils kicking about that already have loads of flavour jammed into them. This isn’t to say you can’t do the same yourself, as these kinds of things are just the best building blocks for dishes. I’ll quickly go through a few items you should start getting amongst in your culinary adventures.

Confit cherry tomatoes

Simply whack load of cherry toms into a high sided oven tray or dish, try not to leave them double stacked but they will collapse a little so a few on top of each other won’t do any harm.

Now completely coat them with olive oil, don’t waste your good extra virgin gear just olive oil or even rapeseed oil will do, in fact I don’t give a fuck what oil you use. If you want to produce some extra flavoured oil as a by-product them add a bit more but for this purpose a light covering is adequate.

Now slice up a couple of chillies and bung them in with the toms and oil, how many chillies and what kind of chillies definitely fall into the I don’t care what you do category. I use green chillies and about 1 chilli per punnet and I usually make 4 punnets worth of cherry toms per batch.

Slice a few cloves of garlic and gently place them in the tray (just kidding smash, slice, crush or leave whole then recklessly throw them in) and while you are at it a couple of sprigs of thyme or rosemary can go in there too. I don’t cut them up at all, I do however remove stalks at end of cooking, but this point the leaves have generally falling off and done it job.

Now stick the tray in an oven at 150c for 2-3 hours or until the toms have collapsed and look sexy and all that.
Now they can be used straight away as a pasta sauce, you can drain off juice and oil and use as dressing, you can use toms for a mega bruschetta-esque thing. Basically this stuff will make cardboard taste good.

Puy lentils

These bad boys are without a doubt my favourite legume, easy and quick to cook and such a great vessel for flavour getting into my face hole.

To cook then you need to cook off some onions, carrot and celery diced fine then add lentils and then some stock and allow to cook for 20 minutes or so to allow them to soak up all of the goodness.

Of course I also jam some herbs in there and often use ginger and some spices but its over to you to find what you like and if this explanation isn’t enough for you, then go Google how to cook puy lentils and leave me alone.

Once you have them cooked they can be used as a side to your dinner, a base to serve your dinner on, as a salad base, placed in a soup for something a little special or just eaten like you would a risotto.

Candied chilli

Slice loads of chillies into a pan then cover with sugar and vinegar and simmer down until it starts to thicken then take off heat and allow cooling.

I don’t care what chilli, sugar or vinegar you use and to be perfectly honest I can’t imagine a combination or quantity that wont end up with something resembling a useable candied chilli.

As for uses there is just too many to start talking about, if you cant find a use for this stuff then we cant be friend, its that simple.

Get that mis en place together
CHORIZO & POTATO HASH

For this hash I slice up one chorizo and half loads of new potatoes and place them on an oven tray, drizzle every so slightly with oil as the chorizo when excited by heat releases it juices and aids in making anything close to it amazing.
Whack this in a hot oven (180c) for 30-40 minutes or until chorizo is crispy and potatoes look the business, this may require a stir half way through.

Then once cooked add half of the mix with some warmed confit cherry toms and some spinach leaves and pour onto a plate or a bowl and scatter the remaining crispy chorizo mix over the it.

Now go wild with chilli, coriander, basil, spring onions and parsley… chop or tear it up and sprinkle over the hash.

Now liberally squeeze some aioli or mayo over the top, finish with a big spoonful of yoghurt.

Its that simple, serve up straight away but be prepared to get addicted to this method of cookery as its easy, delicious and beautifully wholesome in all ways.

Other combinations are…

• Sweet potato, kale and corn
• Potato, spinach, fish and caper mayo
• Courgette, aubergine, ras el hanout, kiffler potatoes
• Mushroom, goats cheese, asparagus, potato and basil
• Puy lentils, thyme roasted potato, confit cherry toms, candied chilli mayo
• Potato gems, bacon, cheddar, spring onion, bbq sauce

I’ll leave you here to enjoy hash in all of its glorious guises and remember kids – hash is great.

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

Christmas ham glaze and a tasty stuffed bird.

foodisthebestshitever

That glazed ham after a little time in the wood fired oven. I love those little charred sexy bits That glazed ham after a little time in the wood fired oven. I love those little charred sexy bits
I’ve noticed shit is getting a fair bit Christmassy around the joint at the mo’. Like, really effing Christmassy.

My smart brains told me that due to my little issue with finding time to hit this blog up at the moment, I should get onto some kind of Christmassy type post pretty fricking quick smart or the whole thing will pass me by and I’ll be left standing out the front of the house in my freshly pressed favourite baby blue suit, ironed tie and hippest new sock-sandal combo, with no date for the school dance… again…*

I also thought that this might be one of those ever-rare occasions where I may have inadvertently been presented with the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. You see, I have been…

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Venison, root vegetable and stout stew… and navigating a camp kitchen


Our recent trip to NZ had very slight undertones (subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish) of cooking and/or eating whatever local produce the frozen, undulating, sheep dotted, river covered landscape could offer.

This day we were making our way back to Methven, and the company of our good friends Troppo and Lexi (real names), and we thought it pretty fit that we should cook them a nice hearty, vegetable laden dinner as fresh produce was damn expensive up this way and, well, if there’s one thing you need to be able to afford in this kind of weather it is not fresh vegetables, it is booze – Jesus’s little gift to us to help us stay warm in the cold.

About that dinner.

We finally stumbled on a wee little farmers market in a little sea side town on the east coast, at which one vendor was able to provide us with his home-grown yams, carrots and broccoli, and he was also selling the biggest fricking jerusalem artichokes I’ve ever seen. So big, in fact, I could not even recognise them. When I queried what the name of this strange, palm sized, Anakins-head-when-he-was-crawling-out-of-the-lava looking tuber may have been, the old farmer told me that it was indeed called Jerusalem artichoke and it was grown by another older gentleman up the road (points over shoulder).

“Indeed”, I remarked. “Well I will need to take a couple of those”.

The farmer then packed my produce up for me, I paid him the required toll and we were on our way.

We picked up some Dunedin venison and a bottle of stout from the peeps at Panhead Brewery, and then every item on the shopping list had a nice little tick next to it. We were clearly ready to do some cooking.

You will note my mis en place is in plastic bags. This is so I did not need to carry a box full of crap with me to the camp kitchen where the meal was cooked. “It’s pretty ingenious”, is probably what the other homies in the camp kitchen would have been thinking, and is also no doubt what you would be thinking right now.

Some booze for the stew and some booze for me

There’s those mis en place bags in the camp kitchen

Ready to go… with a big fat side of buttery sautéed cabbage

And a little more booze for me…

NZ VENISON, ROOT VEGETABLE & STOUT STEW

(serves 4)

500g venison shoulder, diced
1 onion, diced kinda chunky
2 carrot, chopped kinda chunky
2 sticks celery, chopped kinda chunky… let’s do all of the vegetables kinda chunky, ay
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fist sized Jerusalem artichoke, chopped
6-7 yam, chopped
½ bunch thyme
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
500ml stout
500ml stock or water
Salt to season

Season venison and brown meat over med-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorn bag and cook out for 5 minutes.
Add booze and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add artichokes and yam bag and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. If the gravy starts to thicken up too much feel free to add a little more moisture in the form of stock or water.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve it up with a side of NZ’s finest booze.

Girls vs Boys Southern Smokehouse Cook-off

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A man, a coffee and a smoker

It was to be another cook-off at foodisthebestshitever HQ. The teams were girls versus boys; the girl’s team comprising of my wife Jennee and her sister Liz (who can get an extra special mention right now because she flew in from the other side of the country especially for the occasion), while the boys team was made up of myself, yer ol’ uncle Grazza, and Jennee’s brother, Queenie. The theme was “Southern American Smokehouse” or something thereabouts. The esky was full of booze. The table was set. The competitors were ready. The Girls v Boys Foodisthebestshitever Cook-off 2016 was about to begin…

*The people in the story may be fictional, but the events are real.

The boys

We (the boys) felt there was a lot of smack talking from the girls. Like, a lot of smack talking. The girls were being particularly good at smack talking. In fact, I was walking down the street in a local town when I was approached by a young man who informed me that he had heard a rumor my man Queenie was very slightly hung. Now, Queenie may not be the manliest of guys names but I know for a fact that this brother is packing the equipment needed for the job. Well, I’ve heard he’s packing… don’t look at me like I’ve been sussing out my brother’s package. Holy shit you guys know how to contort a story… much like the women folk around these parts… great segue. That bloody smack talk.

A weaker boys team may have crumbled, but our resolve would not waver. We cleared our minds and our pipes, centered our chi and got the eff on with the job.

Our little tree motif was whittled by Queenie, made from 100% repurposed wood that was otherwise just laying around, taking up space and producing air and shit.

The rocks displayed our organic approach to our cooking and our lives, and the ebb and flow of the world we live in.

The plates were also repurposed old plates, which were recently introduced to their new life as, well, plates.

That was our story and we were sticking to it.

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Feel the emotion

Our Ode to the South was based on nothing more than a child hood obsession with KFC and an adult (or maybe more correctly termed; a 30-40 year old) obsession with smoked meat… and fried chicken… and an old Elvis 7inch. Still, it was our Ode to the South none-the-less, and it went a little something like this;

• Pulled pork finger, cheesy jalapeño crust, pickles, kimchi mayo
• Smoked rib, Big Red Rub, mustard sauce
• Tater tots injected with white trash heroin AKA cheese sauce
• Beer battered onion rings, ranch dressing
• Fried and then smoked and then fried again chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese sauce
• Smoked jalapeno popper
• Smoked brisket burger, crumbed (breaded) milk bun, slaw, barbecue sauce

The girls

The girls relied heavily on smack talk in an attempt to throw the boys from their game. But they did eventually bring some tasty and creatively produced treats to the table, ensuring a close competition.

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That layered salad was pretty special

The girls based their plate on a love of the hush puppy and 1980s layered salads. Happily re-jigged to fit with-in the guidelines of the “Smokehouse” brief, their entry went almost exactly like this;

• Layered salad with crumbled corn bread, smoked capsicum and corn, pickle and iceberg lettuce
• Smoked pork rib
• Smoked prawn, smoked Andouille sausage and smoked eggplant hush puppies

The result

Once the smoke had cleared and the gloves were un-tethered and removed to reveal calloused hands strapped crudely with ordinary house hold masking tape, the votes were tallied and the announcement of a winner was tasked to our youngest child, Obi. It was said around the table that both boys and girls had brought their A-games to the kitchen this day but unfortunately there could be only one winner – one team whose A-game was in fact a little A-er.

On this day of our lord, Sunday March 27th 2016 *drum roll please*… it would be the boys that would march away victorious from this cooking stadium, heads held high and then swiftly and smartly the victory was relegated to a distant memory, one that would not be spoken about ever again, as we were the men folk and we knew about the way of the world…

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That onion ring. Bangin’

A recipe for the WINNING BEER BATTERED ONION RINGS (enough for a few sides or maybe a Friday night on the couch watching midget wrestling)

2 med-large onions of your choosing
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon Big Red Rub or Cajun/Créole spice mix
1 bottle o’ beer… whatever you’re drinking will be fine
Oil for deep frying
Seasoning
Ranch dressing and extra Big Red Rub to serve

• Slice onions into 1cm-ish rings, popping the first 4-5 center rings out for something else you’re cooking that has onion in it
• Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot or plastic bucket if you’re not that smart. 180C is the go
• To make batter mix flours, oil and spice mix. Slowly whisk in beer until your batter is quite smooth and is thick enough to coat your finger nicely. Not too thick is the key here
• Coat the onion rings with plain flour and then dip them into the batter. Drag them out of the batter and ever-so-slightly drag them across the side of the bowl to remove excess batter
• Lower them gently into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through
• Drain on kitchen towel, season with salt and pepper and a little extra Big Red Rub, serve with ranch sauce on the side