The Silence of the Boys Eating the Lambs… Well, the lamb’s belly anyhow

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I ventured into the shop of my local purveyor of quality meats a while back to procure my good person a quantity bacon for the impending bacon week celebrations, when I noticed the butcher was taking the bellies off some lambs.

“Nice lamb Graeme”, he said to me.

“Looks very nice Scotty”, I replied. “How much for one of those bellies?”

“You can have one for three bucks”, he said.

“Well chuck one in the bag then my good man”, was the only response I deemed appropriate.

“Do you want a big one?” he asked.

“Sure”, I said. “Silly not to.”

We have pretty crazy conversations, that butcher and I.

So the end result, if it isn’t clear to you by now, is that I went home with a bounty of bacon and a lamb’s belly. Tonight the time has come to cook said lambs belly so… well, I guess that is what I shall be doing tonight.

A lamb’s belly is a thrifty assed piece of meat… although it doesn’t really have a lot of meat to it. It shall be known as a flap of flavour and I shall roll it’s sapid shroud over a stuffing of cous cous and cook it with cannellini beans and vegetables. It shall also be know as just plain awesome, I am sure. Anyhow, this cook-up will quite literally leave the “ten dollar dinner” consumerist propaganda mongers at Coles for dead. Those kids aint got nudda on me!

That lamb belly flap

That lamb belly flap

Stuff it and roll it

Stuff it and roll it

Yep. OK

Yep. OK

You know what this means… get in my belly!

You know what this means… get in my belly!

 

ROLLED LAMBS BELLY TO FEED A FAMILY FOR UNDER TEN BUCKS

1 lamb belly flap. This one weighed maybe 600g once the bones were out
½ cup cous cous
½ brown onion, diced and sautéed for a minute to soften
Seasoning
1 handful parsley, mint and thyme, chopped
PLUS
1 brown onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick of celery, diced
1 capsicum, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bay leaves
3 cups cooked cannellini beans
Chilli mint sauce to serve (recipe follows)
• Mix the cous cous, sautéed onion and herbs together. Season
• Spread mix over belly (the lamb’s, not yours), roll and tie that sucker up like it was a sex slave on Friday night
• Whack it in the oven at 180C for 1.5 hours
• Put the vegetables and bay leaves in after the 45 minute mark and the cannellini beans can go in with ten minutes to go
• Slice, season and eat

CHILLI MINT SAUCE

½ cup apple cider vinegar
¼ cup castor sugar
1 large (think Hagred from Harry Potter) handful picked mint
1 long green chilli, chopped finely
A pinch of salt
• Warm the vinegar, sugar and chilli together to dissolve the sugar and soften the chilli a little. Set aside to cool
• Once cool add mint leaves and blitz with a stick wizz or in a blender. If you don’t have a stick wizz or blender chop the mint really finely before adding
• Season and serve

We silently ate the shit out of this… the kids had seconds… my back pocket still had enough money in it to purchase a wee little tipple… we all smiled. Winning.

Getting pickled… lentils and beans, that is

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Huh. Sepia…

I love getting pickled. In fact, you could say that I have made somewhat of a career out of getting pickled. I don’t know if it is my German-Polish heritage rearing it’s ugly but lovable head, like the child peering around the corner while his parents are engaging in a little “special time”, but without getting pickled, my life is ass pointless as a silent letter.

I think I should probably clarify something right now… I am taking about pickling fruit or vegetables or, as in this case, legumes. What I am not talking about (but possibly actually talking about) is the pickling that occurs to your brain when you drink excessive amounts (or quite possibly just the right measure) of alcoholic beverages.

Why, as I type this now I am slowly but surely recovering from one such evening.

Quite apt really, eh?

The thing I love about pickles is, well, everything. From the taste to the preserving qualities to the taste… but I think I already mentioned that.

Lately I have been pickling lentils, chickpeas and cannellini beans with effing brilliant results. And where did this idea come from? I like to entertain the thought that I actually came up with this idea all by myself… with my smart brains. Clever, clever Grazza. I quite possibly did not come up with this idea by myself but that’s OK because for now I am living the dream.

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Lentils

Lentils

Cannellini beans. Not much to say about these pics really...

Cannellini beans. Not much to say about these pics really…

PICKLED LENTILS or CANNELLINI BEANS or CHICKPEAS
1 400g tin of lentils or cannellini beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 eshallot or half a whatever onion, sliced
1 10cm stick of celery, sliced
½ small bulb fennel if you have some lying around, sliced
A chilli if you want, sliced
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar (apple cider or sherry vinegar would both be cracking too)
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
• Mix everything, except oil, together in a bowl. Season well
• Pour/spoon the mix into a jar or your holding receptacle of choice
• Cover with oil
• Put them in your fridge, not mine, as they will not last for more than a few days in my fridge
• They are best after a day or two and should last for a few weeks in your fridge
• Eat them with a piece of whatever meat or fish you want, charcuterie, cheese, bread or by themselves straight from the jar

Sauerkraut is next!

Foodisthebestshitever – the home of easy-tasty!

Hella easy baked pasta with cannellini beans, tomato and vegetables for a pile of kids

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That's what it looked like on my plate. This is my favourite plate

That’s what it looked like on my plate. This is my favourite plate

Today my worst fears were realised.

I was in the middle of prepping our evening meal this afternoon when Jennee sent me a message stating that she was heading home with two extra kids in tow (that makes 4 for anyone who’s not really good at maths) and she hoped it was cool that they were having a sleep-over.

“My nightly cooking detail is hard enough with two kids,” self said. “What are you doing surprising me with another two?”

That’s not even a surprise anyway. A surprise is something like chocolates under my pillow, a freshly mowed lawn when I return from a hard days work, or an extra lady in my bed when I retire for the evening.

“What the hell am I doing?” I thought to self. “What if these kids don’t like the stuff I’m cooking?”

“Fuck it. They can eat it anyway,” self said in an obscure act of defiance… I really think I spend too much time with self occasionally…

Anyhow, this is what I made…

Mix it all up (and sing a little song while you do it)

Mix it all up (and sing a little song while you do it)

Put the cheese on top and then put it in the oven

Put the cheese on top and then put it in the oven

Bake that bad boy until it is golden brown and beckoning to you like your next smack hit...

Bake that bad boy until it is golden brown and beckoning to you like your next smack hit…

Yeah I'm having some

Yeah I’m having some

Because there were so many of us at the table Obi made name tags so we would remember who is who. There's mine in the top left

Because there were so many of us at the table Obi made name tags so we would remember who is who. There’s mine in the top left

Baked pasta with cannellini beans, tomato and vegetables

250g pasta shells/penne/macaroni, cooked (the packet should help you out here)
1 onion, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped (small to get it past the kids)
2 bunches of broccolini, chopped (small like the zucchini)
3 anchovies
1 tablespoon capers
1x 400g tin cannellini beans
1x 700g bottle tomato passata
2 cups cheddar or whatever cheese, grated
½ cup parmesan or pecorino cheese, grated
• Sauté onion, zucchini and anchovies until softened
• Mix everything except cheeses together, then chuck that into a baking dish that is big enough to fit it (a baking dish that is not big enough to fit is only going to cause a mess followed by your wife getting very upset followed by an argument followed by the end of your evening. Don’t do it)
• Bake at 200C for half an hour or until the cheesey crust is bubbling like the communal bath at the local homeless shelter
• Eat it
• MAKE the kids eat it
• Smile

… And (true story) they all ate it. Which is kind of lucky because if they didn’t I would’ve eaten them. But they all loved it, which was the part that surprised me a little. One bowl here, two there, and Obi was back for thirds! I am a winner tonight!