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.

Braised beef cheeks in drinkable red wine


At one time in the past I was of the opinion that the wine I used for cooking would not be the wine I would consume myself. In fact, the wine I used for cooking would be bottom shelf, cheap as, nasty assed goon*.

My opinions on more than one thing have changed in the last 20 years.

My opinion on the type of wine I should be cooking with was certainly not passed over by the opinion audit.

Now I am of the opinion that the wine you would like to cook with is also a wine that you would like to drink in your face. Maybe not necessarily that bottle you’ve been saving for your 50 year wedding anniversary, and certainly not a bottle you might drink at a teenage wedding or possibly a college art exhibition opening, but more of a “had a couple of drinks already and now I’m gonna pull you out of the cupboard and drink you all up” type bottle.

So that is the wine I have used to braised these beef cheeks for you right here today.

I have had the pleasure of using the fire to cook my dinner, but you can certainly use a pot on the stove top for yours.

The start of something good

Get a bit of colour on those cheeky cheeks
Add some sautéed mushrooms
Get it on a wooden camp table and serve some drinkable red wine in a mug to go with

BRAISED BEEF CHEEKS IN DRINKABLE RED WINE

(Serves 4)

1 kg beef cheeks, each cut into 3 pieces (a nice butcher will do this for you. A mean butcher will spit in your eye and then tell you to piss off)
100 g pancetta, sliced
1 onion, chopped roughly
3 carrots, cut into 5 or 6 pieces each – keep it chunky, keep it real
8 large cloves garlic, left whole and charred slightly on the coals (or raw chopped garlic will do just fine)
1 long red chilli, sliced
1 bottle of red wine
1x 400g tin diced tomatoes
500 ml beef stock or water
500 g button mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters depending on size
Salt and pepper

Heat a splash of oil in a heavy based pot or cast-iron camp oven over a medium-high heat. Add pancetta, onion, carrots, garlic and chilli, and sauté until starting to brown a little.
Add beef cheeks and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté beef cheeks for 10 or so minutes until they are browned and tasty bits are starting to grip a little on the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the wine, tomatoes and water, and stir to get all of the good bits off of the bottom of the pot and into the gravy.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 3 hours, stirring every half hour or so.
(While the beef cheek simmering is going on you can sauté your mushroom in a little oil and butter until they are browned. Set aside)
After 3 hours add the mushrooms to the pot and stir through.
Cover and simmer for one more hour.
Check that the beef cheeks are tender – they should be ready to be cut with a spoon by now. If not, simmer for another 15 minutes or until soft, adding a splash of water if the gravy starts to thicken up too much.
Serve with mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes or potato bake and green beans if you have some.
Eat it.

Damn well delicious

*Goon. Aust slang. Cheap arsed boxed wine. A wine one might drink in their teenage / university days.

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.

Smoky chicken wings


Now, I know that I harp on about the same shit on a regular basis – the glory of the cheaper cuts of meats for example – and this little spiel shall be conforming with the norm.

Today it is all about the chicken wing.

These things are the multi-lingual, bisexual, transgender, three-boobied alien who accepts cash, card, food stamps or a prize-winning root vegetable as preferred forms of payment.

You can do so many different things with chicken wings.

These things are about maximizing your dollar to flavour ratio.

These things are a decent meal from your last few bucks.

These things are not chicken breast.

These things will not help you soar like an eagle*.

These things are you feeding the crowd at your next swingers party and looking like you are directly descendant from the holiest of holies him/herself.

This is going to work well in a smoker or kettle BBQ with indirect heat.

The around the rim wing job

Wings and sauces – good times

SMOKY CHICKEN WINGS

As many or as few wings as you think you require
Your favourite chicken rub
Your favourite saucy good times

Fire up your smoker/grill and get the temp up to 160C-ish (320F). Place a couple of small chunks of smoky flavour wood on the coals to make those wings taste extra sexy.
Season wings with a little BBQ rub that makes you happy.
Place the wings on the grill however you see fit… a nice little around-the-rim pattern seems to be quite vogue right now.
The lid goes on.
Let the wings have a little smoky loving; 30-ish minutes for full wings and 20-ish minutes for wing segments, or until cooked. It is totally legit to cut one open and check that they are done though, so don’t be afraid to do that just to be sure.
Give them another little sprinkle with your BBQ rub of choice to freshen up those flavours.
Serve with BBQ sauce and hot sauce and… and… and… yeah, you get it, right?
Once you get these little babies sorted it’s time to start experimenting with different rubs and glazes and sauces and even wood flavours.
Go now, soar like an eagle with the down trodden, funny looking, little chicky wings.

* In fact, if you try to fly from a tall building after eating a bowl of these things, it is almost certain that you will fall to your death. With a little extra cash you could possibly purchase a “herbal wing substitute” that will surely help you fly**.

**Once again, may not actually help you fly.

Big effing steak, chimmichurri and a roasted carrot and corn salad


Some people would say that a not-even-slightly-amusing story about a big ol’ steak is not something worth writing down*. Some people are also happy to cruise through the suburban cul-de-sac that is their life, safely strapped into the Scotch Guard–protected synthetic car seat in their upper middle class white trash mobile. There is definitely not enough naked, bare back bison riding through the leech infested jungles of life going on these days and this is where the revival is going to begin!

Here.

With a big fucking steak.

You can call this whatever you like; “big fucking steak”, “bistecca alla fiorentina” (Italian for big fucking steak), “a romantic dinner for two” or even “a meat transplant”. I really don’t give a fuck. What I do give a fuck about though, is carnie racing and making sure that big ol’ lump o’ meat is cooked well and served with a fitting garnish.

There were a few carrots which were splashed with a little olive oil and seasoning and then wrapped with alfoil and chucked in the coals for 20 or so minutes, a couple of little onions that were chucked straight onto the coals until soft and delicious, and a couple of cobs of corn were given that same olive and seasoning treatment, grilled up top for 5 or so minutes and then stripped from the cob.

Tossed with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar, seasoned with salt and pepper and freshened up with a little chopped parsley, that was the salady-garnishy type aspect to this steak dinner.

Now for the steak.

The steak was a 30 day dry aged Cape Grim sirloin. A birthday gift from a friend who also happens to be a purveyor of top quality meats (these are very good friends to have PS). It was good. Reals good. This is how it went…

Get that steak on the bench… or maybe on a plate on the bench

Season the bejezuz out of your meat
That meat getting all grilly and tasty

Well rested, sided by a tasty assed chimmichurri sauce and ready to go

BIG FUCKING STEAK

This bad boy was somewhere in the vicinity of 600g
A splash of oil
Lanes “Signature” seasoning, or your favourite steak seasoning
Salt
1 tablespoon butter
Chimmichurri sauce (AKA the king of steak sauces) and the carrot and corn salad, to serve

Give your steak 30 minutes on the bench so it can get kinda room temp.
Now is a good time to light your fire if you are using one… Coals are always going to win the flavour game hands down in my book FYI.
Rub the steak with a splash of oil and then season pretty heavily (maybe a little less heavily if you are using a smaller bit of meat), top and bottom, with the steak seasoning.
Grill steak over high heat for 10 minutes either side and then remove from grill.
Rest that sexy piece of beast in a warm spot for a further 10 minutes, slapping the butter on top to melt into it and keep things reals sexy.
Carve steak from bone but leave the bone next to it to look like an absolute boss, season with a little extra sea salt and get it into your belly.

Going for it with that steak and a rare sighting of the carrot and corn number

*I know this is typing, but writing down just seems a heap more hopeless romantic and you know it’s all about the romantic for me.

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…