Bangers and mash with Paddy’s Day colcannon and Guinness gravy


That time there was leftover colcannon and Guinness gravy from St Patricks day so I decided I would put some sausages on the grill with some carrots and turnips and swedes wrapped in foil so that my family may have some kind of bangers and mash for our evening meal.

You may not have any Guinness gravy left… and you probably don’t even know what colcannon is… that’s going to be OK. We’ll make some especially for it because let’s face it, bangers and mash deserves it.

Bangers and mash is good solid comfort food. Please though, do not confuse it for a big warm sausage-y, potato-y food hug – that is something that really shouldn’t exist in writing and/or real life. Case closed.

When you need* to make bangers and mash a good start is getting onto some decent sausages. The snags in the pic were provided by one of our many neighbourhood purveyors of meaty goodness – Cromwell Farms. Also worthy of note is that the herbs that go into said snags also come from the same farm.

With that foundation of good sausage we can build upwards towards the heavens with mashed potato, gravy and some other vegetable of your choosing… although it’s nearly always peas… not today though.

Hey ho, let’s go (defo a Ramones quote).

It was raining but I didn’t even care because I had my Pro Q Excel 20 (R2smoketoo) on the verandah.

Smoky, grilly sausages.
Gravy in the pot, vegetables in the foil packs.

That spread. Effort is pretty low for a pretty high yield of tasty goodness.

BANGERS & MASH (serves 4)

8 thick sausages, grilled or pan fried or baked
salt and pepper
Colcannon, vegetables and Guinness gravy to serve

Cook the sausages and serve with the other things.

I can’t believe I’m trying to write a recipe for this.

COLCANNON (serves 4)

Sauté 2-3 cups of sliced cabbage and ½ sliced onion in butter and a splash of oil until softened and just starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir through enough mashed potato for 3 people (I know it says this is for 4 serves though… the sautéed cabbage will make up that extra serve for you… I’ve got your back on this one).

GUINNESS GRAVY

Make gravy exactly like you normally make it.

If you normally use chicken or beef stock you can replace half of that with Guinness.

If you use water and a packet gravy mix you can replace half of your water with Guinness.

Pretty easy.

* Bangers and mash is something that you can need. When you have an itch for bangers and mash, that itch can only be satisfied with bangers and mash. Fact.

Get that business in your face!

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

Stir fried water spinach and store bought dumplings for #easytastygood dinner


Oft times when it is really warm out I don’t do much.

I might sit in the pool for a bit, tighten a screw or oil a hinge (not a euphemism) and maybe watch a show, but that’s pretty much it.

I can’t even be bothered to write very much words.

I just cannot be assed.

But let’s face it; I’ve still gotta eat. Me going a day without food is like a Quentin Tarantino film without Samuel L. in it – highly fucking unlikely.

So, when it inevitably comes time to prepare our evening meal on said days I like to stay in character and stick with the whole “not doing much” theme.

This dinner is classic “not doing much”; store bought dumplings and sauces steamed and served with a really quick stir-fried water spinach number.

Piss easy enough for even you to not work up a sweat on a day like today.

Water spinach AKA morning glory, AKA kang kong, is one of my favourite things to put in a hot wok. It is quite simply just some tasty tasty shit. When we were in Vietnam and Laos it was sold as “morning glory” and was available at just about every restaurant and roadside stall we came across. Now I have a little trouble admitting this but I loved it. There you go. Never once in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would be admitting to the world that someone’s morning glory was one of my favourite things ever to put in my mouth… but it was.

This shit is damn well addictive. Even if you don’t like greens just try this… at the very least it might give a little life to your pasty little poster-boy-for-serving-fruit-and-vegetables-in-the-school-canteen demeanor and maybe get a little blood flowing down stairs so that poor little thing can get a little rigid again.

Eat it.

I’m out.

The ubiquitous "before" shot
The ubiquitous “before” shot
Get it on the table
Get it on the table
One more quick look before totally destroying it
One more quick look before totally destroying it
A better view of the water spinach number. Pretty sexy shit, eh
A better view of the water spinach number. Pretty sexy shit, eh

STIR FRIED WATER SPINACH WITH OYSTER SAUCE, GARLIC AND SOY (serves 4 as a side)

1 large bunch water spinach (this shit will wilt down a fair bit), sliced into 4-5cm pieces
2 spring onions/shallots, sliced into 2cm lengths
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat edge of a knife
½ tablespoon each oyster sauce and light soy sauce
vegetable oil for frying

• Add a splash of oil to a wok or decent sized pan and get it plenty hot
• Add the water spinach, spring onions and garlic and toss for a minute
• Add the sauces and toss for another minute
• Have a little taste to check for seasoning, add a little more soy if you need some more salty
• Put it on the table with a few steamed dumplings, those sticky rice and pork parcels wrapped up in banana leaves (possibly one of the sexiest of items on the dim sum trolley… the banana leaf , once gently and seductively pulled aside, reveals a sticky, soft, yielding mound of ricey porky goodness… dear good lord I’m getting myself excited…) and a heap of condiments; sriracha chilli sauce is a good start, soy sauce, chilli in soy bean oil, kimchi, something else that you can’t read the label of but grabbed anyway, etc. you get the idea.
• Go fourth, eat water spinach and dumplings and be happy

A close up of the glutinous rice and pork in banana leaf porn
A close up of the glutinous rice and pork in banana leaf porn

Pork Chop Jambalaya for a Jambalaya Virgin

pork chop jambalaya
Best I can figure Jambalaya is a bit of a Cajun classic that may have its roots in the Spanish paella. It’s a tasty-assed mash up some kind of meat, smoked sausage, a few vegetables and rice in a pot, where they are left to make love and produce a love child of immensely really good flavour to go in your face… or at least that’s what I hope it is – I’ve never actually tried it, but I’m set to give it a go today. I am a jambalaya virgin and today my cherry shall be popped. I am excited. I am excited like the teenage boy who is at last going to break the shackles of unintended celibacy. Fo real.

Cajun cooking has a bit of a thing going on with the celery, capsicum (bell pepper) and onion, the holy trinity of Cajun cooking if you will… and I certainly have no problem with this. It works, it does what it is meant to do, it doesn’t cause any trouble and it’s clean… I love a good clean house guest… or holy trinity… I have no explanation for the things that happen when my head tries to convince my fingers to type things for you to read.

Ummm, read it or don’t I guess.

Andouille sausage is another ingredient that features a lot in Cajun cooking, but is a product that I have not yet been able to lay my dirty little mits on. Probs not trying hard enough I guess – lounging around asking the universe to make some Andouille sausage appear, via carnie delivery service, at my front door is trying pretty damn hard though, yeah? I picture the scenario as this; I would be sitting on the couch in front of the fire typing away, producing a poignant story and an equally as emotional recipe, when I hear a knock at the door. I open the door to be greeted by nothing but a small package wrapped in brown paper and tied with string – fully old school styles. I scan the front yard for the deliverer of said package and catch a glimpse of a small carnie looking beast as it scurries through a crack in the fence. My gaze returns to the brown package on my doorstep… I open it, carefully undoing the string and then peeling back the wrapping, slowly as if it were the super models knickers. Peeling it back to reveal my prize, the golden brown Andouille sausage…

Possibly a metaphor for life, but more likely the result of a youth spent in a smoky haze, or even the affects of fluoride in the drinking water, or possibly that small vile of clear liquid I was given by the guy down the road who kinda looks a lot like Gandolf…

Here is the recipe for the pork chop jambalaya we ate on this fine evening. It received a standing ovation, which was in fact a sitting “yeah, this is really good”. Good enough for me.

Those sexy assed pork chops
Those sexy assed pork chops

Those sexy assed pork chops after a little time in the pan
Those sexy assed pork chops after a little time in the pan
Take the chops out and put them aside while you sauce the vegetables and chorizo in the porky fatty juices
Take the chops out and put them aside while you sauce the vegetables and chorizo in the porky fatty juices
Serve that baby up. A bit of lemon and some good company is the go
Serve that baby up. A bit of lemon and some good company is the go

PORK CHOP JAMBALAYA (serves 4)

800g pork chops (I really am a fan of the fat and the flavour of something old breed and free-range)
1 chorizo sausage, chopped
1 medium (or two small – common sense yeah?) onion, diced
1 capsicum (bell pepper), diced
1 stalk celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon Cajun or Creole spice or even just a pinch of dried thyme and chilli
2 cups of brown rice, soaked in water for a few hours (some kind of long grain white rice would be the norm, and if used you would not need to soak it)
4 cups stock or water
A splash of oil
Seasoning
Parsley, coriander (cilantro) and lemon wedges to serve

• Heat oil in a heavy based pan. Season pork chops with salt and pepper and fry in pan until browned on each side but not fully cooked. Set chops aside
• In the same pan, sauté chorizo, vegetables and garlic in rendered pork fat until softened and starting to brown
• Add spice mix and cook out for a further minute
• Add rice, stock and resting pork chops to pan, cover and simmer over low heat for 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked
• Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Check seasoning,
• Garnish with chopped parsley and coriander, and then serve. Onto a serving dish of some description and then into your face in the norm…

...and booze. Don't forget to serve it with booze
…and booze. Don’t forget to serve it with booze

Another Damn Fine Piece of Slow Cooked Beef Shin

slow roasted beef shin, dexter beef, northern rivers food nsw Boutique was once a word reserved for a place where a proper lady or the merrier of young gentlemen may be able to purchase perfume or a fashionable new handbag. Now, in these modern times we live in, boutique has become a word to describe the ever-growing number of small producers of meat, cheese, beer and things of the sort, and in equal capacity, also small hotels and guesthouses. In the Northern Rivers of New South Wales we are lucky enough to have many “boutique” producers of everything from meat to cheese to fruit and vegetables to bread to, well, even handbags for the more mature amongst us who are not embracing the current trends and require something a little more old school from the word. To get hold of a nice piece of pig or cow one need not look any further then the local farmer’s market or farm shop. Sunforest Organic Pork, Hayters Hill Beef or Cromwell Farms are but the tip of the proverbial iceberg or, if I may be so bold, the tip of the iceberg lettuce… or the cows teat… or the hipsters top knot… Whatever. Cromwell Farms, producers of old breed pork and Dexter beef, was the boutique purveyor of meats where this tasty tasty beef shin was acquired. Greg and Alison at Cromwell Farms hold regular pop-up farm shops where you can go and sample some of the produce being cooked by a local chef (yeah. It’s been me once or twice ☺) and purchase whatever it is you need to fill your home fridge and/or freezer. If per chance you do ever end up at a Cromwell Farms pop-up pork sale (maybe you wandered a little too far off the track after leaving the night club at 5am) do not, I repeat do not, leave with out a bag of bacon in your possession. Old breed pork smoked properly by Pat at the Clunes Butcher, it is amazeballs… and I don’t use that word lightly as I feel it makes me sound a little prattish. Back to the beef shin. I have said before that the secondary cuts of meat are my favourites and the beef shin certainly falls into this category. I have most definitely mentioned these cuts are a little easier on your back pocket. I have told you that if you give them a bit of love and some long and low cooking they pay you back ten fold in the flavour department. I can not force you to do anything but if I could by crikey it would be to go out and get a less favoured cut of meat, give it the love it deserves and see if that doesn’t change the way you think… but… well, I can’t fix stupid can I? Anyway, that story was nothing more than a premise as to where this beef shin came from on this one day… and I guess a little homage to the people who work so damn hard to make this available for the consumer or more importantly; just me. Also, worthy of note is this was a little almost cooking lesson with fellow bloggergeist and friend, Sam of Loving Lismore. We spent the afternoon cooking, sharing stories of strange carnie folk and one eyed goat herders and taking rightful care of the odd glass of three year old grape juice. Magic. Yep. Well done.

That piece of meat seasoned up and ready to hit the pan
That piece of meat seasoned up and ready to hit the pan
Sammy chops the onions
Sammy chops the onions
About to head into the oven
About to head into the oven
The beans go in and it can have another hour in the heat
The beans go in and it can have another hour in the heat

SLOW COOKED BEEF SHIN with CANNELLINI BEANS, TOMATO, GARLIC and HERBS (serves 6) 1 whole beef shin, 1kg ish 10 baby onions or eshallots (or 2 larger onions), peeled and quartered length ways 5 cloves garlic, chopped 2 punnets cherry or grape tomatoes, or a 400g tin of diced tomatoes will do the trick 2 400g tins cannellini beans 2 cups red wine 1 boquette garni of 1 bay leaf, 1 sprig rosemary and a few sprigs thyme A splash of olive oil Seasoning Salsa verde, crusty bread and a side or two to serve • Season the bejezuz out of that lump of meat. Rub it down with the massage, er, olive oil while you’re at it • Brown meat in an oven proof dish (or in a pan and then transfer to an over proof dish for baking) on the stove top • Once meat has some decent colour on it add onions and garlic and an extra splash of oil if it needs some lubricant, sauté until soft and fragrant • Deglaze with wine and add tomatoes and herbs. Cover and transfer to 170-180C oven for 3 hours or until meat is falling from grace… er, the bone… Covering the dish helps it steam a little from the inside, which in turn helps with the cooking process • Roll the meat over 1 hour into cooking, and then back one hour later. After the second turn it’s time to add the cannellini beans • When the meat is ready you will be able to push it from the bone with a spoon. If it is not ready after 3 hours put it back in for another halfa. Be patient. Do not eat it yet as it’s toughness will dishearten you and you will quite possibly end up naked in the foetal position in the corner of your bathroom… again • Pull the beef from the bone with tongs (or your bare hands if today is the day you make the world your bitch) and serve with salsa verde and your favourite sides. We had sweet potato mash and sautéed fennel, leek, cabbage and sauerkraut with a heap of butter because that’s what Sammy wanted • This is definitely one of those meals that needs to be washed down with a heap of red… a heap of red

You do not need a knife if you have cooked it properly
You do not need a knife if you have cooked it properly