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.

Pretty easy, using up those Sunday BBQ leftovers, cassoulet.


Today I realised I have not made cassoulet for quite some time. Sure, I’ve made pit beans and I’ve made cowboy beans, but I haven’t made a classic French cassoulet. And today I shan’t be making cassoulet either. Instead I shall be doing that bastardising thing I love to do so much and use a little smoked meat I have left over from the weekends cook to create my own little smoky assed, junk yard dog, mongrel cassoulet. And just like that junk yard dog, this dish is literally begging for you to give it more meat… give it all of the meat.

If I may digress just a little…

The cassoulet is basically a brothel. It has a big illuminated sign above it’s front door inviting more meat to the party. It does not care of the origin of the meat. It’s a “the more meat the better” type situation for the cassoulet… much like the brothel.

But as I said earlier, this is a mongrel version of said cassoulet so don’t go reporting me to the Traditional Cookery Police (TCP) because as we all know; dobbers wear nappies.

If you would like to make a bang up, bona fide, old school, full of fat and confit duck, Frenchy cassoulet, you can find a recipe by a great chef by the name of Guillaume Brahimi, right here.

I have also used tinned cannellini beans to keep it quick and easy. Tinned legumes defo have a place in my cupboard.

Cut the top off the garlic so it looks like this
Saute the meat and vegetables

The mongrel cassoulet sharing the table with some more beans. It’s a pretty friendly sort, really

PRETTY EASY MONGREL CASSOULET

500-750g smoky meaty leftovers (depending on how much you consumed or may have left over from that BBQ comp on the week end ) – start with pork neck or ribs and then add sausage, brisket, lamb and/or chicken – all chopped
2 tablespoons drippings from that meaty goodness
1 small onion (or half a large onion as I have used), diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 bulb garlic, left whole, top sliced off to reveal a little garlic-y flesh
A few sprigs of parsley and thyme
1 bay leaf
2x 400g tins cannellini beans, strained
500ml chicken stock. Homemade is best but sometimes store bought might be all you have on hand and it will still work, I can guarantee that
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.
Lube up a casserole dish or cast-iron pot or something that you can put in the oven with the drippings and then sauté meat and vegetables over medium heat until vegetables are starting to soften and brown a little. Alternatively, you can sauté the meat and vegetables in a pan and then transfer them to an oven proof dish.
Add all other ingredients except bread crumbs, stir to combine and season.
Top with bread crumbs and place in oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden brown and smelling delicious.
Eat it.
Put it in your face with a little green salad, or maybe some green beans with onion vinaigrette if you want to be the same as us.

One last pic of the ingredients…

Braised lamb cutlets with bubble-and-swede… and a couple of things that grow really well on the south island of New Zealand


Yeah, I know right. Who uses lamb cutlets for braising?

Well, in the south island of New Zealand where the sheep population grossly outweighs that of the humans*, lamb cutlets are cheap as bro, so today I would do whatever the heck I wanted with them.

So many swedes for the sheep

Also, what is this whole bubble-and-swede thing, you ask? A damn clever play on words and a really tasty way to eat the humble swede, that’s what it is.

You see, on an island that seems to have the climate to grow absolutely nothing, the folks down south are pretty effing adept at growing the humble swede. Mostly to feed the ever-growing sheep population it would seem, but occasionally for human consumption also. But probably not very much for human consumption as I would imagine they’d be pretty sick of them by now. Probably the carnie folk would still relish a good swede though, I would imagine…

So much dribble.

Whatever the case, it was not uncommon to see roadside market stalls selling swedes (and swedes alone) the size of the head of the carnie folk they might eventually feed, for a buck a pop.

So, the scenario is this – we drove through the hills (there is always “the hills”) of the sheep growing, swede producing south and I said to myself, “today I shall purchase some sheep and some swedes and I shall cook them for our evening meal”.

“That would be heaps Kiwi-ish”, I agreed.

The camper kitchen

Unbelievably cheap-as lamb, bro
Get a bit o’ colour on those lamb cutlets
Mashy the swede and potato
…and then mix in the sautéed leek…

Truly delicious. Wash it all down with a local alcoholic beverage of some description

LAMB CUTLETS, TAGINE GRAVY, BUBBLE-AND-SWEDE

(serves 4)

8-12 lamb cutlets, depending on size and appetite (NZ origin)
Moroccan seasoning (dubious origin)
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (NZ origin)
1 small knob ginger, grated (origin unknown)
1 teaspoon chilli paste (origin unknown)
A splash of some white wine (NZ origin)
400g tin diced tomatoes (definitely not of NZ origin as we could not afford the barter of 12 gold doubloons and 3 sex slaves that was necessary to obtain said tomatoes)
1 decent sized swede, diced large (NZ origin)
1 leek, sliced (NZ origin)
1 potato, diced large (probably NZ origin)
50-100g butter (we had some NZ stuff earlier in the week, but… hmmm… we don’t have any more)
Salt and pepper to season

Season cutlets with Moroccan seasoning. Brown cutlets in a pan over med-high heat for 2 minutes each side. Remove and set aside.
Add onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and a little extra Moroccan seasoning to the same pan with all of the lamby flavour, and sauté for a few minutes or until soft.
Deglaze pan with a splash of white wine and add diced tomatoes.
Return lamb chops to pan, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or so, until lamb is nice and tender.
While that’s going on you’ll need to sort your bubble and swede.
Boil swede and potato until nice and soft. Drain.
Sauté leek with half of the butter until soft and sexy smelling.
Mash swede and potato with remaining butter, mix in sautéed leek and then season well. Taste it and make sure the seasoning is good.
Plate it up however you see fit.
A bit of parsley would be nice but as you can probably see, we didn’t have any of that on hand.
Feeling the NZ vibe? I am.

*Seriously. I grew up in the south of Western Australia and I thought that place was an oversized sheep property but this place is nek level. The locals around here would be chucking a few sheep in the front yard before they ever contemplated putting in a rose garden or a kids cubby house I can guarantee you. I have respect for that kind of sheep love.

Loaded ass jacket potatoes


A la my recent reports on the virtues of trialing new BBQ techniques and having leftover smoked meats, here is another recipe/anecdote/bit of dribble to keep that leftover meat out of the dog’s belly and turn it into another cracking meal to make your face smile…

This time we’re talking potatoes. Everyone love potatoes, right? Jacket potatoes on the coals are the next step upwards toward the heavens for the humble spud too, right? Stuffed or loaded jacket potatoes are fully nek level fo’ sho. No denying. Am I correct?

Yup.

I thought so.

Are you keeping up?

That’s OK, neither am I… I drink way too much coffee to be able to keep up with my head… that shall not stop me from moving on though…

These potatoes are cooked to a point where they are damn well close to being labeled as a potato god and then their potato-y lily is gilded with an array of ingredients that make it even more attractiver. If a girl potato walked by these Adonis’ of the potato world, they would hook up for sure… well, there’d be a cheeky wristy involved at the very least.

I am heaps good at English, ay.

Wrap your taters and make them nice and warm

Saute an onion good and proper

Fill ‘er up


LOADED ASS JACKET POTATOES

(serves 4)

4 fist sized potatoes (I have a decent sized fist)
1-2 cups of smoky or roasted meat leftovers, chopped and heated
2 tins of baked beans or the equivalent from your last batch of homemade sexy beans, heated
100g cream cheese and/or grated cheddar cheese
Sauteed onions
Sauerkraut
Sour cream
Hot sauce
BBQ rub, chives and parsley to garnish
Leafy salad or ‘slaw to serve

Splash a little olive oil on your potato, season with a little salt and pepper and then wrap in alfoil.
Get some coals in your fire pit or BBQ or even in your fire place if you’ve got it fired up, and place potatoes around the edge, just nudging the coals a little.
Rotate potatoes every 10-15 minutes for 40 minutes or until soft in the middle – a good poke with a butter knife should be a pretty good indicator of this.
Using tongs or your tough-guy hands, remove potatoes from coals and set aside for a minute so they are not searing hot when you are trying to serve them.
Cut a cross through the middle of the potato so you may open it up a little and fill it with tasty good things and not at all because this is going to be kinda a religious experience.
Fill with beans followed by cheese, meat, sautéed onions, sauerkraut, sour cream and hot sauce if desired.
Garnish with garnishy things and serve with something green and leafy on the side.
Thank me later.

So ugly but so damn beautiful

New Zealandy snow posts coming right up…

Nachos supremo


This is a story about some really good nachos.

I am not implying that you don’t know how to make nachos, it’s just that these nachos are, well, probably better than yours. Soz.

And these nachos also involve one of my favourite sort of early week cooking scenarios – using up the inevitable pile of smoked meat or other random goodies I have left from my weekend of backyard experimentation (just to make it clear I have not been sewing chickens bodies to pigs faces or anything freaky like that, and I certainly haven’t been doing any of that your-turn-to-take-me-roughly-from-behind, keep it in the garden shed type experimentation either. Just above board, smoky meaty goodness. Thumbs up)

If you have the skill set you could defo make a pile of delicious smoked meat and awesome condiments, (which is something I do enjoy doing with my spare time and that is the truth) but the fact of the matter is that I am a cook and that’s what I do with my life and I am not so stubborn and/or dumb that I can’t realise that often times your kitchen skills may be borderline mediocre at best and you need a little help with a meal that may involve more than one pot and indeed a slew of ingredients.

So I guess my point is this – either a) make friends with someone who loves to BBQ and more importantly is quite decent at it, and clean up their BBQ leftovers after the weekend or, b) head down to your local BBQ joint of good repute and purchase some tasty meaty goodness from someone who can actually cook this stuff, and then it’s onto some kick-ass nachos.

In the words of the late, great Ramones – let’s go!

Still life featuring nacho ingredients

Heating my pork ribs on the ol’ Warm Ray
Choppy choppy pork rib

Nachos supremo

NACHOS SUPREMO (serves 4)

1 family pack of corn chips
1-2 cups chopped left over smoked or roasted meat (I had smoked pork ribs)
2 cup of pit beans or nacho beans
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup guacamole
1 cup sour cream
½ cup tomato salsa
Pickled onions and jalapenos
Coriander
Hot sauce
BBQ rub or some kind of nacho seasoning

Spread corn chips over an oven tray, sprinkle grated cheese over the top and then bake in a pre-heated 200C oven for 5-10 minutes until chips are warm and cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, heat your meat and beans (separately) and set them aside.
When chips are where you want them, slide them off the baking tray and onto something a little cooler to serve or, you know what, just eat them the heck straight off of the oven tray. I fricking love that shit.
Scoop beans onto the chips followed by meat, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, pickles, coriander, hot sauce and seasoning.
Eat that, drink beer and thank the dear sweet lord for BBQ left overs!

I would suggest the couch is a good place to eat these