A Tex-Mex feast starring my old friends, the Chicken Mole and Slow Cooked Briskett

The guys... hanging out... warming up for the party
The guys… hanging out… warming up for the party

It’s has been said that there are two things that are certain in this life we live;
1. Death
2. Taxes
3. A Tex-Mex feast of large proportions if you stay at our house for more than a day or two
4. And my lack of appropriate shills needed to do math

My Uncle Rob and Aunty Lizzie were fortunate enough to stay with us recently and, as they hit the “few day stay” bracket, a Tex-Mex feast did indeed eventuate.

We got our finest crockery out, and by finest crockery I mean it may have been vogue in 1978 but we’re still using it now because we think it makes us look pretty cool and shit. Whether there is any truth in the concept that old plates may us look cool I know not. But we were cooking a Tex-Mex feast, no doubt about it.

That’s really nice, isn’t it? We’re nice people, you know…

With out further adieu, and with no beating around the proverbial bush – a task I feel is best left up to Ron Jeremy and his band of merry 80’s porn stars, here is a recipe for my shredded chicken Mole, a must for any table that is supporting a Tex-Mex feast…

That brisket spent quite a number of hours hanging out with little wisps of smoke from the coals of the old hardwood that burns beneath
That brisket spent quite a number of hours hanging out with little wisps of smoke from the coals of the old hardwood that burns beneath

It is safe to say I am well and truly addicted to cooking on this puppy
It is safe to say I am well and truly addicted to cooking on this puppy
Some friends for the chicken, brisket and beans
Some friends for the chicken, brisket and beans
Everyone getting amongst it
Everyone getting amongst it
Time to get in my belly
Time to get in my belly

CHICKEN MOLE POBLANO (for 10-12 as part of a banquette)

2kg chicken breast
4 cloves
2 cinnamon quills
80g Mexican chocolate (if you can’t get hold of it use 1 tablespoon cocoa powder)
2x 400g tin diced tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock or water

the almond paste

2 corn tortillas, grilled or roasted with a little oil until brown
80g raisins or sultanas
80g almonds, roasted
¼ cup pepitas, roasted
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, roasted
1 tablespoon coriander seed, roasted and ground
4 cloves garlic
4 dried long red chillis, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes
1 cup water

• Blitz ingredients for almond paste until it nice and pasty like your chefs’ tan
• Fry paste off in a little oil until you are starting to detect delicious aromas with your nose. Yep. I’m afraid your nose is in charge of this one
• Add all other ingredients, except chicken, and chuck some salt and pepper in there too. Simmer over low heat, stirring often, for 30 minutes
• While sauce is cooking roast chicken breast in 180C oven for 15 or so minutes, until just cooked. Once cooked, shred chicken apart using two forks
• Add chicken to the sauce and check seasoning
• Serve it up with a heap of other shit such as slow cooked brisket, chilli beans, pickled jalapeno slaw, brown rice salad, guacamole, feta, charred salsa picante, jalapeno relish, natural yoghurt or sour cream and home made or shop bought tortillas

Left over roast chicken filo snail pie

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This is for all of the cheap and easy mid-week mums out there… actually, that did not sound quite right. Let’s say it’s for all of the mums out there who appreciate the value of good honest cheap and easy mid-week cooking. And if you are an actual cheap and easy mid-week mum inbox me… please.

If you don’t have any left over roast chook for this then you are certainly screwed… Not really. I fricken tricked the shit out of you right there, eh. I’m stilling LOLing all over the place. So, if you don’t have any left over roast chicken you can just cook some chicken and use that. You can do that, right?

I had a heap of left over chicken which was kinda handy because we had this for dinner last night and the kids loved it so much they insisted, with threat of attack by small people, that I make this pie for dinner again tonight. “Keep your darn carnies,” I said to them. “You shall have pie”.

And then the children were fed.

It may look something this
It may look something this
Filo and chicken for miles
Filo and chicken for miles
A pretty photo… nice change
A pretty photo… nice change
Make rolls for the kids lunch boxes if you have some left over, or just cut it off the end of your snail if it won't fit in the pan
Make rolls for the kids lunch boxes if you have some left over, or just cut it off the end of your snail if it won’t fit in the pan
Snail pie sans snails. Eff yes
Snail pie sans snails. Eff yes

LEFT OVER ROAST CHICKEN FILO SNAIL PIE (for 4)
400-500g left over roast chook, shredded. Or 500g boneless chicken thigh, cooked in a little oil and then shredded
1 brown onion, sliced
1 bunch of cavolo nero, kale or silverbeet, shredded
100g feta, or ricotta if you don’t do feta, crumbled
½ lemon, juice and zest
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 pinch dried chilli flakes
1 pack of filo pastry (you only really need 9 sheets but you cant just buy 9 sheets around here, so stash the rest of the pack in the freezer up near that acid you’ve been saving since ’94. And please don’t accidently grab that sheet of acid when you’re going back for the filo… Wednesday night dinner isn’t ready for that yet)
Seasoning
1 tablespoon butter, melted
Cumin and sesame seeds to sprinkle
• Sauté cavolo nero and onion in a little oil, until starting to soften. Season and set aside to cool
• Once cooled, combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix it all together. Check seasoning and give it some if it needs it
• Lay three filo sheets out on the bench so they are just overlapping on the sides. Brush with melted butter and lay 3 more sheets over the first 3 so they overlap like bricks in a house. You’ve seen bricks in a house, yeah? Now brush with butter and lay the remaining 3 sheets over the top so they line up with the original 3. You should have a long rectangle of filo in front of you now… or at least something that vaguely resembles a rectangle… I hope
• Place a 4cm wide strip of the chicken mixture at the front of the filo and roll that thing up like a big assed sausage roll. Go nice and slow and gentlemanly like so as to avoid tearing the crap out of the vagi… um… filo
• Gently coil the whole lot up like a snail or two snails depending on the size of your pan… or coil it up like a rattle snake if snails are too pussy for you
• If you have any chicken mix left, try making a few filo rolls for the kids lunch boxes
• Slide it into a buttered pan/dish that is big enough to hold it snuggly (use two if you need to)
• Brush the top with a little eggwash, or milk if that’s all you’ve got
• Sprinkle with sesame and cumin seeds and bake in a pre-heated 180C oven for 15-20 minutes, or until nicely browned
• A little garden herby leafy salad is a good side if the weather is still allowing for it

#easytastygood

Balsamic beetroot salad with fried beetroot leaves, quinoa, soft feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs

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I sit back today, slowly winding down and reflecting on my week so far… and by that I mean I am in bed, sick, sore and whining like the small child who needs his mothers boobie. Dammit, I do need my mother’s boobie… Actually that would be a little sick, but probably encouraged in many hippy circles around these parts. I think what I meant to say was; I need the boobie of the mother of my children… Shit, that is still waaaaay too weird.

As I lay here, one thing I did actually think about was the beetroot salad we had for dinner earlier this week. I’m sure it didn’t make me sick…

It is true that it has been many times said in the kitchen that “you can beat an egg, but you can’t beat a root”. It is also true that you cannot beat Usain Bolt in a running race because he is really fast and he is also not you.

But the beetroot salad; We picked a lovely pile of beetroot from the garden this week, and it fell prey to a cracking salad of balsamic beetroot, fried beetroot leaves, quinoa, soft feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs… I’m sure it could’ve been a slightly longer title if I had have thought about it some more… dot dot dot

...and the beetroot
…and the beetroot

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This was a rally good salad. Like, really good. It ticked all five of my salad requirements at the moment;

  1. Beetroot, fresh from the garden so it came with a certain amount of pride
  2. Quinoa, I can not say enough (well, I probably could but I guarantee you wouldn’t sit through it) about this grain
  3. Cherry tomatoes straight from the garden
  4. Herbs straight from the garden
  5. Other stuff
  6. Personality
  7. It taught me how to count

As you can well gather from this dodgy assed explanation of my salad-y faves at the moment, I got nothing. Nothing except this salad that is. Well, nothing except this salad, a panpipe and a pair of novelty trousers that resemble goat’s legs with little hooves attached. Looks like I’m heading back to Narnia again… damn that fucking wardrobe.

Balsamic Beetroot and quinoa salad (the short version of the title) for 4

10 medium beetroot with leaves, unless they are not very fresh, in which case use the leaves from something else. Probably not from your teenage son’s “South American tomato plant” in the backyard though

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 cup soft feta. I like Bulgarian sheeps feta

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved… or not

½ red onion, bruniose

1 cup each picked parsley and mint

¼ cup balsamic vinegar, plus a little extra

2 tablespoons castor sugar

Extra virgin olive oil

Seasoning

  • Trim the leaves from the beetroot and set aside. Cook the beetroot in boiling water until tender, about 20-30 minute depending on size. You can check them by inserting the tip of a knife and if it is soft inside it’s done
  • Drain beetroot and cut into 6 pieces. I don’t bother about peeling them if they’re this fresh
  • Sauté beetroot in a little olive oil for ten minutes, then add ¼ cup of balsamic and the castor sugar. Reduce for 5 or so minutes, until balsamic is thick and coats the beetroots. Season and set aside
  • In another pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and add beetroot leaves. Fry on high heat for a few minutes until they start to crisp up a little. That’s crisp up, not burn
  • Now layer that salad up like the cover of a Women’s Weekly magazine circa 1981. Quinoa, beetroot, onion, leaves, feta, cherry tomatoes and herbs. Then hit it with a splash of balsamic, olive oil and seasoning
  • Magic

 

Lamb loin chops because the fam is away

Lamb loin chops because the fam is away

Fry fry
Fry fry

So I have a bit of a ritual. I know you’re thinking surely not Grazza, but yes, I have a ritual… and it goes a little like this; once a month or so Jennee takes the boys on a drive up the coast to visit her sister in Brisbane, aka Brisvegas. When this happens I go up to Scotty the butcher, grab myself a few lamb chops, pop next door to George’s shop, grab myself some beer and maybe a bottle of wine if I think my morning can deal with it, and then I drink and cook myself up a dinner of lamby choppy goodness… mostly because Jennee really doesn’t like chops (unless they’re mutton chops. Elvis style)… and it is usually consumed around 9pm (which is well past my bed time on a school night).

Now today (which is now yesterday. Crazy I know but that’s what we can do with technology these days) Jennee took the boys up the coast to visit her sister but, in possibly a fleeting moment’s thought, I decided I was going to venture up the road to the mobile woodfired pizza joint that frequents this area every Friday night (you will hear more about this place in a future foodisthebestshitever) and get myself a pizza dinner, but then… I got talking to my friend and fellow chef Matt over a quiet beer and he happened to mention (by the power of grey skull and the universe and whatever) that he was cooking lamb chops for dinner. Well I tell you now that was it. I jumped straight into my carnie-drawn cart and trotted straight up to our local butcheria. I announced myself as a paying customer and said to little Scotty (there are two Scotties at the butcher. One is called “Scotty” and the other is called “Little Scotty”) “Do you have lamb chops left my good man?” to which he replied, “I have three left, will that do you?” “Jolly good”, I said, “bag them up good fellow”. He chucked them into a bag for me, I paid him his due repentance and then back home it was for me. Which is where I find myself now… getting ready to cook some lamb… it may not be quite 9 o’clock yet but I am truly excited…

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

All you need to get going. Well, that and the vegetables and stuff... and beer... and wine
All you need to get going. Well, that and the vegetables and stuff… and beer… and wine
Fry fry
Fry fry
Even though you are eating by yourself, serve the sauce in a gravy boat... just so you know you are the boss
Even though you are eating by yourself, serve the sauce in a gravy boat… just so you know you are the boss

LAMB CHOPS FOR ONE LONELY MAN (who is hungry)

3 lamb chops, chump or loin are good for me

1 sprig rosemary

1 sprig oregano

2 cloves garlic

some chilli if you like chilli… I like chilli

half a lemon

olive oil

seasoning (that’s salt and pepper yeah)

a splash of red wine (I knew there was a reason I got that too) to deglaze the pan

  • Marinate the lamb with all of the goodies above
  • Cook the lamb how you cook lamb chops. If you are a bad person you will slaughter them with loads of time in the pan and then eat them straight away. If you are a child of god you will give them a couple of minutes either side and then rest them in the pan off the heat… if you are a child of god…
  • When you are ready to serve (after a good 5 minute R’n’R break for you and the chops) remove chops from the pan and administer some more flame. Deglaze the pan with that red wine you’ve been saving for the next papal visit and reduce to a saucy trollop… err, consistency
  • Serve. Sauce on top, sautéed veg on the side

SAUTEED POTATO, ZUCCHINI, OLIVE AND FETA

3-4 small potatoes, boiled until just cooked and then sliced

½ zucchini, sliced

a handful of olives that you like

a small chunk of good feta

oil to cook it in. Duck fat would be a good substitute

  • Sauté the potatoes and zucchini over a medium heat
  • When browned and sexy looking (not too sexy looking. They’re never going to be a Princess Leia, or maybe more recently, a Queen Amidala) combine with the feta and olives and maybe a bit of parsley if you have some, and make it look sexy (you know the drill) on the plate… or the floor. Depending on how you roll
  • Don’t go to hard on the salt in here because it’s going to get olives and feta remember. Olives and feta… salty products… they will help to season the dish… bah
  • Add the lamb and you have yourself a meal
  • Well done

… and here’s me just chillin’ by myself. Sometimes no matter how much lamb you eat it’s just not a worthy substitute for a good family.