Venison, root vegetable and stout stew… and navigating a camp kitchen

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Our recent trip to NZ had very slight undertones (subtle as a slap in the face with a wet fish) of cooking and/or eating whatever local produce the frozen, undulating, sheep dotted, river covered landscape could offer.

This day we were making our way back to Methven, and the company of our good friends Troppo and Lexi (real names), and we thought it pretty fit that we should cook them a nice hearty, vegetable laden dinner as fresh produce was damn expensive up this way and, well, if there’s one thing you need to be able to afford in this kind of weather it is not fresh vegetables, it is booze – Jesus’s little gift to us to help us stay warm in the cold.

About that dinner.

We finally stumbled on a wee little farmers market in a little sea side town on the east coast, at which one vendor was able to provide us with his home-grown yams, carrots and broccoli, and he was also selling the biggest fricking jerusalem artichokes I’ve ever seen. So big, in fact, I could not even recognise them. When I queried what the name of this strange, palm sized, Anakins-head-when-he-was-crawling-out-of-the-lava looking tuber may have been, the old farmer told me that it was indeed called Jerusalem artichoke and it was grown by another older gentleman up the road (points over shoulder).

“Indeed”, I remarked. “Well I will need to take a couple of those”.

The farmer then packed my produce up for me, I paid him the required toll and we were on our way.

We picked up some Dunedin venison and a bottle of stout from the peeps at Panhead Brewery, and then every item on the shopping list had a nice little tick next to it. We were clearly ready to do some cooking.

You will note my mis en place is in plastic bags. This is so I did not need to carry a box full of crap with me to the camp kitchen where the meal was cooked. “It’s pretty ingenious”, is probably what the other homies in the camp kitchen would have been thinking, and is also no doubt what you would be thinking right now.

Some booze for the stew and some booze for me

There’s those mis en place bags in the camp kitchen

Ready to go… with a big fat side of buttery sautéed cabbage

And a little more booze for me…


NZ VENISON, ROOT VEGETABLE & STOUT STEW

(serves 4)

500g venison shoulder, diced
1 onion, diced kinda chunky
2 carrot, chopped kinda chunky
2 sticks celery, chopped kinda chunky… let’s do all of the vegetables kinda chunky, ay
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 fist sized Jerusalem artichoke, chopped
6-7 yam, chopped
½ bunch thyme
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
500ml stout
500ml stock or water
Salt to season

Season venison and brown meat over med-high heat.
Add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, thyme, peppercorn bag and cook out for 5 minutes.
Add booze and stock, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. Add artichokes and yam bag and simmer for another hour, or until meat is tender and vegetables are cooked. If the gravy starts to thicken up too much feel free to add a little more moisture in the form of stock or water.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Serve it up with a side of NZ’s finest booze.

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

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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.

Singapore noodles with smoked pork

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Sometimes I forget how much I love noodles. Especially Singapore noodles. Oh, how I love Singapore noodles.

This is pretty easy, mid-week (should possibly read; great for late evening after maybe one or two too many beers when you forget that a man, and of course woman, needs to eat) cooking that is tasty as fuck and can certainly be toyed with as much as your sweet little heart desires. This time ‘round I had some leftover pork ribs that I took all the meat from like a white man taking land in centuries past, but this could easily be made with pork, chicken or beef mince, or prawns that are cooked off at the start and then returned to the pan as per the recipe, or you could even crumble in a little tofu with the vegetables if that’s your scene.

But for now – less talky, more cooky.

Put all ingredients onto a chopping board to photograph them before you cut them up

…and then maybe cut it all up and take anther photo

High heat sizzle sizzle

Noodles and condiments is good times for my face

So much about this makes me happy to be alive


SINGAPORE NOODLES WITH SMOKED PORK (serves 4)

400-500g smoked pork (or some kind of meat or non meat substitute)
Rice vermicelli
1 medium brown onion or a few shallots (scallions), sliced
2 cups of chopped vegetables – today my refrigerator had celery and zucchini for me and then I found some sugar snap peas in the garden
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, grated or chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
2 tablespoons curry powder or garam masala
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Chopped chilli, crisp eshallots and fresh shallots to serve

Place noodles into a bowl that is big enough to fit them plus some. Cover noodles with room temp water for 20 minutes.
Now for another opportunity to impress your friends with your smoking hot wok antics. So yes, you will be needing a smoking hot oiled wok… or possibly a very large pan… or maybe even two regular sized pans.
Add the vegetables, garlic and ginger and give them a couple of minutes of fiery stir frying.
Now add all remaining ingredients plus the pork (or substitute meat or non-meat product) into the pan.
Give that a quick heat through and get it on the table… or possibly on a plate followed closely by onto the table, garnished with chilli and shallot.

Goodnight

Sausages and lamb ribs and eggplant… and red rice.

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I would like to start by informing you all that I really like a good sausage.

These sausages are quite frankly what I consider to be the best sausages in these here parts – made by the fine folks at Hayters Hill Butchery. His bratwurst (Well, not his bratwurst. I know nothing of this man’s sausage and that is the truth) was my sausage of choice on this day – absolutely a pleasure to put in mouth. Hmmm. I’m sounding more and more like a “lady of the night” by the word…

I’ll try again.

The sausages were reals good after 2.5-3 hours at 110C (220-230F) over ironbark. Really bloody good. The Hayters Hill crew also do a cracking chunky pork snag which is also a tasty tasty thing after a few hours in a smoker. I am also pretty sure that these sausages would even be hella tasty raw, but that it just a guess and based on absolutely zero personal raw sausage eating experience I will admit it.

You will probably not be able to find any Hayters Hill sausages at your local market because we pretty much buy all of there stuff up here in the northern rivers of NSW, so you can use whatever it is that you consider to be a great sausage in your own mind…

The lamb ribs were given that same ironbark-smoky 110C treatment, and very similarly to how you may do pork ribs, they were given 3 hours of smoke, followed by wrapping and another hour in the smoker, followed by a 1 hour rest after that. The internal temp was 92C (200F) and they were fricking perfect.

Lamb ribs are definitely not pork ribs but they are still damn tasty in the smoker and something a little different for you next BBQ. They can also offer that same sort of smoky ribby wow factor but at a heaps cheaper price tag than pork or beef ribs… that is, until the butchers work out that they are just as tasty as their high-end friends and bump the price up on these puppies too.

I also made some red rice and miso & maple glazed eggplant, and placed some peppery hot sauce and smoked salt on the table to complete the package that was our dinner on this evening. It was all plenty tasty. My eldest son, Seba, even commented that although he doesn’t like eggplant, and this was certainly no exception, it was the best eggplant he’d ever been forced to eat.

You’re welcome.

Those sexy little lamb ribs

I borrowed the recipe for red rice from right here

The eggplant looked pretty sexy

The whole thing looked rather sexy, actually


MISO AND MAPLE GLAZED EGGPLANT

(serves 4 as a side with left over miso glaze for next time)

1 large eggplant, cut into 8 wedges
3 tablespoons red miso paste
2 tablespoons each rice vinegar, maple syrup and water
1 small knob ginger, grated or finely chopped
Oil for cooking

Heat a little oil over medium heat in a cast iron skillet or pan. Add eggplant and cook for 2 minutes each side until browned and starting to soften.
Using a pastry brush or your fathers best paint brush, glaze the eggplant generously with the miso number.
Place under a pre-heated grill (broiler) until caramelized and sexy.
Eat it and force your children to eat it even if they don’t like eggplant.

Easy chicken crisp shell tacos

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easy chicken taco shells
Some times when you take your children shopping with you they like to ask for things they may not normally be allowed to eat. Breakfast cereal that has more sugar than actual cereal, strange plastic looking loosely termed cheese slices, all of the confectionary section and crisp taco shells… they always want crisp taco shells.

The tacos of my childhood, these things were about as culinary adventurous as my mother would get… although she would never use any kind of Tex-Mex spice mix no no no. That was way to ethnic for her (herself the child of Polish and German immigrants). Avocado? I didn’t even know what an avocado was when I was a child. Salsa? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me. Nope, my mother would make a beef and gravy number with grated tasty cheese, shredded iceberg lettuce, grated carrot and sliced tomato all placed on the table in bowls for us to sort ourselves out. And we damn well loved it.

But crisp taco shells do have a very fundamental design flaw of shattering like dropped glass with the first bite. That’s right, they are almost impossible to eat with out pieces of taco and filling falling and consequently adorning much of your upholstery. How could that one get through the defenses? My bet is someone at the “Edible Foods Consideration Bureau” was defo napping on the job when that application came through.

These things are superfluous to their own cause.

The inability to actually be eaten aside, crisp taco shells do own a special bit of property in my heart and every now and then the time comes around again that I will crumble to the pleading of my children (and that little voice inside me that the doctor keeps telling me will go away if I’d just take the medication she has prescribed, but it really upsets my stomach so I feed it to my cat) and put the crisp taco shells into the shopping basket, and then onto the evenings dinner menu and back into my heart… and all over the table… and a bit on the floor too.

This is one of those things your can do pretty quickly if you have some left over roast chook (chicken) from last nights dinner or you could also very easily cook up a couple of chicken breasts and use them. S-C-I-E-N-C-E.

Fry you're chopped chicken. That's pretty easy

Fry you’re chopped chicken. That’s pretty easy

My Tex-Mex spice mix is also pretty easy to make. Seba keeps it real in the back ground

My Tex-Mex spice mix is also pretty easy to make. Seba keeps it real in the back ground

Add your spice mix and a little splash of something wet. That's pretty easy too

Add your spice mix and a little splash of something wet. That’s pretty easy too

Put it on the table with some crisp taco shells and a few other bits and pieces. That's all still pretty easy

Put it on the table with some crisp taco shells and a few other bits and pieces. That’s all still pretty easy

CHOPPED CHICKEN TACOS in the crisp shells (enough for 10 or so tacos)

½ roast chicken, 2 cooked chicken breasts or similar equivalent of whatever meat you got, picked from the bone and chopped
½ onion, diced
2 tablespoons Tex-Mex spice mix (recipe follows)
A splash of chicken stock or water
Salt and pepper
10 or so crisp taco shells
Shredded iceberg lettuce, grated carrot, grated tasty cheese, tomato salsa (recipe will magically appear here very shortly) and hot sauce to serve

• Heat your tacos according to the instructions that I hope are on the packaging.
• Heat a splash of oil in a pan over medium flame. Add your chopped meat and onion sauté for a minute or two.
• Add Tex-Mex spice mix and cook out for another minute.
• Add a splash of chicken stock to moisten and make it kinda saucy, and cook out for one more minute.
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
• That is now done and you are left standing there staring at it wondering how that could have been so easy.
• Close your mouth before a passing fly makes it his new home and get that shit on the table homie!

TEX-MEX SPICE MIX

¼ cup each dried thyme, oregano and ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes (or more if you like it hotter)

• Mix it all together and store extra in an air tight container for your next Tex-Mex feast. See, pretty easy eh.

Busted ass taco shell glory. I generally end up with a big pile of taco chips, meat and salad which I savour when my tacos are done

Busted ass taco shell glory. I generally end up with a big pile of taco chips, meat and salad which I savour when my tacos are done

Hastily Roasted Squab

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roasted squab
This recipe, like many of the few I have posted over the past year or so, is of a meal I cooked a while back. After which I would have scribbled a few words and maybe a piece of the story that was to accompany it a then put it on the bench with the intention of “getting onto that really soon”.

But as with many things for me at the moment I do not “get onto that really soon”. Instead I hastily type a story which requires so little thought a piece of wood could in fact write it, and is about as funny as a poo in a bathtub.

The content thing I can handle, but the humour… well, I really thought I was funnier than that.

I used to be funnier than that didn’t I?

Fuck it. I can still cook.

Glaze them up with the smoked honey for added sex appeal

Glaze them up with the smoked honey for added sex appeal

Yup

Yup

Get that salad together while the squab are resting

Get that salad together while the squab are resting

Eat it up

Eat it up

HASTILY ROASTED SQUAB WITH PEARL BARLEY & ROASTED CARROT SALAD (serves 4)

4-8 squab, depending on the size of your squably appetite
1-2 tablespoons Big Red Rub
1-2 tablespoons butter, softened
1-2 tablespoons Blend brand smoked honey (plain ol’ honey will still do the trick)
2 cups cooked pearl barley
1 cup sauerkraut
6 medium carrots, roasted with a little oil until tender, and then cut into kinda decent chunks*
6 eshallots or baby onions, peeled and halved and roasted with the carrots*
2 spring onions or shallots, finely sliced
1 handful each parsley and mint, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper
Apple cider vinaigrette to dress

• Rub the squab with butter and then season with salt and pepper and Big Red Rub. Get it into a lined baking dish and then into a preheated 200C oven for 15 minutes. Glaze with the smoked honey and return to oven for 10 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes before serving (save those pan juices)
• Combine salad ingredients, dress and season
• Now if you can just put it on a plate everything is going to work out fine
• Dress with reserved pan juices and get it into your face hole

Tasty little birdy

Tasty little birdy

Shit. And I just remembered I should get onto something Christmassy pretty soon too. Really soon…

*Your smart brains will tell you that it is totally feasible to put the carrots and onions in the oven at the same time as your squab and then chop it into the salad while the squab is resting

Potato, roast carrot and corn salad… and its good friend, the BBQ sauce

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potato salad, bbq sauce, barbecue, low and slow
This is a damn good salad.

It’s good with heaps of different other things on the table too.

It’s also just pretty damn good to put a big fat bowl of it into your mouth late night after a little too much rehydration therapy.

It is a salad that has appeared next to some of my favourite meaty things over the past 6 months or so.

I guess now would be a good time to mention that this is not a story about how the little potato salad, the side dish, the supporting actor rose to glory and became the main event in it’s own right. Nope. This is not a win for the little man, this is really quite simply a recipe for a salad. A damn good salad… and it’s good friend at the BBQ table (or breakfast table… dinner table… burger feast… bedroom), the new and improved recipe BBQ sauce.

Read on.

That potato salad

That potato salad

Some other things we put on the table next to that potato salad

Some other things we put on the table next to that potato salad

POTATO, ROAST CARROT & CORN SALAD

With upgrade options.

(serves 4-6 as a side)

3 medium potatoes, diced about the size of the keys on your computer keyboard, boiled or steamed until tender
2 medium carrots, roasted and then cut a similar size to the potatoes
2 sweet corn, kernals removed from cobs, tossed in a pan with some oil for a minute or two
*1 chorizo sausage, sliced
*1 green capsicum (pepper), medium diced
3-4 shallots (spring onions), sliced
1 large handful parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

• Mix it all together. Effing simple as that
• *Add upgrade options if you’re keen
• Season to your liking with salt and pepper
• Fuck yes

That BBQ sauce

That BBQ sauce

I also enjoyed home  made pickled jalapeños on the table with my BBQ. Maybe we should make them together some time...

I also enjoyed home made pickled jalapeños on the table with my BBQ. Maybe we should make them together some time…

BBQ SAUCE

1.25 cups tomato paste
1.5 cups brown sugar
1 cup maple syrup (just like cocaine, the pure stuff is best but if the cheap stuff is what you can afford then I’m sure you’re going to buy it anyway)
125ml apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons each onion powder, garlic powder, cumin
1 teaspoons each dried chilli flakes and ground black pepper
scant ½ cup corn flour, whisked into 1 cup water to form a slurry
¾ tablespoon salt
1lt water

• Dump all of the ingredients except cornflour slurry into a large, heavy based pot
• Simmer over a med-low heat for 45 minutes or so, stirring often to avoid burning and fusing to the bottom of your pot
• Stir in corn flour slurry and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly
• Right now you could put it into your smoker at 110C for an hour or so for a little smoky love because we all need a little smoky love in our lives from time to time or you can let it cool, stirring from time to time, and then pour it over just about anything that’s going to end up in your mouth
• Did you notice how “stirring constantly”, “stirring often” and “stirring from time to time” are all use in different points in this recipe? That’s because they are all different things! Work it out!

Pork ribs, truffle mac cheese, chow chow (can be found on these pages somewhere), that potato salad, jalapeños and that BBQ sauce. this made my face happy

Pork ribs, truffle mac cheese, chow chow (can be found on these pages somewhere), that potato salad, jalapeños and that BBQ sauce. this made my face happy

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