Seafood chowdeeer


The air is cold but the chowder is definitely warm.

The origins of chowder are a little cloudy, much like a swagger of other regional specialities such as bouillabaisse, paella, laksa, pho and so on. This is how I make mine. I certainly shall not be claiming to be the original or the best. Top three maybe, but not the best I don’t think. But it is chockers full of good stuff that is 100% guaranteed to warm the belly and soul of even the saltiest of old sea dogs.

I know this is one of the most obvious things a person could say when making a recipe for any type of rustic soup, but make sure you have heaps of crusty bread on hand to mop up when you’re done. That’s half the fun with this sort of thing.

We’re pretty used to the sunshine in the Northern Rivers of NSW, but sometimes the air gets cold and makes crunchy grass while we sleep.
You can cook inside or pretty easily on a fire or BBQ too.
Season, garnish and get it in your face with a pile of your favourite bread.

SEAFOOD CHOWDER

Serves 6

300 g (10 ½ oz) firm fresh fish of your choice, 2 cm (1 inch) dice
300 g (10 ½ oz) fresh prawn meat
4 rashers bacon, chopped
1 brown onion, cut into 1 cm dice
1 carrot, cut into 1 cm dice
1 stick celery, sliced
3 cobs fresh sweet corn, kernels cut from cob
1 large potato, cut into 1 cm dice
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 lt (1½ pints) thickened cream
500 ml (17 fl oz) full cream milk
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley and BBQ / southern seasoning, to garnish
Crusty bread, to serve

In a large pot sauté the bacon, onions, carrot, celery, potato, corn, garlic and thyme.
Once it is softened and starting to colour add the milk and cream and simmer until potatoes are just cooked. This should take about 20 minutes.
Add the fresh fish and prawns and simmer for another 10 minutes. Stir it a couple of times but do it gently so you don’t break the fish up too much.
Remove from heat.
Check and adjust seasoning.
Serve garnished with parsley and a sprinkle of BBQ seasoning, and bread on the side.

Fried chicken chow mein (or fried chicken chow nice)

Chicken chow mein is kinda a rough moniker for this most famous heavy weight of Australian-Chinese restaurant cuisine. Of course “chow” is fine because you always want to chow down on this dish, but “mein”? This is not mean at all. In fact, I would go as far as to say it’s very nice.

Yup. Chow nice noodles.

I really like to use a weber kettle BBQ with a good coal base to fire up my wok. If you have one you should use it too. A hot wok is paramount for this type of cooking.

Let’s go.

I can’t stress enough that you really need to get your mise en place ready for this sort of cooking.
The other thing i would recommend is that you use charcoal to get some proper heat into your wok.


FRIED CHICKEN CHOW MEIN (OR FRIED CHICKEN CHOW NICE)

Serves 4

2 – 3 fillets of fried chicken from your last fry up, cut into 2 cm pieces
500 g fresh chow mein noodles
½ brown onion, cut into wedges
1 carrot, cut into half circles on the diagonal
1 small wedge of cabbage, sliced
1 bok choy, sliced into 2 cm pieces and washed
1 handful snow peas, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, chopped
½ long red chilli, sliced
2 tablespoon light soy
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 tablespoon shao xing (Chinese cooking wine)
1 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon corn flour
A splash of oil
5 shallots (scallions), sliced, to garnish

Do not start cooking until you have everything cut up and ready to go.
Also mix the soy, oyster sauce and shao xing together in a small bowl so it’s ready to go too.
And the stock can get whisked into the corn flour too.
Now we are ready to start.
Heat oil in hot wok.
Add onion, carrot, cabbage, and bok choy stem and toss for 1 minute
Add chicken, garlic, chilli, snow peas remaining bok choy and toss for another minute or two.
Add noodles and go for another minute.
Add sauces and mix through.
Add stock and corn flour mix and toss through. Cook out for another minute or so.
Check seasoning and adjust with a little more soy sauce if necessary.
Serve it up, garnish with sliced shallots and chow down on the chow nice.




The Big (Red) Mac

A lot of people call me Big Red, hence the name of this burger.

It’s pretty easy to make a bloody good version/copy/something of “that” burger at home. Here’s the steps involved;

1. Head to your local Micky D’s family drive thru restaurant.
2. Keep driving past said restaurant until you reach a local butcher of good repute, where you will purchase some freshly ground beef mince. None of that heart-smart lean shit though – not that I have anything against the whole reduce cholesterol and heart disease thing mind you. It’s just that today you would like some beef mince with a little fat in it. The slightly diabetic, pimply faced kid who serves you at Micky D’s would approve. Trust me.
3. Now you shall drive a little further and find yourself at a bakery, or bread shop, where you shall buy your buns. Brioche, milk buns or potato buns all work well for this monster. One and a half buns per person please.
4. One last stop for your vegetables and assorted other bits and pieces including your cheese. It will be some kind of burger cheese for this one PS. It’s really not the time for halloumi or goat curd, sorry.
5. Now get yo’ arse home and let’s get this fucking show on the road.

It really is a pretty simple list of ingredients
Just bloody delicious


THE BIG (RED) MAC

(per burger)

250 g fresh beef mince
1 ½ buns
2 slices burger cheese
4 slices pickle
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Finely diced white onion
Special sauce (recipe can be found here)
Salt and pepper or your favourite BBQ beef seasoning

Divide the mince into 2 balls of roughly equal size, flatten them out between 2 pieces of baking paper until just under 1 cm thick and then set aside.
Get your special sauce made and your salady bits sliced and diced.
Heat your BBQ flat grill (or heavy based skillet) until hot and lubricate that sucker with a splash of canola or another neutral flavoured oil. Season your beef patties with a little salt and pepper (or BBQ seasoning) and then press down seasoned surface onto the grill.
After 2 minutes flip patties and press down a little to keep that good thickness.
After another 2 minutes remove patties from grill and set aside in a 90 C oven or cover with foil to keep warm.
Cut your buns and get them toasting. I like to grill my buns cut side down on a flat grill (or in a heavy based skillet). That way they get a little toasty on the inside but are still soft on the outside and they steam themselves a little in the middle.
The piece of bun that goes in the middle can go in the toaster.
And now we shall put it all together.
In this order from bottom up; bottom bun, 1-2 tablespoon special sauce, lettuce, 1 slice of cheese, 1 pattie, a sprinkle of diced onion, middle bun, 1-2 tablespoon special sauce, lettuce, 4 slices pickle, 1 beef pattie, a sprinkle of diced onion, the top of the bun.
Frigging get into that.

Coq au vin (cock ooh van)

Cock au vin, or chicken in wine, is another one of those dishes that I really look forward to when the weather chills down some.

You can cook it in a camp oven on the way to wolf creek. It can easily be doubled or tripled if you want to cook it for a shitload of friends. It reheats well, allowing you to get ready for dinner hours or even days early. It actually benefits from being neglected for an hour or two. It can be presented to your peasant friends or haute society in the same sitting. It’s… it’s… magic.

Even if you think you don’t like coq, you will like this.

I will generally use chicken marylands for this dish because I really do love the moistness, but the traditional meat to use is rooster and I can verify that if you have one you need to knock off it couldn’t go to a better cause. I have also been told by a French chef friend of mine that if you want to step it up a notch further, you should use capon, a castrated rooster and a product that is not readily available probably anywhere besides France.

Furthermore, I would also like to add that I don’t care what diet you’re on but now is not the time to be using chicken breast in place of the marylands either.

Some good things that will help you make your coq au vin
Brown that chicken
And now it’s ready for a turn in a 180 C (360 F) preheated oven
Looks like not much worth taking a photo of but tastes like good things have just happened in your kitchen


COQ AU VIN
(CHICKEN IN WINE)


Serves 4

4 chicken marylands, separated into thigh and drumstick
150 g bacon or speck, sliced
250 g eshallots or pickling onions (the little baby ones), or a diced onion or two
500 g mushrooms, a mix of whatever you have; button, swiss brown or king oyster. Left whole if small and halved or quartered if a bit big
1 ripe tomato, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bouquet garni (sprigs of thyme, rosemary and bay leaf)
500 ml red wine
500 ml chicken or beef stock
1 tablespoon flour mixed with ¼ cup water
Salt and pepper to season
Chopped parsley and crusty bread (Or soft bread. Who am I to tell you what bread to eat), to serve

Season the chicken and brown in a heavy based pot. Set aside.
Now in the same pot brown the bacon, onion, garlic and mushrooms.
Now the chicken goes back into the pot and so does the tomato.
Have a glass of wine and add the remainder to the pot. While you’re there you can chuck in the bouquet garni and stock. Cover the pot and whack it in the oven at 180C for 1.5 or so hours. Just enough time to get well on the way to being jolly pissed.
Alright. Concentrate now. One more thing to do…
Bring the pot out of the oven and remove chicken.
Place pot on low-medium heat and slowly whisk in the flour slurry.
Cook out for a couple of minutes so you are not eating raw flour sauce.
Now add your chicken back into the sauce and serve with something potatoey if you’re feeling it, or just by itself is fine too.
Garnish with a little parsley and some bread of your choosing to mop up the juices.
Get in there.

Laksa with fried chicken and tofu puffs

Laksa is traditionally made using candlenuts in the paste, but there are macadamias lining the streets up here so I’ve oft subbed them in very successfully.

Also, in another development in the world of substitutions, the paste section of the recipe could be subbed out for a store bought paste if you are time-poor. Please note though; the store bought paste will not come off the bench to a standing applause like the macadamias would. Don’t get me wrong, Mr store paste will still get a couple of cheers from a few drunkards down the front, it’s just not going to be the full John Farnham coming onto stage at his third “final goodbyes” tour standing ovation.

Anything you can’t find at a supermarket is no doubt at your local asian grocery store. While you’re there you should grab yourself something else you have never seen before and work out how to use it.

One thing I love about Asian cooking is the big ol’ pile of colour that you start with
Look at those tofu puffs just waiting to soak up so much flavour
Just bloody delicious

LAKSA WITH FRIED CHICKEN & TOFU PUFFS

(serves 4 – 6)

PASTE

1 onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, peeled
8 dried long red chilli, rehydrated in enough hot water to cover
1 thumb sized knob tumeric, roughly chopped
1 thumb sized knob galangal, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
5 coriander root, roughly chopped
4 stalks lemon grass, white part only, roughly chopped
¼ cup candle nuts or macadamias, lightly toasted
¼ cup oil to blitz

TO COOK

Paste above
8 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon dried shrimp
3x 400 ml tins coconut milk
750 ml chook stock
1 tablespoon castor sugar
1 tablespoon fish sauce, plus extra if necessary
2 tablespoon lime juice

TO SERVE

500 g fresh rice noodles or dried rice noodle equivalent, cooked as per instructions of chef packet
300 g chicken thigh fillet, poached or fried, kept warm in low oven
100 g fried tofu puffs, cut in half
200 g bean shoots
Extra lime and chilli
Coriander, sliced fresh shallots and crisp eshallots
A chilli condiment of your choosing

Blitz all paste ingredients in a food processor or pound with mortar and pestle until coarse pasty consistency.
The paste goes into a pot over medium heat. Cook out for 5 minutes or until it’s starting to smell delicious.
Add all “to cook” ingredients except lime juice and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.
Add lime juice and curry puffs and simmer for another 5 minutes.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Fish sauce for more salt, sugar for more sweet.
Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.
Now it’s time to assemble.
Noodles go into a bowl, soup and tofu get ladled over them, add the chopped chicken and then garnish with bean shoots, coriander, sliced shallots, crisp shallots, fresh chilli and chilli condiment, with extra lime on the side.
You know you will be patting yourself on the back for this one.

And here is an almost-instructional video to help you too

Beef and beer stew with secret lentils

I put a tin of lentils in here just because it’s probably something you think you hate. You will not hate them in this. In fact, you will most probably fall in love with them and want to marry them. Plus, your bowel will thank you for getting a little roughage in your diet.

Get all of the stuff together and the go and get comfy next to the camp fire
Get it all into the pot and then let it simmer away for a few hours while you sit back and get slightly simmered yourself


BEEF AND BEER STEW WITH SECRET LENTILS

(Serves 6)

1 kg some kind of beef slow cooking cut – chuck, shin, brisket, etc – cut into 3 cm dice (no need to get the ruler out. Just make it a decent sized piece or even ask your butcher nicely and they might do it for you)
2 onions, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
3 anchovies. Don’t even think about it, just do it.
2 bay leaves
A sprig of rosemary or thyme if you have some in the garden
3x 375 ml cans dark beer
1x 700 ml tomato passata
1x 400 g tin lentils
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley, to serve
Soft polenta, mashed potatoes, parsnip puree, pasta or something along those lines, to serve

Heat a splash of oil in a heavy based pot or cast-iron camp oven over a medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery and garlic, and sauté until starting to brown a little.
Season beef with salt and pepper and add to the pot (normally you might brown everything off separately but this is going to be an all-in type thing) along with anchovies and herbs. Sauté for 10 or so minutes until they are browned and tasty bits are starting to grip a little on the bottom of the pot.
Add beer and tomato and stir to get all of the good bits off of the bottom of the pot and into the gravy.
Turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 ½ hours, stirring every half hour or so.
Check that the beef is tender – it should be ready for Nan to gum to death by now. If not, simmer for another 30 minutes or until soft, adding a splash of water if the gravy starts to thicken up too much.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Finish with a handful of chopped parsley.
Eat it.

If it’s easier for your eyes to watch these things you can find the video at foodisthebestshitever youtube channel.