Troppo fried chicken burger


In Australia when we add pineapple to a dish we are automatically granted permission to rename name the dish with tropical as the prefix. For example; a pork chop that has a pineapple ring added to it may now be a tropical pork chop, a pineapple sorbet is now tropical sorbet and fast food joints are champing at the bit for their yearly tropical chicken box or tropical burger special.

If you had come from an upper middle class 80s Australian upbringing you may have also used tropical in post-title context eg. Fried chicken tropicale or something else equally as 80sesque.

Now, because we are Australians we can also be excused for abbreviating the word tropical to troppo as, well, that’s just what we do. We abbreviate the heck out of whatever the heck we want and we don’t even apologise about it.

Friendly tip #42. Season your chips* with a little of your favourite chicken rub too


TROPPO FRIED CHICKEN BURGER

(Serves 4)

4 burger buns
2 x 250 g (9 oz) chicken breasts or 4 x 120 g (4 ¼ oz) chicken thigh fillets, breasts sliced along the length into 2 thinner fillets, thighs left whole
2 eggs, beaten
150 g (5 ½ oz) potato flour
2 tbls your favourite chicken rub, plus a little extra to season
Oil to deep fry
4 slices smoked bacon, grilled
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 slices pineapple, fresh if you can, core removed and then grilled until slightly caramelized
Shredded iceberg lettuce
Mayonnaise

Marinate the chicken in the rub for an hour or two.
Roll the chicken through the egg mix and then the potato flour.
Give the chicken a little tap to remove excess flour.
Heat your oil in your deep fryer to 160°C (325°F).
Now fry the chicken for 4—5 minutes, until cooked.
Season the chicken with extra chicken rub and a little salt.
Need instructions about how to layer this bad boy? Let’s start with mayonnaise on the top followed by lettuce. Now from the bottom we go bun, chicken, cheese, bacon and then pineapple.

*burgers are pretty much always accompanied with chips (fries) and a tasty beverage (beverage).

All-of-the-things ‘slaw


All-of-the-things ‘slaw

Yup. Coleslaw not purely consisting of the traditional cabbage, carrot and possibly onion, but instead this coleslaw has pretty much all of the things in it. Quite contradictory to my views of the past I might add – those who know me or who think they know me through these interweb pages will attest to the claim that I am indeed quite a coleslaw purist.

But you know what? I’ve seen a few funky arsed ‘slaws recently, coleslaws with cute monikers along the lines of “rainbow ‘slaw” or something similar, and I thought maybe it’s time to try something a little different. Move past the missionary position for a night and give the ol’ reverse cowgirl a try. Yep I did that.

And you know what? I do believe in this case that the old dog has been taught a new trick.

I will not be fetching a ball or your fucking slippers anytime soon, but I think there is definitely room in my life for the all-of-the-things ‘slaw.

True, there was a time when I could not abide the thought of bastardised ‘slaw, opting only for the purest of pure. But now I embrace it, possibly even love it. Maybe you should give it a go too. Your cowgirl will thank you for it.


ALL-OF-THE-THINGS ‘SLAW

(serves 8 as a side)

¼ medium green cabbage, shredded
¼ small red cabbage, shredded
3 carrots, grated
1 stalk celery, sliced
½ red capsicum (bell pepper), diced
½ green capsicum (bell pepper), diced
1 head sweet corn (or ½ cup frozen corn kernels), kernels removed and pan fried briefly
3-4 spring onions (scallions), sliced
1 cup coleslaw dressing
Salt and pepper

Get a reals big mixing bowl – something that is going to fit all of these ingredients and then some.
First mix all of the salad ingredients except dressing so you can get a nice even mix.
Add dressing and combine until thoroughly mixed.
Check seasoning. Yeah, salads need seasoning too. Some of the greatest food crimes in history have been perpetrated via lack of seasoning to a salad or side dish.
Get it on the table where it would love to play second fiddle to anything from the BBQ, fried chicken, fishcakes, loaded sweet potato, etc.

Lamb shnitzel with mint sauce (or maybe in a sandwich with tomato ketchup)


The trans-Tasman comradery and a good piece of lamb

I am not sure the reason, but whatever it is, we as Australians always seem to be able to afford ourselves the time for a big old cross seas pointing of the finger and a laugh with our neighbours the Kiwis (and them to us I’m sure). It might be the spirit of the ANZACS? A strange, unexplainable, X-Files-esque trans-Tasman chemistry? Or maybe it was a morning where we awoke next to each other after a heavy night of drinking and realized we were in the games room at a retirement home and we smell like potpourri and denture adhesive? (Please, stick with me here). Wherever the connection may lie, the average Australian has a penchant for a good solid joke with the Kiwi’s, aka New Zealanders.

But today we shall not be discussing jokey time. No, no, no. This shit is serious as having face herpes at your final high school ball. It is time to say once and for all; the sheep f**cking (should read fucking) must stop!

K? K.

Now, lamb rump is probably so popular because butchers were smart enough to call it something other than “lamb’s ass”. But let’s face it; it is a lamb’s ass cheek. Now (back to the finger pointing) a good, tender lamb’s ass is a point of national distraction for a Kiwi (I know I said there would be no more jokes about coital union with a sheep but…). A bit of the old “nah mate, it was caught in the wire fence and I was just trying to push it through”. But a good, tender lamb rump… well that’s something I’m going to be happy to put in my face anytime. And that is indeed what I did

Pounded lamb rump and a few other bits and pieces

A little pile of shnitzels and mint sauce. A photo that may or may not appear in a book I have been working on.

LAMB SHNITZEL
(Serves 4)

8x 90—100 g (3—3½ oz) lamb rump steaks, pounded a little bit to flatten
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
125 g (4½ oz) plain flour
3 eggs, whisked with a splash of water
200 g (7 oz) panko breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
Crushed potatoes, peas and mint sauce (recipe below), to serve
Or maybe white bread and tomato sauce, to serve
Mix the breadcrumbs with the herbs, lemon zest and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Dust the lamb rumps in flour, then egg wash, then breadcrumbs to coat.
Shallow fry the schnitzels in medium-hot oil for 1 minute each side.
Drain on absorbent paper for 1 minute.
Serve with mint sauce and vegetables or whack it in between two slices of white bread white a little tomato ketchup and you have yourself a fucking cracking sandwich. The sandwich thing works super well with cold schnitzels too.

MINT SAUCE
125 ml (4 fl oz) apple cider vinegar
50 g (2 oz) caster sugar
A big handful of mint
Salt and pepper
Warm the vinegar and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool.
Add chopped mint leaves, or add them whole and then hit it with a stick whizz.
Season with a little salt and pepper.
That’s it.
Tell yourself some things really can be that easy.

Herby grilled snapper

A good place to start… Heat Beads coconut shell briquettes on the chimney booster.
Also pretty important – A good looking fish.

That fish all locked up and getting all grilly and delicious.

Herby grilled snapper. Just get on it.

HERBY GRILLED SNAPPER

2 kg snapper or similar fish, scaled and gutted
2 cloves garlic
2 cups picked fresh herbs – a mix of parsley, rosemary, oregano and nasturtium
1 tspn dried chilli flakes
1 tbls red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
Salt and pepper
Extra olive oil and lemon juice, to serve

Combine all ingredients except fish in a blender or food processor and blitz into a coarse paste. A stick wizz will also work for this. We shall call this ‘the marinade’.
Now score the fish a few times across the body to ensure even cooking and allow a bit of the marinade to penetrate.
Rub or brush marinade over fish until it is all gone.
Set aside, in the fridge is probably best, and get your fire sorted.
Make a fire or get some coals going in your kettle or other BBQ. Keep most of the fire to one side and only pull a few coals across to go under the fish as to avoid burning it up worse than Anikin’s head in ‘Revenge of the Sith’ before it is cooked through.
Put the fish into the Hannibal Lector cage or something similar if you have one. The fish can also be cooked via the other methods listed down below.
Place fish on grill and cover with lid. Cook fish over coals for 12 minutes on one side, flip and then cook for 12 minutes on the other side or until cooked through to the bone on the thickest part of the fish. Test by gently trying to push the flesh apart with a knife – it should come away from the bone easily and be opaque in colour.
Once it is good to go (or G to G as my children keep telling me), get it onto the table dressed with a little olive oil and lemon juice, plus some kind of Mediterranean salad on the side.

• Cook fish directly on grill of BBQ, just be plenty gentle when you flip it. Holding it with tongs at both ends is what I would recommend.
• Wrap with alfoil before cooking on grill to aid turning and also ensure the fish stays moist. This method will not give you any great crispy-grilly skin bits though.
• Bake in a 220 – 240 C (450 – 460 F) oven.

That fish one more time.

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

Ham


Ham.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of different stories floating around the world wide super-web at the moment all tell you how to cook a decent ham… well, in actual fact that may be more applicable to the couple of weeks prior to Christmas but, as we all know, I am not the most talented at being super organized for this sort of thing so for now I shall just be pretending I am super organized and on the program (and not just the methadone program for a change).

So, about that ham…

Like I said, there is a lot of different ways to cook a ham much like say, skinning a cat or pleasuring a lady-man. I am not here to tell you my method is more righteous and will light the path to the heavens for you, but let me tell you it is pretty damn good and I am feeling more than just a little enlightened right now.

Hallelujah!

The other thing about what I did is, well, I cooked the ham from scratch which automatically gets you 300% more kudos than just glazing a store bought smoky leg o’ pig. Also smoking a ham is not nearly as hard as you think it might be, as long as you have a smoker (Bullet/barrel or off-set is what I have used) and a probe thermometer.

You will also be needing a brined (or pickled) leg of pork for this exercise. You should be able to hook this up from your local decent butcher if you give him a little notice.

This recipe is for 9kg of pure porcine glory. If you have a smaller leg, or even half a leg, the cooking time is going to be reduced. Just keep an eye on that internal temperature and hoist it when it hits 170F.

You’re gonna need a smoker
This is a very sexy sight
Get the skin off it (but save it for something like baked beans at the end of the week), glaze it up and get it back into your heated barrel
Carve it at the table like a boss because let’s face it, you are definitely a boss

SMOKED HAM

(serves a small village)

1x 8-9kg leg of brined (pickled) pork
A smoker
Lump charcoal
A few bits of flavoursome smoky wood. I used ironbark

Get your smoker on and get it up to 225-250F. The ham will take somewhere in the vicinity of 8 hours to cook, so bare this in mind when you are setting up your pit.
Add a piece of smoky flavour wood.
Get that leg of pork into the smoker, insert temperature probe into thickest part of the leg and put the lid on so it may do its thing.
Drink a beer.
If you are happy your pit is going to hold its temp for a few hours you could go and have a nap or watch I little bit of that carnival folk pornography I know you love so much.
Now it’s all about keeping that temperature and chucking a bit of smoky flavour wood on the coals every hour.
Once that internal probe tells you it’s 170F in the middle of that leg it’s time to pull it out.
Now you have ham.
Rest the ham for half an hour or refrigerate for a later date. Remove skin, leaving as much of the fat as you think you like (I like to leave it all for flavour and moistness), score (I gave it 10 out of 10 ;)), place in a baking dish and glaze with something sweet and sexy – this year I used 1 cup of honey and a little rosemary.
Whack it back into the pit or a suitably heated oven for another 1-1.5 hours, reglazing with the pan juices every 15 minutes.
Carve that thing at the table like a boss.
Amen.

Enjoyed by parents and children alike