Girls vs Boys Southern Smokehouse Cook-off

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A man, a coffee and a smoker

It was to be another cook-off at foodisthebestshitever HQ. The teams were girls versus boys; the girl’s team comprising of my wife Jennee and her sister Liz (who can get an extra special mention right now because she flew in from the other side of the country especially for the occasion), while the boys team was made up of myself, yer ol’ uncle Grazza, and Jennee’s brother, Queenie. The theme was “Southern American Smokehouse” or something thereabouts. The esky was full of booze. The table was set. The competitors were ready. The Girls v Boys Foodisthebestshitever Cook-off 2016 was about to begin…

*The people in the story may be fictional, but the events are real.

The boys

We (the boys) felt there was a lot of smack talking from the girls. Like, a lot of smack talking. The girls were being particularly good at smack talking. In fact, I was walking down the street in a local town when I was approached by a young man who informed me that he had heard a rumor my man Queenie was very slightly hung. Now, Queenie may not be the manliest of guys names but I know for a fact that this brother is packing the equipment needed for the job. Well, I’ve heard he’s packing… don’t look at me like I’ve been sussing out my brother’s package. Holy shit you guys know how to contort a story… much like the women folk around these parts… great segue. That bloody smack talk.

A weaker boys team may have crumbled, but our resolve would not waver. We cleared our minds and our pipes, centered our chi and got the eff on with the job.

Our little tree motif was whittled by Queenie, made from 100% repurposed wood that was otherwise just laying around, taking up space and producing air and shit.

The rocks displayed our organic approach to our cooking and our lives, and the ebb and flow of the world we live in.

The plates were also repurposed old plates, which were recently introduced to their new life as, well, plates.

That was our story and we were sticking to it.

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Feel the emotion

Our Ode to the South was based on nothing more than a child hood obsession with KFC and an adult (or maybe more correctly termed; a 30-40 year old) obsession with smoked meat… and fried chicken… and an old Elvis 7inch. Still, it was our Ode to the South none-the-less, and it went a little something like this;

• Pulled pork finger, cheesy jalapeño crust, pickles, kimchi mayo
• Smoked rib, Big Red Rub, mustard sauce
• Tater tots injected with white trash heroin AKA cheese sauce
• Beer battered onion rings, ranch dressing
• Fried and then smoked and then fried again chicken, hot sauce, blue cheese sauce
• Smoked jalapeno popper
• Smoked brisket burger, crumbed (breaded) milk bun, slaw, barbecue sauce

The girls

The girls relied heavily on smack talk in an attempt to throw the boys from their game. But they did eventually bring some tasty and creatively produced treats to the table, ensuring a close competition.

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That layered salad was pretty special

The girls based their plate on a love of the hush puppy and 1980s layered salads. Happily re-jigged to fit with-in the guidelines of the “Smokehouse” brief, their entry went almost exactly like this;

• Layered salad with crumbled corn bread, smoked capsicum and corn, pickle and iceberg lettuce
• Smoked pork rib
• Smoked prawn, smoked Andouille sausage and smoked eggplant hush puppies

The result

Once the smoke had cleared and the gloves were un-tethered and removed to reveal calloused hands strapped crudely with ordinary house hold masking tape, the votes were tallied and the announcement of a winner was tasked to our youngest child, Obi. It was said around the table that both boys and girls had brought their A-games to the kitchen this day but unfortunately there could be only one winner – one team whose A-game was in fact a little A-er.

On this day of our lord, Sunday March 27th 2016 *drum roll please*… it would be the boys that would march away victorious from this cooking stadium, heads held high and then swiftly and smartly the victory was relegated to a distant memory, one that would not be spoken about ever again, as we were the men folk and we knew about the way of the world…

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That onion ring. Bangin’

A recipe for the WINNING BEER BATTERED ONION RINGS (enough for a few sides or maybe a Friday night on the couch watching midget wrestling)

2 med-large onions of your choosing
1 cup plain flour
1 cup self raising flour
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon Big Red Rub or Cajun/Créole spice mix
1 bottle o’ beer… whatever you’re drinking will be fine
Oil for deep frying
Seasoning
Ranch dressing and extra Big Red Rub to serve

• Slice onions into 1cm-ish rings, popping the first 4-5 center rings out for something else you’re cooking that has onion in it
• Heat oil in a deep fryer or pot or plastic bucket if you’re not that smart. 180C is the go
• To make batter mix flours, oil and spice mix. Slowly whisk in beer until your batter is quite smooth and is thick enough to coat your finger nicely. Not too thick is the key here
• Coat the onion rings with plain flour and then dip them into the batter. Drag them out of the batter and ever-so-slightly drag them across the side of the bowl to remove excess batter
• Lower them gently into the oil and fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through
• Drain on kitchen towel, season with salt and pepper and a little extra Big Red Rub, serve with ranch sauce on the side

Rueben-ish Sandwich

reuben sandwich
Today I will instruct you on how to make my version of the Reuben sandwich – a sandwich made famous by someone, but it is one of those culinary historical events that are damn near fucking impossible to pin down one actual origin for. Thus I shall be calling this a Reuben-ish sandwich, as I shall be basically making it with ingredients I have on hand and/or are readily available in the Northern Rivers of New South Wales, and not even referring to any type of kitchen tested, pre-typed, recipe AKA. I shall be winging it.

Since making this sandwich I have well and truly fell in love with this Russian dressing business. Once again I have created my own version of said dressing, thus it shall be known as the Russian-esque dressing.

Oh yeah, and I put some really nice ham in there too, just because I really like the idea of ham in this sandwich/burger and not at all because that is what goes into a Reuben sandwich. This shit just keeps getting better and better!

I will be putting all of these almost-Reuben sandwich ingredients together using sorta-sense-making sentences.

So as you should be able to see by now, this is the usual miss-matched, slung together, fly by the seat of your pants, shit you have grown to expect from foodisthebestshitever. You’re welcome. For what I’m not sure, but you truly are very welcome ☺.

Pile it up exactly like a bossss
Pile it up exactly like a bossss

Get your pickles ready... I will give you the recipe for these in a post or two
Get your pickles ready… I will give you the recipe for these in a post or two

Nommy nommy goodness
Nommy nommy goodness

MY REUBEN-ISH SANDWICH/BURGER

3-4 slices pastrami (or I am been led to believe that corned beef will also do a grand job here)
2-3 slices decent ham
1 slice Swiss cheese
½ cup sauerkraut
A good slather of Russian dressing (recipe below)
A burger bun or sliced bread
Some pickles and potato crisps to serve

• For toasted sandwich stylee; put everything together between two slices of quality bread (rye is traditional, but I’m pretty sure this whole thing is about giving traditional a “cheeky one” roughly from behind, so just use whatever bread you damn well feel like), get a little butter and oil in a pan over medium heat and then fry sandwich for 2 or so minutes each side until browned and toasty and warm. Once again, eat it in your face
• For the burger stylee; heat the meats through in a pan over medium flame. Once warmed pile meats on top of each other so they will fit in your bun and put cheese on top to melt a little. Put meat pile onto base of burger bun, put sauerkraut on top and then Russian dressing. Eat it in your face

RUSSIAN-ESQUE DRESSING

1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup tomato sauce (ketchup)
¼ cup diced onion (from roughly ½ small onion)
¼ cup chopped dill pickles
2 teaspoons yellow mustard
1 teaspoon each Worcestershire sauce and hot sauce

• Pulse all ingredients in a food processer until combined or chop the onion and pickles nice and fine and mix it all together in a bowl
• Left over dressing is relly good to dip chips (French fries) into, or pretty much just put it on everything…

Bye bye
Bye bye

Coffee Beef Brisket with Spicy Barbecue Sauce… and a month in the life of foodisthebestshitever

coffee brisket with home made barbecue sauce
I don’t even know where to start about what has been happening in my life that is so damn important that I don’t have a free moment to say hi to you folks out there in Blogland. I know, I know… I should probably start at the beginning. Yes, that makes perfect sense… start at the beginning.

Well *takes a deep breath* you know how we opened a restaurant back a little bit? No? Well we did open a restaurant a couple of months back and that is well and truly sucking me dry of inkling of spare time I thought I might have had. Yes I am it’s drunkard seafarer and it is my two dollar lady of the night… except with minimal risk of venereal disease. We have been waiting for a restaurant to call our very own for quite some time now, and this restaurant was a very fortuitous opportunity indeed, that presented itself as we were in the middle of some pretty big house renos, oh, and we were already pushing extra hard to get these house renos done by the time of my fortieth birthday party… which was just last week.

*pauses for another breath*

*tries to work out what the hell the point is and possibly if there is a segue here at all*

Yep. Proper grown up now… well at least that’s what they keep telling me.

So, in rather a large “fuck off” to being old and permanently retiring my dancing shoes, we held a bit of a ho-down and partied just like it was 1998 again… minus the lollipops. Ah the lollipops. Definitely one of those stories best saved for another time, like possibly when you and I sit down with the colonel and enjoy a good stiff drink whilst wearing our brown dressing gowns… AKA not at all.

We partied like twenty year olds and then spent three days recovering, looking not at all dis-similar to a person with an acquired brain injury or possibly a group of incapacitated elderly minus the incontinence… well, mostly minus the incontinence. We certainly SHOULD have had carers but no one had the foresight to book that shit in so there we sat, verbally defecating all over anyone who was with-in earshot. We had defective head meat. My brain’s wifi was weak, very weak and there was no sign of the signal improving for a few days at least. It was like my brain was using one of those cheap and nasty service providers that give you reception nowhere… basically not even close to being able to perform the one task they were created for. So that was my brain. Got over it eventually but it was certainly not a pretty sight.

Also, just a little something I noticed this year about birthdays. Why does everyone tell you what to do on your birthday? Seriously, everyone I saw had something to say, telling me to do things like “enjoy your day”, and my social media was filled (yes filled. I’m hella popular in the virtual realm… not sure what happened in reality) with comments like “have a great birthday” – straight up just telling me what to do. Well you know what? You have a great day; I’ll do what ever the fuck I want.

Just a little something I noticed…

While my brain recovered I searched for a recipe past Graz may have had the foresight to stash for future hungover Graz so that he may appease the people and, much to his credit, past Graeme had done me proud. Here’s what that sexy bastard saved for me.

Cook some brisket
Cook some brisket

Make some barbecue sauce
Make some barbecue sauce
Put it into a burger with some 'slaw
Put it into a burger with some ‘slaw
Sit in the carpark
Sit in the carpark

Eat the shit out of that bad boy!
Eat the shit out of that bad boy!

COFFEE BEEF with SPICY BARBECUE SAUCE (for a gathering of the hungry mans club)

3-4kg piece beef brisket
2 cups strong black coffee
1 cup water
Salt and pepper
The home made bbq sauce down below
Rolls and ‘slaw to serve

• Marinate beef in coffee and extra water overnight or at least… well… overnight, just like I said
• Roast covered in 150C oven or simmer very gently on the stove top for 5 or so hours* or until very tender. If liquid dries up before meat is cooked add a little water, 1 cup at a time, until that bad boy is melting like your heart did when you first saw that young lady you now call your wife. This is also a grand opportunity to pull out your slow cooker and let the beef simmer away for the day in that. Do it, it’s feesable, don’t feel like you’re cheating anyone here
• Once that piece of sexy beefy goodness is done set aside and allow to cool for a bit
• Now slice it up (or shred it for a pulled beef type scenario) best you can and get it onto a bun of some description, possibly with a bit of ‘slaw and a little home made spicy barbecue sauce, and get it into your belly

SPICY BARBECUE SAUCE (adapted from Manfuel)

May I just say this spicy barbecue sauce certainly is the good shit.

1 cup tomato paste
4 cups water plus 1 cup water
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
½ – 1 cup chipotle chilli, depending on how much heat you like, chopped or pureed
2 teaspoon each smoked paprika, ground cumin, onion powder and garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup corn flour (starch) to thicken

• Cook out tomato paste and brown sugar on a low heat until sugar is dissolved
• Add the rest of the spices and stir until mostly dissolved. Cook out for a minute or two
• At this point add in the 4 cups of water and apple cider vinegar
• While the sauce simmers a bit, combine the 1 cup water with the corn flour (starch) in a bowl and mix thoroughly until completely dissolved
• After letting the barbecue sauce come up to a simmer, add in the corn flour mixture and stir everything thoroughly
• Once again bring the sauce back up to a simmer and you should notice it thickening up fairly quickly. Simmer the sauce for 3 – 5 minutes more stirring as it goes. Don’t simmer too long with the corn flour in there or the thickeners could break down
• Put this all over your brisket burger so it drips down your shirt and you look like an animal. I really do enjoy a good sloppy burger

It Was Going To Be Karaage Chicken But Ended Up Being Fried Chicken With Big Red Rub

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This was one of those meals that morphed a little mid prep. It didn’t do a Dr Jeckle and Mr Hyde, or an angered Bruce Banner changing into that big green Gold Coast gym junkie, but it did indeed change it’s original guise, albeit ever so slightly.

This day I declared mid shift that I had a hankering for some fried chicken and when it came time to prepare the family meal for the evening, fried chicken would indeed be what I would concoct and in turn consume. I cut chicken thigh like the schoolyard taunts would cut the squeamish kid with pale skin, glasses and allergies… I pulled the potato flour from it’s home on “the flour shelf”… I got that chicken marinating in soy sauce and then I set about chopping some ginger and garlic to join it, and then I stopped. I reversed that old pick-up truck back to the fork in the road, crunched the gear box back into first and then headed down the other track, towards the old Wilson farm. Mr Wilson was in the back paddock with his collection of blue ribbon winning root vegetables when I pulled up. For an older gentleman he was surprisingly nimble… I wanted to look away but instead I looked further… it was a vision that will haunt me for ever, a sight that cannot be unseen… dear good lord.

This is where I stopped making karaage chicken and apparently my story stopped making sense.

I cracked an egg into the soy coated chicken to really give the flour something to stick to, I mixed some patented Big Red Rub in with the potato flour, dusted the hell out of the chicken pieces and then fried them up.

Real good, proper good.

The chicken was consumed with the finest crinkle cut potato chips from the freezer section of the local used-to-be-food-market, a what-we-had-in-the-fridge-salad, home made mayonnaise and hot sauce.

The kids were really, really happy with this and it was cheap and relatively easy to make (even for a person of your skill set…) so I guess you should just go and make it… do it for the kids.

#easytastygoodmidweekdinnersforthekids

I’m here to help ☺

This...
This…

To this...
To this…
To this...
To this…
To this... Yeah, really creative with the captions eh
To this… Yeah, really creative with the captions eh

REALLY GOOD FRIED CHICKEN (serves 4)

1-1.2kg chicken thigh fillets, cut into nugget sized pieces
A splash of soy
2 eggs
1.5 cups potato flour (starch)
1/3 cup Big Red Rub, or another Southern/Cajun/Creole/KFC type spice mix of your liking
Oil for deep frying
Seasoning
Home made mayo, hot sauce, fridge salad and chips, or the late edition of burger stuff, to serve

• Get your self a tasty alcoholic beverage of your choosing and relax into this one, you seriously have plenty of time
• Make some mayonnaise, get some oven chips going and make a little salad
• Combine potato flour and spice mix in a bowl big enough to fit the chicken
• Heat oil in your deep fryer or in a pot over med-high heat on the stovetop. If you’re going to do the stovetop method for the love of god keep an eye on it… I don’t want you burning down your house or tent or cardboard box and adjoining dumpster or whatever the hell it is you live in… I couldn’t handle the disappointment of having that blamed on me
• Whisk eggs, soy and a splash of water together in another bowl big enough to fit the chicken
• Get the chicken into the eggwash and then one piece at a time coat it in the seasoned flour
• Once all the chicken is coated divide it into two batches. Fry each batch for 2-3 minutes until slightly browned, and then set aside to drain on a rack or absorbent paper
• Fry chicken for a second time until golden brown and fully cooked through – probs another 2-3 minutes. Drain on a rack or absorbent paper, season and serve with the chips that should be ready by now and the other stuff
• I made this fried chicken again before I had the chance to post this and put it in between the buns like a business man in a Thai brothel. This chicken is REALLY good in a burger. I don’t use caps lock very often so you gotta know I’m serious. Try it… you know you want to…

Cheeky fried chicken for the second time in a week
Cheeky fried chicken for the second time in a week

...and the burger that I made with it. Nom nom nom
…and the burger that I made with it. Nom nom nom

Kimchi – my new love

kimchi
I have a new love and I am not shy to tell you her name is Kimchi.

Contrary to what you may be thinking, Kimchi is not an oriental lady-boy. My lady-boy’s name is Mi Long and she has kinda lost favour in my bedroom court, if you get what I mean. Mi Long has been relegated to the minor leagues, currently residing in the onion cupboard next to the carnies… they seem to get along just fine.

No, kimchi is a fiery looking fermented chilli cabbage condiment. Like seriously fiery looking. Like this shit is redder than my ginge minge, and you know they say you can’t stinge on the ginge minge? This is also true of the fiery kimchi.

This shit is addictive like meth or herion. If we could get this into circulation there is the possibility of a better life in many western suburbs, the possibility we may now walk the streets with out being asked for a durry or 2 bucks for a train ticket by your local neighborhood whiny assed, walking dead, ebola looking mofo and maybe, just maybe, the rabid old junk yard dog that is matching addidas tracksuit may finally be allowed to crawl into the corner and die the death it has been yearning for for years…

My recent love for kimchi has found me cooking simply steamed rice for dinner so I can eat it with a fat pile of kimchi (this is not an exaggeration) and, at the advice of someone in blogland but I can’t remember who (maybe you could be so kind as to remind me if you are reading this) often enjoying a toasted cheese and kimchi sandwich or even taking it one step further and going the karaage fried chicken, kimchi and Japanese mayo toasted sandwich deluxe. I have also made cucumber kimchi which has found me cooking burgers so it may have a friend on it’s way to my belly, or simply just eating them straight in my face. Cucumber kimchi is also very addictive. If kimchi is the meth, cucumber kimchi could certainly fill the shoes of the crack cocaine.

Just one more thing to note about kimchi is, as with all fermented cabbage products, this shit is really good for your… well… shit. It will keep you as regular as a medium coke at McDonalds.

Get Jennee to chop it up while you take a photo. Chop Jennee, chop
Get Jennee to chop it up while you take a photo. Chop Jennee, chop

This is the chilli paste. It is definitely redder than my ginger minge
This is the chilli paste. It is definitely redder than my ginger minge
Get it into the cabbage and mixy mixy
Get it into the cabbage and mixy mixy
Oh my lovely
Oh my lovely

Go now child. Try it.

KIMCHI

3 wombok (Chinese cabbage, napa cabbage)
1.5 cups salt
2 tablespoons castor sugar
1.5 cups fish sauce
1.5 cups garlic, crushed
1 thumbsized knob ginger, chopped
1.5 brown onions, chopped
2 cups chilli flakes, soaked in enough hot water to cover

• Quarter the cabbages through the length and then cut them into 5cm-ish pieces, discarding the core
• Place cabbage in a large bucket or tub (or a clean sink) and fill with enough water to cover. Add salt and give it a good ol’ mixy
• Leave cabbage to soak for 4-5 hours, turning every hour. Once time is up, rinse and drain cabbage
• Add all other ingredients to a food processer or blender and blitz into a coarse paste
• Spread mix over cabbage and return to clean tub. Seal and store on the bench for 2 days until starting to ferment. It will start to bubble a little bit and the smell will intensify.
• Whack it into jars or plastic containers and store it in the fridge to halt the fermentation
• It is ready to be eaten straight away but I like it most after a few days in the fridge so all of the flavours can truly get to know each other and really develop lasting friendships
• This stuff will last in the fridge for a year, but good luck not eating it all before then

Chicken nugget type things… made by you… at home

home made chicken nuggets
Here you go. Another easy-assed recipe for the kids to get in and be a part of, and eat the shit out of to boot. Sure it’s fine if you want to feed your kids those stinky shit chicken nuggets from the freezer section at the local supermarket (yeah, the place where the idea of good food goes to die a slow, painful death, with wire in it’s eyes and everything), but just as long as you’re not thinking that you are actually feeding your kids a nice bit of chicken. You need to accept the fact that you are feeding your kids crap – ground up chicken face crap. But I guess it’s still chicken, so that’s why they get to call them chicken nuggets, eh.

It is true I’m not here to tell you how to raise your kids. I’m more the guy that you turn to when you’re in need of a little chuckle, whether that be because you think I’m funny or you’re just laughing at the grasp I just barely have on the English language, either way that’s a win for me.

So if I am not making you laugh today, not making your very funny bone tingle with elation, then may I suggest The Anchorman. No, not that guy in the trench coat who is always at the wharf offering passers by a peek at his anchor tattoo, I would suggest watching the movie “The Anchorman”. That is some really funny shit. No matter how many times I’ve seen that film I still laugh myself stupid (yeah I know, that could be more of a small giggle for the desired result) at Ron Burgundy trying to talk his way out of his massive erection with new reporter, Veronica Corningstone… and everything Brick Tamland says. Everything he says. I feel a little bad because it is mentioned he is slightly less abled in his mental capacity, but it’s Ok because I know that movies are not real – movies, unicorns and good politicians – so I still LOL all over the place. I actually cannot watch this film while eating because I almost spit up my lunch.

Go watch it. Watch it now.

Make heaps of mess crumbing the chicken
Make heaps of mess crumbing the chicken

All crumbed up and looking for a pan
All crumbed up and looking for a pan
Found the pan
Found the pan
And now it's time to find my belly
And now it’s time to find my belly

HOME MADE CHICKEN NUGGETY THINGS with OVEN CHIPS and COLESLAW (for 4)

600g free range chicken breast or thigh, cut into little nugget pieces
Breadcrumbs (crumb a GF loaf if you can’t do the wheat), flour and egg mix to crumb
Seasoning
4-5 large potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chips
Coleslaw and dipping sauces to serve

• This is so simple writing this recipe down hurts me
• To crumb the chicken first coat it in flour, then eggwash and then breadcrumbs. Put it through the egg and crumbs again if you want them super crusty. Put them aside while you get the rest of dinner ready
• Cook the chips or, if you can’t do that by yourself my recipe is here
• Make coleslaw. Once again, my recipe is here
• Shallow fry the nuggets in oil over a medium heat until cooked and golden brown
• Serve it all up with some tomato sauce (ketchup) for the kids and yoghurt with pomegranate molasses for the bigger kids
• Nom nom nom

I found they were complimented perfectly by a fistful of tasty beers, while the boys preferred to wash their nuggets and chips down with more nuggets and chips.