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.

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