Pretty easy, using up those Sunday BBQ leftovers, cassoulet.

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Today I realised I have not made cassoulet for quite some time. Sure, I’ve made pit beans and I’ve made cowboy beans, but I haven’t made a classic French cassoulet. And today I shan’t be making cassoulet either. Instead I shall be doing that bastardising thing I love to do so much and use a little smoked meat I have left over from the weekends cook to create my own little smoky assed, junk yard dog, mongrel cassoulet. And just like that junk yard dog, this dish is literally begging for you to give it more meat… give it all of the meat.

If I may digress just a little…

The cassoulet is basically a brothel. It has a big illuminated sign above it’s front door inviting more meat to the party. It does not care of the origin of the meat. It’s a “the more meat the better” type situation for the cassoulet… much like the brothel.

But as I said earlier, this is a mongrel version of said cassoulet so don’t go reporting me to the Traditional Cookery Police (TCP) because as we all know; dobbers wear nappies.

If you would like to make a bang up, bona fide, old school, full of fat and confit duck, Frenchy cassoulet, you can find a recipe by a great chef by the name of Guillaume Brahimi, right here.

I have also used tinned cannellini beans to keep it quick and easy. Tinned legumes defo have a place in my cupboard.

Cut the top off the garlic so it looks like this

Saute the meat and vegetables

The mongrel cassoulet sharing the table with some more beans. It’s a pretty friendly sort, really


PRETTY EASY MONGREL CASSOULET

500-750g smoky meaty leftovers (depending on how much you consumed or may have left over from that BBQ comp on the week end ) – start with pork neck or ribs and then add sausage, brisket, lamb and/or chicken – all chopped
2 tablespoons drippings from that meaty goodness
1 small onion (or half a large onion as I have used), diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 bulb garlic, left whole, top sliced off to reveal a little garlic-y flesh
A few sprigs of parsley and thyme
1 bay leaf
2x 400g tins cannellini beans, strained
500ml chicken stock. Homemade is best but sometimes store bought might be all you have on hand and it will still work, I can guarantee that
1 cup breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200C.
Lube up a casserole dish or cast-iron pot or something that you can put in the oven with the drippings and then sauté meat and vegetables over medium heat until vegetables are starting to soften and brown a little. Alternatively, you can sauté the meat and vegetables in a pan and then transfer them to an oven proof dish.
Add all other ingredients except bread crumbs, stir to combine and season.
Top with bread crumbs and place in oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until golden brown and smelling delicious.
Eat it.
Put it in your face with a little green salad, or maybe some green beans with onion vinaigrette if you want to be the same as us.

One last pic of the ingredients…

Prohibition Smokehouse, Truck Norris Texas BBQ and Bootleg BBQ… some smokehouse joints on the south island of New Zealand

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Prohibiton smokehouse


PROHIBITION SMOKEHOUSE, DUNEDIN

To start off with, Dunedin is a funny little town. It holds with-in its belly an intestinal tract of Victorian era buildings that house the students from the Universities in town, inducing a feeling of old meets new. Graffitied buildings and quirky student-y notes and signs adorn the walls and doorways of the city, which may have long since been set to rest without the influx of the learned, the sun and chilly ocean breeze blotted out by moss and vines never to caress the city walls again… either way this place is definitely worth a stroll…

But clearly I am no poet, so maybe I should just get back to I may be slightly better at; reporting the facts.

We hadn’t had a smoky-meaty fix on this trip yet and we were pretty keen to rectify that situation.

We stepped into the kinda-swanky-looking-for-a-smokehouse-joint restaurant and were quickly seated by the super nice staff. Straight up this was not something I was accustomed to from a smokehouse restaurant – no, I’m not referring to the super nice staff (Smokehouse joints always have super nice staff. Yes, that is a blatant generalization but I will be standing by it because I am stubborn and correct). I am referring to the swankiness. I am defo accustomed to a little more dank with my BBQ and I think that’s one of the things I truly like about it, but I had arrived on their freshly swept doorstep* with an open heart and open mind so I was ready for it… whatever it may be…

“Firstly, I would just like to let you know kids eat for free”, were the words from our waitress’s mouth.

At that point I was truly ready to forgo the lack of dank and any other preconceptions about BBQ that I may have in my stupid, opinionated head because as our dear lord once said, “If you feed my kids for free I can buy another bottle of wine which basically makes us homies fo’ life”.

We ordered, we drank, and Jennee and I laughed like the first time we met.

After a perfectly comfortable time period had elapsed our food hit the table. Or more literally – our food was placed nicely on the table in front of us.

The spread


We shared brisket with soured onions and truffle mayo ($34), ½ chicken with baby spinach and drunken raisins ($32), grilled broccoli with chipotle hollandaise ($10) and iceberg wedge salad with ranch and bacon bits ($8.5). The boys had buttermilk fried chicken wings and pork ribs, both with citrus ‘slaw (free for under 12s), and we got into that lot as well.

It was all a very nice meal indeed. The brisket was tender and juicy, but could’ve had some more smoke, I thought. The fried chicken, the pork ribs, the sides were all very tasty but I have to say the star of the evening was the ½ grilled chicken – tender, juicy, smoky and a heap of other great adjectives used to describe great tasting meat. It was some of the best grilled chook I have ever eaten, hands down. That with the iceberg salad took me to my very happy place.

I couldn’t get to pecan pie quick enough. Mmmm, that was some damn tasty pecan pie


We followed that up with a whiskey chaser and some dessert. All of the desserts were good but if you do not try this pecan pie ($15) you are a stupid, stupid man… or lady… it is really good pecan pie. Probs not so good if you are allergic to pecans though, but you’ll work that out I’m sure (or possibly become fodder for natural selection).

So for your dinner you shall be eating ½ chicken, iceberg salad, pecan pie, whiskey. Check.

Do it.

*A freshly swept doorstep which was later defiled by a young lady emptying the booze from her stomach into the gutter as the tables of diners at Prohibition watched on. We were the only table that cheered even a little bit.

The Truck Norris set up


TRUCK NORRIS TEXAS BBQ, METHVEN

The food truck scene is alive and well in the South Island of New Zealand.

Even the little alpine town of Methven has a food truck or two.

One of those food trucks is called Truck Norris.
My dear wife Jennee decided she would call it “Walker, Texas Griller”.

Truck Norris is run by a guy named Matt.

Matt told us he really liked cooking BBQ.

Matt made some really tasty BBQ.

Three meat platter – 30 bucks a pop


There was a nice little corral type set-up to keep Matt, his food truck and his two Johnson Smokers’ cohorts safe from the admiring crowds who would be gathering soon for a little taste of some top notch Texas style BBQ – The girls that would be chucking their knickers at him and gesturing to him with their tongues gently caressing their lips. The guys who would get emotional because the smoked meat is so damn delicious… and then they would become even more emotional (like, tears emotional) because “emotional” is a feeling they know not how to deal with (but they would still have enough wits about them to have their facial hair ready to smuggle a few morsels out of the yard for later). The dogs and the cats would get along together, just to share a little of that smoky goodness, a few fries with Matt’s special seasoning and maybe a little of that black-eyed bean salad.

Don’t forget the jalapeno poppers


Yes, the world would get a little crazy just for a second, thanks to Truck Norris and it’s purveying of tasty smoky goodness.

It would be defo worthy of pulling off the highway (if there was actually a highway… perhaps it was just a country road…) to sample some of these smoky delights. Actually, you should sample all of the smoky delights… and drive all of the way from the where ever you live to do it.

Drive there from where ever and try all of the meats and all of the sides. Your face will love you for it.

This is what the Bootleg sign looks like


BOOTLEG BBQ, CHRISTCHURCH

This was a good looking bar and BBQ joint type scenario.

There were comfortable seats, central heating and 15 NZ craft beers on tap (changes often, we were told), which is fine by me because I really don’t mind seating on a comfortable seat, in a warm environment while sipping on a craft beer from NZ.

The staff were nice. They bought us food and drinks upon request. They were very nice indeed.

The menu that told us what we could order


We ordered “the BBQ platter for the squad” ($80). I’m almost positive this was not the name of the BBQ platter we ordered, but I also know it sure as heck could’ve been. That or Bobby Jones. Both very solid names for a big BBQ platter with all of the things on it. We also ordered a side of “fickles” (fried pickles) ($10) and some extra rainbow ‘slaw ($12), as we are firm believers in the “more ‘slaw is best” theory when it comes to eating half a butcher’s shop piled high on a large tray after spending varied amounts of time in a smoky oven which was “powered by pear wood and out the back in the kitchen”, we were informed.

We heard the holy angels trumpet the arrival of our meal/s.

All kinds of smoky goodness


The BBQ joint standard meat-holding platter was placed before us, it’s gloriously checkered interior and slightly chromed walls housed a plethora of meats. It was like visiting a petting zoo only with more eating and less petting*, which is pretty much how I like my dinner to be.

Someone obviously needed to get up early in the morning to cook this deliciousness just for us and for that I was very grateful. I wonder if that someone needed an alarm or if they were naturally an early riser… I’m just curious, that’s all.

Very tasty indeed


The meats were all smoky and tasty BBQ treats. Tasty as bro. The brisket and the jalapeno sausage were stand outs, as were the fickles, and if you visit this place I would suggest that you make sure your order contains these three things if you’d like to remain friends.

*There was actually zero petting perpetrated on this evening because even though New Zealand may be a little more relaxed in its rules than Australia, I’m pretty sure it is not that relaxed.

Someting boozy and tasty


ORLEANS, CHRISTCHURCH

This place was a nice little southern soul food type joint. It was not at the time of our visit, and to my knowledge nor is it now, a BBQ joint. I’ve just chucked it on the list because it did serve some tasty assed, southern inspired fare.

“Right on trend”, other reviewers who are real reviewers may say of this restaurant in their magazines and newspaper dining guide reports.

Also, I would hope they might have something nice to say about the food.

Many food


We ordered quite a large pile of it and we were pretty damn impressed with the whole shebang. One thing I noticed straight away is that these folks paid a little more attention to their sides and smaller dishes, where as it is quite common for this “style” of food joint to neglect the sides a little, like parent may neglect a new step child, or even as the average redneck turtle farmer may neglect his or her personal hygiene. Please don’t get me wrong, most of the sides we have had at every other joint on this trip have been pretty on point, but just a little under seasoned here, or a little over cooked there, but generally on point. But Orleans was 100% on point with the lot.

On point (I thought maybe I should say that one more time).

More food


Fried brussels sprouts with andioulle and corn bread crumb ($12), baked beans with maple bacon ($10) and their ‘slaw with peanuts ($10) were all bang on, as were our mainish choices – pastrami, andioulle sausage and pickles ($18), buttermilk fried chicken with ranch sauce ($14), grilled pork belly with corn puree ($18) and fried duck wings with peanut butter BBQ sauce ($20).

Our favourites were the feeding-a-late-in-life-Elvis style duck wings, for bang for your buck and flavour these things could not be beat, the fried brussels sprouts and the ‘slaw. We were consciously and constantly referring back to the “more ‘slaw is best” theory to help those duck wings and fried chicken make it through our system.

Freaking out at those fried duck wings


If you like this style of eating, like the sort of thing you may be able to see in these photos, then I think your belly will tell you your dollars were well spent after dining here.

It is worthy of note that the owners of this place also have a diner and a bar in the same laneway. They both looked pretty good but the diner was defo more our sort of vibe.

I left Strange Lane (the actual name of the lane) with the knowledge required to happily recommend a pre-dinner drink or lunchtime chicken waffle burger at the Lower 9th Diner.

For the bar, I have nothing.

Absent on this day; Smokey T’S BBQ, and Fully Pitted BBQ

Loaded ass jacket potatoes

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A la my recent reports on the virtues of trialing new BBQ techniques and having leftover smoked meats, here is another recipe/anecdote/bit of dribble to keep that leftover meat out of the dog’s belly and turn it into another cracking meal to make your face smile…

This time we’re talking potatoes. Everyone love potatoes, right? Jacket potatoes on the coals are the next step upwards toward the heavens for the humble spud too, right? Stuffed or loaded jacket potatoes are fully nek level fo’ sho. No denying. Am I correct?

Yup.

I thought so.

Are you keeping up?

That’s OK, neither am I… I drink way too much coffee to be able to keep up with my head… that shall not stop me from moving on though…

These potatoes are cooked to a point where they are damn well close to being labeled as a potato god and then their potato-y lily is gilded with an array of ingredients that make it even more attractiver. If a girl potato walked by these Adonis’ of the potato world, they would hook up for sure… well, there’d be a cheeky wristy involved at the very least.

I am heaps good at English, ay.

Wrap your taters and make them nice and warm

Saute an onion good and proper

Fill ‘er up



LOADED ASS JACKET POTATOES

(serves 4)

4 fist sized potatoes (I have a decent sized fist)
1-2 cups of smoky or roasted meat leftovers, chopped and heated
2 tins of baked beans or the equivalent from your last batch of homemade sexy beans, heated
100g cream cheese and/or grated cheddar cheese
Sauteed onions
Sauerkraut
Sour cream
Hot sauce
BBQ rub, chives and parsley to garnish
Leafy salad or ‘slaw to serve

Splash a little olive oil on your potato, season with a little salt and pepper and then wrap in alfoil.
Get some coals in your fire pit or BBQ or even in your fire place if you’ve got it fired up, and place potatoes around the edge, just nudging the coals a little.
Rotate potatoes every 10-15 minutes for 40 minutes or until soft in the middle – a good poke with a butter knife should be a pretty good indicator of this.
Using tongs or your tough-guy hands, remove potatoes from coals and set aside for a minute so they are not searing hot when you are trying to serve them.
Cut a cross through the middle of the potato so you may open it up a little and fill it with tasty good things and not at all because this is going to be kinda a religious experience.
Fill with beans followed by cheese, meat, sautéed onions, sauerkraut, sour cream and hot sauce if desired.
Garnish with garnishy things and serve with something green and leafy on the side.
Thank me later.

So ugly but so damn beautiful


New Zealandy snow posts coming right up…

Nachos supremo

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This is a story about some really good nachos.

I am not implying that you don’t know how to make nachos, it’s just that these nachos are, well, probably better than yours. Soz.

And these nachos also involve one of my favourite sort of early week cooking scenarios – using up the inevitable pile of smoked meat or other random goodies I have left from my weekend of backyard experimentation (just to make it clear I have not been sewing chickens bodies to pigs faces or anything freaky like that, and I certainly haven’t been doing any of that your-turn-to-take-me-roughly-from-behind, keep it in the garden shed type experimentation either. Just above board, smoky meaty goodness. Thumbs up)

If you have the skill set you could defo make a pile of delicious smoked meat and awesome condiments, (which is something I do enjoy doing with my spare time and that is the truth) but the fact of the matter is that I am a cook and that’s what I do with my life and I am not so stubborn and/or dumb that I can’t realise that often times your kitchen skills may be borderline mediocre at best and you need a little help with a meal that may involve more than one pot and indeed a slew of ingredients.

So I guess my point is this – either a) make friends with someone who loves to BBQ and more importantly is quite decent at it, and clean up their BBQ leftovers after the weekend or, b) head down to your local BBQ joint of good repute and purchase some tasty meaty goodness from someone who can actually cook this stuff, and then it’s onto some kick-ass nachos.

In the words of the late, great Ramones – let’s go!

Still life featuring nacho ingredients

Heating my pork ribs on the ol’ Warm Ray

Choppy choppy pork rib

Nachos supremo


NACHOS SUPREMO (serves 4)

1 family pack of corn chips
1-2 cups chopped left over smoked or roasted meat (I had smoked pork ribs)
2 cup of pit beans or nacho beans
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup guacamole
1 cup sour cream
½ cup tomato salsa
Pickled onions and jalapenos
Coriander
Hot sauce
BBQ rub or some kind of nacho seasoning

Spread corn chips over an oven tray, sprinkle grated cheese over the top and then bake in a pre-heated 200C oven for 5-10 minutes until chips are warm and cheese is melted.
Meanwhile, heat your meat and beans (separately) and set them aside.
When chips are where you want them, slide them off the baking tray and onto something a little cooler to serve or, you know what, just eat them the heck straight off of the oven tray. I fricking love that shit.
Scoop beans onto the chips followed by meat, guacamole, sour cream, salsa, pickles, coriander, hot sauce and seasoning.
Eat that, drink beer and thank the dear sweet lord for BBQ left overs!

I would suggest the couch is a good place to eat these

Pulled pork burgers with celery and apple ‘slaw

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My opinion is that celery can be pretty savagely under-rated by the average punter (not that I’m calling you average – you are a bloody unique and beautiful, individual little snowflake. Fuck yeah you are). Pulled pork, on the other hand, is not.

I figure that if I can combine the two in a dirty little ménage au trois with the ever-willing burger bun, then it would be kinda like wing-manning that red headed, freckly kid into a coital union with someone other than his second cousin on his mother’s side. The celery would be lifted to dizzying new heights, the pulled pork would be humbled by the true love it never really thought it would find and the bun, well the bun would just mosey on outta there before anyone woke up in the morning, probably stealing a half smoked pack of fags and a warm beer on its way out, never to be heard from again… because we all know that’s just what the buns are like…

Eat celery – it’s good… and so is pulled pork.

The ‘slaw looked very ‘slawish

I made some oven chips out of potatoes which I blanched in boiling water for 1 minute and then cooled, followed by seasoning and 15 or so minutes oven time

Onion and pickles all day

A good time in my mouth, to be sure

PULLED PORK BURGERS WITH CELERY & APPLE ‘SLAW

Pulled pork (you’re pretty pro at that by now, yeah?)
Buns
Pickles
Sliced onion
Mustard sauce
BBQ sauce

Make your burgers with a bit of all of these things. Nice work.

CELERY & APPLE ‘SLAW (enough for burgers for the fam and some left for your lunch tomorrow)

3 cups shaved/chopped cabbage, from approx 1/4 – 1/8 drum head, honky dory, just like from the olden days, green cabbage
1 cup finely slice celery heart (including leaves)
1 apple, julienned (I would normally use granny smith apples for a little tarty tart, but today my refrigerator told me all I could use was the Pink Ladies so that’s what it was)
‘slaw dressing (½ cup of mayonnaise mixed with ½ cup of apple cider vinaigrette works pretty well for me – recipes follow)

Mix salad ingredients together and then dress with as little or as much ‘slaw dressing as you damn well want.

MAYONNAISE

2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice (or something else acidic)
Salt and pepper to taste
200ml vegetable oil
50ml olive oil (or use an extra 50ml vegetable oil)
A splash of water if it needs thinning out

Put the egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper into a bowl if you are hand whisking this, or into a round tub if you live in a country that has electricity and you have the common sense to own a stick wizz.
Whisk until the yolks start to fluff up and turn pale.
While whisking, slowly add the oil in a light trickle. Don’t stop whisking while you’re doing this.
You should notice that it is all binding as one glorious spreadable mass. Do not be tempted to pour the oil in quickly. Take it nice and slow and worry about getting it done quickly when you’re married.
Once all of the oil is in there add A DROP or two of water to get it to your desired consistency, and check seasoning. Always check in with the seasoning.
If this is your first time, smear some of your finished mayo on a piece of fresh bread and eat it like you are an eight-year-old trailer park kid with his school lunch.
Mmmmmm.
Mayonnaise will last for a week in the fridge.

APPLE CIDER VINAIGRETTE

1 cup yellow mustard, or whatever mustard it is you like
¾ cup castor sugar
400ml apple cider vinegar
1200ml blended oil
Salt

Slowly emulsify oils into other ingredients. The same as that mayonnaise thing you just learnt about.
Remaining vinaigrette will last for for-ever in the fridge.

pulled pork burgers with celery and apple slaw

Go that ‘slaw. Good work celery and co

Cowboy beans! Yeehaw!

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So I made some cowboy beans.

Actually, I’m not even sure what cowboy beans are, but this is what I imagine they may be. But they may not be this at all. Definitely do not tell your friends these are OG cowboy beans as that may not be fact. I would even go so far as to say there is a high chance it would not be fact. It could even be said that you pretty much just shouldn’t take any of the words on these here pages, or indeed those that pass my lips, as being fact. I’m pretty much a big fat faker. This is not gospel and I am not the lord. Onto those beans…

I feel they would be most authentic served from a big pot on the back of the chuck wagon. That is a fact.

Time for oven loving

Now it’s get into my face time


COWBOY BEANS

(For the family. Like the whole family. Like extended family, neighbours, stray kids and those carnie folk just barely clinging onto life in the cage under your back stair case… and then there will probably still be some to freeze down for later.)

500g navy beans, black beans or whatever the frick kinda dried beans you have floating about in the back of your wagon, soaked over night and then cooked until tender
500-800g whatever meat you have floating about in the back of your wagon. BBQ leftovers are the best for this – smoked brisket, pork ribs, actually any cut of pork or sausages… roast left overs… or just some nice smoky porky things from your local man
1 teaspoon each onion powder, garlic powder and hot sauce
1 tablespoon each American ballpark mustard and Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Big Red Rub or your favourite BBQ dry rub
½ cup tomato ketchup
3x 400g tins crushed or chopped tomatoes or something similar
Salt and pepper
Fried eggs (or crack them straight into the beans and bake for an extra 5 minutes for tasty-assed one pan glory), chopped fresh herbs, jalapenos and toast to serve

Chop meat/s into bite sized chunks.
Heat a splash of oil in a large oven pan over medium heat. Add meat/s and sauté until browned a little.
Add all other ingredients and cook out for 5 minutes.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary (that’s what your salt and pepper is for).
Place into 180-200C oven for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. Add a splash of water if mix starts to dry out – kinda saucy is kinda good I reckon. (You could finish these beans totally on the stovetop if you don’t feel like lighting your oven… or you just don’t actually have an oven… but they really do benefit from a little oven bubbly caramelized tomato bits. Jus’ saying)
That’s it. Serve it up – breakfast, lunch or dinner. Pretty simple, just how the cowboys would’ve liked it. Yeehaw.

Bangers and mash with Paddy’s Day colcannon and Guinness gravy

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That time there was leftover colcannon and Guinness gravy from St Patricks day so I decided I would put some sausages on the grill with some carrots and turnips and swedes wrapped in foil so that my family may have some kind of bangers and mash for our evening meal.

You may not have any Guinness gravy left… and you probably don’t even know what colcannon is… that’s going to be OK. We’ll make some especially for it because let’s face it, bangers and mash deserves it.

Bangers and mash is good solid comfort food. Please though, do not confuse it for a big warm sausage-y, potato-y food hug – that is something that really shouldn’t exist in writing and/or real life. Case closed.

When you need* to make bangers and mash a good start is getting onto some decent sausages. The snags in the pic were provided by one of our many neighbourhood purveyors of meaty goodness – Cromwell Farms. Also worthy of note is that the herbs that go into said snags also come from the same farm.

With that foundation of good sausage we can build upwards towards the heavens with mashed potato, gravy and some other vegetable of your choosing… although it’s nearly always peas… not today though.

Hey ho, let’s go (defo a Ramones quote).

It was raining but I didn’t even care because I had my Pro Q Excel 20 (R2smoketoo) on the verandah.

Smoky, grilly sausages.

Gravy in the pot, vegetables in the foil packs.

That spread. Effort is pretty low for a pretty high yield of tasty goodness.


BANGERS & MASH (serves 4)

8 thick sausages, grilled or pan fried or baked
salt and pepper
Colcannon, vegetables and Guinness gravy to serve

Cook the sausages and serve with the other things.

I can’t believe I’m trying to write a recipe for this.

COLCANNON (serves 4)

Sauté 2-3 cups of sliced cabbage and ½ sliced onion in butter and a splash of oil until softened and just starting to brown. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir through enough mashed potato for 3 people (I know it says this is for 4 serves though… the sautéed cabbage will make up that extra serve for you… I’ve got your back on this one).

GUINNESS GRAVY

Make gravy exactly like you normally make it.

If you normally use chicken or beef stock you can replace half of that with Guinness.

If you use water and a packet gravy mix you can replace half of your water with Guinness.

Pretty easy.

* Bangers and mash is something that you can need. When you have an itch for bangers and mash, that itch can only be satisfied with bangers and mash. Fact.

Get that business in your face!

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