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

Braised lamb cutlets with bubble-and-swede… and a couple of things that grow really well on the south island of New Zealand

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Yeah, I know right. Who uses lamb cutlets for braising?

Well, in the south island of New Zealand where the sheep population grossly outweighs that of the humans*, lamb cutlets are cheap as bro, so today I would do whatever the heck I wanted with them.

So many swedes for the sheep


Also, what is this whole bubble-and-swede thing, you ask? A damn clever play on words and a really tasty way to eat the humble swede, that’s what it is.

You see, on an island that seems to have the climate to grow absolutely nothing, the folks down south are pretty effing adept at growing the humble swede. Mostly to feed the ever-growing sheep population it would seem, but occasionally for human consumption also. But probably not very much for human consumption as I would imagine they’d be pretty sick of them by now. Probably the carnie folk would still relish a good swede though, I would imagine…

So much dribble.

Whatever the case, it was not uncommon to see roadside market stalls selling swedes (and swedes alone) the size of the head of the carnie folk they might eventually feed, for a buck a pop.

So, the scenario is this – we drove through the hills (there is always “the hills”) of the sheep growing, swede producing south and I said to myself, “today I shall purchase some sheep and some swedes and I shall cook them for our evening meal”.

“That would be heaps Kiwi-ish”, I agreed.

The camper kitchen

Unbelievably cheap-as lamb, bro

Get a bit o’ colour on those lamb cutlets

Mashy the swede and potato

…and then mix in the sautéed leek…

Truly delicious. Wash it all down with a local alcoholic beverage of some description


LAMB CUTLETS, TAGINE GRAVY, BUBBLE-AND-SWEDE

(serves 4)

8-12 lamb cutlets, depending on size and appetite (NZ origin)
Moroccan seasoning (dubious origin)
½ onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (NZ origin)
1 small knob ginger, grated (origin unknown)
1 teaspoon chilli paste (origin unknown)
A splash of some white wine (NZ origin)
400g tin diced tomatoes (definitely not of NZ origin as we could not afford the barter of 12 gold doubloons and 3 sex slaves that was necessary to obtain said tomatoes)
1 decent sized swede, diced large (NZ origin)
1 leek, sliced (NZ origin)
1 potato, diced large (probably NZ origin)
50-100g butter (we had some NZ stuff earlier in the week, but… hmmm… we don’t have any more)
Salt and pepper to season

Season cutlets with Moroccan seasoning. Brown cutlets in a pan over med-high heat for 2 minutes each side. Remove and set aside.
Add onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and a little extra Moroccan seasoning to the same pan with all of the lamby flavour, and sauté for a few minutes or until soft.
Deglaze pan with a splash of white wine and add diced tomatoes.
Return lamb chops to pan, cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes or so, until lamb is nice and tender.
While that’s going on you’ll need to sort your bubble and swede.
Boil swede and potato until nice and soft. Drain.
Sauté leek with half of the butter until soft and sexy smelling.
Mash swede and potato with remaining butter, mix in sautéed leek and then season well. Taste it and make sure the seasoning is good.
Plate it up however you see fit.
A bit of parsley would be nice but as you can probably see, we didn’t have any of that on hand.
Feeling the NZ vibe? I am.

*Seriously. I grew up in the south of Western Australia and I thought that place was an oversized sheep property but this place is nek level. The locals around here would be chucking a few sheep in the front yard before they ever contemplated putting in a rose garden or a kids cubby house I can guarantee you. I have respect for that kind of sheep love.

The Fergburger experience, Queenstown, New Zealand

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The Fergburger experience is a real thing.

Previously I had only heard stories about Fergburger and it’s backyard dealings of quality burger product and accompanying side dishes, and how the burger junkies would come from miles around to get their fix.

This story gets damn good when I tell you it was these rumors and an unearthly desire to try the Fergburger for my own self that had brought me to New Zealand from my home in Australia.

The story teeters back to average-at-best when I tell you that is a complete fabrication… but we went to Ferg Burger anyway…

The folks at Fergburger make good burgers – burgers that are good enough to have the fine people of Queenstown lining up out of the little shop front and into the street for their little piece of Fergy love.

Fergburger really does love us


On the day that we passed through that little city, with it’s “experience Queenstown” and “Snow New Zealand” shops literally outnumbering the people in the streets by 2-1, it was experiencing a little of the ol’ wet stuff from the sky coming down (which was a relatively new NZ experience for us as it was all white fluffy stuff from the skies until now). Was this enough to deter the locals and tourists alike from lining said footpath in search of said Fergy goodness? Fuck no it was not. They were there, we were there and there was also a heap of staff there too – some taking orders, some making the orders and one nice young lady was handing out umbrellas to those in the queue who wanted one. We thought that was pretty nice. “Ferg really does love us”, we comment to ourselves.

The menu looks like this


It was time to eat some burgers.

The “Ferg Deluxe” (14.90) was both of the things it said it would be – it was made by the peeps at Fergburger and it was indeed deluxe. A big bun made next door at Fergbaker, big beef pattie, streaky bacon, cheddar cheese, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish.
The burgers here are not small by any standards (certainly no quarter pounder) and this one, I thought, was even not smaller still… but as everyone around me opened their very own joyous, plump little individually wrapped meaty gifts, I realized that bigger-than-average was just the burger size around here… and I liked it!

The Ferg Deluxe


The “Morning Glory” (10.00), in stark contrast to its aptly name friend the “Ferg Deluxe”, showed none of the characteristics of an actual morning glory, which was a welcome surprise. It did, however, show many of the characteristics of a quality bacon and egg burger and for only 10 bucks it certainly could not be quaffed at.

The “Chief Wiggum” (14.90) was another moniker in a menu full of quirky burger names which, I’ve gotta be honest, I am truly a sucker for. Pork belly, a hash brown, salady things, aioli and apricot seeded mustard all came together in one of those big ol’ Fergbaker buns for the journey to my stomach. To be honest I think it could’ve done without the hash brown, but it was never going to reach Chief Wiggum status with it now, was it…

The “Cockadoodle Oink” (14.90) – see above comment re quirky burger name, and then I will go on to tell you I think a pig and a chicken are damn beautiful bedfellows on any given occasion (except possibly a more biblical bed-sharing of the farmyard), and this liaison certainly didn’t disappoint. Joined with their other friends the avocado, salady stuff, aioli and tomato relish, they were dressed up to the nines and ready to hit the town… or my face at the very least. Another winner from the peeps at Fergburger.

Clockwise from left – the Ferg Deluxe, the Cockadoodle Oink, the Cheif Wiggum and the Morning Glory. Not pictured – the rest of the menu except for the squid which is in the top left corner


Washed down with fries, onion rings and crumbed squid – I’m not sure why we got the crumbed squid but we got the crumbed squid – our bellies were full as were our toothy grins of happiness.

As far as burger joints in NZ go, Fergburger lets you know fairly quickly why it’s at the top of its game and still attracting a queue that is long enough to impede businesses 3 or 4 shops up the street* rain, snow or shine, as it has been for the last 15 years.

I tip my hat to you, Fergburger. Very nice indeed.

*Luckily for anyone else who may be unfortunate enough to want to open up next door to Fergburger, the next 2 shops up the street are Fergbaker and Mrs Ferg Gelateria (Fergburger’s baking and gelato making arms respectively. Both also well worth a visit too, I might add)