Braised beef cheeks in drinkable red wine


At one time in the past I was of the opinion that the wine I used for cooking would not be the wine I would consume myself. In fact, the wine I used for cooking would be bottom shelf, cheap as, nasty assed goon*.

My opinions on more than one thing have changed in the last 20 years.

My opinion on the type of wine I should be cooking with was certainly not passed over by the opinion audit.

Now I am of the opinion that the wine you would like to cook with is also a wine that you would like to drink in your face. Maybe not necessarily that bottle you’ve been saving for your 50 year wedding anniversary, and certainly not a bottle you might drink at a teenage wedding or possibly a college art exhibition opening, but more of a “had a couple of drinks already and now I’m gonna pull you out of the cupboard and drink you all up” type bottle.

So that is the wine I have used to braised these beef cheeks for you right here today.

I have had the pleasure of using the fire to cook my dinner, but you can certainly use a pot on the stove top for yours.

The start of something good

Get a bit of colour on those cheeky cheeks
Add some sautéed mushrooms
Get it on a wooden camp table and serve some drinkable red wine in a mug to go with

BRAISED BEEF CHEEKS IN DRINKABLE RED WINE

(Serves 4)

1 kg beef cheeks, each cut into 3 pieces (a nice butcher will do this for you. A mean butcher will spit in your eye and then tell you to piss off)
100 g pancetta, sliced
1 onion, chopped roughly
3 carrots, cut into 5 or 6 pieces each – keep it chunky, keep it real
8 large cloves garlic, left whole and charred slightly on the coals (or raw chopped garlic will do just fine)
1 long red chilli, sliced
1 bottle of red wine
1x 400g tin diced tomatoes
500 ml beef stock or water
500 g button mushrooms, cut in halves or quarters depending on size
Salt and pepper

Heat a splash of oil in a heavy based pot or cast-iron camp oven over a medium-high heat. Add pancetta, onion, carrots, garlic and chilli, and sauté until starting to brown a little.
Add beef cheeks and season with a little salt and pepper. Sauté beef cheeks for 10 or so minutes until they are browned and tasty bits are starting to grip a little on the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the wine, tomatoes and water, and stir to get all of the good bits off of the bottom of the pot and into the gravy.
Cover and simmer over low heat for 3 hours, stirring every half hour or so.
(While the beef cheek simmering is going on you can sauté your mushroom in a little oil and butter until they are browned. Set aside)
After 3 hours add the mushrooms to the pot and stir through.
Cover and simmer for one more hour.
Check that the beef cheeks are tender – they should be ready to be cut with a spoon by now. If not, simmer for another 15 minutes or until soft, adding a splash of water if the gravy starts to thicken up too much.
Serve with mashed potatoes, jacket potatoes or potato bake and green beans if you have some.
Eat it.

Damn well delicious

*Goon. Aust slang. Cheap arsed boxed wine. A wine one might drink in their teenage / university days.

Nacho good times bowl


This bowl can be a little bit of whatever the eff you’ve got lying around really. Except for your old dog – you just leave him lying where he is.

NACHO GOOD TIMES BOWL

Pulled pork doused with your favourite BBQ sauce. Left overs are perfect for this
Black beans cooked in bacon fat (recipe follows)
Tomato, onion and coriander salsa (You don’t need a recipe for this. It is those three ingredients plus a little splash of red wine vinegar and a little salt and pepper. That’s it)
Sliced avocado
Feta
Jalapenos
Hot sauce
Brown rice – cooked is probably best. White rice will also do the job
Lime
Store bought corn chips or tostadas, or make your own if you have the skills

You did save the bacon fat, right?

One of those “so simple, so good” moments

BLACK BEANS IN BACON FAT

(Serves 4 as a side)

Quite simply this is actually black beans in bacon fat – you save your bacon fat, right?

1x 400g tin of black beans, drained
1 -2 tblsp bacon fat
½ small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Sauté onion and garlic in bacon fat until fragrant and softened a little.
Add bay leaf, beans and a splash of water.
Season with salt and pepper.
Simmer 10 minutes, adding another tablespoon or two of water if it dries out.
Check seasoning.
Do the “nacho good times bowl” thing with them.

Smoky chicken wings with honey rum glaze


These are very easily consumed by themselves with a nice little dipping sauce – might I suggest something mayonnaisy, BBQ or hot sauce, or even a drizzle of smoked honey (So, basically any sauce you like to put on the table). But on this one evening I made a meal out of these little flappy parts with grilled corn and sautéed beans. It made for very nice eating indeed.

This is going to work well in a smoker or kettle BBQ with indirect heat.

Those beans were sautéed with onion, bacon, garlic and a splash of chicken stock
Corn and sauteed beans can join the wings on the grill
The corn gets sexy with some mayo, hot sauce, herbs and pecorino cheese. Also, I found some radishes in the garden so I put them on the plate too

SMOKY CHICKEN WINGS with HONEY RUM GLAZE

(for 1 or 2 peeps, depending on the depth of your love of a good chicken wing)

1kg chicken wings
1 tablespoon of your favourite chicken rub
2 tablespoons honey
1-2 shots spiced rum
Your favourite saucy good times

Season your wings with rub, honey and rum. Mix well and allow to marinate over night if you are a top-notch forward planner, or for at least one hour if you are more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants cowboy like me.
Fire up your smoker/grill and get the temp up to 160C-ish (320F). Place a couple of small chunks of smoky flavour wood on the coals to make those wings taste extra sexy.
Place the wings on the grill however you see fit – a nice little around-the-rim pattern seems to be quite vogue right now – reserving remaining marinade.
The lid goes on and the vents are open.
Let the wings have a little smoky loving; 30-ish minutes for full wings and 20-ish minutes for wing segments, or until cooked, reglazing with remaining marinade after 15 minutes. (It is totally legit to cut one open and check that they are done though, so don’t be afraid to do that just to be sure).
Give them another little sprinkle with your BBQ rub of choice to freshen up those flavours.
This is finger-to-face eating at it’s finest.

Smoky chicken wings


Now, I know that I harp on about the same shit on a regular basis – the glory of the cheaper cuts of meats for example – and this little spiel shall be conforming with the norm.

Today it is all about the chicken wing.

These things are the multi-lingual, bisexual, transgender, three-boobied alien who accepts cash, card, food stamps or a prize-winning root vegetable as preferred forms of payment.

You can do so many different things with chicken wings.

These things are about maximizing your dollar to flavour ratio.

These things are a decent meal from your last few bucks.

These things are not chicken breast.

These things will not help you soar like an eagle*.

These things are you feeding the crowd at your next swingers party and looking like you are directly descendant from the holiest of holies him/herself.

This is going to work well in a smoker or kettle BBQ with indirect heat.

The around the rim wing job

Wings and sauces – good times

SMOKY CHICKEN WINGS

As many or as few wings as you think you require
Your favourite chicken rub
Your favourite saucy good times

Fire up your smoker/grill and get the temp up to 160C-ish (320F). Place a couple of small chunks of smoky flavour wood on the coals to make those wings taste extra sexy.
Season wings with a little BBQ rub that makes you happy.
Place the wings on the grill however you see fit… a nice little around-the-rim pattern seems to be quite vogue right now.
The lid goes on.
Let the wings have a little smoky loving; 30-ish minutes for full wings and 20-ish minutes for wing segments, or until cooked. It is totally legit to cut one open and check that they are done though, so don’t be afraid to do that just to be sure.
Give them another little sprinkle with your BBQ rub of choice to freshen up those flavours.
Serve with BBQ sauce and hot sauce and… and… and… yeah, you get it, right?
Once you get these little babies sorted it’s time to start experimenting with different rubs and glazes and sauces and even wood flavours.
Go now, soar like an eagle with the down trodden, funny looking, little chicky wings.

* In fact, if you try to fly from a tall building after eating a bowl of these things, it is almost certain that you will fall to your death. With a little extra cash you could possibly purchase a “herbal wing substitute” that will surely help you fly**.

**Once again, may not actually help you fly.

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


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…

Sausages and lamb ribs and eggplant… and red rice.


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.