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…

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.

Herby roast chicken with a really good warm salad and salsa verde

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This one is a pretty good looking little dinner that would probably impress that love of your life/person of sexuality of your choosing that you are trying to convince that you would be a good sort to shack up with, and it is still easy enough for some one of your skill-set to put together… maybe… maybe not…

I made this with the love of my life in mind but the fact of the matter is that my Jennee is at work and it is just me and the smallish humans tonight, and let’s face it – they probably would’ve been heaps more impressed if I had made them burgers again.

I didn’t really think this one through properly, did I?

Not to worry.

This certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

No one ever accused me of being a smart man… or good looking… or a good lover even…

Every one always comments that I do have nice hand writing for a boy, though. They’ve always said that. That’s pretty nice, isn’t it?

Getting that salsa verde going. If you have never tried salsa verde before you are about to loose your shit

Salsa verde, apple cider vinaigrette and some other things in jars

A really nice looking chicken about to get a heap of love from the oven

That chook fresh from the chooky solarium

Those salad vegetables getting ready to join the party

It was reals good

HERBY ROAST CHICKEN WITH A PRETTY FUCKING GOOD WARMISH SALAD AND SALSA VERDE

(serves 4 – 6)

1 nicely grown chicken. You know, a chook that got to eat grass and grubs and shit
100g butter
1 handful fresh herbs – thyme, lemon thyme (you should try it), rosemary, sage and parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper
Salsa verde to serve

For the salad
4 medium kipflers or Dutch cream potatoes, boiled or steamed for 15-20 minutes until just cooked, cooled and then sliced into 1cm disks (you could defo use a cooked grain, sweet potato or some extra green vegetables if you don’t do potatoes)
200g green beans, halved
1 small head of broccoli cut into florets or 1 bunch of broccolini cut in half
50g (2 handfuls) leaf and/or herb mix
50g (1 handful) sunflower sprouts or whatever sprouts you can get hold of
2-3 radish, sliced thinly
A good splash of apple cider vinaigrette to dress
Salt and pepper

Rub chicken down with butter. Sprinkle with herbs and season with salt and pepper, ensuring that you put a little in its bot bot* too.
Roast in pre heated 180C (350F) oven for 1 hour or until cooked, basting with sexy-buttery-chickeny juices (I think I just drooled a little) every 15 minutes. Remove chicken from roasting pan and rest in a warm spot, loosely covered in foil for 10-15 minutes.
Add potatoes to oven pan and return to oven for 10 minutes. Add beans and broccoli to oven pan and return to oven for another 5 minutes. Chuck (place gently) all of the roasted vegetables into a large mixing bowl, add apple cider vinaigrette, leaves, sprouts and radish and toss gently until combined.
Now is a pretty good time to carve that chicken. Or, if you’re heaps slow at carving the chicken, maybe get someone else to do that while you sort the salad.
Get a handful of the salad-y stuff onto a plate, put a bit of chicken on the side, dress that chicken with a little salsa verde and eat it the heck in your face.
That’s some damn fine chicken.

*Bot bot; bottom. Anal cavity.

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.

Pretty easy sausage meatball pasta

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This is easy-tasty-good piss-easy mid-week cooking ala foodisthebestshitever personified.

The big secret here is if you get a good sausage you will defo be a happy woman.

Wait…

Um…

What I meant to say is; if you get a good sausage from your butcher half the work is already done for you. Yup. That’s my big secret.

Seriously.

A decent butcher will have a few different sausages to choose from so I would suggest something herby or something with some spice, like a fresh chorizo, and then half the battle is already won. Literally then the hardest thing you will need to do to get a decent dinner on the table is to boil the correct amount of pasta needed to feed only the people sitting around said table and not the population of a small northern Italian village.

Add a few vegetables that you have wrestled from the grip of the depths-of-the-back-of-the-fridge-demon, a few subtle herbs*, a splash of whatever trashy white wine you have in the coffee cup in front of you and some cooked pasta (or instant noodles if you’re feeling reals trashy), and you will be eating a pretty damn fine pasta for your dinner.

And don’t feel like this could only be done on a stove top. Anything you can cook in a pan can be cooked on the coals or on a grill… just saying… it’s a pretty good way to do camping like a boss.

Little balls of meaty goodness getting made by my children. So bloody simple.

Brown those balls

Get some green things into the pan

…and then get some pasta in there too

A few subtle herbs. Bahahahaha… subtle herbs

Get into my face time

SAUSAGE MEATBALL & GREEN STUFF PASTA

Serves 4

Enough cooked pasta for 4 people, plus a tablespoon or two of the water it was cooked in
500g good thick sausages, each sausage pushed from its skin and formed into 5-6 meatballs
1 anchovy
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large handful chopped fresh herbs – sage, thyme, lemon thyme, rosemary and curly parsley
2 cups diced green vegetables – zucchini, broccoli and green olives… even peas would work so very well
A splash of white wine
Olive oil
Grated parmesan or pecorino to serve

Heat a splash of oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add meatballs and sauté for 2 minutes, turning every 30 seconds to get a little browning on a fair bit of the ball.
Add anchovy, garlic, half of the chopped herbs and the vegetables, and sauté for another 2-3 minutes until starting to colour a little.
Deglaze pan with a splash of white wine. Deglaze your own face with a large tumbler of said white wine. Cook out for another minute.
Toss through pasta and 1-2 tablespoons of pasta cooking water and heat through.
Toss through remaining herbs.
Check seasoning and adjust if necessary.
Distribute that good stuff between 4 bowls. Top with parmesan and a splash of olive oil if you’re feeling it.
Eat it in your face.

*Bahahaha… subtle herbs. I don’t even know what a subtle herb is. Man up and get some punch-in-face herbs in that pasta so they may party with the sausage like a cheap prostitute and they can all hit the front page of tomorrows local rag together.

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!

Christmas ham glaze and a tasty stuffed bird.

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That glazed ham after a little time in the wood fired oven. I love those little charred sexy bits

That glazed ham after a little time in the wood fired oven. I love those little charred sexy bits


I’ve noticed shit is getting a fair bit Christmassy around the joint at the mo’. Like, really effing Christmassy.

My smart brains told me that due to my little issue with finding time to hit this blog up at the moment, I should get onto some kind of Christmassy type post pretty fricking quick smart or the whole thing will pass me by and I’ll be left standing out the front of the house in my freshly pressed favourite baby blue suit, ironed tie and hippest new sock-sandal combo, with no date for the school dance… again…*

I also thought that this might be one of those ever-rare occasions where I may have inadvertently been presented with the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. You see, I have been asked by a local restaurant reviewer blog (Get Forked and Fly) via our restaurant (the Stockpot Kitchen), if I might like to share a recipe with her readers. Are you keeping up with me here?

Bam. Enter my Christmassy story and a couple of cracking recipes for some tasty tasty yuletide food to wow your friends and family (or possibly just your ever-growing clowder of cats) this Christmas.

The thing about living in Australia (It’s a country. Under where you live. Kinda like your basement but with less gimp masks and more sunshine) is that it is often summer time at Christmas. In fact, I believe there is more than an 85% chance of it being summer in Australia when Christmas hits. Fact. So there you have it – it is often warm in Australia at Christmas time because of the summer.

Because of the high probability of warmth, often the people of Australia will opt for some kind of cold, salady type lunch – some fresh prawns and oysters, maybe some cold roast chicken and things of the such. Our family, well we like to have it all – cold, hot, raw, cooked, drunkly undercooked, whatever. Nothing is barred from our table. There is but one prerequisite – whatever the food is there is enough of it so that we may eat ourselves sober over the course of the day. Fo’ reals.

Prawns, oysters, a stuffed bird and ham is a damn fine start.

A good ham is quite possibly one of my favourites.

I really like ham.

For the last couple of years I have been smoking my own ham, and this is something I will continue to do as I was really effing happy with the result. I do understand that you may not have the time, inclination or facilities to smoke your own ham so I will not like you any less if you get a nice ham from your local smoker of the pork… heck, I would even understand if you ended up with a glazed log of devon on your Christmas table. It’s fine. Do what you need to do. It’s all about that sexy-assed glaze today.

The smoking of the ham

The smoking of the ham


HAM WITH SEXY-ASSED PEACHY BOURBON SMOKY HONEY GLAZE

1 leg of ham, skin removed and fat scored
1 cup peach and red pepper relish (recipe follows)
½ cup smoked honey
½ cup bourbon

• Combine all glaze ingredients in a saucepan and warm over low heat, stirring until it all comes together Hannibal styles
• Whack your ham into a baking dish that’s going to fit it and pour half of the glaze over the top, brushing it into all of the little score crevices
• Bake at 150C for an hour, or until ham is heated through, basting with extra glaze every 15 minutes or so
• If you like some extra crusty little over-caramelised charred bits you can bump the heat up a little for the final 15 minutes. 180C should give you what you need
• Cover ham loosely in foil and rest for 15-20 minutes. Carve and then pour extra pan juices over ham and serve
• Leftover ham is pretty much really good to eat any old how – toasties, with eggs for breakfast, on a ploughmans, chopped into croquettes or fritters, straight off of your girlfriends boobi… e… s… It’s just really good, OK?

ELEANOR CROMWELL’S PEACH & RED PEPPER (capsicum) RELISH

Eleanor is a very nice lady and she sent me this recipe for what is now my favourite peach and capsicum relish.

2 long red chilli, chopped
12 red capsicum, no stalk, with seed, chopped
12 large peaches, chopped
1 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
2 large lemons, cut in half
5 cups castor sugar

• In food processor, blitz chilli, capsicum with seeds and peaches until coarsely chopped
• Add all ingredients except sugar to a large heavy based pot and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring a couple of times to prevent sticking
• Remove lemons and add sugar
• Simmer for ½ hour more, or until the mixture is reduced slightly and thickened (you can check viscosity by putting a couple of tablespoons of relish into the fridge for 15 minutes to set)

——————————————–

The bird after it's time in the wood fired oven

The bird after it’s time in the wood fired oven


You must know how to roast a chook by now so I shall spare you the insult to your intelligence, although I’m sure I’ll say something soon enough that will make up for this moment of compassion. Today we will concentrate on the stuffing aka. The tasty shit you get inside the local greasy spoon rotisserie chook.

Stuffing is plenty easy, made delicious with a bit of smoky bacon (but let’s be honest, what isn’t made better with smoky bacon-y goodness) and some herbs from your garden. If you don’t have a herb garden yet all I can say is that you clearly don’t listen to anything I say and don’t deserve delicious roast chicken… and you are simple.

There, that should make up for the tenderness I showed you earlier.

The stuffing of the bird

The stuffing of the bird


BACON, CRAISIN & HERB STUFFING FOR A CHICKEN OR GOOSE OR TURKEY

2 rashers bacon, diced
½ brown onion, diced
¼ cup craisins, reconstituted with enough booze to cover them. White wine, brandy, marsala, anything boozy
1 handful mixed herbs; I have parsley, sage and rosemary from the garden. Thyme would be good if you have some
¾ cup breadcrumbs made from some old sour dough bread if you have some
Seasoning

• Sauté onion and bacon until onion is soft and translucent
• Remove from heat, add craisins and toss to warm through slightly. Leave to cool
• Combine all other ingredients and mix thoroughly
• Check seasoning
• Stuff it up the wrong un of your once happily free-ranging chicken. There is no delicate way to perform this task so get your hand right in there. If you have any leftover stuffing whack that in the pan half way through cooking. It still tastes like damn tasting shit
• Roast it up
• Cover loosely with foil and rest for 10-15 minutes
• Carve and eat
• The stuffing goes really well in a leftover roast chicken sandwich with homemade mayo.

*No joke I wrote this thing a month ago and then bam, Christmas is here in a matter of days and I have no idea where the last month actually gone.

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