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.

Ham


Ham.

Now, there’s going to be a lot of different stories floating around the world wide super-web at the moment all tell you how to cook a decent ham… well, in actual fact that may be more applicable to the couple of weeks prior to Christmas but, as we all know, I am not the most talented at being super organized for this sort of thing so for now I shall just be pretending I am super organized and on the program (and not just the methadone program for a change).

So, about that ham…

Like I said, there is a lot of different ways to cook a ham much like say, skinning a cat or pleasuring a lady-man. I am not here to tell you my method is more righteous and will light the path to the heavens for you, but let me tell you it is pretty damn good and I am feeling more than just a little enlightened right now.

Hallelujah!

The other thing about what I did is, well, I cooked the ham from scratch which automatically gets you 300% more kudos than just glazing a store bought smoky leg o’ pig. Also smoking a ham is not nearly as hard as you think it might be, as long as you have a smoker (Bullet/barrel or off-set is what I have used) and a probe thermometer.

You will also be needing a brined (or pickled) leg of pork for this exercise. You should be able to hook this up from your local decent butcher if you give him a little notice.

This recipe is for 9kg of pure porcine glory. If you have a smaller leg, or even half a leg, the cooking time is going to be reduced. Just keep an eye on that internal temperature and hoist it when it hits 170F.

You’re gonna need a smoker
This is a very sexy sight
Get the skin off it (but save it for something like baked beans at the end of the week), glaze it up and get it back into your heated barrel
Carve it at the table like a boss because let’s face it, you are definitely a boss

SMOKED HAM

(serves a small village)

1x 8-9kg leg of brined (pickled) pork
A smoker
Lump charcoal
A few bits of flavoursome smoky wood. I used ironbark

Get your smoker on and get it up to 225-250F. The ham will take somewhere in the vicinity of 8 hours to cook, so bare this in mind when you are setting up your pit.
Add a piece of smoky flavour wood.
Get that leg of pork into the smoker, insert temperature probe into thickest part of the leg and put the lid on so it may do its thing.
Drink a beer.
If you are happy your pit is going to hold its temp for a few hours you could go and have a nap or watch I little bit of that carnival folk pornography I know you love so much.
Now it’s all about keeping that temperature and chucking a bit of smoky flavour wood on the coals every hour.
Once that internal probe tells you it’s 170F in the middle of that leg it’s time to pull it out.
Now you have ham.
Rest the ham for half an hour or refrigerate for a later date. Remove skin, leaving as much of the fat as you think you like (I like to leave it all for flavour and moistness), score (I gave it 10 out of 10 ;)), place in a baking dish and glaze with something sweet and sexy – this year I used 1 cup of honey and a little rosemary.
Whack it back into the pit or a suitably heated oven for another 1-1.5 hours, reglazing with the pan juices every 15 minutes.
Carve that thing at the table like a boss.
Amen.

Enjoyed by parents and children alike

Gumbo. Smoked lamb gumbo…

lamb gumbo
Today I made gumbo… or something that is sort of gumbo, I guess.

Best as I can figure gumbo was created in Louisiana as sort of a use-up-all-of-the-shit-in-your-garden, chuck-in-whatever-bit-of-meat-you-can-afford, roux flavoured, file or okra thickened, po’ folks type food, so I’m pretty sure that means I’m following the brief… and not even with a chance of getting locked away… like if I was following the briefs… like the knickers… sniffy, sniffy… hmmm, quite possibly going in a bad direction here I think.

Straight up digression. Certainly not breaking any new ground here, am I.

So the thing is I had some lamb loin in the smoker, and I had some Andouille sausage in the fridge, and then I went and Viking raided the absolute crap out of all of the leafy green things in Jennee’s garden. The answer to that question is definitely GUMBO. Oh, and I do know there wasn’t actually a question there. I’m just checking if you’re on your toes. Well done little fella, you passed. Next up we’ll check which way you sit on a toilet seat and then… um. Digressing again. Soz. I write recipe now.

The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was file powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), which I read is quite essential for thickening a good gumbo. But then I also read (yeah, working my peepers over-time here) that okra is also used for the same purpose. So this time I just happened to have some okra in the fridge so that’s what I went with. I’ll try to get hold of some file for next time…

Get a heap of green things from the garden...
Get a heap of green things from the garden…

...and chop it the heck up
…and chop it the heck up
Get that roux nice and chocolate brown
Get that roux nice and chocolate brown
And then get the rest of it in there too
And then get the rest of it in there too
Save that smoked lamb until the end though
Save that smoked lamb until the end though

Get it into your belly, washed down with whatever you see fit
Get it into your belly, washed down with whatever you see fit

SMOKED LAMB GUMBO

(Serves 4-6)

800g lamb loin*, smoked at 110C (230F) for 4 hours
1 andouille sausage (or what ever smoked sausage you can lay your grubby little mits on), diced
3 tablespoons butter or bacon dippings
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 onion, chopped
1 green capsicum, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
10-15 okra, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 bunches mixed green things – curly kale, Russian kale, cavolo nero, spinach, chard, turnip leaves, broccoli leaves, grass, whatever, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon cayenne or died chilli
2lt some kind of stock
Salt and pepper
A large handful parsley, chopped
Hot sauce and rice to serve if you want to be somewhat traditional. Otherwise, serve it with whatever the fuck you want – I actually had mine with potato salad and a splash of olive oil… don’t tell anyone please

• Make a roux with the butter and flour (you can google that I reckon) and cook it out slowly until it is a nice medium-dark brown colour
• Add sausage, onion, capsicum, celery, okra and garlic and cook out over medium heat for another 5 minutes
• Add greens and spices and cook out for another 5 minutes
• Add stock and season with salt and pepper. Simmer gently for 30 minutes
• Add lamb, smoky lamb juices and simmer for another 20 or so minutes until lamb is tender
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary
• Hit it with a heap of parsley and get it into your face

This shit is so damn good.

*The flavour of the awesomeness that is Gumbo is one that will lend its self to be a suitable home for just about any other meat. Don’t be afraid to sub in chicken, seafood, beef, pork, koala, emu and any other coat of arms animal you can think of.
gumbo

Flood goals #2: roast chicken with fruity nutty stuffing

roast chicken with fruit stuffing
The rivers and creeks that have swelled more than Gina Reinharts chin banks will eventually subside. The waters shall recede like George Costanza’s hairline and the semi rural vista shall become apparent once more. It shall sink to depths lower than teenage despair, it shall become shallower than last years prom queen and as weak and feeble as my famous person analogies. That’s what the water will do…

Until then we shall relax and enjoy this forced hiatus from the outside world. At a town meeting we shall decide that we actually prefer this cessation of ties with the outside world. We shall talk about forming our own government and who should be in charge. We will be divided through our options, heightened with a splash of cabin fever. Alliances would be formed. Weapons would be made. The townsfolk will become angry and fights will break out. Oh no, Piggy got smashed with a rock.

Maybe we just need to hope and pray for these waters to subside a little quicker…

While we wait I will take that chook I spoke about last post – you know, the chook of noble upbringing and reputable past – and I shall make a stuffing worthy of being rammed into it’s butthole. And then, my friends, I will indeed ram that stuffing into the chook’s butthole and then we shall roast it and eat it in our bellies.

That’s what I’m going to do.

Stuffy stuffy stuffing
Stuffy stuffy stuffing

Nah, that chook's stuffed mate
Nah, that chook’s stuffed mate
I do believe this would be called the money shot
I do believe this would be called the money shot
Oooh. Nom nom nom
Oooh. Nom nom nom
I told you braised greens were a good side...
I told you braised greens were a good side…

It was really good
It was really good

FRUITY NUTTY CHOOK STUFFING

1 thick slice sourdough bread, diced nice and small
2 dried figs, chopped,
1/4 cup almonds or cashews or whatever your favourite nut might be right now or a mix of the lot, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each onion powder and garlic powder
A big handful chopped herbs – parsley, sage, rosary and thyme (yeah, sing it)
A splash of white wine or apple cider to moisten slightly
1 chicken to put the stuffing inside of
Oil
Butter
Salt and pepper

• Pre heat oven to 180-200C

• Massage all of the stuffing ingredients together in a bowl (Yeah massage. Get right in there. But probably leave the essential oils out of this one…), season with a little salt and pepper and then leave to soak up the love for a few minutes

• Get the stuffing into the chicken. I do not believe there is polite and tidy way to do this so I just stuff it in there best I can

• Rub the chicken with a little oil to get it’s sweaty bald man sheen on, and then season with salt and pepper

• Into the oven for 1hr 20mins or something thereabouts – until the juices in the leg joint run clear is a good indicator. After 1hr rub chicken down with a little butter to get that all over tan going on. Once that sexy bitch is cooked rest for 15 minutes and then carve. Pan gravy and braised kale from the garden was a damn fine side for this delicious bird

When the water was at it's peak it would have been close to 2m up that cactus in the fore ground
When the water was at it’s peak it would have been close to 2m up that cactus in the fore ground