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


(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.

Paul’s Caul… Paul’s version of events plus a recipe. That’s right. Warm olives.

Face to beard cook off January 2013…

Well you’ve all by now seen G-bags version of events from Sunday past… I thought it only fitting to let you all into what happened in my mind at least, and hopefully between the two accounts something will be true. All I know for sure is if you where to deduce what had happened the previous night by the state of our house, you would of most likely come up with this analysis…

‘Sunday night was filled with copious amounts of drinking or collecting empty bottles from the neighborhood either would account for the many bottles Struan around the place. After everyone was drunk they decided to get every single pot/pan/cooking utensil, piece of cutlery and crockery ever owned and lay them out on the benches making sure not to leave even an inch of space. This was obviously the game they had created and won very successfully, I might add.’

But lucky for you guys I have the ability to remember quite clearly what actually happened, and whatever pieces evade my memory, I quickly insert made up shit ☺

G-bags only informed me less then a week prior to his arrival that he was coming and bringing his hobbit like creatures with him (I found out later they are actually his children) so knowing I had no time to go buy ingredients I formulated a challenge using only what ever I already had at home. Lucky for us I have a commercial dry store in the garage and a few tasty treats in the freezer for such occasions. So I defrosted a Black pudding and some Atlantic salmon pieces, and decided that we would be able to have 5 ingredients each as main players and use whatever spices etc we wanted, as well as whatever veg we wanted.

And yes I did have my heart set on black pudding, polenta and cauliflower by the time Sunday rolled round, and yes I did plead for them and yes he did give in… WIN ☺

So they arrived G, Seba and Obi (seriously very cool kids/hobbits/really small men) and it was on, I had my ‘grey goose bloody Mary nacho’s, torched mozzarella, vegemite guacamole’ dish ready to be torched as they arrived. They all seemed to love it as do I, so in keeping with the dish we had our first beverage of the day a grey goose with fresh lime and soda (from my newly bought soda stream).

Then we do what we do best, we talked food for several hours whilst consuming many beers, until it dawned on me that we actually had to make dinner for actual people!!! These actually people where G-money, Carla DA Bruce, Nick (aka Deekline,), Richo and Lauren. It was actually Lauren arriving home that launched us into a cooking frenzy, this was short lived and within less then an hour our mis en place was complete and it was time for red wine.

It’s always nice to get in the kitchen with an old friend and have a few ideas of your own and then ask him or her what they would do with this ingredient or dish. It may not always be what you want to hear but sometimes they come up with a different way, some might say a better way… not me I like to say different ☺

While we where still waiting for all to arrive I grabbed some plain kalamata olives out of the fridge and whacked them in a saucepan with…
• Skin of 1 lemon
• 6 whole birds eye chilli’s
• 8 sprigs of thyme
• 3 cloves of garlic
• ¼ cup merlot vinegar
• 1 cup olive oil
And brought the pot to a simmer and let the flavours infuse for a couple of hours (heat off) until the peeps arrived.

With the olives we served a warmed and sliced loaf of bread with extra virgin olive oil and Dukkah that I had made previously (will give Dukkah recipe in next few weeks)

Now with guests all here, and with drinks in hands we started to cook our dishes, It was about now I realized how effing drunk I actually was… but I kept on going.

G-bags plated his banging…

“Salmon tartare, brown rice & quinoa salad with beetroot textures finished with smoked salt & avocado’

It was a cracker even If I did mock him for using a ring mould ;)… as stated before its worth its weight in gold to cook and create with someone you respect, as with the same 5 ingredients they will create something completely different to anything you would… in turn broadening your culinary horizons.

Now for the drunken master to try and coordinate the heat and cooking of soft polenta, deep fried fritters and seared black pudding…. That’s shit is hard 7 hours into your drinking session. But I just managed it, polenta may have been a bit over but acceptable. So I ended up with…

“Seared black pudding, soft marsala polenta, spiced cauliflower fritters, chilli caper sauce”

I was happy with my work, in fact so happy that whilst the girls where clearing the table I stumped back outside with a pot of polenta, bowl full of fritters and black pudding and whacked it in the middle of the table so all could demolish the left overs. Those who know me would know this is quite out of character, as I like my food plated nicely.

During all the festivities I gave my good friend G-money his birthday present, which was a Breathalyzer so I thought I’d check my reading just after dinner… it was 0.214, not bad at all me thinks.

In summary it was and always is such a pleasure to catch up with G-bags and boys, as well as sharing a meal with old friends and new. But without a doubt… foodisthebestshitever



I don’t know how the weather is where you live but we’ve been getting some cracking sunshine in our parts lately. In our parts. That doesn’t quite sound right does it? It kinda sounds like I might be implying the sun actually does shine out of my ass… but the sunshine is coming not from my ass. It is being delivered by the truckload, or getting air freighted in or how ever sunshine usually comes… and I think not any of the ways I have suggested. And all this sunshine and warmth and lazing around in the pool makes me desire my new friend, sangria. She is my Mother Teresa to the orphaned child, my politician to the whore house madam, my cabbage to the carnie. Needless to say she makes me feel good. And why have I decided the sangria’s guise would be that of a woman? Because it makes me feel that I can desire her, want to hold myself close to her bosom, want to… err. I’m all good here…

So due to lack of anything remotely resembling ingredients that may constitute sangria, well, that’s a lie. I have heaps of fruit but sangria cannot take flight with fruit alone. No no no. it needs booze- and if I do the maths (I’m pretty good at that shit) then that is the factor that is missing from my equation. This coupled with my lack of desire to do something or go somewhere (get up and go to the bottleshop) means I shall not be drinking sangria today. Or right now anyway. So what I have to offer you is some photos of the accidental sangria I made last weekend when I went camping. One minute the kids were eating fruit salad, the next minute they were beaten to the ground rugby scrum styles and I had turned their fruit salad into my sangria. I got my 5 fruit! What about you?

Steal the fruit from your kids and the red wine and mini bottle of sparkling something that your wife got as a gift, from your wife. Make everything really cold with ice. You take ice camping right? What are you? A barbarian?

Note the ghetto carafe. All I had was a lemonade bottle and I got sick of trying to push each individual piece of the kids fruit salad in the hole so I cut the top off and rocked the extra ghetto uni dorm styles.

I’m going to have to make me some of that goodness tonight…

bangers and mash on the fire



SAUSAGE AND TWO POTATOES (that could be something different)


It’s an old skool pub favourite but, just like everything else in the cheffy wanky world, it needs to be revisited, reinvented and damn well re-rodgered*.


It is a dish that can be so damn good, yet all too often embodies everything that is bad, no, not just bad, criminal about pub food in Australia. Pub ‘bistros’. Now that’s a word that doesn’t belong on the giant billboard at the front of any pub, club or RSL. I sure it was all started with good intentions, but this food could not be further from being actual bistro food… and quite frankly I heard the road to hell was paved with good intentions. I will pick this up again later.


So anyway, tonight I cooked a type of bangers and mash. But there’s a little story to tell first. Grab your hot chocolate, snuggle up to your mama, and read on…


It’s time to celebrate.


Today I got two new teeth. Well, they’re not actually new teeth, but they used to be teeth that were almost gone and now they’re whole and in my mouth again. I was reaching the point where I felt like I was in a bloody toothpaste commercial… ‘sensitive teeth? Can’t drink cold water? Give a fuck?’

Yes, yes and no.

But I thought I should get them fixed anyway because I was getting sick of having the jolly old seadog look to go with the tongue…


The really cool thing about all of this is that both of my effed up teeth were on the same side, top and bottom. So, after a heap of local anesthetic, I walked out of there looking like I was a stroke victim. Droopy face and shite…


Back to something of a subject matter that is (almost) slightly more PC… the celebration of my new teeth.


A big fat rib-eye on the bone, roasted over the coals would have been ideal. Char-grilled chicken and chorizo could have done it too. But I had sausages… yep. Sausages. Didn’t think this one through very well did I?

So I cooked those snags and I cooked them like a bloody champion. This is what happened…




Light a fire with actual wood

Season some pumpkin with rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper, and wrap in alfoil. Chuck it in the coals for as long as the sausages take to cook. This is gonna be your mash


Heat a fuck off big paella pan (just because you have one and they’re so damn sexy), and fry off sausages, sliced onion, garlic, rosemary and a couple of anchovies. Once they are coloured deglaze with ½ a bottle of red (you know what the other half is for, yeah?). Add 2 tins of diced tomatoes and a tin of French lentils. Check seasoning. Garnish with chopped parsley, basil and rosemary from the garden


Life really ain’t that bad eh…


A general rule of thumb. Any meal that takes two people to carry is going to be a good one. Especially if it comes off the fire


Mash the roasted pumpkin with a tin of cannellini beans. Check seasoning

Serve like that. Eat. Congratulate ones self on a job well done. Look at your paella pan some more. Damn fine pan. Damn fine…

*re-rodgered. A term given to something that was rodgered once, and then again…