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


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.

Beef shin chilli con carne nacho type things

beef shin chilli con carne
Chilli is pretty simple. Fried tortillas are pretty simple. I am pretty simple. This is going to work out just fine.

The thing about beef shin is that it scares a lot of people. Not like Jay Leno or carnival folk scary, but scary like changing a nappy for your best friends kid; it doesn’t conjure up images of fun times and you know the results are something that could be terrible at best. But the one thing about the beef shin is it is so damn good if you give it a bit of “low and slow” loving. Cooking a beef shin like this is a pretty sure fire way to end up with a cracking beefy meal, and granddad being able to ditch the Viagra for ever. The gelatinousness texture and meatiness of the beef shin can only be described as luxurious, with a possible secondary reference to it being unctuous… and those of you who know me know for a fact that those are words that I’m only going to use when all other avenues have been exhausted. Beef shin, when cooked properly, is a damn fine experience for all. Or possibly just the person eating it…

So this is what I am giving to the human race to make the world a happier, safer and just gosh-darn nicer place to be. Unless you are vegetarian. If you are vegetarian you will probably not enjoy this so much. I dare say it would actually be quite unusual of you to cook this recipe. This oh-so-beefy, gelantinous-y, unctuous (I know. I used it again), cheesy and still oh-so-beefy chilli

Start by cooking some chilli. Heck, just eat that with a bowl of rice if that's what you're feeling...
Start by cooking some chilli. Heck, just eat that with a bowl of rice if that’s what you’re feeling…

Fry or oven bake some tortilla crisps
Fry or oven bake some tortilla crisps
Make a little avocado and tomato salad dressed with some lime juice. That's the sort of shit that tastes good and is super healthy for you too
Make a little avocado and tomato salad dressed with some lime juice. That’s the sort of shit that tastes good and is super healthy for you too
Aw yeah she's ready
Aw yeah she’s ready

Get in my face right now
Get in my face right now

BEEF SHIN CHILLI CON CARNE NACHO TYPE THINGS (enough for a few cowboys)

1 big ol’ beef shin, 1.2kg or so. Get your butcher to cut it in half or thirds if big lumps of meat scare you
2 brown onions, diced
1 capsicum (pepper), diced
5 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons Tex-Mex spice mix (recipe follows)
1 teaspoon smoked chilli powder (or not if you’re feeding the younglings)
1 cinnamon stick
750ml beer (whatever you drink will work fine. Even if you wanna be a smart ass and use root beer, I reckon that could work too)
3x 400g tins crushed tomatoes or tomato passata
2x 400g tin black beans (or kidney beans or a beany mix if that’s how you roll)
2 pieces good dark chocolate
Seasoning
2 cups grated cheese. One type or a mix of your faves
Fried tortilla crisps, avocado salad and sour cream to serve

• Get a nice big pot out for this one
• Season beef shin and sauté in a little oil until it starts to get some colour
• Add onions, capsicum, garlic, Tex-Mex spice, chilli powder and cinnamon. Cook out for a few minutes until vegetables are soft
• Add beer, tomatoes and beans, and simmer on really low heat for 3 hours, stirring regularly. This could also be a slow cooker moment if that’s how you roll
• Check if beef is tender by pushing a bit from the bone (no rocket science or molecular gastronomy involved in that one), if not simmer for another half an hour
• Once beef is tender remove from pot, allow to cool a little and then shred
• Get the chocolate into the pot
• Return beef to pot, check seasoning and serve how ever you feel is going to do it for you on this day; with rice and a tortilla or two, over nacho chips with grated cheese followed by a short trip to the oven, or possibly what I have done today… cover the chilli with a couple of handfuls of cheese and whack it under the grill (broiler) or into the oven for 5-10 minutes to get all roof-of-your-mouth-melty.
• Serve that shit up with fried tortilla crisps, a simple avocado and tomato salad and some sour cream or natural yoghurt

TEX MEX SPICE MIX

¼ cup each dried thyme, oregano and ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes
• Mix it all together and store extra in an air tight container for your next Tex Mex feast

I really liked that avocado number
I really liked that avocado number

Pork Shoulder Roast with Brussels Sprouts and Apples… while you’re out doing cool shit

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Don’t worry, I am still alive… albeit just barely.

It’s been a hell of a couple of weeks in my world, as we have opened a restaurant. That’s right, our very own restaurant. So fucking exciting for us but oh how our lives have been turned a little sideways. I do know this was our choice and our doing so it is nothing I am complaining about, I am merely trying to give you an insight as to where I’ve been and let my Blogland friends know I still love you all. But just like the rest of my friends in the close and touchable world around me you will need to deal with my lack of attention and bare with me for a bit until my life settles back into some kind of routine that won’t be deemed total chaos… or there is of course the other option; you can hate me for ever, unfriend me, unfollow me and tell people that I’m shit, which is also totally fine by me ☺

Seriously my time at the moment is like the chocolate cake to the fat (possibly should read “weight challenged” if I cared) kid; there one minute and totally non existent the next.

So here is a dinner I cooked yesterday for our first day off as a family in a few weeks. This is something that works for me right now; so simple and soooo damn good. I put it in the oven in the morning when we left the house and it was ready when we returned hours later. I just needed to cook a few sides, open a bottle of wine or maybe two and then feed my face until it begged me to stop… I love it when my face begs me to stop…

#easytastygood just for you.

Out of the oven...
Out of the oven…

And ready to get into my belly. One bottle of wine would quite possibly have been enough but... well... nothing really. We just had two!
And ready to get into my belly. One bottle of wine would quite possibly have been enough but… well… nothing really. We just had two!

ROASTED PORK SHOULDER with FENNEL SEED, APPLES AND BRUSSELS SPROUTS

1 pork shoulder, 4kg is enough for our family and another
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
500g Brussels sprouts, halved
500g green apples, quartered and cored
2 brown onions, sliced kinda big
A splash of apple cider vinegar
Salsa verde to serve

• Put the pork shoulder into a baking dish. Rub it with fennel seeds and a good hit of salt and pepper
• Whack it into the oven at 100C and get the eff outta dodge. Go and do some really cool shit with your fam for the day. Seriously, this bad boy is going to be loving life for a good 7 hours
• When you return 7 hours later you can bring the pork out of the oven and admire what it has become
• Place the vegetables in another baking tray. Moisten with a cup of the roasting juices from the pork and the apple cider vinegar, season, whack it in the oven and turn up the heat to 200C
• After 15 minutes the vegetables should be close to done. Give them a bit of a toss and send them back to the chambers of the furnace for another five minutes
• Return the pork to the oven too, just to give that crackling a working over. This make take up to 10 minutes but persevere, it will be worth it (if your oven has a top heat/grill/broiler function you can use this to really get the crackle going)
• Carve the pork and serve it with salsa verde, the Brussels and apples, and any other sides you fancy… and beer or wine… or even beer and wine also does the trick

For any one keen to follow our exploits try The Stockpot Kitchen on facey or insta

Slow Cooking the Winter Chill Away…

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The first chill of winter never gets any easier. If summer is the firm tanned buttocks of the physically active young lady, then the first chill of winter is the pale sagging buttocks of the aged lady… polyester slacks included.

Yes, that is the first chill of winter – it’s a bitch of a surprise initially, but soon enough I will be used to it and accept it and love it like the mother would love her inbred child. Well, maybe not that much love, but soon I will acclimatize to the winter is the point I’m trying to make… I think.

As I sit here trying to warm myself from the alien experience that is the winter chill, on the couch, eating an ANZAC cookie, wrapped in a snuggle rug type thing I have stolen from one of my children, I contemplate things… I contemplate stuff… I contemplate that to an outsider I would look almost exactly the same as the bearded, street wise old hobo who hangs out at the local shops. Well shit Mr “outsider”, I am sorry for trying to keep my ass warm in this time that coldness descends upon us, and yes I am going to have another Anzac cookie. I am effing going to have another Anzac cookie. I am addicted to those things. If they were about when our troops went to war these cookies could have been gifted to the enemy and could have very possibly resolved any conflict before it had a chance to happen…

Also, as always, I contemplate what may constitute my next meal and how that meal is going to help to warm my body and nurture my soul and, well, just get some warmth into my life really. I don’t want a “warm hug”. No, in fact the next person I hear referring to a warming wintery dinner as a “warm hug” will quite possibly receive them self a warm flat palm straight to the face. No “warm hug”. Sorted? Right.

A slow braise, a ragout, a stew… what ever you may call it, it is truly one of the best things one can do for their person in times of such ominous chill.

It need not be a difficult process to transform some fridge stuff and a few things from the larder into a pot of awesome if you just follow a few simple ground rules. Not a recipe, just a formula to success.

So here is my secret formula, my family jewels, my third nipple… or just the things you need to make a decent braised pot of heart warming goodness;

A winter stew...
A winter stew…

Goes into some dishes and then steamed potatoes are pushed through the ricer to make a funny pattern that the kids like on top...
Leftovers go into some dishes and then steamed potatoes are pushed through the ricer to make a funny pattern that the kids like on top…

And then the whole nom nom nom thing happens
And then the whole nom nom nom thing happens

1. Something wet. No, no, no, your sheets are not going to do for this one little boy. We need moisture and we need viscosity (there is a whole other world I can head to with a lead-in line like that, but quite frankly even the Germans wouldn’t touch it, so I to will not be going there today…) as a saucy conduit for flavours to the journey from the plate to your face. Something like stock, booze, tomatoes or a combination can provide you with the sauciness you need
2. Some herb. The stuff you keep in the tobacco tin next to the scissors and the pack of cigarette papers on the top of the fridge will not do for this. If you are smart enough to have a few herbs in your garden then you will be winning right now. A few dried herbs in the cupboard will even find you a place close to the podium. Use grass and dirt if you have nothing else on hand
3. A secondary cut. This is not the knife wound the mass murderer inflicts when the first slash is ineffective, but instead it is the collective term for the cheaper cuts of meat that need a little extra love to achieve the state that is going to leave you laying back in a smoky, post-coital haze, much like the farmer in the pig stall. The cuts of meat less favoured by the consumer because of fuck knows why, because the smart money is on the secondary cut every time; tasty and cheap, much like the Thai lady-boy… except tastier… and not that cheap. But still plenty cheap. Chicken wings and even thighs, beef shin, chuck, cheek or brisket, pork shoulder or shank, lamb shoulder or ribs all fall into this category. Quite conveniently these are all of my favourite cuts. Lucky me
4. Slow cooking. Slow cooking. Slow cooking. Slow cooking is the secondary cuts besty. Without slow cooking the secondary cut is but dog scraps. These guys hang out and the magic happens, much like Torvill and Dean, Thelma and Louise or that guy and girl from Swedish 90’s pop-rock sensation, Roxette. Slow is good. Winter loves slow. A slow cooker will do this job just fine for you

So go now and slow cook some heart warming wintery goodness. Do it quickly.

And if you have leftovers fear not. For when you have leftovers you can put them in the freezer for a rainy day, or even better (or at least as good), put them in a pie. Whether your pie be encased in pastry – puff or short crust, or maybe a pot pie with a filo or potato crust just like the one I made today. Which reminds me, I set out today to pen a little piece about a pie I made with some leftover beef ragout (hence the pie pics) but as I often do, I got caught up in the moment and, after a brief flirtation with the point, I end jumping into bad and going ten rounds of the very best with a short story about the first chill of winter and how I’m going to sort that out so now that has become a story for another time.

I seem to be making it quite clear that I’ve been beating the chill with the whiskey so far… plenty of the finest brown paper bag covered Scotch whiskey.

That was some tasty braised beef shin
That was some tasty braised beef shin