spaghetti bolognese, aka spag bog, on the bbq

Spaghetti Bolognese or, as we like the odd colloquialism and/or slang in Australia, the spag bog or spag bol.

I will be going with spag bog. Not sure why, but that’s just what we’ve always called it.

I bloody love a good spag bog. Always have. Although I must admit the spag bog that would redden my face as a child is a little different to the spag bog I cook in present times.

Whereas beef mince with a little tomato paste was the sauce and grated tasty cheese was the topping of the spag bog of my youth, my older person (I wanted to say more grown up or mature but those words really didn’t fit) spag bog might include a few more ingredients – nothing to put it all out of your reach though. Nothing you can’t buy from the local supermarket or steal from the neighbour’s cupboards if that’s what you’ve got to do. I won’t be a wanker and tell you it needs freshly shaved truffle or maybe a virginal pigmy goose egg stirred through at the end. I just like to start it off with a little smoked sausage in with the beef mince, cook it out with tomato passata, red wine and a bit of beef stock and then finish it up with some fresh herbs and parmesan cheese aka. the parmo (that was another colloquialism just for you).

This is going to be so much better than using a jar of supermarket pasta sauce. A jar of something shit that tastes like that last inkling of hope has just trickled down the drain in the factory floor. I won’t pretend that this will not require just a touch more effort than the jar of pre-made pasta sauce, but I really do think it’s worth while and, in an absolute triumph of the modern era, we now have freezers, so just bloody well make a double or triple recipe and freeze it down in containers for later.

Here we go.

Get it all ready to go. This is a thing that smart people do in the kitchen.
Get a little parmesan on there and get it into your face.


SPAG BOG

Serves 5-6

400g beef mince
200g smoked sausage, chopped or blitzed up (Fresh Italian pork sausage also works well. Just push it out of the sausage skin and break it up. Pancetta and every other cured pork product in existence also work beautifully here)
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
5 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup red red wine
1 cup beef stock
700ml tomato passata
Water if it needs a little more moisture as it cooks
Salt and pepper to season
A handful of fresh oregano and parsley, chopped
500g dried spaghetti, cooked according to packet instructions
Grated parmesan cheese, to serve

Heat a large pot over a hot flame, or even over coals in your BBQ.
Add a splash of olive oil and give it a few seconds to get hot.
Now add onion, carrot, celery and garlic and cook out for a few minutes until starting to soften a little.
Add beef mince and sausage to pot and stir and poke with a wooden spoon to break the mince up as it cooks – after all, we are making a meat sauce not bloody meatballs. Add some salt and pepper now too.
Once the mince is starting to colour up and it’s all looking fairly dry, add the red wine and reduce by half.
Now add beef stock and then tomato passata.
Cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so. Also keep an eye on the moisture levels as it comes to the end of its cooking time as it may require up to a cup of water to keep it looking saucy and unctuous.
Stir through those herbs.
Check yo seasoning fool. If it needs a little more salt and/or pepper, give it a little.
Stir sauce through warm spaghetti.
Serve with a little grated parmesan.



Moreton Bay bug and prawn spaghetti

moreton bay bugs, prawns, past
It’s heating up.

As we charge our way through a cracking spring like a boatload of rampaging white men through any indigenous tribe they came across, we have nothing but the glory of summer in full flight, wings spread and soaring high above like some kind of really big bird (not big bird though because I am positive that big yellow bastard can’t fly), to look forward to. That is, if you live among us in the southern hemisphere. For those of you who live in the northern hemisphere it shall be getting colder because of the hand of mother nature and the world wide effect known as “opposite day”… or possibly opposite season… or perhaps it even has a more technical term that people who wear glasses might know. Alas, I do not wear glasses (although I am meant to), so that information is beyond my grasp.

But anyway, this isn’t a story about the climate on the coast of eastern Australia (I think I may have mentioned it as a prelude to needing a fresh seafood dinner but… meh), this is a story about bugs.

Not the thousands of bugs that that some how find themselves swimming together in the Olympic regulation insect pool that is my bathroom sink every morning, possibly negating the fact that they had never taken swimming lessons. And not the ferocious bugs that were the sworn enemy of Earth’s troops on Klendathu. No, I am talking about the damn well sexy tasting bug that is know to us as Thenus Orientalis, the Slipper Lobster or, in Australia, the Moreton Bay Bug (probably due to our love of just, well, making other peoples things our own out here. Like what we did with Russell Crowe).

I bet you’re wondering how I came to have bugs in my possession, or possibly how to get rid of your excess ear hair. Well, gather ‘round, for all shall be revealed in my following ramblings.

Dr Chris (my dear Jennee’s DNA test proven father) is staying with us at the moment as Jennee is away and quite frankly, those boys of ours need 24hr supervision. Now, Dr Chris is a lover of seafood, and by seafood I mean food he can see… and reach out and grab… and send on a Contiki tour of his belly. So Dr Chris crossed my palm with enough gold for me to pay a little visit to our local fish monger and return home with some of King Neptune’s finest fare. With which I made this pasta…

I’ve got nothing for the excess ear hair PS.

Awesome looking little offers, aren't they
Awesome looking little effers, aren’t they

Nom noms
Nom noms

More nom noms
More nom noms

No waiting for nom noms
No waiting for nom noms

Done with nom noms
Done with nom noms

MORETON BAY BUG AND PRAWN SPAGHETTI (for 6)

1kg fresh prawns, peeled, deveined and generally just made to look a lot more edible
3x 250g Moreton Bay bugs, cut in half between the eyes and poo poo removed
1x 500g pack dried spaghetti or, if you want to get all renegade about this shit, what ever pasta you’d like
200g good, smoky bacon*
4 tomatoes, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 long red chilli, chopped
A splash of white plonk if you have some
Olive oil
A knob of butter
Salt and pepper. Always with the salt and pepper
Lemon wedges (don’t think you can omit the lemon wedge ok? That final squeeze of fresh lemon juice really makes this dish sing) and some of the baby rocket from Jennee’s garden, to serve

• Start by getting some oil hot in a large pan
• Add the bugs and bacon and a little seasoning to get the party started. Turn the bugs every minute or so
• After 4 or so minutes the bugs should be just about cooked (they will turn an orangey-red colour and the flesh will firm up. Check by pulling a bit out of the tail if you’re unsure – you don’t want to over cook these puppies at the price you pay for them) and remove from pan
• Add prawns, chilli and garlic and sauté for a further two minutes or until prawns are just about cooked
• Return bugs back to the little party in the pan, as well as tomato and a splash of white plonk, if using
• Add pasta and a knob of butter, just to guild the lily a little, and heat through for one minute
• Check seasoning and adjust if necessary, and get that shit on the table plenty pronto, garnished with some baby rocket and a pile of fresh lemon wedges

*I got my bacon from Mr Greg Cromwell around the corner from me at Cromwell Farms. He breeds old school pigs like Berkshire, and lets them run around in fields like pigs should. Then he kills them and gets another nice gentleman to cure and smoke his bacon (no, that is not a euphemism you dirty little gutter snipe) and every now and then has a pop-up shop at his farm so regular people, just like you, can go along and try his wares and try to get out without his daughters selling you something. If you’re ever in the Northern Rivers you should look him up because he has the good shit. Right here is a good start.

And just in case you’re wondering, I paid for my bacon.

Simply brilliant simple chorizo, rogue cherry tomato and herb pasta

SAMSUNG CSC

If you pay attention to the words that are printed on these new age electronic enviro-friendly, paper-free pages, you may remember me stating that I would be cleansing my body over this month. So you could imagine my food consumption may have simplified dramatically. As I am purging my physical being and soul of impurities, I have no room in my diet for fatty, meaty, buttery, cheesey goodness. Plenty of fruit, nuts, rice with stir-fried vegetables, salads and Asian vegetable soup all on repeat until body and mind have repented for their sins and chi is in alignment with Jupiter… I very clearly have no idea what is going on here.

Tonight we have to some extent strayed from the course a little, I little off the track, venturing into the bold unknown (and no. Not one of these are euphemisms) with this cracking pasta. Yes, we tossed the map of the country we shall call extra-healthy-and-well-being-place. We threw that map fair out of the car window, hooked a hard left and followed the dirt track to damn-tasty-dinner-county. Hell yeah!

My youngest son, Obi, wanted pasta like the cheap hooker wants the penicillin, and quite frankly he didn’t need to hire a high class lawyer with many fancy diagrams and big words to pound his argument into me. I was very easily convinced that a slight detour past the recently implemented safe distance from health and rejuvenation might be a good idea tonight. I fricking well wanted pasta too. Man cannot live on a bowl of rice a day forever… although I guess a million Philippine factory workers can’t be wrong…

This is another pasta dish that is literally child’s play. My son made this and he is seven years old. All I needed to do were the things that required “big hands”, like cooking the pasta and… well that was about it actually. All you need is someone to cook the pasta and you could make this too.

The rogue cherry tomato bush that is now providing us with a heap of cherry tomatoes every day
The rogue cherry tomato bush that is now providing us with a heap of cherry tomatoes every day

Obi grating the parmesan, after he chopped the sausage
Obi grating the parmesan, after he chopped the sausage

Toss it all together in the pan
Toss it all together in the pan

You will not be disappointed with this… unless, of course, you are allergic to chorizo… then you will most likely hate this
You will not be disappointed with this… unless, of course, you are allergic to chorizo… then you will most likely hate this

CHORIZO, ROGUE CHERRY TOMATO AND HERB PASTA (for 4)
The really good thing about using a cured sausage in a simple pasta dish is the chorizo is full of garlic and spices and pork so it provides a kick-ass flavour base for quick and easy week night cooking. Hell yeah!

250-300g spaghetti, cooked by someone with “big hands”
2 chorizo sausage, sliced
2 punnets (400g-ish) cherry tomatoes, from the cherry tomato plant you found running rampant in your backyard
2 handfuls of fresh herbs (Whatever you have in your garden. Any combination of parsley, basil, mint and oregano will do the trick), chopped or torn
Some chopped fresh chilli or dried chilli flakes if you want a bit of extra spice
A splash of white wine if you have some lying around in the fridge, not really pulling it’s weight…
Seasoning
Grated parmesan to serve
• Sauté chorizo, with a little olive oil, for 3 minutes or until it has started to release it’s sexy oily red juices
• Add tomatoes, chilli and a pinch of salt and pepper and cook out for another 3 minutes or so, until tomatoes start to blister and collapse
• Deglaze with wine and then add pasta and herbs. Toss to combine. Check seasoning
• Serve with a bit of grated parmesan

This pasta dish would be a happy home for some prawns or crayfish or squid or chicken. A very happy and caring home indeed.

Foodisthebestshitever – promoting easy-tasty every day!

Iluka and a prawn pasta that will do the trick for Valentines Day I think…

Prawny, prawny pasta
Prawny, prawny pasta

Iluka again.

Yes we’re back to Iluka again.

The owners of the restaurant I work at have declared we shall be closed for a week for maintenance and a well-deserved break after the holiday craziness. I agreed this was a good idea. Even if I was a little simpler then I think I am and didn’t think it was a good idea, I would still have packed my ass up and headed off to Iluka for the week. I love this little town. I think I could even go so far as to speak for the rest of the family and say we love this little town.

It’s a nice drive down, only taking one hour in a white mans motorized metal chariot, which is just inside of the minimum safe time lapse for the kids to start ripping each other’s faces off. It is a home to great beaches, fishing, a nice little fisherman’s co-op with a good range of fresh seafood from the surrounding waters that all comes with a smile and a reasonable price tag, national parks, a bottle shop… this list could carry on for ever. But this is not a brochure for “tourism Iluka”, it is but a simple story of a man and his two boys and a little house on the beach (that came in at under $500 for the seven nights I might add… Fuck it, this can be a “tourism Iluka” brochure. Get yer ass down here. It’s damn nice).

We have plans for eating all sorts of food while we are down here just because that’s how our holidays (and let’s face it, lives) work. Obi has spent the last week book-marking recipes he wants to cook. He even informed me that all of the recipes have ingredients listed so I can buy everything we nee to make them. Good kid that one.

But tonight we shall ease into this whole holiday thing and keep our evening meal simple. And by simple I mean simple and EFFING AWESOME.

Prawny prawns
Prawny prawns

Dish it up
Dish it up in the flairiest bowl you can find in the cupboard

Add you pangrattato and put it in your face
Add you pangrattato and put it in your face

Spaghetti with prawns, tomato, chilli, garlic and lemon, pangrattato (could happily serve 4 but was eaten by 3. Halve the recipe to serve you and your valentine, or you and your cat if that’s all you got)

1x 500g pack of spaghetti (this was a little too much for us but that just means you have some left for lunch tomorrow

600g headless king prawns, peeled and de-veined

3 tomatoes or a punnet of cherry tomatoes, diced

3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1-2 long red chilli, chopped

1 lemon, zested and juiced

a handful of fresh rocket or chopped parsley or even coriander if you want to be cutting edge

olive oil

pangrattato to serve (recipe below)

  • Cook your pasta exactly how the instructions tell you to cook it. Strain it, reserving a little of the water and set aside for a few minutes because that my friend, is how long it’s going to take you to cook this. No shit
  • Get a pan up to a med-high heat and add a splash of oil
  • Add the prawns and sauté for a minute
  • Add tomatoes, garlic (I add the garlic now because I like it kind of punchy. Put it in with the prawns if you are not so keen or possibly have a hot valentine that you wouldn’t like to offend with your garlic-y stench. You should probably get some deodorant on too. You’re welcome), chilli and lemon zest and toss for that other minute
  • Add lemon juice and rocket/parsley/whatever and toss once more to wilt the greens
  • Season, toss with pasta and top with pangrattato
  • Eat it on the verandah of your house in a little seaside village… or maybe just pretend you’re here… there’s a spare room if you are

Pangrattato (fried bread crumbs)

Also known as poor man’s parmesan. But who ever the poor man was who invented this shit, he was poor no longer that’s for sure

½ loaf stale bread (I like to keep some in the freezer for such an occasion), blitzed to a rough crumb

2 tablespoons olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic if you would like your poor man’s parmesan to be more of a middle salary earners parmesan, smashed with the flat of a knife

  • On a low heat simmer the garlic until starting to brown and the kitchen smells like you have just cooked some garlic
  • Add the breadcrumbs and fry until crisp and golden. Depending on the bread, this could take 5-10 minutes
  • Drain on paper towel
  • Season with salt

This is probably something even you could whip up for your valentine… or eat it by yourself with nothing but a tube of hand moisturiser the thought of what could’ve been

 

Cotechino Spaghetti

Cotechino
(Fresh Salami Style Sausage)

The Cotechino is similar to salami but that it has to be cooked – generally it is poached at a low heat for some hours. Its name comes from “cotica” meaning rind. The finely chopped skin slowly releases gelatine during the cooking process, giving Cotechino its incredibly silky texture.
Traditionally served alongside lentils, polenta or cannellini beans.

 

Whatever.

This is cheap pig bits thrifty assed cooking. Quick and easy mid-week cooking for those who don’t have enough time. This is good.

It satisfies like winning over a date with a $39 suit, brut 33 and an all you can eat salad bar from Sizzlers (and believe me, you are not on a winner with this shit). What’s that? Sizzlers defunct? Well, they were clearly appealing to the wrong demographic. That and the shit food probably had something to do with it too.

Anyway, this is the Devon/polony of the Italian sausage world… and damn it tastes good! Literally translated cotechino means really good shit*. DO NOT be afraid of the pork skin aspect. It creates awesome sticky-ness, not unlike the good looking bird at a swingers party. Keys in the hat folks… cotechino is taking your life in it’s hands.

 

the shlong-like poached cotechino. And some chopped shlong too...
the shlong-like poached cotechino. And some chopped shlong too…

 

get that bad boy together
get that bad boy together

 

eat it with a fat pile of grated parmesan or pecorino
eat it with a fat pile of grated parmesan or pecorino

COTECHINO AND CHERRY TOMATO SPAGHETTI

300-400g cotechino sausage

1 pack dried spaghetti (yeah. Even I don’t have enough time to make spaghetti on a school night… usually)

Some cherry tomatoes from the garden

Olive oil

Parmesan to serve

  • Poach the sausage in enough water to well and truly cover it for an hour or so. A very gentle simmer is all you need. Take the sausage out of the water to cool but SAVE THE WATER. Introduce it to Jesus or something similar because we don’t want it going to hell now do we?
  • When the sausage is cool enough for you to handle, chop it up into little pieces
  • Right about now you are probably looking at your ingredients thinking, “what the fuck is going on here? No garlic or herbs. No booze. He’s finally effing lost it!” Be calm child. Be calm… or as my good friend Kel says, “cool ya tits!”
  • Bring the sausage poaching liquid up to the boil and cook your pasta in that. The flavour is un-effing-believable. I promise you will love skin just as much as Buffalo Bill loved skin in “Silence of the lambs”…
  • Once your pasta hits the water you have approximately 8 minutes to get the rest done. Time for a beer
  • Now quickly sauté the sausage in some oil
  • Once it starts to colour a little get the tomatoes in, and a healthy, no wait, hefty dose of salt and pepper
  • Pastas ready? Good. Get that in there too. And a little of the cooking liquid
  • Check seasoning, douse with olive oil and serve with parmesan and parsley if you got some

 

*Clearly this is not what it means because I have already given you its definition. It does taste very similar to really good shit though.