Slow Cooking the Winter Chill Away…

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

Jennee’s Sunday Spread… Braised beef to warm our bellies

Dodgy photo #1
Dodgy photo #1

It has got cold here very quickly over the last few days. After an absolutely cracking Summer this year, it seems those warm days have finally left us, headed to the proverbial greener pastures. Somewhere like Hawaii or Tahiti no doubt. But it’s not like winter has sucker punched us in the face either. There’s no rain – not a drop. The nights are just plain cold but the days are still sunny just like a very sunny day. Those days are just trying to trick us though, as they are bleakly contrasted with a biting mofo of a cold wind that I can only deduce has made it’s way up from the icy tundra’s of Antarctica… possibly by way of a secret under ground tunnel so as not to attract attention. The sun is like the hot woman and the wind is like the icy cold shoulder she gives you when you get into bed… very, very ungratifying. Back to the chill; This chill is lazy. Nary will it take the time to go around you, but instead goes straight through you just like the lazy bitch of a chill it is. This is officially baby making weather… and now sports. Over to you Brian… Brian? Whoops, flashbacks from my days as news anchor on the local carnival community access TV station…

So to compensate for the lack of warmth in the air, Jennee braised some beef to put warmth in our bellies… I told her I was more than happy to put warmth in her belly by other means, but she said that was disgusting and not fit for print… baby making weather indeed.

Keep in mind this is not just a recipe for braised beef. It is a great base for any type of braised meat you could think of; pork shoulder, lamb neck, ox tail, beef or pork cheek, chicken marylands or even mushrooms or potatoes if your not into the meatier side of things. Just tell your brain to think secondary cuts. The cheap stuff that needs a long time to cook and inadvertently fills your house with the sweet, sweet smell of success. This is what winter is all about baby!


Dodgy photo #2
Dodgy photo #2
Dodgy photo #3
Dodgy photo #3

800g beef chuck or blade, dusted with seasoned flour
2 brown onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup sherry or red wine
4 bay leaves (thyme or rosemary also finds a happy home in shit like this)
• In an oiled casserole pot fry off onion, carrot, celery and garlic
• Remove from pot, add a splash more oil, and then brown beef
• Remove beef and deglaze pot with sherry or other booze
• Add vegies and beef back into pan, add bay leaves and stock/water (a tin of tomatoes could also go in there now if you feel the calling) to cover. Stick it in 180C oven with lid on for 2 hours
• Serve with yum

And sorry about the shitty photos. Just sorry.