Brussel Sprout Salad with Bacon, Apple and Buttermilk Dressing

Serves: 4

As far as slaws go, this is a total winner.

You’ll reach for more and more.

Served along-side really anything that benefits from a slaw – chicken, pork, whatever – it is just wonderful.

Our favourite party trick is serving salads at BBQs that blow people away.

With little effort, this slaw is definitely part of that party trick and one I would commend to you, any night – or BBQ or lunch or whatever – of the week.

Don’t be fooled. It is excellent.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

2 tsp olive oil
4 bacon rashers (about 280gm) rind removed and roughly chopped
12 large Brussels Sprouts
3 golden shallots, thinly sliced
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into matchsticks
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 bunch chives, finely chopped to serve
Shaved Parmesan to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and fry, turning occasionally, until crisp: 6 – 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels.
  2. Shave Brussels Sprouts with a mandolin into a bowl. Add a good pinch of salt, shallots, apples and half the lemon juice. Toss to combine and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the mayonnaise and buttermilk, remaining lemon juice and season: drizzle over the salad and toss well. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  4. Scatter the bacon, chives and Parmesan. Season again and serve.

BLAT Salad

Serves: 6

I am a complete sucker for a BLAT.

Bacon, avocado, lettuce and tomato on toasted Turkish bread any Saturday morning and you’ve won me. Eggs have no role here.

Which of course means that if you can have a BLAT salad… at dinner… with a steak.

Well, that is sort of that mind-blown territory.

So without further adieu, this is not only a BLAT salad, but a seriously cracking great salad you must try with any steak, pork or chicken you are considering this week.

Amazing.

Ingredients

200ml Olive Oil plus extra
200gm rindless smokey bacon
200gm white bread cubed
Handfuls of cos lettuce, torn
500gm cherry tomatoes, halved
4 ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 avocados cut into wedges
2 tsp garlic powder

Buttermilk dressing

130ml buttermilk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 small lemon, juiced
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped chives

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 100c. In a large frypan, cook the bacon until crisp. Break into pieces, transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven to keep warm.
  2. Strain the bacon fat, wipe the pan clean and return the strained fat to the pan and bring to a medium-heat. Combine the cubed bread with the garlic powder and a few splashes of olive oil and fry in the bacon oil until golden and crispy.
  3. Drain the bread on paper towels.
  4. For the buttermilk dressing, combine the ingredients.
  5. Combine the lettuce, tomato and avocado in a bowl. Add the bacon and fried bread and lightly toss to combine. Drizzle with the buttermilk dressing.

Pork and Cabbage Gyoza

Makes: 24

This David Herbert gyoza number is right on the money.

It is exactly what you would expect from a Japanese noshery and the gyoza are dead simple to make.

So simple, we made an extra batch, formed the gyoza and froze them as an easy weeknight meal for the boys.

Rather than heating store-bought mini quiches, do these next time people come around for an afternoon beer.

So good.

Ingredients

Gyoza

150gm pork mince
1 cup finely shredded Chinese cabbage (wombok)
2 spring onions, trimmed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp Japanese soy sauce
2 tsp sake
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp caster sugar
Pinch ground white pepper
24 gyoza or gow gee wrappers
Cornflour

Dipping sauce

3 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/4 cup low-salt soy sauce
1/2 tsp finely chopped chilli
1/3 cup rice vinegar

Method

  1. To prepare the dipping sauce: mix all of the ingredients and set aside.
  2. For the gyoza, combine the all of the ingredients except the gyoza wrappers and cornflour. Mix well.
  3. Place a gyoza wrapper on a clean surface or in the palm of your hand. Spoon a heaped teaspoon of pork mixture onto the centre of the wrapper. Brush the edge with a little water. Fold to enclose filling; lightly press edge together to make a semi-circular parcel. Use fingertips to pleat the edge 4 or 5 times, keeping the filling in the centre. Place on a plate dusted with cornflour and repeat with the remaining pork mixture and gyoza wrappers.
  4. Heat half the peanut oil over a high heat in a large non-stick frying pan that has a lid. Remove from the heat and arrange half the dumplings over base of the pan. Return to the heat and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until the bottom of the dumplings is golden. Sprinkle 1 – 2 tablespoons of water evenly over the gyoza. Place the lid on the pan and cook for another 3 – 4 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked through and the water is evaporated.
  5. Take off the heat, remove the gyoza and set aside whilst you repeat the process with the remaining gyoza.
  6. Serve with the dipping sauce or Japanese soy.

Five-cheese and ham triple-decker toastie

Serves: 2

It’s Easter and we are on holidays on the beautiful South Coast of NSW.

A few unstructured days of walking along the beach, sleeping in and opening a Champagne every afternoon around 2.

(Even Max the 10-month old seems to be getting into it, sleeping in until 7.45 and then going back to bed with a bottle.)

With such a theme of relaxation and “who cares?”, it seemed appropriate to have this toastie one evening for dinner. A extraordinary toastie that on every level, tells you to sit down, shut up and just eat it.

For there are plenty of times for chicken breast and salad and abstaining from wine and life.

But Easter isn’t that time.

Which is why, right now, it’s five-cheese, toastie time and nobody here felt guilt or apologised for it*.

(The recipe is from the always reliable, Gourmet Traveller.)

Ingredients

200gm firm ricotta
75gm cheddar, coarsely grated
75gm provolone, coarsely grated
75gm Parmesan, finely grated
200gm buffalo mozzarella, thickly sliced
6 slices, pane di casa bread**
Dijon mustard
Leg ham slices, off the bone
40gm butter, diced

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
  2. Stir the ricotta, cheddar, provolone, and Parmesan in a bowl to combine and season to taste. Spread two of the bread slices with the cheese mixture, then top each with another bread slice.
  3. Spread with mustard to taste, top with slices of ham and the mozzarella. Season to taste and sandwich with the remaining 2 slices of bread.
  4. Melt butter in a large, oven-proof frying pan over a medium heat, add sandwiches and fry until browned on the base: 1 – 2 minutes. Carefully turn over and brown the other side, then transfer in the pan to the oven and bake until the cheese is bubbling: 3 – 4 minutes.

Carefully remove from the oven and spoon the remaining butter in the pan over the top of the toasties and serve hot.

* Once you have done this sandwich, please try Matt Preston’s amazing toasted sandwich, something we unironically cooked one NYE evening!

** A rustic, thick crust white Italian bread cooked on a stone. Or try sourdough.

Big veal, pork and prosciutto meatballs with Parmesan polenta

Serves: 6

These are the best meatballs either Nat or I have ever had.

Not only that, there is an agreeable distance between these meatballs and whatever is in second place.

I am not kidding.

These made us so happy and I think there are a few things that contributed to the success.

The original recipe was from Gourmet Traveller though we made a number of tactical (and genius in my opinion!) changes, both to method and ingredients.

If you served these at a dinner party, everyone – everyone – would pin you down al la Paul Newman when his friends locked him in his garage and made him make a barrel of his famous salad dressing.

If you served this at your restaurant, people would say, “Oh, you have to go to Lucio’s and try his big meatballs. They are incredible. They are equal in genius to Paul Newman’s salad dressing and I think it’s because Lucio uses 75/25% veal and pork mince.”

Get started today, let your mince combine in the fridge for 48 hours and open your own Lucio’s for the night!

Ingredients

Sauce

800gm diced, canned tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped mixed sage and oregano plus extra to serve
150ml red wine (leaving 600ml for you)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Torn mozzarella plus extra to serve

Polenta

1 cup milk plus extra as you go
1 cup chicken stock
2/3 cup polenta
50gm Parmesan, finely grated plus extra to serve
50gm butter, cubed and room temperature
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Meatballs

750gm veal mince
250gm pork mince
160gm Parmesan, finely grated
120gm coarse fresh breadcrumbs
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 eggs
3 tbsp finely chopped mixed sage and oregano
8 thin prosciutto slices
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. 24 – 48 hours before cooking, combine the meatball mixture except the prosciutto slices and olive oil. Mix well and refrigerate.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large pan and sauté the onions for 8 minutes or until soft and starting to golden. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 5 minutes, ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the chopped herbs and cook for 30 seconds and then add the diced tomatoes and red wine. Simmer over a low heat for 40 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, commence the polenta: in a saucepan, bring the milk and stock to the point of scalding though not boiling. Slowly whisk in the polenta and keep whisking for 45 – 60 minutes, adding small amounts of milk as need be, until the polenta is no grainy and you have a thick polenta mixture.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan and butter, checking for seasoning. Set aside.
  5. While the polenta is cooking, divide the mince into eight and roll into large meatballs. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each.
  6. Heat olive oil over a medium-high heat and cook the meatballs on each side, making an effort to cook and caramelise the prosciutto: around 10 minutes. Transfer to the pan with the tomato mixture, turning occasionally until cooked through. 5 minutes before serving, drop some of the torn mozzarella into the sauce to melt.
  7. To serve, dollop some polenta onto your plates. Ladle a meatball on top with sauce. Sprinkle chopped herbs, grated Parmesan and torn mozzarella on top and serve.

Jamie Oliver’s Pork Afelia

Serves: 8

Well, it pretty much doesn’t get easier or better than this for a slow Sunday night on the couch with a bottle of red.

Literally.

And we mean better just as much as easier.

It is awesome! And better.

Ingredients

1 onion, peeled and sliced into onion rings
3 garlic gloves, peeled and sliced thinly lengthways
2 tbsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
4 tbsp olive oil
1.5kg pork shoulder, cut into 5cm pieces
375ml dry red wine
200ml passata
Parmesan cheese to serve
Rice or polenta to serve

Method

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over a medium heat and cook the pork in batches, until browned on all sides. Set aside.
  2. Add the onion, garlic and crushed coriander seeds to the pan and cook until softened.
  3. Return the pork to the pan and add the wine and passata. Bring to the boil, lower to a simmer, season and cover for 2 hours or more.
  4. When reduced, rich and the pork is to die for, serve on rice (or polenta) with plenty of shaved Parmesan to serve.
  5. Fuck you Monday.

Cavatelli with Pork Ragu

Serves: 8

This is a wonderful braise where is it all about cooking it as slow as possible… and as rich as possible.

The Cavatelli is a wonder, shell pasta pairing.

The really fun part however is the addition of the currants and kale. They really make the ragu pop.

I cooked this dish for Nat and I when she was in hospital waiting for Maxy B to come out. Our home-cooked dinners in the hospital made days of walking the corridors and staring at the roof so much better.

And this dish was one of the best we had during that long week.

Cook, eat, enjoy… and freeze for a dinner next week.

Ingredients

750gm boneless pork shoulder cut into 3cm pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig oregano
1 bay leaf
1 x 400ml can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup dry red wine
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
500gm cavatelli or other small shell pasta
1/3 cup dried currants soaked in hot water
1 bunch kale, ribs and stems removed, torn into 6cm pieces
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup grated Parmesan, plus more

Method

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large heavy pot over a medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook the meat until browned all-over. Set aside.
  2. Drain all but 2 tbsp of fat from the pot; reduce the heat to medium and cook the onion, carrot, celery and garlic, stirring occasionally until golden brown: around 10 minutes.
  3. Tie rosemary, oregano and bay leaf into a bundle with kitchen twine and add to the pot along with the pork, tomatoes, wine, peppercorns, nutmeg and cloves.
  4. Add water just to cover meat and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, adding more water as needed, until the meat is very tender: around 1 1/2 hours.
  5. Discard the herb bundle. Using 2 forms, shred the meat in the pot and cook, uncovered over a medium heat until the sauce has thickened and you have a ragu.
  6. Cook the past in a large pot of boiling water until al dente.
  7. Add the currants and kale to the ragu and cook until the kale is soft and cooked: around 5 minutes. Mix in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and season again.
  8. Serve the ragu on the pasta, topped with more Parmesan.