Adam Liaw’s Salt & Pepper Pork Belly

Serves: 4

There are a couple of chefs and cooks that I put blind faith in.

Adam Liaw is one of them.

When I saw his new book, Asian After Work, a quick skim and it was clear it had to join the house. Nat and I browsed through it in the kitchen that night and I swear, there is not one recipe we would not cook.

It’s that good.

This pork belly is just wonderful and quite a surprise from Nat who is suspicious of pork belly on calorie grounds.

Made my night and teaches that pork belly is not exclusively about slow cooking and crackling.

Ingredients

500gm piece of pork belly, skin and bones removed
1 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bird’s eye chilli, sliced
2 spring onions, white and light green parts, trimmed and sliced
1 tsp salt flakes
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
A handful of coriander leaves to serve
Boiled Jasmine rice to serve

Method

  1. Slice the pork into 1cm steaks, then cut into 3cm squares about 1cm thick.
  2. Heat a wok or frypan until very hot and add the sesame oil. Fry the pork in batches until well browned on all sides and cooked through. Set aside.
  3. Poor out any excess fat from the pan and add the garlic, chilli and spring onions. Toss over very high heat until the garlic starts to brown and the mixture is very fragrant. Return pork pieces to the wok, add the salt and black pepper and toss to coat well.
  4. Transfer to a warm plate, scatter with coriander and serve.

Chicken and Mortadella Agnolotti Del Plin

Serves: 4 (as an entree)

Another brilliant pasta from the cookbook Saturday Night Pasta, served as I walked into the house this afternoon after a few meetings in the city.

What a treat!

This is one-hat pasta. And served with a cold Champagne, it’s wonderful one-hat.

Reasonably simple too: which the best pastas are.

I know that making fresh pasta is sometimes a bit of a hurdle, though it really does make this dish. Ditto the burnt butter.

And when combined with the wonderful chicken and pork mixture…

Just do it.

Ingredients

250gm chicken mince
150gm sliced mortadella
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve
3 tbsp finely snipped chives
1 egg
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Flour for dusting
1 cup chicken stock
3 tbsp salted butter, roughly chopped
10 sage leaves

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough

200gm (1 1/3 cups) flour plus extra for dusting
2 eggs, beaten
Good pinch of salt

Method

Fresh Egg Pasta Dough

  1. In fairness to the author of the book – Elizabeth Hewson – her description of how to make this basic dough is not only detailed, though provides the guardrails to make sure you would find it hard to stuff up. When to add water, when to…. etc.
  2. Nat loves making dough though she doesn’t have much time for it.
  3. So essentially, knead all of this into a ball. Nat used a KitchenAid and let it rest for an hour and if this doesn’t work for you, perhaps explore further on how to make pasta dough: it isn’t hard either way.

For the restPlace the chicken mince, mortadella, Parmigiano Reggiano, chives, egg and a generous pinch of salt in a food processor and blitz until combined: set aside in the fridge whilst you make the pasta, or up to 2 days.

  1. Flour your bench and roll your pasta dough to about 1mm thick (setting 3 on a hand pasta roller). You want a long piece of pasta dough about 10cm in length.
  2. Lay the pasta dough on the dusted bench and dot half a teaspoon of the filling about 3cm apart in the middle of the pasta sheet. (See photo below to guide you.) Fold the pasta over and seal, squeezing out any air as you seal, ensuring the sheet evenly stretched over the filling.
  3. Trim and start pinching close the pasta, all the way down to the filling: and there you have agnolotti which should now be placed on a dusted tray ready for cooking. Get your water boiling and boil the agnolotti until it rises to the top and is ready.
  4. At the same time, place the stock, butter and sage leaves in a large, deep frypan and over a high heat bring to a boil. Burn as far as you want. Transfer the cooked agnolotti to the butter mixture and swirl. Serve with plenty of Parmigiano Reggiano and a good crack of pepper.

The Bourke Street Bakery Pork and Fennel Sausage Roll – An adaptation

Makes: 24 half sausage rolls

For a family picnic today, I was assigned sausage rolls.

I know it’s easy to love sausage rolls, though is it in reality?

It’s so hit and miss.

The ones from petrol stations are terrible.

And patisseries can sometimes nail their brief, though so often they’re over the top. Too clever by half, too complicated, too much to process.

Sausage rolls are about comfort and flaky, oily pastry. Not something excessively gourmet and challenging: I have a hangover, I just want a coffee and sausage roll amazing-ness.

Bourke Street Bakery – a bit of a Sydney institution – is famous for its pies and sausage rolls. Their pork and fennel sausage roll is pretty amazing.

Though it is on the gourmet end of sausage rolls. The beef bourguignon end of pies if you know what I mean.

Which is why this adaptation of their sausage roll is genius!

It just rolls. It nails true brief.

It is what every patisserie should have on offer from 8am on Sunday morning.

I’d order 6. And several coffees.

I really wanted to cook something special when given the sausage roll brief for today’s picnic.

Why?

My sister in law Court (Coco, CD) and her husband Greg (Gweggy) pulled the broader family together for a post-Christmas BBQ; and a casual gender reveal.

Yep, they’re having baby #1.

And it’s a girl!

Nat and I love these guys.

They make us so happy. Long lunches, late autumn nights by the fire, plenty of wines, too much laughing. (Dancing with Court last year at my 40th, I was pushed fell down and limped for a week: didn’t even blame her!)

We are so proud of you guys. We are so happy for you. You have babysitters for life.

As I’ve previously said, these guys love their food though assume that during the first few weeks of babydom these sausage rolls will make an appearance at their doorstep. Plus curries, pastas and even a pork shoulder.

Go nail this Team K!

We love you.

Ingredients

1tsp fennel seeds, plus extra to sprinkle
1 tbsp vegetable oil
3 medium brown onions, peeled and diced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
8 sprigs sage, picked and finely chopped
3 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
5 sprigs thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped
20gm unsalted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced into 1/2 cm
1.5kg pork mince
100gm breadcrumbs
1 egg, beaten
Puff pastry
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Toast the fennel seeds in a large frying pan over a low heat for 2 minutes until fragrant. Crush lightly in a mortar and pestle and set aside.
  1. Using the same pan, heat the vegetable oil over a low heat. Sweat the onion and garlic until lightly caramelised. Take as long as you can. This is where the flavour is! Add the toasted fennel seeds, sage, rosemary and thyme and set aside to cool.
  2. In a separate pan, melt the butter over a medium-high heat: add the apples and toss gently in the butter for a few minutes until softening. Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is lightly caramelised. Add the vinegar to deglaze the pan and set aside.
  3. Combine the mince, breadcrumbs, apples and onion mixture. Season well and mix through with your hands until well combined.
  4. Thaw your puff pastry from the freezer. You’ll need around 7 – 8 sheets based on the quantity of pork mixture. Divide the pork mixture evening and roll your sausage rolls, with the mixture being a cylinder about 1/3 of the way down each sheet. Ensure that the seam sits under the meat.
  5. Make a few fork punctures at the top of each sausage roll. Cut the the sausage roll in half or quarters depending on what you are catering.
  6. Beat your egg and egg wash all over the pastry. Sprinkle with fennel seeds.
  7. Bake on baking trays lined with baking paper at 180c for 30 – 40 minutes or until golden brown.

Pork Shoulder cooked in Milk

Serves: 6 – 8

As a teenager, every year for my birthday I would request my mother cook pork shoulder in milk.

It is a classic Italian dish and it cannot be beaten.

The milk keeps the pork incredibly moist and breaks down the meat. As it reduces, you’re left with a wonderful gravy.

It is also so simple to do. One pot, so little prep.

Served with some mash and some steamed beans then sautéed with some butter and toasted, slivered almonds.

Good Lordy.

This version of the classic dish I found online adds slices of lemon and genuinely, it is a world-beater.

Our kids could not believe themselves. They’ve asked several times since if I could cook it again.

It’s summer in Sydney so it might be a few months, though I cannot wait.

The first hint of cold in Autumn and this dish is back.

Ingredients

1kg deboned pork shoulder, rind scored
Extra Virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic, split in half horizontally
4 sage leaves
3 sprigs thyme
5 thin slices lemon, seeds removed
4 cups full fat milk
1/2 cup cream

Method

  1. Decant a good bottle of red. You’re going to need it!
  2. Dry the skin of the pork shoulder and dry well. Sprinkle with salt and leave in the fridge uncovered for a day.
  3. Heat the over to 180c. Heat a large, heavy pot/casserole over a medium heat, add some oil and crisp up both the skin of the pork and brown the pork on all sides.
  4. Place the pork skin-side up and add the garlic, sage, thyme, lemon and 3 cups of the milk ensuring that milk does not go on the skin. Roast for 45 minutes, uncovered, until the crackling is golden.
  5. Place the lid on the pot and cook for 2 hours 15 minutes, adding the additional cup of milk halfway through.
  6. When done, stir in the cream and season. Enjoy!
Pork and Leek Sausages

Pork and Leek Sausages

Makes: 20 sausages

There certainly are a lot of corners to the Internet and sausagemaking.org is definitely one of them.

A very friendly, passionate one.

The forums aren’t updated particularly regularly, though enough that when I visit there are new recipes. And when one is added, there is plenty of advice.

Like the use of rusk in sausages. Where apparently, all pros use it.

Not as a wartime filler, though as a necessary accompaniment to any good sausage. Moisture retention and all that. You can buy rusk from the supermarket in biscuit form and food process it to dust.

Experience has also told me that pork sausages made from pork shoulder alone are not moist enough and you must add fat. 20% of the meat weight: so 1kg pork shoulder, 200gm pork fat which any good butcher can provide. (Or cut it from a pork belly.)

Adding rusk and the fat to these sausages was the revelation.

We are officially butchers.

And wow, aren’t these pork and leek sausages a great way to reach that distinction.

Ingredients

1kg pork shoulder
200gm pork fat
200gm leek
125ml water
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp sage (dried)
1/2 tsp ginger (we used fresh, though powdered is fine of course)

Method

  1. Cut the pork and pork fat into 3cm pieces.
  2. Cut the leek into 1cm cylinders and slowly cook in olive oil and some salt until soft.
  3. Combine the ingredients, mince and stuff into sausage casings.

Bacon, Tomato, Comté, Cheddar, Spring Onion and Pickled Mustard Seeds Toasted Sandwich

Serves: 4

Already two late-night toasties down over the Christmas holidays, we decided to toast a third, closer to the classic “ham, tomato, cheese”.

However this recipe – from the excellent Chefs Eat Toasties Too – completely dials up the classic in a number of important ways.

Firstly, bacon.

🐖

Which, with all due respect to ham, is a clear checkmate move.

Then, there is the Comté (We substituted Gruyère) AND the cheddar.

Another checkmate, especially with the thinly sliced spring onions.

The real cracker however are the pickled mustard seeds which take the sandwich to restaurant-level.

You will forever look down on the ho-hum ham, tomato, cheese after toasting this late-night toastie.

Ingredients

8 slices white sandwich loaf
140gm unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp hot English mustard
12 cold-smoked bacon rashes, cooked
4 small ripe truss tomatoes, thinly sliced
Salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
160gm Comté (Gruyère), grated
100gm cheddar, grated
2 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced

For the pickled mustard seeds

100gm yellow mustard seeds
50gm caster sugar
2 tsp salt flaked
150ml Chardonnay vinegar (we used white wine vinegar)

Method

For the pickled mustard seeds

  1. Place the mustard seeds in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil then remove from the heat. Drain the seeds and discard the water. Refresh the seeds in cold water and return to the saucepan. Repeat the previous step three times and reserved the blanched seeds in a bowl or jug.
  2. Heat 75ml of water and the sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the salt and stir until dissolved. Stir in the vinegar then strain the pickling liquid over the seeds. Place in the refrigerator, covered, for a minimum of 1 hour.
  3. The seeds will last for 2 months.

For the sandwich

  1. Butter four slices of bread and scrape a thin layer of English mustard on each slice. Place three rashes of bacon on each and add tomato slices on top and season with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the grated cheeses in a bowl with the spring onion and evenly distribute this mixture on top of the tomato.
  3. Spread butter on the remaining slices of bread and spread the pickled mustard seeds on the other side. Close the sandwich with the buttered side of the bread on the outer.
  4. Toasted in a sandwich press, buttered sides on the hot grill, until golden brown and crispy.

Rick Stein’s “Amma’s” Pork Curry with Green Chillies and Tamarind

Serves: 6

It’s getting cold at night.

Which means we light a huge outdoor fire. Decant a cracker red:

And dial up the curries, braises and stews.

Last night we cooked this wonderful Rick Stein curry. Pork shoulder cooked down for a few hours, a salad of pineapple and red onion to cut through the richness and a pilau rice at the side.

Perfect.

Honestly, sitting by the fire with Nat on an autumn Saturday night with a bowl of this and a glass of red, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

Ingredients

For the curry

6 large banana shallots (eschallots) sliced
20 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
6cm ginger, finely chopped
6 green chillies, roughly chopped with the seeds
1 tbsp black mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
4cm piece of cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1kg boneless pork shoulder cut into 4cm chunks
1 tsp salt

To finish

2 tsp coriander seeds
75ml tamarind liquid
3 green chillies, thinly sliced lengthways, without seeds
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Flash pickled onion and pineapple salad to serve
Pilau rice to serve

Method

  1. Put the eschallots, garlic, ginger and chillies in a food processor with a splash of water and blend to a rough paste.
  2. Fry the mustard seeds, cumin, cloves, cinnamon stick and peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute until toasted and aromatic. Add the turmeric and fry for another 20 seconds. Cool, then grind to a coarse powder.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium-high heat. Add the pork, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding, and fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until browned. With all the pork in the pan, add the eschallot, garlic, ginger and chilli paste, the ground spices and salt, and fry for a further 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if the paste starts to stick.
  4. Pour over enough water to just cover, turn the heat down to low and put on a lid and simmer for 2 hours until the meat is tender. Remove the lid, turn up the heat, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens to a gravy.
  5. To finish, fry the coriander seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute until toasted, then grind to a powder. Add the tamarind liquid, green chillies and garlic to the pork and cook for a further minute, then stir in the ground coriander.
  6. Serve with pilau rice and salad at the side.

Casarecce with Pork Sausage, Cavolo Nero and Chilli

Serves: 4 – 6

It has been a busy couple of months for us.

Moving house, overseas, work, kids, weddings, kids and more kids.

We’ve also been super calorie focused, with no meal exceeding 300 calories. No kidding!

But now we’re done.

And with a new courtyard, a new kitchen and Spring finally feeling like Spring, we’re back into cooking wonderful weekend lunches.

Like this one, which is as good as you would get in a restaurant.

It is surprisingly light, with the garlic, chilli and fennel creating a really sophisticated base. The casarecce is a great pasta (found at Harris Farm) and the cavolo nero (kale) fills the whole thing out in a really clever way.

This is definitely a pasta you should try and one that we would cook again.

9 out of 10.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
6 thick pork and fennel sausages, skins removed, broken into bite-sized pieces
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
1 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 cups (firmly packed) roughly torn cavolo nero (1 bunch)
500gm dried casarecce (or penne or rigatoni)
50gm finely grated Parmesan plus extra to serve
1/4 cup coarsely chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

  1. Heat olive oil in a large casserole over a high heat, add the sausage and cook, stirring occasionally until well browned. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  2. Add the garlic, rosemary and spices to the pan, season to taste and stir for a minute or two until fragrant. Deglaze with the wine and reduce until almost evaporated, then return the sausage to the pan together with the stock and cavolo nero. Cover with a lid and cook until the the cavolo nero is just wilted.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the pasta until al dente. Toss with with the sausage sauce, Parmesan and parsley, season to taste and serve, topped with extra Parmesan.
  4. And wine.

Mietta’s Rigatoni with Cauliflower

Serves: 6

Mietta (O’Donnell) was a bit ahead of my time.

She was one of those 80s and 90s doyens that drove food and fine dining in Australia out of the dowdy 70s and much closer to the amazing foodie place we have now; first by opening an Italian restaurant of the kind Australia had never seen: then, by starting Australia’s first serious review of restaurants.

Her contribution to Australian food cannot be overstated, certainly by everything I have read.

Sadly, Mietta was killed in a car accident in 2001.

Last Mother’s Day, I purchased Mietta’s book for Nat and gave her the back story.

We have been meaning to cook something from it since then and geez, I wish we had done so earlier.

I’ve said that unique, restaurant-quality pastas really excite me.

This is one of them.

The quality of food – at home and out – is remarkable in Australia. My mother occasionally talks about how expensive chicken was 30 years back.

It was people like Mietta that laid the foundations for such extraordinary change in the culinary scene in Australia over the last 20 years and this pasta really sums up how the simple things she introduced us to led to the amazing foodie place we live in today.

Ingredients

1 medium onion, sliced and soaked in milk
30ml olive oil
1 medium cauliflower, cut into flowerets
100gm pancetta or bacon, julienned
A little chilli
90ml tomato sauce
500g rigatoni
Parmesan, grated

Tomato sauce

300ml olive oil
1/2 onion, finely chopped
80gm ham, chopped
12gm flour mixed with 5ml oil
800gm canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained
Pinch of sugar
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

Method

  1. For the tomato sauce: Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan and add the chopped onion and ham and brown over a fairly high heat for 5 minutes. Add the flour and mix well; turn down the heat to moderate and add the canned tomatoes.
  2. Season with the salt, pepper and sugar; add the thyme and bay leaf.
  3. Cook for about 45 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  4. For the rigatoni: fry the onions in oil and add the cauliflower flowerets.
  5. Put the lid on the pan so that the cauliflower can cook through the add the pancetta or bacon and then a little chilli. When the cauliflower is just cooked, add the tomato sauce.
  6. Boil the rigatoni until cooked and strain. Toss the cauliflower mixture through the pasta and serve, sprinkled with plenty of grated Parmesan.

Peking Noodles

Serves: 4

Ding Tai Fung is a Taiwanese noodle and dumpling chain.

The food is outstanding and they won a Michelin Star in Hong Kong for one of their outlets. The food is clean, cooked with consistent precision and always two steps ahead of what you’d expect from what is after all, a chain restaurant.

They do this wonderful dish of freshly made egg noodles and minced pork. It is saucy with a hint of spice and I order it every time.

Well, these Peking Noodles reminded me of that dish.

It is super clean. Hot. Saucy. Completely moorish.

As with all these sorts of dishes, the hotter you can get the wok, the better. Also, I have varied the sauces and oil in the ingredients below; I dialled it up, though once the vegetables are cooked and as you are adding the noodles, have a taste and adjust.

Enjoy.

Ingredients

200gm egg noodles
1 – 2 tsp sesame oil
500gm pork mince
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp finely grated ginger
1 bunch baby choy sum, finely shredded (or other leafy Chinese green)
4 green onions, sliced diagonally
1 – 2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 – 2 tbsp Sambal Oelek
Good handful of coriander leaves to serve

Method

  1. Cook the noodles in a saucepan of boiling water for 1 – 2 minutes or until tender. Drain and refresh.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a wok over a high heat. Add the pork and stir-fry, breaking up the mince for 5 minutes or until mince starts to brown.
  3. Add garlic and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute or until aromatic.
  4. Add the choy sum, green onion, soy sauce and sambal and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until the choy sum begins to wilt. Taste and adjust accordingly.
  5. Add noodles and stir-fry for 2 minutes or until well combined and heated through. Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with coriander leaves.