Matt Preston’s World’s Best Rissoles

Serves: 4

I get the feeling that rissoles are back in vogue.

And thank you for that!

They still have the stigma of being a daggy, lazy dinner – left behind in the wave of MasterChef and salmon-three-ways – though it is the nostalgia and honesty of the rissole that now makes it on trend.

These Matt Preston rissoles are really good and served with a puréed mash and buttered peas, they closed off a weekend of cooking perfectly.

For lunch, Nat made Thomas Keller’s Cauliflower Panna Cotta with an Oyster Jelly and Bulgar Caviar; the night before, we made handmade noodles for a fusion Chinese/Middle Eastern dish.

Which is exactly why we needed these rissoles and why rissoles are what you need to hold back the endless waves of culinary complexity and sous videing. Enough is enough!

Enjoy.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 zucchini, coarsely grated
800gm lamb mince
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 heaped tbsp of whatever European herbs you have: basil, oregano, parsley, coriander, tarragon or majoram, though not sage or mint
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 egg
Sea salty and freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup mint jelly
2 tbsp malt vinegar (we used black vinegar)
Mash (into which we mixed two finely chopped raw French onions)
Buttered peas

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat; add the onions, carrot and zucchini, and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until everything softens. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add the mince, tomato sauce, herbs, oats and egg to the vegetable mixture and season. Mix well using your (clean) hands until well combined. Shape into 12 rissoles.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the rissoles in batches a cook for 5 minutes each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add the mint jelly and vinegar to the pan and stir over a medium heat until the jelly melts. Return the rissoles and toss in the liquid for 2 minutes until coasted, sticky and glossy.
  5. Serve with mash and peas.

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.

Adam Liaw’s Chicken Veloute Stew

Serves: 4

I am a big fan of Adam Liaw.

Since Masterchef fame, he has stepped it up big-time.

His Twitter account is very funny, he writes recipes for Fairfax Media and others, he travels extensively to cook and he serves up some really good dishes.

His food is obtainable and he writes ordinarily (in a good way) about it so that mugs like us can really feel his sentiment towards it… and the background to it.

This recipe is a really comfortable one and you only need to glance down the ingredients to know why.

You keep layering the vegetables and in the end, you have a whole dinner, starting with your chicken and ending with your broccoli and beans.

It is a Sunday-night sort of thing and with a bottle of red, some music and the lights down, it really is a great way to end the weekend.

Nat and I speak from experience!

(Note: the original recipe called for chicken wings… we are a breast and thigh family only, so I have updated the instructions below to reflect how we did it. Plus a few small changes to how the vegetables were prepped.)

Ingredients

8 chicken thighs, sliced
100gm butter
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
4 thick rasher bacon, cut into lardons
1 brown onion, sliced
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 liters chicken stocks
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs thyme
1/2 small cabbage, roughly shredded
3 carrots, chopped
1/2 head broccoli, separated into florets
Handful of green beans, tailed
100ml pouring cream

Method

  1. Heat a little of the butter in a large saucepan over a medium-heat. Fry the chicken thighs until well browned though not yet cooked through; set aside. In the same saucepan, fry the mushrooms until well browned and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon and fry until browned, then add the onion and remaining butter and cook until the onions soften.
  3. Add the flour and cook, stirring for 3 minutes until a roux forms. Add the wine and chicken stock, a little at a time, stirring constantly to remove any lumps from the roux until you have a thick sauce. Season with salt and (white) pepper. Add the bay leaves, thyme, cabbage and carrots, reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the sliced chicken thighs to one section of the pot. Add the mushrooms to another section. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the broccoli and beans in their own sections. Simmer for a further minute and then taste and adjust for seasoning.
  5. Pour the cream over the stew and serve.

Matt Preston’s Classic Ragu with Polenta Dumplings

Serves: 4 – 6

We’ve typed up a few ragus and slow braises and we have reached a point where unless there is something radical about the dish, it wont make the cut.

This Matt Preston ragu makes the cut.

It is from his book, Yummy Easy Quick, a Christmas gift from Nat.

I’ve never had a failed Matt Preston dish and really admire his wholesome, no-holding-back cooking.

Despite the name of the book, his book – and this recipe – isn’t some sort of magazine aisle ‘I don’t have time to cook’ publication: the book is is just great recipes that are easy enough and certainly fun enough for any night of the week.

Specifically for this ragu, it is the ragu itself and especially the fun of the polenta dumplings that makes the whole thing really work.

Complex it is not, tasty, ragu amazing it is.

We had this the night before NYE 2017 with our friends Woodles and Billy.

It was fabulous and ticked all the boxes.

Happy 2018.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 kg gravy beef, cut into 4cm pieces
100gm pancetta or bacon, coarsely chopped
2 anchovy fillets
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
3 fresh or dry bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine
1 x 400gm can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups passata
1 cup chicken stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Polenta Dumplings

1 cup self-raising flour
2/3 cup polenta
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino or Parmesan, plus 2 tbsp to sprinkle
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten

Method

  1. Heat the over to 160c.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil over a medium-high heat in a large, oven-proof saucepan. Cook the beef until browned, in batches if necessary. Set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan over a medium heat. Add the pancetta and anchovies. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the celery, onion, garlic and bay leaves and cook until soft. Add the wine and simmer for 5 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half.
  4. Add the beef, tomatoes, stock and passata. Cover and bake for 2 hours; taste and season well.
  5. 15 minutes prior to this, make the dumplings: combine the flour, polenta and cheese in a bowl. Add the milk and eggs and stir until well combined. When the ragu comes out, scoop 1/4 cups of dumpling mixture on the ragu like golf balls. Sprinkle the dumplings with extra cheese.
  6. Return the dish, covered, to the oven for a further 30 minutes.
  7. ENJOY!

Andalusian-style Chicken

Serves: 2

A little while ago, I typed up an Andalusian-style pork recipe and wow was it is a cracker.

So fresh, so full of flavour, so simple to prepare and healthy as well.

Simple Spanish cooking at its best.

Well here you have another cracker Andalusian dish; again, unique, full of bold, fun flavours and easy to pull together on a Monday night.

Served with broccolini sautéed with chilli and garlic and this really was such a great way to start the week.

Pour yourself a wine, prep, cook… and this will be an equally great start to your week.

(Note the serving size and double for lunch the next day or if you have friends coming around.)

Ingredients

Large pinch of saffron
1/2 chicken stock cube, crumbled into 100ml boiling water
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 large chicken breasts or 6 boneless, skinless thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Large pinch of ground cinnamon
1 red chilli, reseeded and chopped
2 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp clear honey
6 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 tbsp raisins
Handful of coriander, roughly chopped
25gm toasted pine nuts
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Add the saffron to the hot stock to soak.
  2. Heat the oil in a saucepan and cook the onion until it is soft and just beginning to turn golden. Add the chicken and cooked until the chicken is browned all over.
  3. Add the cinnamon and chilli and cook for a few minutes. Add the stock, vinegar, honey, tomato and raisins. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce is reduced and the chicken is cooked through.
  4. When ready, scatter with coriander and nuts and serve with bread on the side.

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.

Rosenstrach’s Pork Shoulder Ragu

Serves: 6

Bit of a no brainer this one.

Some weekends call for a ragu. A slow roasted pork shoulder ragu.

Where of course, the longer you cook it, the better it is.

And there you have the Rosenstrach’s pork shoulder ragu: one I found online and one that nailed the note the moment we served it.

It is simply an excellent, down-the-line, rich, warm, wholesome, screw-you ragu. With a glass of red and a green salad at the side… this is as good as things get.

Cook it the night before and serve at a dinner party the next day.

Cook it the night before and serve it on the couch on Sunday.

Cook it whenever you want and eat it whenever you want.

However you do it, this is a winter win.

Ingredients

1 ½kg boneless pork shoulder
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
80gm butter
2 cans tomatoes (800gm)
1 cup red wine
5 sprigs fresh oregano
Small handful of fennel seeds
1 tbsp hot sauce
Pappardelle
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Roughly chopped flat leaf parsley

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 180c. Liberally season the pork with salt and pepper.
  2. Add the olive oil and butter to a large, heavy saucepan over  medium heat until the butter melts. Add the pork and brown on all sides: around 10 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes, wine, thyme, oregano, fennel and hot sauce and bring to the boil. Cover and put in the oven.
  4. Braise for 4 hours, turning every hour or so and adding more liquid (water and wine) as is needed. When the meat is literally falling apart, remove, break apart and return to the pan. Cook until thickened and back the seasoning.
  5. Serve on the pappardelle with plenty of parmesan and parsley on top. And plenty of red wine at the side.