Italian, Pasta, Pork

The Best Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves: 6

Where does one start?

Spaghetti Carbonara is that dish that divides more than any spaghetti dish. Cream or no cream?

Or mine is the best or that is the best?

This is the traditional or this one is even more traditional?

Or that Italians don’t even do Spaghetti Carbonara and it is an invention of the Americans: Italians don’t do pasta like this.

I don’t mind a cream-based Spaghetti Carbonara and how couldn’t you? Anything with pasta and cream – at its best – is amazing.

Though it isn’t traditional in the sense that I cannot find any pasta Italian cookbook of mine that asks for even a touch of cream.

Equally though, I can’t find a Carbonara in any of these books.

Which I think means that Carbonara definitely shouldn’t have cream though it probably isn’t an Italian invention either.

Which leaves us here: what is the best ‘traditional’ Carbonara recipe.

For 8 years straight until he was 18, for his birthday, my middle brother Adrian asked nothing else of me than that I cooked this pasta for his birthday.

This recipe was something my mother would do after a day on our boat and as kids, and it simply never failed to wow us.

After years and years of telling Nat this Carbonara was the best she would ever have, she finally let me make it.

And Nat – and the boys – agreed, this is simply the finest Carbonara that exists.

This truly is the best Spaghetti Carbonara you will ever cook.

And this is from someone that makes a point of ordering every time it is available.

THE BEST.

Ingredients

9 slices bacon, trimmed and julienne
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
5 tbsp butter
½ cup julienned ham (or prosciutto)
12 tbsp grated parmesan
6 eggs, beaten
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Spaghetti

Method

  1. Brown the bacon and pour off any fat.
  2. Cook the spaghetti.
  3. Add the olive oil, butter and ham and saute for 5 minutes without browning.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the parmesan and beaten eggs, Place over the heat only to sufficiently to firm up the sauce.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and pour over the spaghetti.
  6. Serve with more grated spaghetti.
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Vegetarian

Curtis Stone’s Corn and Bacon Muffins (with Herb Butter)

Makes: 12

I am a sucker for savoury muffins though apart from my popular Spinach and Feta Muffins, it would seem the house has a sweet tooth.

Therefore your decision to cook this particular muffin recipe really will come down to whether you like savoury muffins or are all-in the sweet camp.

If you are like me – and Curtis Stone – you should pass GO, collect $200 and have these baking tonight.

Because if you’re like me, you’ll agree they are really great, savoury muffins.

(Like muffins should be.)

Ingredients

350gm smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
2 ½ cups self-raising flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 ¼ cups whole milk
3 large eggs
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
1 cup fresh yellow corn kernels (cut from a cob)
⅓ cup coarsely chopped fresh chives

For the herb butter
115gm softened unsalted butter
1 tbsp chopped chives
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. In a large pan, cook the bacon over a medium heat for about 8 minutes until brown and crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to paper towels and reserve the bacon drippings.
  3. Grease 12 muffin cups/tins with some of the reserved bacon drippings.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cayenne pepper to blend. In a separate large bowl, whisk the milk, eggs and the remainder of the bacon drippings to blend; stir in the bacon, 1 ½ cups of the cheese (leaving ½ cup), the corn kernels and the chives. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just blended.
  5. Spoon the mixture into the greased muffin cups and sprinkle the tops with the remaining cheese.
  6. Bake for about 18 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
  7. For the herb butter: combine the butter ingredients. Use immediately on the muffins or form into a log on some baking paper, roll and twist and refrigerate.
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BBQ, Beef, Mince, Sauces

Jamie Oliver’s Insanity Burger

Makes: 4 big`burgers

A while back, we passed the all important step of understanding that for any burger to be amazing, it has to start with amazing, fresh mince.

Not the variety you get from the supermarket and certainly not the lean stuff you might otherwise use in a mince.

Instead, you need a quality cut of steak (chuck or similar), you need to see it minced in front of you on a coarse grain and you need to cook it within 24-hour.

This and this alone will set you on the path to a superb burger.

There are then plenty of directions and approaches you can obviously take and a fried green chilli burger we cooked last weekend only scratches at the surface of where you can go.

For me however, nailing the quintessential, classic burger was a bit of a must before venturing off in these many possible directions: nailing a burger with ketchup, American mustard and good egg mayo.

I previously typed up Neil Perry’s classic burger as simply that: a classic. And it really is a classic in every sense of the word.

This Insanity Burger then is like taking what is already a classic sportscar and really seeing what you can do with it. Pushing the outer limits of the handling, engine and design.

Hand on heart, it deserves the name Insanity Burger.

Nail this burger and you will have successfully passed Level 1 of the burger game; free to play the next level and start down whatever direction you choose.

Just make sure you get your mince right.

Ingredients

800gm freshly mince chuck steak
Olive oil
1 large red onion, finely sliced
White wine vinegar
2 large gherkins, sliced
4 brioche burger buns, halved
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
4 tsp American mustard
Tabasco Chipotle sauce (Woolworths and Coles have it)
4 thin slices of Red Leicester cheese (ditto)
4 tsp tomato ketchup

For the burger sauce

¼ of an iceberg lettuce, finely chopped
2 heaped tbsp egg mayonnaise
1 heaped tbsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp Tabasco Chipotle sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp brandy or bourbon

Method

  1. Divide the mince into four and roll into thick, patties, 2cm wider than your buns.
  2. In a bowl, dress the onion with the vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. For the burger sauce, combine the ingredients in a bowl.
  4. In a pan over a low heat, cook your bacon to the point of crispiness.
  5. Heat your grill as high as possible, rub your burgers with a bit of oil and grill; after 1 minute flip and brush each cooked side with ½ tsp of mustard and a dash of Tabasco. After 1 minute more, flip and repeat.
  6. Cook for another minute or two and then place two pieces of crispy bacon on top and then the cheese. Grill until the cheese melts; grill the buns at the same time.
  7. To build the burger, add a quarter of the burger sauce to the bun base, add the cheesy burger, a quarter of the onions and the gherkins. Add 1 tsp of ketchup on top and close.
  8. You passed!
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Healthy, Seafood

Salmon BLT Stacks with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

Salmon BLT Stacks with Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

Serves: 4

Nat found this simple, relatively healthy number online and it is great.

The whole thing comes together as a really tasty meal, especially with the salmon, bacon and the vinaigrette. As good as any BLT.

And of course, you’ll have the best lunch in the office the next day.

Yum.

Ingredients

1kg salmon, skin off
8 slices, rindless bacon
3 tomatoes, sliced
4 good handfuls, rocket
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly cracked pepper

Lemon Caper Vinaigrette

½ cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp (heaped) capers
1 shallot, minced
¼ tsp salt

Method

  1. For the Lemon Caper Vinaigrette, in a bowl, whisk together the ingredients.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c and bake the bacon on a baking tray lined with baking paper, until the bacon is crisp: 10 or so minutes.
  3. Heat a frypan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and cook the salmon on both sides until cooked to your liking.
  4. Arrange the rocket, then the tomato and then the bacon as a stack. Top with te salmon and drizzle with the vinaigrette.
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Beef, French

Beef Bourguigonne Pie

Beef Bourguigonne Pie

Serves: 6

Sit down for this one.

For whilst it isn’t a quick production, it is simply off the charts in terms of everything else.

Seriously.

It is so decadent, so rich, so crazy good, you might only do it once though it will have been worth it.

If I tried to add it to this website’s Healthy category, I suspect the website would have overheated.

Though screw it

You’re doing this one and what a way to sign off the week!

Ingredients

3 tbsp olive oil
½ cup plus 1 tbsp flour
750gm boneless beef chuck, cut into 3cm pieces
3 slices bacon cut into 1cm pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, halved and thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, peeled and finely chopped
½ cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
2 tbsp brandy or bourbon
4 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
1 bay leaf
1 star anise pod
2 cups, chicken stock
1 cup red wine
5 tbsp unsalted butter
250gm (button) mushrooms, finely sliced
250gm pearl onions (we used quartered red onions)
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
6 – 8 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over a medium-high heat. Season ½ cup of flour with salt and pepper, add the beef and toss to coat, shaking off the excess.
  3. Working in batches, cook the beef until browned all over: 8 – 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate.
  4. Cook the bacon in the same pot, stirring often until browned and crisp. Add ¼ cup water and cook, scraping up the brown bits. Add the onion, carrot and leek, stirring until they start to soften: 5 minutes or so. Stir in the garlic and parsley and return the beef to the pot. Add the brandy and simmer until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.
  5. Add the thyme leaves, bay leaf, star anise, chicken stock and wine, season with salt and pepper and bring to the simmer.
  6. Mix 1 tbsp flour and 1 tbsp butter in a small bowl until smooth; stir into the meat mixture. Cover pot and braise in the oven until the beef is very tender: 1 – 1 ½ hours.
  7. Have a beer or a cold glass of white. You’re halfway there at least.
  8. Melt remaining 4 tbsp butter in a large pan over a medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and pearl onions and cook, stirring until browned: 8 – 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
  9. Add the the mushrooms and onions to the beef stew, cover pot and return to the oven. Cook until the onions are very tender: 25 – 30 minutes. Remove the stew from the oven and allow to cool.
  10. Grease a large casserole/pie dish. Cover the insides with pastry to create a base, allowing for overhang to support the top of the pie. Fill with the stew. Drap pastry over the filling and complete the pie. Brush with the egg.
  11. Bake until the crust is deep golden brown: 30 – 35 minutes.
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Pork, Salad

German Potato Salad

German Potato Salad

Serves: 4 – 6

I’ve said it before, though nobody can not like potato salad. Right?

And this quite simple, German Potato Salad is no different. No frills, sure, though simple is its key and ‘potato salad’ is its clincher.

With some grilled pork chops and a glass of chilled red, seriously?

You don’t need much more complex than this.

Ingredients

3 cups, peeled, diced potatoes
4 slices bacon
1 small red onion, diced
¼ cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
3 tbsp white sugar
1 tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or chives

Method

  1. Boil the potatoes until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork. Drain and allow to cool.
  2. In a pan over a medium heat, cool the bacon until browned and crisp, turning as needed. Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little and crumble.
  3. Add the onion to the pan that had the bacon and cook over medium heat until browned. Add the vinegar, water, sugar, salt and pepper to the pan. Bring to the boil and then add the potatoes and parsley.
  4. Add the crumbled bacon and serve either warm or cold.
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Pork, Side

Braised Peas and Bacon

Serves: 4

I served this simple Jill Dupleix braise last night with an even simpler Veal Pillard: preheat your grill to hot, brush veal schnitzels in olive oil and season, grill for 1 minute and serve with a dollop of horseradish and juice from a chargrilled lemon half.

What a success!

The flavours married wonderfully, especially for a cold cold night.

Cook this once and this will become a side you do over and over again.

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil
3 rashers streaky bacon, diced
2 leeks, trimmed and finely sliced
2 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
100ml white wine
150ml chicken stock
200gm frozen baby peas
1 tbsp mint leaves
1 tbsp butter
Sea salt and pepper

Method

  1. In a pan, cook the bacon over a medium heat until crisp. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil over a low heat and add the leeks, spring onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add the wine and bring to the boil. Add the stock and peas and simmer for 3 minutes.
  4. Return the bacon to the pan with the mint, butter, sea salt and pepper, heat through and serve.
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