Rigatoni with Chicken Ragù and Green Sauce

Serves: 4 – 6

I really didn’t see this one coming, though what a great – and unique – pasta.

This recipe from Gourmet Traveller is excellent and something you’d find in a good Italian restaurant. It has a quality, a richness and yet a dryness: it is hard to put your finger on why it is just so moorish: could be the butter, could be the contrast with the green sauce, could be that you’re eating pasta, something we don’t do as often as we would like.

We are always on the lookout for unusual, restaurant-quality pastas and this one definitely ticks that box.

As Nat put it, served alongside a red pasta, this would make for a really fun lunch.

So much so that Tom (7) asked us to make sure we typed this recipe up so he could have it handy for when he was cooking for his girlfriend in due course.

You should try.

(We upped the mince to 1kg and we’d do it again. And very minor changes to the original recipe which we have reflected below.)

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 baby fennel bulb, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600gm coarsely minced chicken
2 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
250ml dry white wine
300ml hot chicken stock
20gm butter, diced
20gm Parmesan
400gm dried rigatoni
200gm kale leaves, roughly chopped

Green sauce

1 garlic clove crushed
1 tbsp coarsely chopped parsley
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup basil, coarsely chopped
Finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oil over a medium heat in a large saucepan and add the onion, garlic and fennel and sauté until starting to soften: 2 – 3 minutes. Add the chicken mince – increasing the temperature to high – and fry until starting to colour: 5 – 7 minutes.
  2. Stir in the rosemary, nutmeg and the wine and bring to a simmer; add the stock, reducing the heat to medium and simmer until slightly reduced: 5 – 7 minutes. You only want a little liquid remaining.
  3. Stir in the butter and Parmesan and season to taste.
  4. For the green sauce, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.
  5. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente; a minute before finishing, add the kale to the pasta and wilt.
  6. Drain and combine the pasta and kale with the sauce.
  7. Serve, topped with the Green sauce and extra 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.

Porteno’s (Christmas) Porchetta

Serves: 8

This is a wonderful Argentinian recipe from Porteno, an equally as wonderful Sydney restaurant.

I’m not sure how you could go wrong with this one: pork belly, chilli, herbs and plenty of cooking time. Go further and over a high heat on your grill, crispen the skin even further for 15 minutes once you’re done with the oven.

Even better than the night before, the pork is incredible on a roll the next day with a bit more of the chimichurri, butter and some of the crackling.

It doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy this one though at the very least, you would be mad not to do this at Christmas during that crazy time between Christmas Day and New Years.

This is what it is all about.

Ingredients

3 – 4kg pork belly, deboned, skin on
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp fine salt
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp black peppercorns
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, roughly chopped
Extra fine salt

Chimichurri
1 cup flat-leaf parsley (firmly packed)
½ cup olive oil
½ cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup coriander (loosely packed)
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes

Method

  1. For the pork: Start preparing the pork belly the day before cooking. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the fennel seeds, salt, chilli flakes, peppercorns, garlic and rosemary together to make a paste. Rub the paste on the inside of the pork belly.
  2. Roll the pork belly lengthways and using butcher’s twine, tie the meat at 2 ½cm intervals to hold it together. Wrap tightly in cling wrap and leave in the fridge overnight.
  3. Remove the porchetta from the fridge and uncover. Season with fine salt all over the skin. Leave for 1 to 2 hours to draw out the moisture. Wipe with a clean, damp cloth to remove the salt.
  4. Heat the oven to 150c. Place the porchetta on a rack inside a baking tray. Put in the oven and cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours. Increase the heat to 200c for 15 minutes to crackle the skin.
  5. For the chimichurri: Pulse the ingredients in a food processor until you have a paste.
  6. Serve the pork with the chimichurri.  

Greek Fisherman’s Stew

Serves: 6

Wow, this is a gorgeous stew and on every level.

It tastes amazing, it is simple to prep and it’s healthy enough. Mopped up with some crusty bread, we loved every bit of it.

I’d go as far as to say this could become one of your favourites.

There is literally nothing not to like. Just make sure you season well.

Surprise yourself with this 10/10.

Ingredients

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 small head fennel, diced
½ tsp red chilli flakes
2 large ripe, truss tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt (plus extra to season at the end)
Freshly cracked pepper
1 cup dry white wine
250gm potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 kg firm white fish, cut into 3cm pieces (we used Pink Ling)
12 basil leaves, torn
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp harissa paste (or hot sauce)
Crusty bread to serve

Method

  1. Warm the oil in a heavy saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft though not brown. Add the fennel and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the chilli flakes and then add the tomatoes and salt and cook on medium for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the wine and 2 ½ cups boiling water, bring to the simmer and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Check the seasoning and add the lemon juice.
  3. Add the fish pieces and simmer on low until the fish is just cooked through; another 5 or so minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the mayonnaise with the harissa paste (or hot sauce).
  5. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the basil to wilt it.
  6. Serve with a good dollop of the spiced mayonnaise and some crusty bread. And a good glass of cold vino of course.

Italian Coleslaw

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Just wonderful; creamy thanks to the parmesan; hot thanks to the chilli oil.

Italian Coleslaw

Serves: 4 – 6

This is a really sophisticated little number I pulled from Gourmet Traveller.

It speaks of the thinly sliced, super-fresh vegetables and herbs you throw in and with the parmesan, chilli oil and some seasoning, wow.

We had it with a glazed pork chop and some braised beans it was wonderful; it is hot, fresh, soaked up the rest of the plate and stood its own as a side. The next lunch served with a rare BBQed eye fillet and some hand-cut chips, it got even better.

Slaw is always good and this is a wonderful version of it.

Ingredients

180gm peas (de-thawed peas are fine or if using podded peas, start with 500gm )
¼ white cabbage, thinly sliced
Fennel bulb, thinly sliced
½ Spanish Onion, thinly sliced
3 radishes, thinly sliced
½ cup each (loosely packed) basil, mint and flat-leaf parsley, coarsely torn
¼ cup (firmly packed) watercress sprigs
1 tbsp salted capers, rinsed
40gm parmesan, finely grated
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp chilli oil
2 tbsp lemon juice

Method

  1. If using podded peas, blanch peas in boiling salted water until tender (1 – 2 minutes), fresh and drain. If using frozen, de-thaw completely.
  2. Combine in a large bowl with cabbage, fennel, onion, radish, herbs, watercress, capers and parmesan and toss to combine.
  3. Just before serving, add oils and juice, season to taste and toss lightly to combine.

Simple (wonderful) fish stew

Simple (wonderful) fish stew

Serves: 6

Nat and I had lunch at Rick Stein’s restaurant in Mollymook NSW over the weekend and what a treat it was. Just as good as the first time we visited a few years back.

The highlight was a brilliant fish and shellfish soup with rouille and croutons, something I have promised to recreate. A wonderful fish stock, infused with saffron, chilli and orange, it was just excellent.

The only problem – returning early Monday morning to work after a long drive back up the South Coast – being that a fish stock isn’t the sort of thing you can quickly whip up on a Monday night. All we had in the fridge was some Parmesan cheese, bacon and assorted vegetables!

We also needed something healthy for dinner on account of a long weekend consisting of several late dinners remit with red wines, slow cooked meats and more than a handful of desserts.

This simple, wonderful fish stew is your Monday night cheater’s recipe and an adaptation of something I found online.

It is incredibly healthy, super simple and packing flavour if you can find the time to caramelise the vegetables and let the stock and tomatoes simmer.

Finish with some chopped parsley and some croutons and you are getting very close to something you’d be happy to have in a good bistro. Seriously, with a cold beer and a good show on the TV, it just made our night.

I’ll do Rick’s wonderful soup one weekend coming up, though for your Monday night fix, this just cannot be beaten.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
4 celery sticks, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
4 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 cans, tomatoes
1 liter, good quality fish stock
600gm firm white fish, cut into pieces
250gm raw prawns
Flat leaf parsley, chopped to serve

Method

  1. Heat the olive oil over a low, medium heat in a large saucepan and saute the fennel seeds, onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook as slowly as you can until softening.
  2. Add the leeks, tomato and stock and season. Bring to the boil and then simmer on a low, medium heat for around 20 minutes.
  3. Add the fish and prawns and cook for a few minutes. Check the seasoning and serve with the parsley (and croutons if you have managed to avoid the the wines the weekend prior!).

12 Hour Pork

Serves: 8 – 10

My mother first made this dish for the family when I was about 21. It was a revelation!

I had never had such slow cooked meat (remember, this was 15 years ago when slow cooking wasn’t a thing in Australia) and rather than being dry or inedible, it is incredibly moist and succulent.

And unlike all of the pulled porks and beefs out there, this one isn’t just a slab of slow cooked meat. Not at all; the fennel and garlic and chilli transform it into the most unique and extraordinary flavor, unlike anything you have ever tasted.

On one occasion that I cooked it for my flatmate Aaron and our friend Nilhan, we agreed not to eat all day and even spent a few hours in the sun playing tennis (in between bastings) to build up our hunger. I served it with a truffle mash and sauteed beans and I swear to God, it was the most unbelievable eating moment of my life as we stuffed it down with our fingers, eyes closed, heart rates at 110.

It is a bit of a ritual cooking this because you have to start early in the morning and keep basting all day.

Though a few hours in and the house smells amazing. The excitement starts.

People ask to peek the meat at around 8 hours. Start your truffle mash and pour a wine at hour 10 and the excitement is palpable. People refuse cheese and snacks in order to have as much room for the pork when it is served.

It is a long runway but it is worth it. Oh, only use a pork shoulder. Pork neck – as experience told me earlier this year – just will not cut it.

Ingredients

3 – 4kg Pork Shoulder Roast, no bone
4 tbs fennel seeds
5 tbs chopped garlic
3 tbs dried chili pepper flaked
1 tsp sea salt
¾ tsp pepper
Juice of 6 lemons
3 tbs olive oil

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 250 celcius.
  2. Mix the together fennel seeds, chopped garlic, chili pepper and salt and pepper and set aside. Mix lemon juice and olive oil and set aside.
  3. Stab the Pork Shoulder deeply all over; around 7 times on east side including edges.
  4. Massage the fennel seed mixture into all sides of the roast and place it in a roasting pan. Roast for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn the oven down to 120 celcius.
  6. Take the Pork Shoulder out of the oven and loosen from the bottom of the pan. Pour half the lemon mixture over the roast, loosely cover with foil and out back in oven.
  7. Roast for 12 hours or so, adding the rest of the lemon mixture after 6 hours and basting the pork every hour.