Neil Perry’s Chicken and Macaroni Salad

Serves: 4

This a super simple, super wonderful salad. It has Saturday lunch written all over it.

It is delicious. And whilst the simplicity of the ingredients might not let onto that, it is the simplicity of the ingredients that deliver.

You can buy a cooked chicken to make things easier though I cooked a chicken and it was just a bit more special. Leave the skin on either way.

And Neil’s tip… buy artichokes in olive oil and not brine. Though that’s obvious right!

Ingredients

1.6kg roast chicken, shredded
250gm cooked macaroni, al dente, drained and refreshed under cold water
2 celery stalks, cut into julienne
4 preserved artichoke hearts, thinly sliced
250gm cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 hard boiled eggs, quartered
235gm aioli
1 lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

Aioli

3 egg yolks
4 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
375ml half olive oil, half extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

(Makes about 400ml)

Method

  1. Place the pasta, celery, artichoke, tomato and egg in a large bowl and gently fold in the aioli.

For the salad

  1. Divide among four plates and top with roast chicken. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, drizzle with oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

For the aioli

  1. Put a saucepan large enough to hold a stainless steel bowl on a bench. Place a tea towel around the inside edge of the pan and place the bowl on top; this will hold the bowl steady while you whisk.
  2. Put the egg yolks in the bowl and whisk. Add the garlic, sea salt and lemon juice and while whisking, drizzle in the oil very slowly. As the emulsion starts to form, add the oil in a steady stream. Don’t let the oil sit on the surface as this can cause the aioli to split. Add a grind of pepper and check the seasoning for salt and lemon juice.
  3. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for a week.

Neil Perry’s Sweet Black Vinegar Pork Belly

Serves: 4

Nat cooked this dish from Neil’s book Balance and Harmony as part of a long Sunday lunch and it was just so good.

This is not your local Chinese “sweet and sour”. Not by a long shot.

It isn’t a complex dish either. Just start the night before and with a bowl of rice, some sliced spring onions and roasted sesame seeds…

Lordy.

Ingredients

500gm boneless pork belly cut into 3cm thick pieces across the grain
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp shaoxing
2 tsp light soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp peanut oil
1/3 c soft brown sugar
4 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
Finely sliced spring onion and roasted sesame seeds to serve

Method

  1. Mix together 1/4 tsp of the sea salt, sugar, shaoxing, soy sauce and 1/2 tbsp of the peanut oil, add the pork and leave to marinate for at least2 hours, or overnight. Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry with paper towel.
  2. Heat a wok until smoking. Add the remaining oil and, when hot, stir fry the pork in batches for about 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until well coloured on all sides. Return all the pork to the wok and add the brown sugar vinegar, remaining salt. And 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, or until the pork is very tender. If the sauce is a little thin, remove the pork from the sauce and return the wok to the heat. Boil until it has a syrupy consistency, then pour over the pork. Sprinkle with the sliced spring onion and sesame seeds.

Croque Monsieur

Serves: 4

The Croque Monsieur is is just one of the most classic sandwiches.

Though I had never had it with a glass of wine and a green leaf salad.

Turns out I’ve been doing wrong all these years.

Sitting in the sun with a wonderful Riesling, Nat and I toasted that this is what life was all about. A brilliant sandwich with the bubbling, golden gruyere, the ham, the sourdough and the bechamel.

One of the best Australian Rieslings.

I have a feeling we will pull this combination out many more times.

Life’s good.

Ingredients

8 slices of day-old sourdough bread
3 cups loosely packed (300gm) grated gruyere
8 slices of smoked ham

For the Bechamel Sauce

3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp plain flour
3 c milk
Freshly grated nutmeg
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serve with a simple salad of greens: cos, radicchio, watercress and rocket and just some extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar, well seasoned.

Method

  1. Start with the Bechamel: melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking constantly until it starts to boil and finally thickens. Take off the heat, season and a pinch or two of nutmeg. Cool sufficiently that it is firm enough to spread.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200c. Place the 8 sourdough slices on a chopping board. Layer the Bechamel on each slice, spreading evenly edge-to-edge. Sprinkle the cheese equally over each, edge-to-edge.
  3. On 4 of the slices, layer 2 slices of ham and then place the remaining 4 slices on top, cheese-side up. Transfer to a baking tray and cook for 12 minutes or until golden: use the grill at the end if necessary.
Ham sandwiched between the two layers.
Voila.

Rockpool’s Salad with Palm Sugar Vinaigrette

Serves: 4

Nat and I have both come to understand the importance of a green salad to accompany so many of the mains we plate.

Because a brilliant green salad, clarifies; it mops up and gives you time to talk about the main; it refreshes and brings the end to the savoury part of the meal.‘

It’s the time where the big wines are poured.

This green salad by Neil Perry is probably the best I have had. I genuinely struggle to think of how it could be improved. Sure, Rodney Dunn’s Leaf Salad with Anchovy Cream is absolutely knockout.

And the addition of caramelised pancetta and fennel in this Giant De Laurentiis salad is genius.

Though if its green leaves you need. And the wonderful freshness of herbs. And a vinaigrette.

I commend to you the best.

Ingredients

1 heads of radicchio, leaves separated, washed and dried
2 heads of baby cos lettuce, leaves separated, washed and dried
2 heads of witlof, leaves separated, washed and dried
8 sprigs of watercress, tough stalks removed
6 chives, cut into 2.5cm lengths
Large handful of coriander leaves
Handful of dill fronds
Handful of tarragon leaves
Handful of chervil leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the Palm Sugar Vinaigrette

3 tbsp grated palm sugar
2 tsp sherry vinegar
2 coriander roots
1 garlic clove, peeled
5 tsp red wine vinegar
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Method

  1. To make the palm sugar vinaigrette, put the palm sugar into a small pan and heat until melted and caramelised. Add the sherry vinegar and let it cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the coriander roots and garlic with 1 tsp of salt until you have a fine paste, then add the cooked sugar mixture. Whisk in the olive oil and coriander.
  3. To serve, put all the leaves and herbs into a large bowl. Pour over the dressing band toss very gently. Season, arrange on four plates and serve immediately.

Neil Perry’s Classic Prawn Cocktail

Serves: 4

I have plated this dish at least half a dozen times and it is always so well received.

Classic Saturday lunch sort of stuff.

Fresh prawns, iceberg and a wonderful cocktail sauce. Everything you would expect of Neil Perry in his style of cooking.

Of course, it’s nothing new and people have been doing this since the 70s. Though slightly deconstructed like this recipe is, it’s a great return of a classic dish.

Follow it up with a good steak over charcoal and oh man, that is a great Saturday indeed.

Ingredients

150gm iceberg lettuce, outer leaves and core removed, finely shredded (about 1/4 of a whole lettuce)
2 lemon wedges, plus extra to serve
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
16 large cooked king prawns, peeled, tailed instant and intestinal tracts removed

140ml thick good-quality egg mayonnaise
1 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp finely grated fresh horseradish (I use horseradish cream)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Dash of Tabasco sauce

Method

  1. For sauce, combine ingredients and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Divide lettuce among 4 plates, squeeze 2 lemon wedges over and drizzle with oil. Season to taste, top with prawns and serve with cocktail sauce and lemon wedges.

Neil Perry’s Chicken and Leek Pie

Serves: 4 – 6

I have written many times about my love of pies.

Though I have never typed up a chicken pie. Not because I haven’t cooked them and don’t necessarily love the very best of them: though I have never cooked one of the very best of them.

Until now.

Weeks into Sydney’s lockdown and it’s Father’s Day and knowing that both my father and my father-in-law love a pie as much as I do, I had to do a compassionate food run.

I needed a down-the-line, bloody good chicken pie.

Something that was honest and simple. To be served with a mash* and peas.

A celebration.

This is just that pie. Thanks Neil Perry as usual.

You can’t go wrong with leek slowly cooked in butter, though it is the thinly sliced chicken breast that wins here.

And smoked bacon.

Line your pie dish with pastry and then cover all with pastry and make it even more svelte.

It’s simple and that’s the point.

Happy Father’s Day.

(I have slightly adapted the recipe.)

Ingredients

30gm butter
2 small leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
6 rashers smoked bacon, chopped
3 chicken breast fillets, cut into thin strips
300ml cream
2 egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, lightly beaten, for glazing

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat and cook the leeks until very sold and lightly golden, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the bacon to the pan and cook until lightly browned, remove and set aside. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until lightly browned, remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
  3. Wipe out the pan with paper towels. Return the leeks, bacon and chicken to the pan. Add the combined cream and yolks, stir over a low heat for 2 minutes and then season with salt and pepper, to taste, Transfer to a bowl to cool.
  4. Preheat the oven to 210C. And make a pie. You known how to do this right? Egg wash, prick the pastry to allow the steam to escape and bake for 30 minutes until the top is puffed and golden brown.
  5. Happy Father’s Day ladies. And gents.

* Use a ricer, plenty of butter and milk, well seasoned: and then add a finely chopped golden shallot.

Neil Perry’s Bar Rock Cod Tagine

Serves: 6

I’m putting it out there.

This is the best tagine I have had. Nat also thinks so. Ditto her sister Court to whom we dropped a meal pack during the intersection of Sydney’s lockdown and the birth of her first child, Ella.

Ella, I am the uncle you come to first.
Not socially distanced, though I am a carer, fully vaccinated, in a park and with one other person from another household. Also, I don’t care. This is my new niece.

Hello there Ella. You’re beautiful and as lucky as your parents are.

Anyway, back to this tagine.

It starts with a classic Neil Perry Chermoula that I have used so many times for his beef tagine and chicken tagine.

What makes it just that more interesting is firstly the fish which is so much nuanced than beef: and then the wonderful baby vegetables including the kipfler potatoes which are a totally new tagine element for me.

It does colour concerningly red fairly early on thanks to the baby beetroots, though hold the course.

Served with a couscous tossed with chicken stock, currents and flaked almonds, this tagine just hits you. (Or try this amazing couscous.)

It will be the dish of your week.

Ingredients

1kg bar rock cod, skinned, pin-boned and cut into 3-4cm cubes
6 baby beetroots, trimmed
3 bulbs baby fennel, trimmed and quartered
12 baby carrots, trimmed
12 small kipfler potatoes
1 1/2 cups Chermoula*
3 tbsp honey
1 1/2 tsp salt flakes
60gm blanched almonds
80gm green olives
1 preserved lemon, rind rinsed and thinly sliced
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons, strained
Couscous to serve

Chermoula

1 red onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bunch coriander, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stalks and leaves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt flakes
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tbsp ground turmeric
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 1/2 tbsp ras el hanout
185ml extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, strained

Method

  1. To make the Chermoula: place the onion, garlic, coriander, parsley, salt, ground cumin and coriander, chilli, turmeric, paprika and ras el hanout in a food processor and process for 1 minute. With the motor running, slowly pour in the oil to form a thick paste. Stir through the lemon juice.
  2. Combine the beetroot, fennel, carrot, potato, 1ltr of water, 1 1/2 c Chermoula, honey, salt, almonds and olives in a tagine or large saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 1 hour, covered, until the vegetables are well cooked.
  3. Stir the fish and preserved lemons through the vegetables. Simmer, uncovered, for a few minutes, until the fish is just cooked through, stirring very gently from time to time. Stir in the lemon juice and remove from the heat.
  4. Divide among bowls and serve with the couscous.

* You will have leftover Chermoula. We marinated and grilled chicken breasts with the leftover Chermoula and you should too.

Pan-fried swordfish with celeriac purée by Neil Perry

Serves: 4

We did this dish twice we loved it so much. The brown butter on the swordfish brings out the flavours of the fish and the thyme literally gets chucked in the pan to infuse. The celeriac puree works so well as it lightens the dish against the butter. 

Ingredients

4 x 200g skinless swordfish steaks
sea salt
100ml olive oil
60g butter
½ bunch thyme
lemon wedges, to serve

Celeriac puree

300g celeriac, peeled, roughly chopped
200g pink-eye potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled, roughly chopped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt and black pepper

Method

  1. To make the celeriac purée, place the celeriac and potatoes in a steamer over simmering water and steam for 20 minutes. Add the apple and steam for a further 10 minutes. Remove when they are soft. Pass the celeriac, potato and apples through a food mill, or press through a sieve. Place in a bowl and slowly stir in the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  2.  Season the fish to taste. Place a heavy cast-iron pan large enough to fit the 4 steaks on medium heat. Add oil, butter and thyme. As soon as this starts to foam add the swordfish steaks and cook, spooning the foaming butter over the fish from time to time. Cook for about 4 minutes, until golden brown. Turn, cooking for a further 4 minutes until golden brown. Cook a little longer if you don’t want the fish medium-rare. 
  3. Spoon the celeriac purée onto four plates, top with swordfish, then spoon the thyme-flavoured burnt butter over the fish and garnish with the thyme sprigs. Serve with lemon wedges.

Neil Perry’s Chocolate Cake

Serves: 10

This is the second time I have had this cake and it is brilliant.

Neil Perry says it is his favourite which is not hard to understand.

It is not only fantastically simple, it is like a soufflé. An incredible chocolate soufflé.

And it will easily last a day so you can cook it the night ahead like Nat did.

A sophisticated dinner party, hard not to go past this.

Ingredients

400gm good quality dark chocolate, broken up
6 eggs separated
2/3 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsp Cointreau
300ml pure (whipping) cream, plus extra whipped to serve
Icing sugar to serve

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175c. Cut a piece of grease proof paper to fit a 20cm round cake tin, with double layer for the side and a singlet layer for the bottom. Spray the tin with cooking oil and fit the greaseproof paper in snuggle.
  2. Melt the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl over a saucepan of hot water. (Don’t scald the chocolate by allowing the water to boil.) Remove the chocolate from the heat and allow to return to room temperature.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks and 2/3 of the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the Cointreau and continue to beat until well combined. Add the chocolate to the egg yolk mixture and stir until completely incorporated, then slowly stir in half the cream. Set aside.
  4. Whip the remaining cream until soft peaks form. Start whisking the egg whites in a very clean bowl. When soft peaks start to form, slowly add the remaining sugar and whip until very firm. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate mixture. Finally, fold in the whipped egg whites.
  5. Pour into the cake tin, put the tin in a bain-marie or on a baking tray and add enough hot water to come about 2.5cm up the outside of the tin. Bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Turn the oven down to 150c and bake for another 45 mins. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven for another 20 minutes. Cut around the edge of the tin, turn it over onto a plate and the cake should slide out easily.
  7. Cut slices using as knife dipped in hot water and clean the knife after each cut. (Place on white plates.) Sprinkle with icing sugar and serve with lightly whipped cream.

Neil Perry’s Roast Whole Snapper with Fennel and Olives

Serves: 4

This is a smashing Neil Perry dish, delivered by Nat as a late, slow lunch this past week between Christmas and NYE.

Served alongside with an amazing avocado salsa (I know!), potatoes with salsa verde, broccolini sautéed with garlic and chilli and a bottle of Champagne, this was a post Christmas super-treat.

So fresh, so aromatic, so Mediterranean.

I have a particular affection for people that cook and serve whole fish.

It says a lot about them.

And it dials up any meal. It makes for a special meal.

(Explains my affection for Nat.)

Dive into this one Sunday lunch and you’ll have smiles all around.

Dedication

We’re dedicating this recipe to our great friends Josh and Leesh and especially their new son. Congratulations on your new, little man Charlie:

Josh is the avid fisherman and Leesh is a kitchen wizard.

No couple would seem to catch or cook so many whole fish as these two. Looking forward to a long lunch – and whole fish – once Charlie’s a little bit older.

We’ll bring some solid whites!

Ingredients

4 small whole snapper (400 – 500gms) or 1 large (1.5kg – 2kg)
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, finely sliced
2 tbsp oregano, chopped
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 red capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
1 green capsicum, cut in half and finely sliced
3 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and quartered
2 tbsp salted baby capers, rinsed and drained
6 anchovies
150gm Ligurian olives (Nat used green olives)
Sea salt
1 cup white wine
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Freshly ground pepper

Neil’s Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, ripe though not mushy
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 vine-ripened tomato, peeled, deseeded and finely diced
2 spring onions, cut into rings
1 red capsicum, cut in half, core removed and finely diced
2 tbsp finely shredded flat leaf parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 drops Tabasco sauce

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Take a roasting tin and check that it fits your fish. (Use two tins if necessary.) Scatter the onion, fennel, oregano and thyme over the bottom of the tin and drizzle with half the extra virgin olive oil.
  2. Put the fish on top and cover with the capsicum, tomato, capers, anchovies and olives. Salt liberally and pour the rest of the oil and wine over. Cook smaller fish for 25 minutes or until cooked, basting every 5 minutes or a larger fish for 1 hour.
  3. Place the fish on individual plates or a platter. Spoon the sauce and vegetables over and add the parsley and pepper.
  4. Serve with a big dollop of the salsa. (Plus potatoes of some variety, a green of some variety, Champagne, white wine and plenty of cold beer!)

Avocado Salsa

  1. Cut the avocado in half, remove the stone and cut the flesh into a fine dice; put in a stainless steel bowl.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients, stir together, check the seasoning and enjoy.