Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Smoked mackerel potato salad

Not much beats a nice new potato gently cooked until tender dressed in a little vinaigrette, well that was until I decided to put a Christmas dinner idea to the test, well half an idea anyway. I plan on spit-roasting a rolled pork belly on the day, I’ve ordered a nice 4-5 kg piece, and I figured that there would be a decent amount of fat rendering out so I should just shove a tray of potatoes under it to catch the fall off and roast away at the same time, which got me thinking about cooking in fat and how chips cooked in dripping are far superior to any of those canola/soy/peanut fried things.

I set about with a bunch of new potatoes, a few tubs of dripping and a good stalk of rosemary. In a cast iron dish dripping got melted down with the fragrant rosemary and when finally liquid, the potatoes submerged. Then the dish was covered and placed in a low oven for a couple of hours until the potatoes were tender, the house was filled with beautiful roast beef aromas. I let the lot cool before transferring to the fridge to set up, well not before testing one of course.

The next day I spied probably one of my favourite ingredients at the local shops, smoked mackerel, and with the potatoes sitting in the fridge and it being a balmy 30ºC I figured a nice light salad was the best option. Potatoes gently encouraged out of their fatty tomb and split lengthwise, placed cut side down in a hot cast iron pan to become crisp and golden, flipped over and sprinkled with salt then set aside on some paper towels. Medium eggs placed in cold water, brought to the boil, then 3 minutes of bubbling before being dunked into ice water. Mackerel flaked. Celery sliced on a heavy bias. Tomatoes quartered and seeded. Capers rinsed. Parsley picked over. Red onion diced. A fifty-fifty vinaigrette made, 1 part olive oil, 1 part cider vinegar, dijon mustard and a dash of salt. The potatoes now just a little warm, arranged on a plate with generous amounts of the flaked fish scattered about, the vegetables evenly deposited, topped with an egg cut in twain, garnished with a generous scattering of parsley and capers, finally healthily dressed with the vinaigrette.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Cereal cookies

I may of tested one of these before taking the photo.

Cereal cookies
8 portions

100 g Butter
130 g Brown sugar
20 g Glucose syrup
1 Egg
100 g Flour
75 g Cereal
Pinch of Salt
1 tsp Baking powder
1 tsp Baking soda
1 tsp vanilla paste
  • Cream butter and sugar.
  • Beat in egg.
  • Mix in vanilla and glucose.
  • Sieve in flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  • Mix together with cereal.
  • Portion out and place on lined tray several inches apart, you’ll probably need two sheet pans.
  • Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 190ºC.
  • Cook for 14–18 minutes.
  • Allow to cool on the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.
  • Will store for several days in an airtight container, or alternatively store in a zip-lock bag in the freezer, they can be eaten straight from the chiller.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Extra hot chicken

For a long time I had avoided deep fried foods, much for the same unguided reason I avoided the fat in food, I was brainwashed to believe fat in means fat on, not the reality that it’s just a source of calories no different from the other calories going in, maybe a bit more dense in calories and possibly not as nutritional. I also had the impression that fried food equal greasy fatty food, this maybe true for things such as french fries which can be a whopping 50% fat by weight and food cooked incorrectly, but not at all the case for foods cooked at the correct temperature. The other main reason for the avoidance, or at least at home, has always been the smell, but get a thermometer, a heavy based pan, don’t overcrowd it, and that shouldn’t be a problem either, heck even the crappy domestic extraction system should be enough to deal with it.

So, deep fried chicken, getting thoughts of poorly cooked greasy fast food? Well, don’t, think crisp, crunchy, steaming hot, not at all greasy, fiery hot spicy goodness that will leave you red in the face and dripping with sweat.

3 Chicken legs, portioned to thigh and drum
Canola oil

All percentages are by weight (eg. 1000 ml water, 50 grams salt)
5% Salt
2.5% Cayenne powder
1.5% Garlic powder
1.5% Onion powder
2.5% Chilli flakes
0.5% Hot sauce
0.5% Morita Chilli

Heat the water in a pan and dissolve the salt, add all the other ingredients and cover, let it cool to room temperature. Place a large zip lock bag in a bowl and add the chicken, pour in the brine and remove as much air as possible while sealing the bag. Place in the fridge for 12–24 hours.

Cayenne Pepper*
Chilli Flakes*
*The more you add the hotter it’ll be, so add heaps!

Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry, toss in the dredge, shake off excess flour and place on a tray with a rack on it. Refrigerate for an hour, uncovered. Do not dispose of the remaining dredge yet.

Egg Wash
1 part Egg
2 parts Water

  • Remove the chicken from the fridge and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  • Heat several inches of oil in a heavy based cast iron pot to 190ºC.
  • Dip the chicken pieces in the egg wash, shake off any excess, toss in the dredge again, and shake off any excess flour.
  • Cook the chicken in batches, carefully laying the chicken away from you in the oil, cook until the internal temp reaches 65-70ºC (depending on how paranoid you are, the temp will rise at least 5ºC while resting).
  • Remove the pieces to a rack, not paper towels, to drain and rest while you cook the remaining chicken.

Serve with some sour pickles and lashings of hot sauce (if you can take the heat).

Bonus, oven baked extra hot wings

5% salt
Chilli flakes*
Cayenne pepper*
*As much as you can handle, more the better I say.

As above, place wings in cooled brine in zip lock bag and refrigerate for 12–24 hours.

2 parts flour
1 part fine semolina
smoked paprika

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. 
  • Shake excess brine off the chicken and place in the bowl. 
  • Cover tightly with a couple layers of cling film and shake (you could do this in a bag), make sure the chicken is evenly coated. 
  • Place chicken on a rack set over a sheet pan and refrigerate uncovered for at least an hour. 
  • Use a spritzer to coat the chicken in a fine film of olive oil, or gentle toss the chicken in a bowl with a little oil (take care not to dislodge too much coating). 
  • Use a sieve with some fine semolina to put a light coating on both sides of the chicken. 
  • Cook in a preheated 230ºC oven for 40–60 minutes, turning every 20 minutes. 
  • Add lashings of habanero hot sauce and devour.