Here we present recipes designed for cheddas who aren't afraid of a 'good chew' - principally dishes in which meat is a principal component - although we also be looking at fish dishes too.
While fish is not something you chew on, it is 'textural' in nature and in some cases can complement meat (the classic 'reef'n'beef' comes to mind).
We in Australia are particularly blessed when it comes the quality of our meat and fish, unlike our cousins in Britain or Europe for example.
We recall living in London (as many cheddas did during the psychedelic 70's) and paying a relative fortune for something alleged to be a loin chop.
Thus our 'good chews' below are based on our amazing, fresh, produce.
We aim to provide you here with good recipes for many of your favourites (or favourites forgotten!), easily made from ingedients cost-effectively purchased.
That is not to say our 'good chews' will be boring.
We hope you find them imaginative and tasty - something your partner - or guests - will simply say: "That's really good!" And that's something for you to chew on!
Snapper fillet baked in paper with fennel, tomato and saffron
This is a recipe of Johnny Triscari, of the excellent Chloe’s Restaurant of Kent Town South Australia and published in the equally excellent Weekend Magazine, published Saturdays in The Advertiser.
Often some of these recipes look impossibly hard, or deceptively easy - so we take them on and give them a go, so we we can report to you our experience of cooking them - and of course, tasting them - with our recommendation!
This recipe falls into the ‘easy’ and very tasty category. It has all the strength of snapper, a robust fish with the rich overtones of the sea, made more sharp on the tongue by the infusion of Mediterranean flavours provided by fennel and a pinch of saffron threads.
First, here’s what you’ll need (for a dish that serves four - if there’s just the two of you, cut the ingredients in half - easy!)
(get a copy of this recipe in .PDF form at the bottom of this sequence)
4 small snapper fillets
- Snapper fillets can be quite boney. Depending on how good your fish monger is, ask him to remove the bones - but be aware that the fillets you get will almost invariably include bones of some size or other - remember to check for them between the fork and the mouth!
1 onion, finely diced
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
1 punnet of cherry roma tomatoes
a pinch of saffron threads, crushed
- Saffron threads are the dried stigmas of mauve, autumn flowering crocus flowers. You could try your local supermarket, but it’s more likely that you’ll need to go to a gourmet providore, or the market. Now this stuff is not inexpensive (relatively) - it takes about 200,000 flowers to obtain just 1kg of saffron stigmas. It generally comes in a small plastic box, about the size of a match box, but half as deep. We purchased 1 gram like this - the cost $7.95. To use, take a pinch between your fingers, crush, and add to the dish. Don’t think you can get away without using this in your dish - it gives it great flavour, it has a distinctive pungent musky flavour which evokes the Middle East (incidentally, most of it comes from Iran!) with cigar overtones. Combined with the fennel, these ingredients give the sharpness of the Mediterranean sun to this dish -- close your eyes and think of a pleasant afternoon on a restaurant balcony overlooking the Ionian Sea!
100 ml olive oil
100ml white wine
2 parsley and dill sprigs
sea salt and pepper
4 pieces of large greaseproof paper
4 pieces of baking foil
Place the pieces of baking foil on a baking try, then place the pieces of greaseproof paper on the foil, drizzle the paper with a little bit of the 100ml oil and place the fish in the centre of each individual serve.
Put a little bit of the oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion, garlic and fennel. Then add the saffron, wine and crushed cherry tomatoes. Take it to the boil and remove from the heat. Let this cool and spoon it over the fillets with the diced butter and parsley and dill sprigs, and the rest of the oil.
Place another sheet of baking paper over the top of each serve (or fold the underlying piece of paper over the top if you've make those sheets big enough). Draw the foil over all of this. (We used the foil only to ensure each serve didn’t ‘fall out’ of the greaseproof paper). Don’t pack down the paper/foil too tightly over the serves - steam from the cooking process must get out.
Bake at 200 celsius for about 15 minutes. While it’s cooking throw together a light salad. We also cooked sliced potatoes in oil, until crisp.
Serve. Leave the fish in the foil/baking paper.
Get out a nice sauvignon blanc, close your eyes and think of Greece! Kali orexi!
Chicken, mushroom and bacon pie
This is a great pie which can be served with or without vegetables for a nutritious lunch or easy dinner.
This pie is easily made. If you're organised with your ingredients, the pie will take about an hour (including cooking time) to get ready, for a 'good chew' with family and friends.
(get a copy of this recipe in .PDF form at the bottom of this sequence)
One tablespoon of olive oil
20 grams of unsalted butter (adding butter makes for a tastier sauce than by just using olive oil alone)
750 grams of chicken thigh fillets, trimmed and cut into 3 centimeter pieces
175 grams of bacon rashers, chopped
4 spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
200 grams of button mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons of plain flour
1/2 cup of chicken stock (we recommend Campbell’s Chicken Consumme - not the ‘standard’ chicken stock). If you like more sauce for your pie, you can add a further 1/2 a cup of chicken stock.
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup of light cooking cream
2 sheets of short-crust pastry (use the Pampass Butter Puff Pastry), partially thawed (take the pastry out of the freezer when you start your preparation - that should be enough).
1 egg, lightly beaten
For the pastry lid -
2 sheets of PUFF pastry, You can use the Pampass Butter Puff Pastry, but for for the lid we recommend Carême Pastry, made in South Australia’s Barossa Valley and distributed throughout Australia (for stockists go to their website: http://www.caremepastry.com). The Carême puff pastry puffs up more and has great flavour - it costs a bit more than other puff pastries, but it’s worth it). You must partially thaw the pastry (see thawing recommendation above).
sesame seeds to decorate
Heat olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium-to-high heat
Add the chicken in batches.
Cook, stirring for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is browned
Transfer the chicken to a bowl.
Add bacon to pan and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes.
Add onion, garlic and mushrooms to pan. Cook until mushrooms are tender.
Return the chicken to the pan.
Add the flour (the thickening agent) and cook, stirring, for a minute.
Add the stock and salt and continue stirring. This makes the mixture a sauce.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the sauce thickens.
Stir in cream and remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
To cook the pie
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C. (180 degrees C. if your oven is fan-forced).
Your pie tins need to be 7.5 centimeters at the base, and 11 centimeters at the top. You need 4 of them.
Now to line your pie tins, cut the partially thawed short-crust pastry sheets diagonally to make 4 large triangles. Lay the triangles over the pie tins and gently press the triangle into the tins, thus forming the base of the pie. Trim off the excess, then brush the edges with the egg. Spoon the pie mixture into the cases.
Next, cut the puff pasty sheet into 4 squares for the pie tops and place them on the 4 bases. Push the top pastry down a little, but not too much.
Now place the completed pies on a baking tray, brush the tops with the egg and sprinkle some of the sesame seeds over the pie tops. Bake for 30 minutes or until the tops of the pies are golden and puffed.
While the pies are in the oven, cook your side vegetables - we prepared mashed potatoes (do this first) then (in our case) we cooked up sliced carrots with honey, butter and water, and peas and canned corn.
Voila! the kids and grandkids will love it and raise you to Master Chef status!