Road Test #1

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Hi all,
I thought I'd share with you some of my escapades in the kitchen. Not wanting to toot my own trumpet or anything but I really don't mind cooking at home to save a buck, or 30. No wonder the restaurant biz is in struggle city *sad face*. Being a student, I am used to cranking out whopping big vats of so called "one-pot-wonders" to last me the next 3 or 4 nights. Is that so bad? 

Here's a yee-old faithful pasta dish:

This one caught my eye from the Fare Exchange article from Australian Gourmet Traveller magazine (April 2012). This magazine my friends is gold. And great if you're looking for restaurant/recipe/travel "inspo" (eucch, don't you hate that slang). It's a rigatoni with braised pork, tomato and olives from the Sculpture Garden Restaurant (National Gallery; Canberra, ACT). I've posted the recipe at the tail end

Letting the stove do all the work: the pork is everything here and MUST be tender! I recommend at least 2+ hours (the recipe says 3 in the oven but I cooked on the stovetop instead). If you have a pressure cooker at home well, you're in business aren't you ;)
A true likeness, or so I'd like to think! My food styling pedigree is basically non-existent but I reckon the dish tasted pretty good! The olives are a perfect salty hit to the shredded pork. That's a big plate of pasta you got there (i hear you say)...why yes, yes it is.

On the side:
It may seem basic but sometimes salads can be glorious. I'm sure Damien Pignolet will attest to this. This one is by chef Matt Wilkinson from Pope Joan and Circa(look, to be honest I really should just up and move to Melbourne), who has recently published a veggie friendly cookbook, "Mr Wilkinson's Favourite Vegetables". Okay, so it sounds like a children's picture book, but never mind that! The recipe was featured in the March 2012 issue of Australian GT and is posted at the end

Fresh and simple. That's all I could really ask for at the moment and Matt has hit the nail on the head. The dressing has but 4 ingredients and is incredibly tasty - only lashings of it will do.
Pork riga
1.5 tbspn olive oil
1 onion + leek + celery stalk, chopped finely
350g pancetta, chopped finely
150ml Madeira (I survived without this)
800g canned crushed tomatoes
1kg boneless pork shoulder, cut in half (or smaller to reduce braising time)
200g black Ligurian olives, pitted
30g butter, coarsely chopped
1.5 tbspn marjoram leaves, plus extra to serve
750g died rigatoni
Finely grated parmesan to serve

1. Preheat oven to 120 degrees C. Heat olive oil in large casserole dish over medium heat. Add onion, leek and celery, stirring occasionally until tender. Add pancetta and stir occasionally until golden
2. Add Madeira and simmer until reduced by half, add crushed tomato, bring to the simmer, season to taste, add pork shoulder, cover and braise in oven, turning once, until very tender (3 hours). Remove pork and coarsely shred, set aside
3. Process cooking liquid in a food processor to a puree, transfer to a saucepan over medium heat and simmer until reduced to a thick sauce. Stir in pork, olives, butter and marjoram, season to taste
4. Cook rigatoni in a large saucepan of boiling salted H2O until al dente, drain, toss through pork mixture and serve hot with extra marjoram and grated parmesan. Et voila!

Bean salad
2 small Spanish onions, skin on
300g green beans, top and tailed
300g yellow beans, top and tailed
375g cooked cannellini beans (tinned will do)
3 Roma tomatoes, quartered, seeds removed, cut into thin strips
1 punnet baby basil, or 20 basil leaves finely chopped

1 tbspn Dijon mustard
75g creme fraiche
90ml extra virgin olive oil
2 tbspn Chardonnay vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Wrap onions in foil and bake for 15-20 mins or until knife pierces through easily. Take out from oven, unwrap and set aside to cool
2. Bring 1L of salted H2O to the boil. Add green + yellow beans and cook for 4 mins or until "just still crisp" (a bit of an awkward turn of words but okay). Drain and refresh in icy cold H2O. Drain again and place in a large bowl
3. Add cannellini beans, tomato and basil. Peel skin off onions, cut into eighths and add to beans. Season to taste
4. For the dressing, whisk mustard and creme fraiche before adding olive oil + vinegar. Season to taste
5. Pour dressing (like, a lot) over the bean mixture and serve

Happy days :) :) :)


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