RECIPE: Smoked Mortadella

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

“How much mortadella would you like?” asks the lady in the Coles deli section as she readies the slicer. “Um… all of it?” I reply, before walking out of the supermarket, holding my 4kg trophy of processed meat above my head.

I’d only seen smoked balogna on a menu once, at Payne’s BBQ in Memphis, and the thought of it was too terrifying to order. A hot slab of pink sponge, covered in sauce? My fear got the better of me and I ordered the pulled pork instead, the deliciousness of which only overwhelmed my immediate regret for a few hours, and I returned to Australia accepting that I would never know what smoked baloney tasted like.

Late last year I ordered one of the baloney sandwiches at ACME, which is actually some thin slices of mortadella on a fresh potato roll. I’ve since come to realise I’ve been living a fools life ever since Memphis: I could just smoke my own mortadella at home. I did it on Saturday night, it was out-of-control delicious, and here is how you join me in smoked pork product valhalla.

You will need:

A kettle bbq, like a Weber, or a smoker that you made out of a garbage bin
Charcoal
Hickory woodchips
4kg of mortadella

For the rub:

½ cup brown sugar
¼ cup paprika
¼ cup salt
2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp mustard powder

For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups apple cider vinegar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup treacle
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup American mustard
3 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped

Step 1

Light about eight beads of charcoal on one side of your BBQ. You wanna cook this mortadella on indirect heat. Keep it low and slow, no more than 120°c.

Take two handfuls of woodchips and soak them in water.

Step 2

Cut that gnarly red wrapping off the mortadella.

Use a knife to score the mortadella horizontally and vertically, cutting a couple of centimetres deep into the meat. Don’t forget to score the top and bottom of the mortadella as well.

Step 3

Combine all of the rub ingredients together in a bowl, then rub it all over the mortadella.

Try your hardest to work the rub into all of the grooves that you just cut so the flavour gets right in there.

Step 4

It’s time to smoke! Put your prize piece of mortadella in the barbecue, on the opposite side that the hot coals are on. Drop some of the wet woodchips onto the coals and chuck the lid back on your BBQ.

Let the mortadella smoke for an hour, and go back to the kitchen to make some BBQ sauce. Heat the oil on medium-low in a pot and slowly cook the garlic until it softens, about five mins. Stir through all the other sauce ingredients, turn up the heat to high and bring to a boil. Leave the sauce to simmer while the mortadella cooks.

Step 5

Pour yourself a cup of the BBQ sauce (let the rest of it continue to simmer) and take it outside. Lift the lid off the BBQ and baste the mortadella with a nice coating of sauce.

Check the temp of the BBQ and add more coal if necessary. Throw another handful of woodchips onto the coals. Let the mortadella smoke for another two hours, adding more woodchips and re-basting with sauce every half hour. Your backyard should smell incredible.

Step 6

After the mortadella has cooked for at least three hours all up, lift the lid and it should look like this.

If you’re ready to eat, take it straight to the table, or wrap it in foil and keep it warm until you’re ready for morta-domination.

Step 7

Cut the mortadella into thick slices. Fight everyone over the crunchy end bits which have absorbed the most smoke. You put that effort in and cooked this thing, you deserve the best part.

Serve the mortadella on soft white rolls with pickles, coleslaw and the BBQ sauce. Throw caution to the goddamn wind and stack that mortadella HIGH. This is the very definition of a ‘sometimes food’ and you should definitely take advantage of that.

Leftover mortadella is inevitable and best served for breakfast the next day. Just heat a pan up, cut some slices and fry each side, knowing that bacon will never be good enough again.

Why

To reward your stomach with exotic deliciousness

How much

4kg of mortadella will set you back about $40 and will feed approximately everyone you know

 

REVIEW: Happy as Larry Pizza Truck

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

Sydney’s food truck scene is actually getting good! Who saw that coming? There’s Mister Gee’s serving up very decent burgers, Yang’s and their impossibly large selection of Malaysian snacks, and now we have Happy as Larry, a pizza truck responsible for pizzas that you’d place up there with Sydney’s best.

Size wise, Happy as Larry puts all other Sydney food trucks to shame. If there was ever a food truck monster derby, you’d put all your money on the Happy-as-Larry-mobile. It’s huge, big enough to house a genuine woodfired oven and still provide enough room for the 6ish staff to dance around in.

Two of those staff members might look a little familiar – the two chefs used to work at Newtown’s Gigi Pizzeria and know their way around a Napoletana approved pizza. You’ll find a handful of traditional pies on the menu (margherita, marinara, mushroom) and then a handful of wildcards, like the lasagne pizza, topped with beef ragu and parmesan. They’re all served on that perfect charred ‘n’ chewy base, that fills your stomach up with delicious carbs while miraculously always leaving room for “just one more” hot slice.

You might find Happy as Larry at a music festival in the future, the only good food option at an otherwise uninspiring event. But you should try your hardest to seek them out – lately they’ve been setting up shop at a carpark on Bexley on Saturday nights (479 Forest Rd), where crowds are encouraged to pull up a milkcrate and smash an entire Nutella calzone by themselves.

Where Around. Follow them on Instagram to find them.

How much From $14

Contact Facebook

Related links Website

REVIEW: Old Mate on Crown

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

The Old Mate on Crown is less a cafe than it is an example of a perfect co-worker. I don’t know how they are at paperwork, but they’re in the break room every single day of the week, working wonders with that sandwich press and feeding the entire office with a smile on their face as they list the fresh produce between the perfectly buttered slices of Bread and Butter Project sourdough.

They lugged their juice maker to work and give you a free shot of vege juice with your coffee, which they proudly boast is from Toby’s Estate, a definite step up from the Nescafe, the only thing in the company freezer. Old Mate even drove out to Hurstville this morning and picked up some delicious cinnamon scrolls from Oregano Bakery.

Sure, they dominate the stereo with old Oasis albums you wish you never knew existed, but Old Mate’s unpretentious dedication to being a team player keeps everybody happy and they truly deserve those multiple “employee of the month” placards above their desk. The next time you wish you had a co-worker whose toasted sambos taste as cute as the chalk writing describing them on the menu, you know where to go.

Where
328 Crown St, Surry Hills

When
Mon-Sun, 7am-3:30am

REVIEW: Grumpy Donuts

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

Here’s a novel idea: start a company that makes donuts. Everybody loves donuts, even crap ones. Except the donuts this new company makes aren’t crap, they’re amazing. Beautiful works of saturated fat art, every colour of the unhealthy rainbow. Some are topped with chips, others sugar-coated cereal or crushed cookies. The best one is topped with candied bacon.

These donuts don’t have fancy, pretentious names. The donut covered in caramel and potato chips isn’t called fucking ‘Reginald’ or something, it’s called ‘Caramel and Potato Chips’. You know what you’re getting, and when you get one, you wish you got two.

These donuts come in a box with a sticker on them that says ‘GRUMPY DONUTS’ above a picture of a fairly grumpy donut cartoon. How could a donut be grumpy when it’s covered in potato chips?

So we’ve got a company that sells donuts that might be grumpy by name but are definitely delicious in taste. Incredible business model so far. Let’s go buy a box of these awesome donuts! Oh, what’s that? There’s no Grumpy Donuts shop? A handful of these donuts are only available on Fridays at Orto Trading Co. and The Wedge Espresso? Oh, don’t worry, you can order them from the Grumpy Donuts website, except you can’t actually do that right now because orders are currently closed? Perfect. I could say that a better name for this company is ‘Cocktease Donuts’, but that would imply that the donuts don’t have a hole in their middle, and save for the very delicious rectangular Maple Bacon Bar, they absolutely do.

If you can get your hands on a Grumpy Donut, do so. They’re worth the challenge.

REVIEW: Ngon Vietnamese Street Food

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015

There are three food courts in Chinatown, each of them worth visiting repeatedly, exploring every restaurant and familiarising yourself with as many of the dishes on offer as possible. It’s pretty hard to go wrong, but if you wanna ensure rightness, here is a simple Chinatown food court hierarchy to use as a guide: Sussex Centre > Eating World > Dixon House. Disagree? Fight me. 9pm tonight outside the Paddy’s Markets. Loser has to eat at the Westfield food court for a month. Enjoy your Snag Stand.

The most recent addition to Sussex Centre’s stalls, already home to 10/10 eateries like Happy Chef and Ikkyu, is Ngon Vietnamese Street Food, a clean neon Vietnamese affair that’s next door to another clean neon Vietnamese affair. On the menu are some 40 lunch options, a grab bag of someone who’s recently visited Vietnam listing as many of the great meals they had while they were there in 30 seconds. While there’s a lot of familiarity on the menu (bowls of vermicelli, banh mi, rice paper rolls), there’s also a Hanoi specialty on there, one I’ve not seen on a Sydney Viet menu before: bun cha hanoi.

Bun cha is a collection of bowls – one filled with noodles, one with herbs, another some sauce – but the star of the bowl show is one filled with grilled patties of ground pork, swimming in a warm and sweet broth. You mix some cold noodles into the broth, throw a few herbs in, add some chili, eat it all together and make a huge mess. It’s super fun and super delicious, and Ngon’s take on the dish is great value but lacking in the flavour department. The broth is sweet and strange, but the pork patties are lacking the taste of charcoal that they’re cooked over traditionally, Ngon opting to grill them over gas instead. A pile of grilled pork would improve with that same charcoal kick, and the usual varied collection of Vietnamese herbs is a few mint leaves and grated carrot. Still, it’s a fun lunch, and hopefully the start of more Vietnamese joints adding the dish to the menu.

Where
Shop F6, Sussex Centre Food Court, 401 Sussex St, Haymarket

When
Mon-Sun, 12pm-8pm

How much
$9.80

I made my friend eat the level 7 spicy tom yum noodles at Do Dee Paidang

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

Everyone’s got that one mate who likes it hot. The one who empties the entire container of complimentary chillies into their bowl of pho and asks every staff member at a Mexican Restaurant “no seriously, what’s the spiciest hot sauce you’ve got?”. My one mate is Owie. I once emptied an entire bottle of cayenne pepper onto a sandwich I made him and he didn’t even notice the heat. I took him to Chairman Mao in Kensington, ordered the dishes that would put me in a coma and all I got was an acknowledgement, a raised eyebrow as he told me “yeah, it’s pretty spicy” before eating all the food on the table.

Do Dee Paidang, a small Thai noodle joint in Chinatown, has quickly reached a cult status for its small bowls of tom yum, which are filled with an aromatic broth, chewy rice noodles, various meats and fried egg noodles. The soups are graded from 0 – 7 on the heat scale, with each number representing the number of dried chilli scoops added to your broth. 0 is called ‘Do Dee Nursery’. Add one scoop of chilli and it’s already hot enough to warrant the name ‘Do Dee Monster’. I made it to level 3, and that bowl of ‘Do Dee Lava’ almost destroyed me. I could taste the chilli in my ears.

Level 7, containing seven scoops of dried chillies, is affectionately called ‘Do Dee Super Nova’. There was no fucking way I was going to eat a bowl of noodles named after a dead star, but I knew just the asshole who I could convince to eat it for me.

I talked it up a bit and as we looked at the menu Owie had a little bit of fear in him. “Maybe I should try a level 5 first?” he asked me. Level 5? What did I look like? Concrete Playground? This is Two-motherfucking-Thousand, motherfucker! I ordered two bowls of soup, immediately blowing the food budget offered by publications such as ours. I ordered Owie that level 7 Super Nova and got a Do Dee Nursery on the side, so Owie could try the soup in its unadulterated state (not because I’m a huge pussy).

The first spoonfuls of every spice level of tom yum are fantastic, a great mix of textures and taste. Event the first few spoonfuls of the Super Nova are ok, the other flavours allowed to exist before the chilli works its magic on your tastebuds. After 20 seconds Owie gives me that nod of acknowledgment he gave me at Chairman Mao. “Yeah, it’s pretty spicy”, but he keeps slurping away, stopping at the halfway mark to wipe the beads of sweat from his brow before taking his jacket off on what is supposedly the coldest day in Sydney’s last two decades.

I get my phone ready to record his failure but he persists, and within a minute he’s eaten all but a small pool of broth. “Drink it!” I yell, pushing the boundaries of our friendship. He does, leaving a mostly empty bowl, save for a few flecks of bright red fire powder. I give Owie a round of applause, the kind you only hear from white guys in Thai restaurants, and he stares into space. “That’s gonna burn tomorrow morning” he tells me, and I realise what a perfect epitaph that would be.

Where
9/37 Ultimo Rd, Haymarket

When
Mon-Sun 11am-1am

How much
$6.90 a bowl

Contact
02 8065 3827

REVIEW: Hartsyard’s ‘Fried Chicken & Friends’

harts

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

One of life’s true miracles, fried chicken is readily available in most parts of Sydney at most times of the day. You could throw a handful of flour at a drumstick in a deep fryer and it would still taste pretty good, but genuinely great fried chicken takes time, and every fried chicken fan will tell you that the chicken they fry at Newtown’s Hartsyard is genuinely great.

Fried Chicken & Friends is the first cookbook by the couple behind Hartsyard – relocated New Yorker Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart, who opened an American restaurant at the peak of Sydney’s obsession with faux diner food but rose above the hype and delivered a menu that included American classics cleverly tweaked to reflect their Sydney setting.

While they could’ve just called this book Fried Chicken, the Friends include recipes for sweet potato pies, fried oyster po’ boys and poutine, plus a palate balancing selection of pickles and salads, an insane dessert section and some cocktails to wash it all down with.

hart2

As for the fried chicken recipe? It takes up the first 20 pages of the book, takes three days and requires a vacuum sealer. Like a lot of the recipes in Fried Chicken & Friends, it’s incredible to have it written out in front of you but it’s more likely to make you book a table at Hartsyard than it is inspire you to actually cook it. Some things are best left to the experts.

Who
Hartsyard’s Gregory Llewellyn and Naomi Hart

Where
Out now through Murdoch Books

How much
$49.99

REVIEW: El Shaddai, Merrylands

ELS

Originally published by Two Thousand in 2015.

African food is a bit of an anomaly in Sydney – a scattering of restaurants in the Western Suburbs without a “best African food in Sydney” Buzzfeed article to help you navigate them. Sydney’s growing African scene has meant the emergence of more specific restaurants. Offering more varied and regionally specific menus, instead of the all encompassing “African cuisine” representing the many dishes of the second biggest continent in the world. The main street in Merrylands has seen a few businesses open in the last few years, turning one end of Merrylands Rd into a haven for hair extensions and awesome food.

El Shaddai specialises in West African cuisine – you can tell this when you walk in due to the smell of ginger and hot spices, plus the Nigerian dancehall videos showing on the TV. It looks like a humble takeaway joint from the outside – and those looking for humble takeaway food will find cheap fish and chips on the menu – but the rest of the fare is proper sit down knife and fork stuff.

There’s an abundance of stewed meats, charcoal chicken and an intriguing dish called ‘kan kan kan’, but the pride of El Shaddai is their jollof rice with fried tilapia. Jollof rice is red with tomato, vaguely spicy and completely ignored when beneath a colossal fish, fried whole with crackly skin. On the side is a spicy onion relish that makes the white flesh of the tilapia taste even better. Also on the plate: a by-the-numbers garden salad topped with intricate swirls of pink mayo dressing. The perfect salad to cover with fish bones.

ELS2

The unassuming neon sign out the front of El Shaddai is not one that you’d associate with a $30 fish dinner, but the kitchen delivers, making you promise to return to try the rest of the menu and find out whatever the hell kan kan kan is.

Where
130 Merrylands Rd, Merrylands

When
Mon-Sat 12-8:45pm, Sun 2-8:45pm

How much
Mains from $15

REVIEW: Aaboll Cafe, Merrylands

Originally published on TwoThousand in 2015.

African food is a bit of an anomaly in Sydney – a scattering of restaurants in the Western Suburbs without a “best African food in Sydney” Buzzfeed article to help you navigate them. Sydney’s growing African scene has meant the emergence of more specific restaurants. Offering more varied and regionally specific menus, instead of the all encompassing “African cuisine” representing the many dishes of the second biggest continent in the world. The main street in Merrylands has seen a few businesses open in the last few years, turning one end of Merrylands Rd into a haven for hair extensions and awesome food.

aaboll2

El Shaddai specialises in West African cuisine – you can tell this when you walk in due to the smell of ginger and hot spices, plus the Nigerian dancehall videos showing on the TV. It looks like a humble takeaway joint from the outside – and those looking for humble takeaway food will find cheap fish and chips on the menu – but the rest of the fare is proper sit down knife and fork stuff.

aaboll3

There’s an abundance of stewed meats, charcoal chicken and an intriguing dish called ‘kan kan kan’, but the pride of El Shaddai is their jollof rice with fried tilapia. Jollof rice is red with tomato, vaguely spicy and completely ignored when beneath a colossal fish, fried whole with crackly skin. On the side is a spicy onion relish that makes the white flesh of the tilapia taste even better. Also on the plate: a by-the-numbers garden salad topped with intricate swirls of pink mayo dressing. The perfect salad to cover with fish bones.

The unassuming neon sign out the front of El Shaddai is not one that you’d associate with a $30 fish dinner, but the kitchen delivers, making you promise to return to try the rest of the menu and find out whatever the hell kan kan kan is.

Where
140 Merrylands Rd, Merrylands

When
Mon-Wed 7am-8:30pm, Thu-Fri 7am-9:30pm, Sat 10am-9:30pm, Sun 2-8:30pm

Contact
02 8840 9076

The Mitchen: a podcast about FOOD

TheMitchen1400I’ve started another podcast! This one’s called The Mitchen​! It’s a weekly panel about food, hosted by ACME‘s head chef Mitchell Orr​ and I from his his kitchen table, with four guests from the food world joining us each episode to discuss food and restaurant news.

IMG_4168

For our first episode we are joined by four talented and hilarious chefs – Mike Eggert (Pinbone), Analiese Gregory (ACME, ex-Quay), Kerby Craig (Ume) and Clayton Eggert (Automata, ex-Momofuku Seiobo). Together we mourn the recent closure of Pinbone, find out how to pronounce Clayton’s new restuarant, react to the news of Noma hosting a pop-up restaurant in Sydney next year, argue over our favourite sandwiches and take a few shots at our good friend Dan Hong.

Subscribe to The Mitchen on iTunes or stream episodes from our Libsyn page. Throw us a like on Facebook too! New episodes up every week!