With the Easter break all over and our guests back home, I believe I am getting some sort of normality back into my daily grind. I have just been flicking through my recent pictures of past meals and wondered where to start? Should I post about the wacky tuna and sausage dinner I made....no, not first up you might think I totally lost the plot so I'll save that one for later.
I was leaning toward the dinner I made on Friday but then I have a few from when my friends were here that I must get down before I forget what I actually did!
I think it is fair to say that most people from my generation grew up with meat and three veg as the standard evening meal. When you read about this staple it is usually in the the negative. People talk of how boring their family meals were....their mum (or sometimes dads but let's not forget this was in the 80s!) used to boil the crap out of the veggies and ditto with the meat.
It's about now when you'd expect me to have a story up my sleeve about one of these kind of meals when I was a kid, alas, it will not happen. Don't get me wrong, I also grew up with meat and three veg, but I also grew up with a mum who LOVED cooking. If there was a cookery book to read, she would have read it. When we moved from Darwin to Tasmania mum had enough cookbooks and knowledge to start a restaurant and that is exactly what she did, but that is another story entirely.
I have to say, I continue this theme today in my family meals, however, I try to make at least one part of the meal a little interesting. It's not hard to slather a beautiful piece of meat in a marinade before popping it into the oven or Weber, you've just got to a) remember to do it and b) have an idea of what will make that piece of meat taste awesome to the whole family.
Because I love my butchers and trust them explicitly, I never have to worry about the meat being too tough, old or butchered badly and this is a huge plus in the meat world. Many a time I have sent meat back to the butchers from kitchens I have worked in as a chef because the cut of meat was butchered badly or they sent me mutton instead of lamb (trust me, you don't want to be on the end of that phone call when I have had 2-3 complaints from customers about the lamb being tough!) so having a good supplier is a big tick in my books.
I am still madly in love with my BBQ, so of course I was going to put my rolled pork roast on to cook, and I wanted to maximise the flavours of the Baby Q and the marinade- smoky and charred!
As usual I want a no fuss family dinner, so while the roast was coming to room temperature (always the best thing to do when cooking meat, to get the best possible flavour and have it cooked perfectly). I pulled out my mortar and pestle and started pounding together the garlic and basil. For those of you who own a thermomix, you can make this even easier by adding all the ingredients to your thermo and blitzing it for 10 seconds (that's for you Lisa!).
Once you have your marinade pounded, you cut slits into the top of your pork roll, breaking through the skin and piercing the flesh underneath. I make about 4 deep slits on top and then about two underneath.
Before you rub the marinade on, grab a good handful of sea salt and rub it into the meat. Pork can take a lot of salt and it also helps to make the skin crackle.
Once the salt is rubbed in, then start slathering on your marinade, stuffing it in the slits and everywhere else.
From memory, I think it is 20 minutes per 500g of meat? Gosh, I'm not 100% as I usually eyeball it. Anyway after 40 minutes, you can stick a knife in the the middle of your pork roast and then feel the tip to see if the blade is warm. When it is ready, cover the roast in foil and rest in a warm place while you get your veggies on.
When I know where my pork has come from I always like to cook it a little pink. Before living in the States I would never of done this, I thought it was wrong. Working at the fabulous restaurant Campagnola, where we use to have our own pig farmer bring us organic meat, I learnt that you can cook pork as you do lamb for a beautiful, sweet and succulent flavour.
OK, the meat's rested, asparagus and corn blanched and smothered in butter and lemon juice and the mash potato is already to go, my delicious, no fuss family meal is ready and gets devoured in minutes. This is a classic family meal but with a bit of extra flavours thrown in, it really does make it a memorable meal to revisit.
Basil, mustard and honey marinade
1/2 bunch of basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 heaped tablespoon seeded mustard
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Place basil leaves, garlic cloves (peeled) and olive oil in a motor and crush until in a paste.
A hand blender will also do the job.
Once a paste has formed, add honey, mustard and pepper then stir to combine.
Set aside until needed.