7. Stuff it... then scoff it!

Wrap up our wonderful weekday dinner ideas, a brilliantly breadless crumb coating, baking highlights, and ways to get a global gourmet fix from the comfort of your own home.

7. Stuff it... then scoff it!

Pork mince is one of our favourite proteins to reach for on weeknights when we’re pressed for time and there are hungry mouths patiently (or not) waiting for sustenance. We especially love assemble-your-own ideas that have everyone at the table reaching across and passing around.

Starting with minced pork makes things ultra simple, but if you prefer a meatier texture you can also roughly mince pork rump steaks by hand – using two sharp knives and a death metal drumming technique, or just using a good chef’s knife and the heel of your other hand weighing it down – to achieve a consistency customised perfectly to your liking.

Pork mince sautéed with chipotle sauce, diced pickled jalapeños, and quartered cherry tomatoes, stuffed into corn tortillas with all your fave taco toppings – guacamole, salsa, finely shredded cabbage and a squeeze of lime… a winning Mexican mince magic.

Translating as ‘lettuce parcels’, san choy bao probably originated in Hong Kong and boasts a happy marriage of minced pork with garlic and ginger, shiitake mushroom, spring onion, water chestnuts and a soy and sesame oil dressing, wrapped in lettuce leaves – iceberg, baby cos or gem lettuces work well.

Indian inspired mince wraps... fry pork mince with crushed garlic and ginger, add grated carrots and blanched green beans chopped into short lengths, add a splash of stock and some chopped tomatoes, then stir in a generous amount of garam masala (or another masala blend… check out the range at Indian and specialist stores) and cook till fragrant. Serve in the pan or on a dish topped with crisp fried eggs, a sprinkle of chaat masala and lots of chopped coriander, and serve with warm roti or paratha to wrap up in along with a dollop of salted yoghurt.

A classic from the Isaan cuisine native to Laos and northeast Thailand, larb (or laab, or laap, depending on Anglicised spelling) is generally speaking a salad made from minced meat – often pork, which makes it larb moo. There are infinite variations, but a popular approach goes like this… in a pan bring a cup or so chicken stock to the boil, add  a pack of pork mince and simmer, stirring, for a few minutes till pork is just cooked through. Take off heat, pour off half the stock if the mixture looks quite liquidy, and immediately stir through a whole lot of chopped coriander and mint leaves, finely sliced shallots, and a pinch (or however much you like) of chilli flakes. Toss through a dressing made of fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and a little palm sugar… then scatter over toasted ground rice – you make it by toasting raw glutinous rice in a dry pan till deep golden and fragrant, then cooling and grinding to a coarse powder. Serve larb with a side of steamed or sticky rice, and gem lettuce cups for everyone to spoon larb and rice into.

By crumbs it’s good!

Whether you’re avoiding wheat or carbs, or you just think everything is better with more pork (you’d be correct), you’ll be wanting to check out the greatest ever alternative to a breadcrumb coating… pork crackling crumbs! The even better news is they’re a total cinch to prepare.

  • Grab a pack or two of Libby’s Pork Crack and stick it in the blender or food processor. Whizz till you have a rough powder.
  • Get coating… dip your chosen morsel in whisked egg, then into your Crack Crumb, and you’re ready to fry (or bake).
  • Add spices and other flavour additions as you like when blending the crack (bear in mind Libby’s original crack is already seasoned with Himalayan pink salt, so no need for any more salt). Black or green peppercorns, sweet or smoked paprika, fennel seed, cumin, fresh or dried herbs, citrus zest, nuts.
  • Or opt for Libby’s Hot & Spicy or Herb Roast varieties and the thinking is done for you!

We love Libby’s – their pork crack is made with Freedom Farms pork skin (fun fact: they pretty much use up all the Freedom Farmed pork skin there is to be had) hand cut then baked (not fried) until perfectly crisp.

Cakes we’re digging…

As the weather cools some, we’ve been casting our mind to comfort baking. On our hitlist of cakes to get busy with…

  1. Burnt Basque cheesecake – a great one for anyone intimated by perfect, smoothly paletted numbers, the BB is pure ugly duckling in appeal – its rustic, scorched and peeling exterior yielding a creamy and dreamy inside.
  2. ¿Hay flan? will sound familiar to anyone who’s dipped their toes into beginner’s Spanish (because ordering cake is 100% a priority). Flan in Spanish-speaking countries usually refers to a baked custard topped with bittersweet caramel. Done right, it’s silky perfection and it’s definitely having a moment. Various other additions might be added to enliven flavour.
  3. ...Cinqo de Mayo coming up offers a good excuse to have a crack at this chocoflan, a Mexican-inspired take by David Leibovitz, too…
  4. Just about anything by Nadiya Hussein, currently taking the world by storm with her BBC 2 series Nadiya Bakes, and cookbook of the same name (so popular it’s out of stock locally at present… so put your pre-order in!)

5 Good Things

With travel beyond the Australasian bubble still looking a while away, we’re living vicariously through food-focused content – cookbooks, television, and cooking classes...

1/ If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of acquainting yourself with the bundle of joy that is Phil Rosenthal in Somebody Feed Phil, you’ve got a whole four seasons to catch up on Netflix, the most recent having been released over the summer here in NZ. Each 50-minute episode sees Phil in some fabulous part of the world stuffing his face with all its most delicious things in his uniquely naive, endearing manner.

2/ If you’ve had a hunger-related scroll through Instagram lately you may have come across the trending-right-now khachapuri –Georgia’s boat-shaped flat bread filled with cheese, topped with an egg and baked till golden and puffy. Georgian cuisine and that of neighbouring Caucasus countries Armenia and Azerbaijan has been staking a claim on the global food scene lately,  and Olia Hercules’ cookbook Kaukasis is a mouthwatering place to begin getting to know it.

3/ Flavourful Origins is a 40-part Mandarin language series exploring the cuisines from the Chaoshan, Yunnan, and Gansu regions of China. It runs at a leisurely pace, with subtitles that are frequently delightfully poetic, and captures everyday food prep in rural areas through an often-times breathtakingly beautiful viewpoint thanks to creator, film director Chen Xiaoqing. At a time when some world leaders stoked racist fear-mongering over what they were at pains to call the ‘Chinese flu’,  Flavourful Origins painted a masterful counterpiece.

4/ M.Night Shylaman’s psychological horror Servant (Apple TV+) is decidedly creepy but pleasantly un-gory, and in fact elicited unexpected stomach rumbling and late-night pantry-raids in our case… main character Sean Turner is a stay-at-home consulting chef constantly whipping up all sorts of concoctions from boundary pushing (lobster ice cream) to the more comforting (caramel, charcuterie, calamari). Sean’s cooking should basically be listed as a character in the credits. Okay, it’s not all so appetising… Sean’s food is also used to create suspense and unease… but we’d happily jet to Philly right now to spend a lush week in the Turner’s huge brownstone home with a live-in consulting chef, thanks.

5/ Here’s one we can experience… Ethiopian eats… in Auckland, if not Addis Ababa, thanks to pop-up dining sensation My Mother’s Kitchen. Chef Yeshi Desta brings a riot of colourful, flavoursome foods from her home country Ethiopia in sharing-style feasts popping up in various Auckland locations. We recently attended a vegan edition held in the courtyard of Coco’s Cantina and were fed to breaking point by Yeshi – her light, spongy and wonderfully tart injera, used to scoop up a range of fragrant stews including ground chickpea-based shiro wat, AKA pure comfort food. Follow @my.mothers.kitchen on Instagram to find out about Yeshi’s next gig.

Thanks for reading The Omnivore by Freedom Farms. We’re firm supporters of a group of farmers who care about the same things we do: farming that is kinder for farm animals and takes it easy on the environment. And obvious that tastes really really good too. We reckon talking about food can be nearly as much fun as eating it… which is why we publish The Omnivore each month.

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