One of the topics I am passionate about is food wastage. In an ideal world we would show respect to our food and have none of it go in the bin.
Recently I was able to team up with Love Food Hate Waste (https://lovefoodhatewaste.co.nz) as part of Wellington on a Plate and hold a cooking demonstration on how to use up some of the most commonly usable but thrown away household food items.
According to the Love Food Hate Waste website: “New Zealanders throw away 122,547 tonnes of food a year. That is equivalent to 213 jumbo jets of food that has to go somewhere to rot, instead of being eaten. All of this food is worth about $872 million each year. That amount of food could feed the population of Dunedin for two years!” That’s only in New Zealand, globally “one third of food produced globally is wasted; that is 1.3 billion tonnes of food that is never eaten.” That to me is just mental and we can all do (and should) do our part by reducing our waste as much as possible. Shared here are some of the recipes that use some of LFHW’s top ten chucked out food items that you can try at home.
Croquetten, Dutch style crumbed chicken and cheese croquettes
Heat the milk, chicken stock along with the thyme, bay leaves and clove. Melt the butter, add the flour and cook out until sandy. Strain the milk mix and pour onto the flour butter (roux) in batches, stirring until thickened. Add the cheese and stir until dissolved then add the chopped chicken and parsley, take off the heat and season with salt and pepper then stir in the egg yolks. Cool down on a tray and once cool make into balls and crumb by passing through the flour, then whisked egg whites and the breadcrumbs. Deep fry until golden brown at hot (170C).
“Here is a technique that gets a pretty good result, about as close as you can get to looking like a store bought duck. Plucking a duck can be a pretty laborious job but this technique is pretty quick and easy and means you get to enjoy the whole bird and its crispy skin.”
You will need:
A big pot to boil water
A bucket of cold water
Find a place where you don’t mind making a bit of a mess and get your knives sharpened and ready along with a decent sized chopping board sitting on a wet towel to stop it from moving round on you. One of the first things you will want to do is get your big pot on to boil and add your paraffin wax to it to melt. Apparently National brand candles are made of paraffin wax which is certified food grade.
Remove the wings.
Remove the wing and tail feathers. The easiest way is to pull these straight out, with the grain.
All the other feathers are easiest if pulled out against the grain. Don’t completely pluck the duck, what we want to do is leave a covering of the down feathers so we can remove them with the hot wax.
Holding your semi plucked duck (guts still intact) by the head and feet, dip it slowly into a pot with the melted wax for a few seconds then transfer to a bucket of cold water. Leave the duck there for about 5 minutes in order for the wax to set rock hard.
Now that the wax is hard and has stuck to the feathers you can start at the neck and carefully peel it off the duck, removing all the feathers in the process. Once your duck has all the feathers and wax removed you can go ahead and remove the head and feet. If there are any small down feathers left here and there they can be singed by a quick go with a blow torch.
To gut the bird remove the tail by cutting straight through just past where the bones stop. Reach into the cavity and pull out all the contents being sure to remove the lights (lungs) which are found at the neck end of the bird on either side of the backbone. Give it a good rinse inside and out with cold running water, inspect for any shot and pat it dry. Now it’s ready to cook.
This recipe utilises the whole duck and because of the slow method of cooking in fat you end up with a tender, moist and flavoursome result. I recommend giving the Brussel sprouts a go as bacon always makes things better but if you don’t feel like making the accompaniments then serving with some nice buttery mash potatoes is the way to go.
Duck confit on caramelised Brussel sprouts, bacon and grain mustard with bread sauce and fig chutney
Place all the confit salt ingredients except the salt itself into a food processor or using a mortar and pestle coarsely grind together. Add the salt and briefly grind together until well mixed. Cut the duck completely in half along the back bone and rub the salt mix all over and into both sides of the duck. Cover and leave in the fridge for 10-12 hours or overnight. After no more than 12 hours rinse off all the salt mix under cold running water and pat the duck dry on a kitchen towel. Place the duck in an oven proof dish and cover completely with rendered duck fat, cover with baking paper then tin foil and bake at 110C for 2-4 hours until the meat easily falls away from the bone. As long as the duck is covered in the fat it can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 months. To serve, drain the duck out of the fat (keep the fat for next time or for roasting potatoes), then roast in a hot oven to crisp up the skin.
For the Brussels
Cut the Brussel sprouts in half lengthwise and cook in salted boiling water until they’re just cooked; about 5 minutes. Drain and keep to one side. Chop up the bacon and fry in a little oil for 1 min. Add to the pan the Brussel sprouts, butter, brown sugar and mustard and fry over a moderate heat until nice and brown. Season with a bit of salt to taste (keeping in mind the bacon is already a bit salty).
For the Bread Sauce
Gently heat the milk, clove, peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme in a pot. Chop the onion into small pieces and roughly smash the garlic with the back of your knife. Gently cook the onion and garlic in a pot with the butter for about 4-5 mins until softened but not brown. Pour the hot milk mix on top of the onions and garlic and simmer gently for 10mins to infuse the flavours. Strain the flavoured milk into a pot, discard the onions and herbs etc and add the bread to the milk mix. Simmer for 3-4mins. Blend with a stick blender until smooth or leave chunky for a rustic sauce. Season with a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve the crispy confit duck with the Brussel sprouts and bread sauce piping hot along with some nice fruit or fig chutney.
Since it is now Duck shooting season, here is a wee bonus recipe utilizing the whole duck and which can be done easily at home. Be sure not to cook the duck longer than you need to or it can dry out.. This is a great opportunity to use your Dutch oven if you have one and it will yield great results as they retain the heat and moisture really well. My recipe for Duck Confit can be found in the July/August edition of NZ Guns & Hunting magazine and keep an eye out in the next edition for tips on how to pluck and dress your duck.
Whole roast duck with cranberry, bacon and walnut stuffing
Here is an easy recipe that uses the whole duck but can be adapted to use for any roasting bird.
Roughly chop up the garlic, shallot and bacon. In a food processor pulse these three ingredients together then add the bread and parsley and pulse until it resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add the cranberries, walnuts and the egg along with some salt and pepper and mix for 5-10 seconds until it has come together. Stuff the duck’s cavity with the stuffing mix and secure the hole with a toothpick. Season the outside of the bird with some salt and bake in a preheated oven at 160C for 1.5-2hrs (depending on the size of your bird) or until the leg meat is tender and the skin is golden and crispy. If the duck is getting too brown but is not cooked to your liking you can cover it with tinfoil to stop it from burning. If you are concerned about the breasts drying out you can insert a rasher of bacon under the skin on top of each of the breasts. Save the duck fat for roasting your potatoes.
For the Potatoes
Peel your potatoes (Agria potatoes are nice here) and cook in a pot of salted cold water until they are about 80% cooked and are still a little bit firm in the centre. Drain and keep to one side. In a roasting tray place a few spoonfuls of duck fat and place the tray with the fat in it in a 200C oven until it is really hot, about 15mins. Being careful not to burn yourself tip the nearly cooked potatoes into the tray with the duck fat and shake the pan a little to coat the potatoes with fat and season with a little salt. Place back in the oven and roast until nice and crispy, about 20-30mins.
Once the duck is cooked cover with some tin foil or a tea towel and leave it to rest for 15mins before carving so the juices set and the meat has time to relax. You can’t go wrong serving it with a good bottle of Central Otago Pinot Noir.
I am a professional chef and amateur hunter. I have spent time hunting in most of the North Island ranges but do most of my hunting in the Tararua’s. Working as a chef has sent me to several locations in the world and I have worked in New Zealand, Malaysia, Cook Islands and the Maldives. I first started out hunting rabbits and possums with my old man when I was a kid before moving on to goats and deer as I grew older. As a chef I like to use the best produce available. Hunters when killing humanely and taking only what they need can end up cooking with not only the most ethically harvested meat but when dealt with properly, the best quality also. I think it’s really important to know where your food comes from and how best not to waste it, and that’s why I think hunting and cooking marry so well together and that’s what I hope to promote and achieve through sharing the recipes and techniques we use to cook wild game professionally.
You can find a new recipe using wild game in every new edition of NZ Guns & Hunting Magazine. Here is the first recipe from The Hunter’s Kitchen from the May/June edition.
Wild venison, blue cheese and mushroom pie
This recipe utilises Venison shoulder and is great dish for the colder months. Shoulder is a heavily worked muscle which means it requires a slow long cooking time to break down the connective tissue, the flip side is that the tougher cuts of meat have more flavour!
50g Dried mushrooms (porcini best but can use shittake)
100g Mushrooms (buttons or flats)
2Tbsp Duck fat (or butter or cooking oil)
8Tbs Plain flour
Salt and pepper
1 Pkt Puff pastry sheets
1 Egg (whisked with 1Tbs water)
2Tbs Melted butter
Crush the garlic and dice the onion. Roughly chop the mushroom stalks and dried mushrooms. Heat the duck fat in a pot and cook off the garlic, onion and mushrooms until nicely browned. Dust the diced venison in a little flour and in 4 or 5 batches, sear in a hot pan with a little oil until nicely browned. Combine all ingredients together in a deep oven dish (adding enough water or chicken stock so the ingredients are covered) and braise slowly at 150C until tender – about 2-3hrs. If the sauce is too thin then drain the liquid into a pot and reduce until nicely thickened, season with salt and pepper. Cool.
Once cool grease several small (or one large) pie tins and line the base with puff pastry, fill with the pie mix and crumble some blue cheese on top. Place some puff pastry on top for a lid and crimp the edges with a fork. Trim off any excess pastry and brush the top with some whisked egg wash. Bake 1t 180C for about 12-15 mins or until the pastry is cooked and a nice golden brown.
I suggest serving with some buttery mash potatoes and tomato relish.”
This is a really heart soothing soup, the truffle oil really elevates this dish so if you have it then be sure to use it. To make a pure cauliflower soup you can omit the parsnip and replace with equivalent cauliflower and vice versa. To make it vegetarian omit the pancetta crumbs and replace with croutons and swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock.
Truffled Cauliflower and Parsnip Soup w Pancetta Crumbs
4 slices Pancetta (or can replace with Salami etc)
1Tbs Chopped Parsley
1tsp Chopped Thyme
1/4C Breadcrumbs (preferably panko or home made)
For the Soup
Sweat the chopped garlic and the chopped parsnip in the butter over a low heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock and bay leaves and simmer for 10-15mins until the parsnip is nearly cooked. Add the chopped cauliflower and the milk and simmer over a low heat until both the cauliflower and the parsnip are very soft and fully cooked. If at any time the liquid reduces too much during cooking and the vegetables are no longer covered you can just top it up with some more stock or water. Remove the bay leaves and puree in a blender or use a stick blender. Add more milk if the soup is too thick and season with salt and white pepper to taste.
For the Pancetta Crumbs
Finely chop the garlic and the pancetta and fry in the olive oil until golden brown. Add the breadcrumbs and chopped thyme and cook until all is golden brown. Drain on a paper towel then in a small bowl mix through the chopped parsley.
Serve the soup piping hot in warmed bowls with a generous drizzle of the truffle oil and a good sprinkling of the crumbs on top.
Here’s one of the recipes from my most recent Offal cooking class. There’s no fundamental difference in offal from any other cut of meat (it all comes from an animal) and if cooked right can be delicious. Lamb’s brains and sweetbreads are two really non confronting types of offal and lend themselves really well to crumbing and here I have served with a smoky chilli mayo which you could also serve with anything deep fried.
Firstly make the court bouillon by roughly chopping the vegetables and combining all the ingredients in a pot. Bring to the boil and then drop to the simmer. Add the brains and simmer for a 3-5mins until they are just set. Remove and place on a tray and chill.
For the Mayo
Combine all ingredients except the oil and smoke essence in a food processor. Slowly add the oil while blending to emulsify. Add smoke essence to taste and more tabasco/chilli powder if more heat is desired. Season. Add warm water at the end for consistency if necessary.
Whisk the egg with a little water. Crumb the brains by first dredging in the flour, then the egg and finally in the panko bread crumbs. Shallow fry or deep fry in oil until crispy, drain on paper and season.
Got some croissants left over after the weekend? Put them to good use with this bread and butter pudding recipe. If you don’t have any pastries on hand you can use any sort of white bread but using pastries or croissants raises it to the next level.
Croissant Bread and Butter Pudding with Rum Caramel and Fried Banana
During my travels cooking I have been lucky enough to work with some fantastic Thai chefs both when in Malaysia and when working for a Thai resort in the Maldives. To me Thai cuisine is all about punchy vibrant flavours, which I love. You’ve got to have the right balance between salty (fish sauce), sour (lime juice), spicy (a good kick of chili) and sweet (sugar) to make sure you get an authentic taste, and if you’re not sure what that authentic taste is then what better excuse than to book a flight to Thailand!
A chocolate mousse is only as good as the chocolate you use so try to use good quality. I don’t like using too much sugar in my mousse and don’t use cream, to me a chocolate mousse should taste first and foremost of chocolate with a little sugar as seasoning, I feel cream tends to dilute the chocolate taste and too much sugar dominates.