The first thing you’ll notice about Gary Mehigan’s new book is what’s missing. Good Food Every Day, published by Random House Australia, doesn’t have any photos. It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? Most cookbooks that make it across the line these days are coffee-table quality, filled with glossy pages and inspirational photos.
Yet for everyday cooking, most people turn to a handful of tried-and-true favourites, and that’s what this book aspires to be: an essential collection of Gary’s favourite home recipes, for delicious cooking that’s achievable any day of the week. The chef and former MasterChef Australia judge offers tales from his life in food, glimpses of his home kitchen in Melbourne, and recipes he’s been serving for years.
In this huge book of more than 400 pages, he distils 35 years of kitchen experience into tips and techniques for everything from buying and preparing fish and shellfish, to working with dough, making pasta, deglazing a pan and sterilizing jars.
“Stop buying Mexican garlic, Peruvian asparagus and Californian cherries when they are out of season in Australia, and buy local, by season,” he chides. “There are always delicious alternatives and you may find the substitutions become family favourites. That said, there are certain ingredients and methods that I hold particularly dear: I always use fine and flaked sea salt, extra virgin and plain oil, and I tend to use a Microplane to chop garlic and ginger.”
Illustrated with simple line drawings, the recipes cover the gamut of home cooking. To make it easy to choose, a symbol appears above most of the recipes, indicating whether they are an everyday favourite (simple ingredients and easy to cook), inspirational (something new), worth the effort (best when you’re not in a rush), or designed for sharing (good for entertaining or feeding a group).
Born in the UK, Gary has lived and worked in Melbourne since 1988, opening Fenix restaurant with George Calombaris and Raymond Capaldi in 2000. Throughout his long career, he has maintained a genuine passion for making and eating good food every day. You could call the book a down-to-earth translation of his professional notes – his ‘golden rules’, as he puts it.
Buy your copy of Good Food Every Day from Book Depository (free delivery worldwide).
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Crunchy Chicken Wings with Chilli Caramel & Sour Cream
1 kg free-range chicken wings, wing tips removed
1 cup (250 ml) buttermilk
½ cup (75 g) plain flour
sea salt flakes and freshly ground white pepper
2 free-range eggs
1 cup (55 g) panko breadcrumbs
1 cup (30 g) cornflakes, lightly crushed
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons dried chilli flakes
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
2 litres vegetable oil
1 quantity Chilli Caramel (recipe following)
1 cup (240 g) sour cream
handful (½ cup) coriander leaves
Divide the chicken wings at the joint between the drum and the wing (see Note). Place in a bowl and add the buttermilk. Cover and marinate in the fridge overnight or for at least 3 hours. Bring to room temperature before cooking.
Place the flour, a pinch of salt and a few twists of pepper in a bowl. Crack the eggs into another bowl and whisk with 2 tablespoons water. Combine the crumbs, cornflakes and spices in a third bowl.
Dredge the wings in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip them into the egg and finally the crumb mixture, ensuring they are well coated, shaking off any excess as you go. Pour the vegetable oil into a deep-fryer or large, heavy-based, deep saucepan and heat to 180°C.
Working in batches, lower 6–7 wings at a time gently into the oil and fry for 6 minutes or until golden, crisp and cooked through, then drain on paper towel. Add 2 tablespoons of the chilli caramel to the sour cream and stir lightly to create a swirl. Serve the wings in small bowls, scattered with coriander, with the sour cream mixture on the side. Serve the remaining chilli caramel in a separate bowl.
Prepare flaked rice, oats, nuts and seeds for use in this recipe by scattering them onto a baking tray, lightly spraying with oil and baking for 25 minutes at 140°C fan-forced (160°C conventional) or until golden and crisp. The easiest way to divide the wings is to bend the 2 halves to break the joint, then use a small sharp knife to cut through the break.
Chilli Caramel – makes about 300ml
250 g palm sugar, shaved
¼ cup (60 ml) water
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon fish sauce
8 long red chillies, finely chopped
3 cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
Place the palm sugar and water in a heavy-based saucepan over medium–high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Boil without stirring for about 8 minutes – as the sugar begins to caramelise and darken, remove the pan from the heat.
Carefully add the lime juice and fish sauce (the mixture may spatter). Stir in the chilli, ginger, garlic and lime zest and set aside to cool. Store in sterilised jars in the fridge for up to 6 weeks.
From: Good Food Every Day, by Gary Mehigan, published by Random House Australia. Photo by John Laurie.