Cookbook 181: Nat’s What I Reckon: Death to Jar Sauce

Nat’s What I Reckon was one of the bright spots in the pandemic. His (very sweary) videos on cooking tasty food with love were incredibly uplifting and brilliant. There was a point during the early days of the pandemic when each new video filled me with joy, and I’d make time in my day to see what was on the menu. Of course he was pressured into writing a cookbook, and my lovely friends Nadia and Ameel bought it for me. Nat’s What I Reckon: Death to Jar Sauce is an amazing cookbook. Click through on that link and see the gorgeous artwork that graces the pages, because this isn’t a traditional cookbook, this is a cookbook in illustrated form. Tri-colour comic (pink, black and white) demonstrating the steps of the recipe, including the swearing and other commentary that Nat usually makes.

I’ve made two recipes out of this book, and I’ve made them twice because they really are that good. I’ll provide links to Nat’s videos where I can find them, so you can see the steps if my translation of the words to page, without the beautiful graphics, doesn’t make as much sense as you’d hope. Overall 5 out of 5 stars.

End of Days Bolognese (serves 6 – 8)

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 150 – 200g pancetta (can substitute bacon)
  • 25 – 30g butter
  • olive oil
  • a bit over 500g each of pork and beef mince (or bolognese mince if you can get it)
  • fresh rosemary, thyme or other savoury herbs (optional)
  • Glass or 2 of wine
  • 300g tomato paste
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 – 2 cups chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • bay leaves (about 2 – 3)
  • 500 – 750g pasta
  • Parmesan to serve

Method:

  1. Dice the onion, carrot, celery and pancetta and kn’ bung it in a bowl
  2. Heat up a belt of butter and a splash of oil in a big pot
  3. When the butter has melted, drop in the contents of the bowl. Keeping the pan hot, fry until it starts to brown
  4. Add beef and pork mince, fry the shit out of it until all the liquid has evaporated (this takes a while)
  5. Hot tip: Use a whisk to stir it, this will break up the meat evenly. Don’t worry if it sticks to the bottom a bit, as the wine will sort that shit out later
  6. Here is where you can choose to add some rosemary if you like, got out and pick some it grows fucken everywhere! Just chuck in the whole sprig, including the stalk. If you prefer to use alternative herbs, go for gold!
  7. Keep cooking the liquid out until the meat mix is frying. Once the liquid is fried off add a glass or two of wine.
  8. There is an argument that you should use white wine over red wine but I’m not getting involved in that argument. Again, with the quality of the booze, that’s up to youse.
  9. Let the booze cook off for a coupla minutes then drop in your tomato paste.
  10. Next add the milk. (The almighty confuser. “Fuck off dick head – I’m not putting milk in it” I hear you say. Year it might sound weird, but so do a lot of things we do in our lives and sometimes they pay off, so fucken trust me and crank it in)
  11. Now in with your stock, the order is important: Stock last!
  12. Season with salt and pepper, add the bay leaves. (I’m still convinced that bay leaves only go in food to make it look like you know what you’re doing)
  13. Then turn the heat down, put the lid on, and cook it for as long as ya fuuuuucccckkkeen like. Give it an occasional stir, and if it starts to look dry, add a bit more bloody stock.
  14. When the sauce is looking pretty much done, bring some salted water to the boil and bung in your pasta. If it says 11 minutes on the pack, cook for 10… Why? ‘Cause it’s fucken better! No one likes eating over-cooked pasta the size of ya house.
  15. There are a few ways to serve this but here’s how I like it.
  16. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Ladle in as much sauce asn you like and give it a kick round in there. If you see the rosemary stalk or bay leaves you can grab them out if they bother you, but don’t fret too much muscles. Using tongs, give the pasta a little twist as you plonk it on the plate, just to be fancy. Grate a little (or a lot) of parmesan cheese on top. And there you have it!
  17. Tip: Leftover sauce can be frozen in a sealed container for up to 3 months to save you from ever resorting to dog shit jar sauce.

Notes on this recipe:

  • Following a graphic novel style recipe is odd. Not bad, just odd
  • The dish is so amazing. The milk just makes everything so smooth. I will be making this again and again

Gnocch-on or Fuck off Chilli Tomato Gnocchi (serves 3 – 4)

Ingredients:

Gnocchi

  • 1 kg similar sized Sebago Potatoes (the dirty ones)
  • 125g plain flour, plus extra to dust
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • salt
  • Shaved parmesan, to serve
  • Small handful of basil leaves, to serve
  • Pepper

Chilli tomato sauce

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 fucken whole bulb of garlic (6 – 8 cloves), peeled and diced
  • 3 bird’s eye chillies, deseeded and chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins of crushed or whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Hit it straight to the oven to crank it to 180C fan-forced (200C convential), then to the sink to wash the fucken dirt shit off your pertaters.
  2. Dry them on a tea towel or paper towel of even your bath towel if you’re feeling weird. Prick some holes in them with a fork, fang them onto a baking tray and into the oven for 1.5 hours. Now depending on the size of your potatoes you’ll need to adjust the time here a little. You wanna be able to easily stick a food through them when they’re cooked.
  3. When that point has arrived, remove them, let them cool a little, ’cause you’re about to handle them preferably without burning the fuck out of your hands. When they’re cool enough, cut them in half and scoop out the filling into a bowl and fuck the skins off to another dimension. Now mash the potato, or even better, ‘rice” it with a potato ricer – whatever you do, you want it with as few lumps as humanly possible. Maybe get the fork out and get pedantic about it. Let this event cool riiiiight down in a bowl or on a tray or on the top of Everest.
  4. While that shit is chilling out, let’s make the sauce. Into a saucepan over a medium-high heat goes your butter followed by your onions to cook off for 3 – 4 minutes until softened. Then in goes your garlic and your chilli for another 1 – 2 minutes. Now by all means fucken bash in a shitload of chilli if you love it sick, like I do. My suggestion of 3 chillies is me being reasonable here but by all means, fucken belt more in if you’re feeling brave. Now sent it with your tomatoes and sugar, bring to a simmer and drop the heat right down with a lid on and cook for 15 – 20 minutes.
  5. While that is carrying on over there, let’s make the gnocchi, champion. Grab two baking trays and cover each with baking paper. That cool, backwards-hat-wearing mashed potato is gonna need the flour, egg and salt folded into it. Get in there and mix the fucken shit out of it. If it’s still wet and unmanageable, add more flour as needed or until you can get it out of the bowl easily.
  6. On a lightly floured surface dump that potato ball out and work it like dough, knead it like you mean it for at least 5 minutes so it’s all blended together, again adding a little flour as you go if it’s sticking to the bench.
  7. Now turn it all into a lump/ball and with a lightly floured knife (yes there is flour on everything by now) cut the dough into quarters. Roll one section at a time into a long sausage-like shape about 2.5cm thick on a… wait for it… floured bench. Re-flour that knife and cut the log into 3cm sections and place on the prepared baking tray.
  8. Repeat that with the remaining balls of potatey radness. Now, you can fuck around trying to make each gnocchi look like the shit you see in some restaurants or in packets at the shops with all the cool forked ridges in it, but the truth is, that shit is a fucken waste of time to me.
  9. This shape you end up with looks rad and taste unreal anyway so don’t fret that it doesn’t look like you might remember all gnocchi looking.
  10. Bring a nice big pot of salted water to the boil. While the water is heating up, get the tomato sauce and hit the fucken thing with a stick blender to puree it, add some salt and pepper to taste and set aside with a lid on it.
  11. You won’t believe how quick this next stage is. Once the water is boiling, place in your gnocchi but make sure you don’t pack the pot so the gnocchi are as close as two coats of paint. Just enough at a time so you can see water between the gnocchis. Once they float to the top, they are done!
  12. Slotted spoon them out into big annoying fancy plates with tiny sunken middles in them, or calm down and use whatever bowls you have at home, and repeat gnocchin’ on until they’re all cooked.
  13. Chuck the blended sauce over the gnocchi. Shave over some parmesan, dump on a couple of basil leaves and crack over some pepper. Fucking gnocch-on or fuck off! That shit rules… Love ya

Notes on the recipe:

  • The amount of baking time for your potatoes is really dependent on their size. The first lot we cooked were done in an hour, the second (with smaller potatoes) in about 40 minutes. Basically I recommend checking regularly after 30 minutes if you don’t have massive potatoes.
  • The gnocchi are like clouds, super soft and tasty. Boiling the potatoes adds a whole lot more water, and a lot of recipes struggle with getting the amount of flour right. Baking them reduces the amount of water, which means less flour is required and the gnocchi are softer.

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