Easter long weekend: Meat Fest Friday
My friends and I love to eat. That’s one of the reasons we are such great mates. After much planning and discussion over the past few months, here we were at our long-awaited Meat Fest Friday, at The Other Jac’s house. My Jac and I skipped breakfast in anticipation of an epic afternoon of eating. It’s easy to tell the two Jacs apart in this story, by the way – there’s Jac and then there’s The Other Jac.
For the oyster lovers, Jac assembled a platter of fleshy beauties (boogers to the rest of us) with lemon wedges, a very tart shallot and red wine vinegar dressing and Bloody Mary dressing. Recipe links are at the end of this post.
I was waiting for the cheese dip to come out of the oven. Prez made a hot roasted garlic Parmesan beer cheese dip from a recipe by one of her blogging/cooking idols, The Beeroness. In addition to the beer (Prez used Hawthorn Brewing Premium Pale Ale) and Parmesan, the dip’s got smoked cheese in it (The Beeroness recommends smoked Gouda or smoked mozzarella), with a little kick from Sriracha sauce.
It looked like a souffle when it first came out of the oven. If you like cheese dips, this one will be irresistible. We dug into it with bread sticks and vegetables. There were two ramekins for the table, plenty to go around to keep the cheese lovers – that’s everyone – happy.
L cooked up juicy chunks of steak marinated with Worcestershire sauce and pepper, served pink in the middle. Hot tip: Beeroness’ roasted garlic parmesan beer cheese dip makes a superb sauce slathered on steak.
The cooks got to work on the main course, which included barbecued corn on the cob.
Prez made BBQ bacon-wrapped prawns, and bacon-wrapped chicken for those in the group who don’t like prawns. The red is from paprika and cayenne, balanced with lemon juice, curry powder and sugar (recipe link at the end of this post).
I’d like to make deluxe versions next time with pineapple chunks wrapped in bacon with the prawns. Were the prawns bursty? You betcha!
By popular demand, The Other Jac cooked a chicken in her Weber BBQ, stuffed with lemons and smoked with hickory wood chips. It was a spider chook – with eight drumsticks!
My sister Juji roasted potatoes in duck fat. They were crisp and golden on the outside, steaming hot and fluffy on the inside. The warm smell that wafted up as I took this photo! Another “if only we had smell-o-vision” moment.
Juji also made her special dry rub pork ribs, slow-cooked for three hours so the meat fell easily off the bones.
Ah, the token salad. A very fine salad which we all appreciated, thanks to the efforts of The Other Jac, but it was nowhere as enticing as things wrapped in bacon, tender smoky chicken, finger-licking-good ribs and duck fat potatoes. That’s just the way it is.
There’s no need to be shy with friends like these – there’s no shame in going back for seconds or thirds, or just load up on your first round so you don’t need to get up again. There’s always the option of hitching a ride on someone else’s plate: “Can you bring me back another rib please?” The answer to that is usually: “Just one?”
After all this, we needed a bit of a break. With the dishes were cleared and leftovers packaged up ready to take home later, Juji and Prez continued on their cooking spree, joining forces to make a batch of Coca-Cola brownies, which took about twenty minutes to cook in the oven.
While Juji carved up the hot brownies, The Other Jac sliced up two blocks of homemade ice cream she’d made to go with the brownies (I said we’d been planning this for months) – peppermint crisp ice cream and apricot ice cream.
I couldn’t really taste the Coca-Cola in the brownies, but they were soft and chewy. The peppermint crisp ice cream was my favourite, with crunchy chocolate bits throughout. While we ate dessert, we talked about bacon brownies, which I was delighted to discover aren’t really so unusual.
Thanks to my Meat Fest friends for their fantastic planning and cooking, for being willing hand models and their patience with the antics of the photographer.
I took a box of leftovers home – the last two spuds, a couple of ribs, a piece of chicken and extra chicken skin (oh yeah, ka-CHING!). I ate it all with rice for dinner to end my meat festy Friday.
A note on Good Friday and Easter
I grew up in a Roman Catholic family. We didn’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent, and Easter was a religious, holy time rather than an excuse to eat lots of chocolate on a long weekend. As a child, I detested the no-meat Fridays and my late grandmother tried to explain why it was OK to eat fish but not other meat:
“When Jesus died on the cross,” she said, “everyone was very sad. All the people and many of the animals cried. The cows in the field cried, the sheep cried, even the chickens and ducks cried. But the fish and the prawns, they are too small (in reference to the fish we ate, which were never larger than the size of a dinner plate, usually much smaller) and didn’t know how to cry or be sad for Jesus, so we are allowed to eat them.”
Now even 6-year-old me didn’t think that sounded quite right, but I’ve never forgotten that story. Mum later explained the concept of penance during Lent, which was all about making a personal sacrifice and nothing to do with which animals cried for Jesus. Now as an adult, I’m not religious and enjoy the Easter long weekend as a much needed break from work. I probably don’t eat any more chocolate than usual at Easter.
What does Easter mean to you?
Recipes featured in this post
Oyster dressings by Sophie Dahl
Roasted garlic, parmesan and beer cheese dip by The Beeroness
BBQ bacon-wrapped shrimp by Cook and be Merry (we had bacon-wrapped chicken and bacon-wrapped prawns)
Coca-Cola brownies from Serious Eats
The dry rub for the pork ribs is the same recipe Juji uses for her pulled pork. See her post: How to make pulled pork at home
The hickory-smoked chicken recipe came from The Other Jac’s Weber BBQ cookbook (which came with the Weber). You’ll need to google the rest.
Thanks to everyone who’s emailed, tweeted or left a comment here or on Facebook regarding my special announcement and the changes to the blog – I really appreciate your support and encouragement. We’re still tweaking and fixing things, but I’m pretty chuffed so far.