Entries in Tomatoes (3)


Episode 28: Buzzsaw Pork Ragu

After a month-long hiatus (that totally wasn't a hiatus, more of an inability to focus and get anything done until I realised "Oh crap, it's been like a month, I better do something!"), we are back! 



Phew, it's been a while! Look, not much to say on this recipe, apart from the fact that it came from a popular weight loss cookbook before I changed a few things. Pork neck is not the fattiest of cuts (certainly not when compared to pork belly, for instance) but it benefits greatly from a slow cook like it gets here. The actual pulling of the pulled pork was a bit tricky - I probably should have used a bigger bowl.


Also, I had trouble coming up with a synonym for "shred" to use at I tore up the pork with forks. I put out the word on Twitter, and received much help, but the suggestion that got my attention prompted this exchange:


And thus I got a name for this episode.


Music Notes:

Le Tigre - I'm So Excited, from "This Island", 2004

Franz Ferdinand - What You Waiting For?, from "Best of 86/06", which came with Q Magazine May 2006 

The xx - Teardrops, from "The xx [Bonus Disc Edition]", 2008

Alright guys, I will admit: musically, I hit a wall this episode. I cycled through the usual suspects, but none of them felt right. So I threw the question out to Joel (@gingerexplosion), a friend and resident fellow music nerd. He suggested a whole bunch of absolutely beautiful, moving, and haunting covers by Mark Kozelek of Modest Mouse & AC/DC songs, and M. Ward's cover of Bowie's Let's Dance. I couldn't use Let's Dance, as I used the Futureheads' version before. The other went directly into my playlists of choice, but didn't fit with the fast-paced nature of the video. It was Joel's feline companion & all-around cool person Anni (@annisugar) who suddenly suggested El Tigre's cover of the unsinkable Pointer Sisters track, which fit nicely with all the fast motion. I threw in Franz Ferdiand's utterly silly Gwen Stefani cover (complete with break-into-White-Wedding moment), and tacked on another of Joel's suggestions, The xx's version of Womack & Womack's "Teardrops" and voila! Crowdsourced creativity.



Buzzsaw Pork Ragu
serves 6, or 4 hungry folk


900g of pork neck, in 1 piece

2 capsicums

1 brown onion

2 carrots (I used purple, but orange is okay)

2 cloves garlic

1 400g tin diced tomatoes

1 chicken stock cube

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground coriander seed

1 tsp cumin

rice, to serve

fresh coriander, to serve

lime wedges, to serve


  1. Get a great big pan (that has a lid) on medium heat with some oil. When the oil is hot, drop in your bit of pork. make sure every side gets a turn over 5 minutes or so.
  2. Lobotomise and chop your capsicum, peel and chop your onion, crush, peel and chop your garlic, and peel and chop your carrots. No need to be fiddly about it, either.
  3. When the pork is seared on all sides, take it out of the pan and immediately drop in the vegetables. Don't you dare clean the pan, either. Let the veg cook in the pork oil for 5 minutes.
  4. Add all your spices and mix it all together.
  5. Put the pork back on top of the veg, and pour over the tomatoes.
  6. Add the stock cube, and 500mL of water.
  7. Bring the whole mess to a boil, then reduce the heat down to medium low and cover for an hour.
  8. After that hour, take off the lid and let it keep doing its thing for another 45 minutes.
  9. Use tongs to fish out the pork onto a cutting board. Get two forks and shred that sucker into little bits. Use a knife for any stubborn pieces.
  10. Taste the sauce, and add salt & pepper (it'll need it).
  11. Return the pork shreds to the pan, mix it all together.
  12. Serve on a bed of rice, with fresh coriander sprinkled over & lime wedges on the side.
  13. Seize, and consume!


Episode 19: Epic Metal Chilli Con Carne

Oh, indeed. It is epic. Behold, and hold onto thy butts:



The reason for the epic soundtrack and odd ordering of instructions is because a) I shot this in January (before I started messing with the shot format) and b) the recipe is essentially "cram all of the things into a pan and cook for 50 minutes". And the best part? The more time you take, the better the result. Sweat the onions for 40 minutes if you want, leave it on the stove all day (add a bit of water if it gets dry), whatever!

Funny story: using a quadrupled version of this very recipe, I managed to feed an entire floor of a call centre. Twice. The first time, we used a barbecue (to mixed results), and the second time I brought in a camp stove (to super-epic results). The tale has become an urban legend of the "four loaves, two fishes" variety.

The flavour of the chilli is more smoky that fiery, so feel free to add your favourite hot sauces or special chillies. I recommend the El Yucateca line, or Chipotle Tabasco. The page of the cookbook is splateered with red, as befits a good recipe.

Music Notes:

The Northern Kings - "A View To A Kill", from "Rethroned", 2008

Imagine, if you will, the combined orchestra from the Lord of the Rings series, Meat Loaf, and Jack Black met up at an 80s night in Norway, got really drunk and decided to make epic music. You'd still be short of the Northern Kings. All they do are covers. They primarily choose 80s and mid-90s music, gleefully lampooning ballads like "Kiss From A Rose" and "Don't Stop Believing", while adding a real menace  and power to songs like "Creep" and "In The Air Tonight" (the former becoming the lament of a stalker/serial killer, the latter a mediation on revenge). The track I chose though, is something else, taking a decent, if rather dated Bond theme and turning into a juggernaut. Tanja hates it, due to her love of Duran Duran and the original (she has it on vinyl), but I adore it.

Jim Johnson - Flight of the Valkyries, single, 2011

This one is harder to classify, due the WWE's annoying habit of listing artist information on iTunes as the name of the wrestler who uses it. Yes. I admit it. I am a wrestling fan. And this theme is used by one of the two wrestlers that have re-energised my interest in the product: Daniel Bryan (the other is CM Punk, but that's another post). Just revel in the epic.


Epic Metal Chilli Con Carne
feeds 4-6 people

600g beef mince (vegetarians, substitute 400g Swiss brown mushrooms)
2 tins tomatoes
1 tin red kidney beans (2 if using mushrooms)
1 large onion
1 tbsp tomato paste
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 teaspoons chilli powder
1 bay leaf
500ml stock (chicken, beef or veggie)
1 dried cascobel or pasila chilli, chopped (optional)
2 tsp fajita or cajun spice (optional)
4 tbsp sour cream, plus more to serve
grated cheese


  • Dice the onion, and put in a big-ass pan with a little oil on medium heat. Cook the onions for at least 5 minutes, or as long as you feel like without them burning.
  • Once onions are cooked, add the mince and brown for 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomato paste, tinned tomatoes, lemon juice, garlic, salt, bay leaf, stock, drained beans, and all the spices. (if you like, you can combine these in a big bowl beforehand and let the garlic and beans and such absorb the flavours. If you got the time, this step is well worth it)
  • Bring to a boil, mixing well, then turn down to a low simmer for at least an hour, or as long as you want. If the mix looks a bit dry near the end, add a little water.
  • If you want, make up some rice in stock while this is going on. Also grate some cheese.
  • About 5 minutes before you serve, stir in 4 tbsp of sour cream, and then turn off the heat. The sour cream should be melted in before you serve it, so feel free to stir.
  • Put a layer of rice in a bowl, top with a few scoops of chilli, then sour cream and grated cheese, then a crown of corn chips, seize and consume!



Episode 4: Nirvana Fish

Another episode, and in record time. Not only did this only take me 2 evenings and a morning to edit, but the final video, pre-speed-up was only 16-minutes. Clearly a recipe for those in a hurry. It went so quickly, in fact, that I made two glaring mistakes, which I annotated in the video:


This is a two-person recipe, and, as noted, make sure you turn the heat down to a simmer at the opportune time, or else, tragedy (like when the feeling's gone, and you can't go on).



JEFF the Brotherhood - "Something in the Way"
EMA - "Endless Nameless"
Foxy Shazam - "Drain You"
Charles Bradley & The Menahan Street Band - "Stay Away"
(all from "SPIN presents NEWERMIND: A Tribute Album")


Unlike many my age, I came to Nirvana late. I was too young and out of touch during the Grunge movement to know who Kurt Cobain was until he was dead. Even then, I only had a vague idea from the news. In 1995, I was 13, and my friend Andrew (who also introduced me to Green Day, Offspring, and the entire idea of alternative and punk) played "Nirvana: MTV Unplugged In New York" for me. "This one's a David Bowie cover." he told me. I only (again) had the vaguest idea who David Bowie was, having heard my father mention the name, but never having heard any of the music. I didn't like it. Compared to the much more kinetic and fun pop-punk music he'd played me before, this just seemed like a guy croaking along to an acoustic guitar to songs I didn't know. I voiced just that opinion, and was told I was a moron, and that when I was older (perhaps closer to his clearly more mature and grown-up 14), I might understand.

Still, it took me a while.

Cut ahead 2 years to 1996. Now an old man of 15, I was part of my first band, the eloquently titled 4-Sale (yes, spelled with a 4), of which I was the drummer (and held the practices, because we had a basement with my drum kit in it). The lead singer/guitarist, Rocky (again, his actual given name), was a devotee of Cobain. He had all the albums. All of his t-shirts were Nirvana shirts. He could even approximate the Cobain voice , having smoked cigarettes and weed since he was 8. Yes. He was one of those kids. He even had a long dot-matrix-printed banner that said "R.I.P. KURT" which he printed out at school and secreted home. Rocky was kind enough to make me a tape of random Nirvana songs, which I played continuously (along with the tape of "Enter Sandman", "One", and "For Whom The Bell Tolls" made for me by lead guitarist Martin), though I didn't even know the song titles. I can proudly say that "Tourettes" was the first ever song I've played to make my liberal, I-like-you-kids'-music dad say "Ugh! Turn that off! It's just noise!" which is a proud moment in every kids life. I still did not own any albums, unless you counted Weird Al's "Smells Like Nirvana" from "Off The Deep End". I had, however, stolen an Incesticide t-shirt from Rocky (he loaned it to me once for our school talent show, and I wore it home and never gave it back), which I trotted out for occasions where I wanted to look cool. 

It would be 8 months and summer before I got up the nerve to buy a Nirvana tape (it was "In Utero", and I didn't like it because it didn't have any of the songs I knew) and another year in a different province before I got my own Nirvana shirt, which was ash-grey, had a blue picture of Kurt on the front with an RIP, hung halfway to my knees, and was once worn by my-first-proper-girlfriend-and-first-proper-kiss Stephanie when she spilled something on her shirt and needed it washed when at my house. Another proud moment.

So anyhow, the music from this Cover Version is all from "SPIN presents Newermind: A Tribute Album" (found here, though they're not offering it for download anymore). I originally chose "Something In The Way" due to it's line about fish and their lack of feelings, but the doomy JEFF the Brotherhood didn't start doing their thing until after that line, so I layered in some of EMA's take on "Endless Nameless". The other two choices? They are the single catchiest earwormiest tracks on the album. Charles Bradley & the Menehan St Band in particular changed the song so thoroughly that I barely recognised it.




  • Preheat your oven on its lowest setting, and cram your two bowls into it.
  • Put 2 frying pans, one with a lid called Pan The First, one without called Pan The Second, onto medium heat.
  • Smash the skins off of two cloves of garlic and chop them to bit.
  • Rip the bunch of coriander in half with Incredible-Hulk-like strength, put aside the leaves, and chop up the stalks finely. Leave no stalk unchopped.
  • Cut your chilli in half and chop up half of it.
  • Put some oil into Pan The First, then add half your garlic, your stalks, and the chilli, stirring often, until garlic looks cooked, then crack open a tin of your finest tomatoes. Pour the tomatoes into the pan, stir, and for the love of criminy, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes.
  • Top and tails your zucchini, then cut it to bits. Divest your onion of its earthly rainments, then roughly cut it up.
  • When your sauce is ready, put the fish fillets on top of the sauce and hide its shame from the world with the lid. Keep that lid on for 10 minutes.
  • Put some oil in Pan The Second. Chuck in the unused garlic, the zucchini and onion, along with 1/2 a tsp of cumin (another thing I forgot). Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • While the veggies are doing their thing, put 190g of couscous into a bowl, and cover with boiling water, then put Gladwrap over the bowl. Let it sit for 4 minutes.
  • Get your lemon and zest the hell out of it.
  • Draw, quarter and chop up your coriander leaves.
  • The veggies should be soft around the time the couscous has had its 4 minutes. Put the cooked veggies into the couscous bowl and mix it about, then cover it back up.
  • When the 10 minutes is up (which it should be, at this point), take the lid off Pan The First. Check the fish is cooked, and remove the skin if you don't like it (I don't like it). Turn off the heat.
  • Get your warm plates out of the oven, and make a little bed of couscous and veggies. Fish bits on top. Then sauce., then finally, lemon zest and coriander leaves.
  • Seize, and consume!