Sunday, 5 February 2012

Meatzza Mania! (Egg-free Recipe)

Today is a special day, so DH wants to have a nice meal. The last pizza we indulged in was the excellent Sunset Diavolo (thin crust) at Little Croc a while back. We are also curious about the oft-mentioned Meatzzas, a grain-free carnivore extravaganza that promises to cure any pre-Paleo/low-carb longing for the delights of crusty pizzas.

I am using the double zz in Meatzza because I think it lovely dish like this deserves an extra Z in its name. We used Mark Sisson's Greek Meatza with Creamy Feta, Kalamata Olives and Red Onion recipe as a starting point, and modified it somewhat. For starters, DH is not a huge fan of olives, and we definitely don't have feta cheese. We aimed for a more Italian feel. And we didn't use any eggs, because while making our own burgers we never needed to use any sort of binding agent. I got up nice and early and got our meat fresh at the Farmer's Market. DH ground our meat in our small meat grinder, and de-seeded the tomatoes for the sauce. You could also use any pasta sauce of your choice, just watch out for any wheat, MSG or any other unfavourable additives. Start off with the sauce first, if you are making your own, then while the sauce is simmering on the stove top you can start on the meatzza base. So here goes:

Mama Pongkey's Meatzza Mania

Ingredients for Simple Tomato Sauce:
  • 0.9 kg tomatoes, deseeded and chopped
  • 3 small red onions, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon mixed herbs (thyme, rosemary, marjoram, basil, oregano, sage)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon palm oil
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 5 teaspoons tomato puree
  • dash of fish sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method for Simple Tomato Sauce:

Heat up the oils, and add in the chopped onions and garlic. Saute until slightly browned.
Add the rest of the ingredients in, and cook on low heat until tomato pieces are softened.

Ingredients for Meattzza base:
  • 1 kg minced beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, pounded
  • 1 tablespoon crushed fried red onions/red shallots
  • 2 teaspoons mixed herbs
  • 2 teaspoons Himalayan rock salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon cracked black pepper, or to taste

Ingredients for topping:

  • 250 g shredded cheddar cheese
  • 125 g shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 green pepper, sliced

Method for Meatzza:

Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celcius (or 340 degrees F)
Mix all ingredients thoroughly by hand.
Place mix into a tray of choice, preferably with edges to catch the drippings.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.

(I think we left this one in the oven a wee bit longer than 12 minutes. If you look closely, you can see the cracks in our base. I think it looked like a delta.)

Take the meatzza out, spread the Simple Tomato Sauce on top.
In the meantime, set the temperature of your oven to grill at 220 degrees Celcius (430 degrees Farenheit).

Place veggies, cheddar and mozzarella on top. Top off with a sprinkle of mixed herbs.

Grill for approximately 5-7 minutes. This really depends on how you like your cheese, just softened and melted, or slightly browned as we do.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Taking Stock Off Chicken

I first came across homemade chicken stock while watching cooking programmes on the Asian Food Channel. I don't remember exactly which chef it was, most likely it was Michael Smith in Chef at Home. I thought it was a nifty idea indeed, making my own wholesome chicken stock instead of using the store-bought stock cubes I was so fond of. Yes, once upon a time I used to dump those cubes in practically every dish I made. I would eschew MSG but I used MSG-laden stock cubes, haha the irony! I soon realised the error of my ways. Hence I merrily (repentantly?) set upon my homemade stock/broth making journey, eventually expanding my repertoire to include shrimp, beef and lamb stock. Our household has been liberated from store-bought stock cubes since 2008. :-) The only stock cubes I have are the homemade ones I have frozen in ice trays.

Why Bone Stock is Good for You

After starting to eat healthier (Paleo! Primal! Real Food! Traditional Food!), I soon discovered that not only is homemade stock free of MSG, they are also good for you. Many traditional recipes call for bone stock, and make use of the whole bird. Bone broth is a healthy source of gelatine and minerals. The GAPS diet recommends daily servings of bone broth to heal the gut lining. WAPF has great broth recipes here, and also the Dr.s Eades recipe (scroll down for the ingredients and instructions) is delicious too. Their recipes both call for addition of vegetable bits, which in my opinion, do add to the flavour of the broth.

In a nutshell:
  • homemade bone stock contains a lot of these minerals: calcium, phosphorus, magnesium 
  • homemade bone stock contains a lot of amino acids: glycine and proline
  • homemade bone stock is easy for the body to absorb and digest, and supports growth of good bacteria in the digestive system
  • homemade bone stock contains gelatine and collagen, which is also good for your skin and joints
  • homemade bone stock is an easy way to make your foods taste good

So for my chicken stock this week, I had several pairs of chicken feet, some bones saved from roast chicken and a chicken head from a kampung chicken I bought from the farmer's market. Most of the chicken bits are organic, kampung chicken (chicken cross-bred with jungle fowl). My favourite brand is Az-Zain's organic herbal kampung chicken (green label). I can attest that the chickens I buy from them taste really clean and delicious. Their chickens come frozen without the heads and inner bits (liver, giblet) which to me is a shame because I would've loved to make stock out of the head and eat the liver. The thing about kampung chicken is that they really need at least part of their diet to consist of green foliage and herbage for optimum health. Az-Zain seem to feed their free-range chicken with herbal extracts from turmeric, ginger, pandan, habbatus sauda and kaffir lime leaves.

Mama Pongkey's Simple Chicken Broth/Stock

  • chicken feet
  • chicken head
  • chicken bones from roast
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (or any vinegar)
  • filtered water to cover the bones, or more if you want more stock
  • slow cooker
  • Place all ingredients into your slow cooker and turn it on low
  • Clear any scum that rises to the surface (about 1 hour in)
  • Continue simmering for 12-24 hours
  • Strain out the stock, use immediately. Or, place in fridge and use within 1 week. Or, freeze up to 2 months.
  • Place the bones back into the slow cooker and add water and vinegar
  • Repeat until bones fall apart
 *If you are using commercially-raised chicken, please get rid of the fat in the bone stock. An easy way is to put it in the fridge, and scrape off the fat layer. If you are using organic chicken, the fat layer is okay to consume.

Why the heck does it need to take so long?
So you can extract the maximum amount of nutrients from your bones. There is a much faster pressure cooker method here by Nom Nom Paleo. Her slow cooker method is here. :-) I say this calls for more experimentation.

Why apple cider vinegar?
According to
Vinegar will help draw minerals out of your soup bones but we have made many batches without vinegar and just keep cooking the bones .. until we are sick of them or they disintegrate. We get a whole lot of mineral content from our bone broth in the process.
You can actually reuse these bones?
I have only started reusing my bones recently, after being inspired by this article. Imagine getting 12 batches of stock from a single set of bones? I must see how far I can make mine stretch. I somehow don't think I can get much gelatine from the 2nd or 3rd simmering, but I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

What's the difference between chicken stock and chicken broth? And why do you use these words interchangeably?
Well, to be honest I thought there is literally no difference between the two. But apparently, there is. You get chicken stock when you boil bones, but you get broth when you simmer bones with meaty bits + flesh. So I guess what I am making is chicken stroth, or chicken brock, since I really don't care what bones or meaty bits that end up in it.

How do I store the extra stroth/brock? Hehehe couldn't resist.
I use a combination of ice cube trays and tupperware. Like so:

Yes, I do realise I may need to defrost soon. Or do a wipedown at least. Those are shrimp stock in the bottom left (blue trays), lamb stock cubes in the green trays, chicken stock on the right and right at the back, some veggie stock.

So now that we have a lot of chicken stock/broth, what do we do with it?
Well, you can:
  • Drink it straight. Oh yeah. Only for the hardcore.
  • Use it to cook rice. Like Biriyani or Chicken Rice or Claypot Chicken Rice or Kabsah rice.
  • Make clear soups, any soups. Spike your chicken soups with this and it will be an unforgettable experience of gastronomic proportions. Seriously. Yes, I had one of these recently, 2 days in a row.
  • Make thick, creamy soups, like Mushroom Soup.
  • Make Soto Ayam.
  • Make Kueytiaw Sup or Meehoon Sup.
  • Make Kueytiaw Goreng or Meehoon Goreng.
  • Make Garlic Chili Sauce.
  • Add into curries. Yes I did this recently too. :-)
  • Add a cube into stir-fried veggies.
  • Make vegetable soup.
  • Make rice porridge. Easy peasy.
Basically, have fun experimenting with your broth. Making bone broths/stock is an art, not a science, and you can definitely tailor your broth according to your personal preferences. Good luck and happy simmering :-)