Nat’s What I Reckon: 5 rad recipes

Photos: Warren Mendes

Australia’s favourite foul-mouthed cook has turned his YouTube kitchen rants into a new recipe book.

Nat’s What I Reckon‘s Death to Jar Sauce: Rad Recipes for Champions (Penguin Random House, RRP $34.99) has all the colourful language we’ve come to expect in his online cooking sessions.

Check out five of Nat’s favourite recipes from the book, complete with his saucy directions (get your swear jar out if you say it out loud).

Make sure you scroll down to the pavlova recipe. It’s a cracker. Nat’s take on coleslaw will fix any bring-a-plate conundrums too.

Pork ‘Yeah’ Belly

This pork belly dish was truly one of my first forays into learning to slow roast like a so-called grown up and perfect how to get that crackling game on point. It was one of the first big bangers in my roasting repertoire and is still one of my favourites. I think I must have cooked it every other day for months, roping in as many people as I could to come to my place to serve it to them.

The rad thing about the belly cut of meat is that it’s fairly inexpensive and when you’re trying to be a fancy pants on the dole, it ticks a big lot of boxes in that regard. It does unfortunately lend itself to ticking a few weight-gain boxes too when you fucken eat it four nights a week like I did at one stage. I developed the habit of getting a little obsessed with cooking the same thing to perfection for a hot second. It’s certainly not an everyday dish this one, but also . . . do what ya fucken want, eh?

SERVES: 4–6
COOKING TIME: just under 4 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5 kg piece boneless pork belly
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, peeled and sliced into thick rings
  • 6–8 garlic cloves, peeled and bruised
  • handful thyme leaves
  • 1tbs fennel seeds (roughly busted apart in a mortar and pestle)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt flakes
  • pepper
  • 500 ml chicken stock
  • 250 ml beer or white wine
  • 1 tbs plain flour

METHOD

Righto champion, straight outta the gates we should talk crackling. There are a few schools of thought for getting the perfect pork crackling goin’ on. The general census is that if the pork skin has dried out before you prepare it then you’re in for a likely win. You can get there by leaving it uncovered in the fridge overnight, blanching it (by pouring a kettle of boiling water over the fat before it goes in the oven), patting it dry with paper towel or even all of the above. All of these techniques go great guns but for argument’s sake let’s just say you opened this recipe, bought all the stuff but didn’t get to the bit where you had to FUCKEN LEAVE IT OVERNIGHT? Let’s just fucken run with the classic ‘pat it dry with paper towel’ move for this episode.

Crank the fuck out of the oven to 230ºC fan-forced (250ºC conventional).

Go dig yourself up a nice boned pork belly from ya local butcher, pat it dry so the skin is nice and . . . well, dry.

Now we want to score the pork skin, and by that I don’t mean give it a literal numerical score, nor do I expect you to arrange a piece of music for it (though you are welcome to do so). I mean we wanna cut down the skin in rows or really whatever you shapes or directions you bloody like. I find that narrow rows help it crackle better. You can of course get your butcher to do this for you but it’s heaps more fun to do it yourself. You can’t expect to properly score the fucken pork skin with the old dogshit-second-draw-down may-as-well-be-a-fucken-spoon blunt-as-fuck knife. It’s shit like that that make so many people lose their cool/love for cooking (get a sharpener, though, as a blunt knife can be way more dangerous than a sharp one, believe it or not). You need some lethally sharp shit otherwise you’re gonna rage quit this bit. I learned this tough af move from Jamie Oliver and it’s a fucken beauty: get a box cutter or Stanley knife etc., set the depth to shallow and not Braveheart length. The reason you want it shallow is you need to cut through the pork skin but not into the pork meat if you can avoid it. It’s no big deal if you do, but way better if you try to just cut through the top layer of skin and into the fat layer. In parallel rows, score the whole way from one end to the other all over the skin any direction you like, it should kind of resemble the intercooler on your WRX ;).

In an ovenproof pan a little bigger than the belly, fang in your onions and on top sprinkle over the gently squashed garlic and thyme. You wanna arrange the onion in a way that props up the belly so it doesn’t have a sag in the middle; it wants to bow out like a belly should, so add more onion to one side if need be. Lay the belly on the onions, garlic and thyme. Next come the bashed-up fennel seeds followed by a good pinch of salt flakes and a crack of pepper, which you then rub into the skin and slits you cut with the knife. Give the skin a light rub with olive oil and an additional pinch of salt, if ya like.

Next you tip the chicken stock and booze into the pan around the pork. If it looks like it’s gonna be too full or you’ll swamp the skin, then stop pouring, champion (no other stupid shit on the skin now, please).

Now time to crackle your fat. The crackling mostly happens in the first super-hot bit and then casually meanders on a lower heat to the finish line. So into the oven for around 40–45 minutes until the skin is bubbling up and it’s starting to look like fucken crackling. Feel free to rotate the tray if you feel like one side of the fat is copping a flogging too hard. After the 40ish mark, heat goes the absolute fuck down to 150ºC fan-forced (170ºC conventional) for another 2.5 hours. Check occasionally and top up the pan with more stock if it looks like it’s drying out.

If after all that careful tending of the crackling, for some reason you’re not totally stoked with your level of crackle on ya fat, then you can bung it under the grill for a second but DO NOT walk away from it, don’t leave its sight or you may fucken overdo it.

Remove the belly from the tray to rest somewhere warm, then strain the pan juices into a saucepan and spoon out the fats/oils that are floating on top (you can discard these). Bung it over a medium heat and simmer to thicken. In a separate bowl mix a bit of that cooking liquid into the flour, whisking to a paste that you then return to the cooking liquid. Add more stock if you want to thin it out a bit. And that’s ya fucken gravy, Gregory.

You may find it beneficial to slice the pork along the rows you scored, and/or use a serrated knife.

Serve with roast veg (see Get Fucked Roast Potatoes) and some green vegetables so you don’t shit yourself from eating super rich food and not enough fibre, champion.

There you go ya bloody fucken legend. Enjoy that massive winner of a dinner. You deserve it.

Honey Bastard Chicken

Honey mustard chicken is the most fucken relentlessly requested recipe on the channel and probably one of the most Defqon.1-level jar sauce abominations to ever hit the shelves. It’s such rotten garbage that I went totally off that bastard of a sickly-sweet dish for years, but I’M BACK CHAMPIONS AND WE’VE FIXED IT!

The idea is to help you escape any chance of having to eat that trash again. I’ve loved a bit of sweet and savoury action all the way back to an unhealthy obsession with Lemon Crisp biscuits as a kid. I actually did an advert for Pizza Shapes when I was eleven years old and I got paid in Lemon Crisp biscuits . . . Dad ate half of them, I think. Anyway, I’m getting a little off track here – this isn’t a freaken recipe for biscuits, but it is one for sweet and savoury chicken radness.

SERVES: 4–6
COOKING TIME: under an hour

INGREDIENTS

  • 8 medium or 6 large skin-on boneless chicken thighs
  • salt
  • 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 25 g unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 small bunch parsley, stalks and leaves chopped, but kept separate
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbs thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbs Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbs wholegrain mustard
  • 1½ tbs honey
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 3 tsp plain flour
  • 125 g crème fraîche or sour cream (full-fat stuff works best)

METHOD

Now you can of course do this with chicken breast but since making the shift to chicken thigh, life in general has become way better. Chicken breast is fine and all, but takes some work to stop it from tasting dry as a mouthful of fucken chalk. So let’s crack on with the skin-on thighs. Season them with salt and place skin-side down into a . . . wait for it . . . cold pan! Soz wot? Yeah that’s right champion, a cold pan with a tablespoon of oil in it. Turn on the stove to a medium heat but DON’T TOUCH the thighs. We want them to stay put face down rendering in the oil so they get super crispy pants. Keep the heat at medium until you hear it starting to sizzle me timbers, and from that point it’s 8 minutes until flip time. Once the skin side is golden brown town, use tongs to flip them over and give it a hard 5 on the other side (at the same heat).

Press the chicken thigh eject button and remove from the pan and rest on a plate while you crack on with the sauce. Into the recently vacated pan, add ya butter on medium heat again. Once that shit has melted fucken bang in ya onion and chopped-up parsley stalks sans leaves for 3-4 minutes until nice and soft. Then in we go with the garlic and thyme leaves and cook for another 2 minutes.

Mustard be about time to put ya bloody mustardzzz in the pan along with the honey, wine and stock as you bring it ever so awesomely to a simmer, champion.

In a bowl bung in your flour and spoon in a little of the pan juice then whisk together into a paste-like consistency. Now back into the pan with your magical chicken flour paste along with the crème fraîche or sour and cook for a few minutes.

OMG what the fuck is this chicken still doing on a fucken plate right now?’ All good, let’s fix that wagon and bung it back into the mustardy creamy non jar-ey goodness with the chicken skin facing up so the sauce doesn’t kill all that crispy hard work. Give it around 5 minutes in the sauce there boss; we wanna heat it up good. Undercooked chicken is a not-so-fun ride on a slippery slide to bad news, so make sure it’s heated through.

Now taste that and tell me you’d rather eat that fucking chat jar of yellow slime they call ‘honey mustard sauce’. Reckon ya won’t.

Scatter with parsley leaves if you like, they make it look super rad.

Serve with a scoop of ice cream . . . just kidding, maybe some veg, mash or rice… whatever you like, legend face.

Incidentally Vegan Coleslaw

When I first discovered what mayonnaise was actually made out of, my fucken head almost flew clean off my shoulders in amazement: ‘EGGS AND OIL?’ I said to my dad. ‘Yes,’ he replied.

There are so many incredible dishes out there that are just as good, if not better, when made as vegan. This here is a champagne example of exactly that; you don’t need even the eggs to make a righteous mayo and I’ll prove it to ya. The liquid that your canned chickpeas float around in is the replacement for the eggs, and believe it or not it goes off like a vegan frog in a sock.

SERVES: 4–6 as a side

COOKING TIME: 30–45 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 400 g tin chickpeas, drained but liquid reserved for the mayo
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • ½ tsp finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ¼ red cabbage
  • ¼ white cabbage
  • 1 small red onion, peeled
  • 1 large carrot, peeled
  • 1 tsp celery or sesame seeds, crushed

For the vegan mayo…

  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup aquafaba (the liquid from a chickpea tin)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 300 ml vegetable oil
  • juice of half lemon
  • sea salt flakes

METHOD

‘What the flip – I need an oven for this?’ Yeah, kind of. Switch your oven to 180ºC fan-forced (200ºC conventional). Line a pan or tray with baking paper. Fetch your chicky boiz, drain the legendary aquafaba (the liquid from them) into a bowl or a cup or your hat. Chickpeas are fucking rad shit for a lot of reasons, by the way – they are a macronutrient goal-kicking lord, and they taste legendary, too. Once you’ve reserved the liquid from them, give ’em a rinse, pat dry and chuck in a mixing bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil along with a pinch of salt, a grind of pepper and the chilli flakes. Toss all that together and pour onto the baking tray then fang in the oven for 15–20 minutes until crispy. Remove and let them cool right down. Maybe it would help get them to cool faster by placing them down next to a framed photo of their last disappointing ski trip to Thredbo, where the snow was more ice than snow but it was at least pretty cold.

After that underwhelming memory has washed over the chickpeas, shred your cabbages and onion as fine as you can/like into a large bowl. You can use a mandolin if you own one (no, not the small guitar) or a sharp knife to get you across the line. Great the carrot . . .  now grate the carrot into it the bowl, add your seeds and give a good toss together.

Now let’s mayo rage. There are a few ways you can make this happen.

The first way is with a stick blender bunged into a jug/container just wider than the head of the stick blender itself. Whizz up the mustard, aquafaba and vinegar, then slowly drizzle in the oil as you crank the blender up and down until it makes the mixture into a classic mayo consistency. Finally, whizz in the lemon juice, and salt to taste.

I prefer to use a whisk so start with the Dijon, aquafaba and vinegar in a bowl, whisking it together to combine, before slowly tipping in the oil a bit at a time and whisking the fuck out of it until it gets thick enough, followed by the lemon at the end and salt. Again, taste it, and when it suits you, you’re ready to walk incidentally down Vegan Coleslaw Street.

Add 2/3 cup of that awesome ‘slauwce’ to your veg bowl (the rest will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks), fang in your crispy chickpeas along with a pinch of salt and a crack of pepps if you wanna and toss it all together. Feel free to add more of the mayo if you like it a bit more sauce heavy, it’s your adventure, Zelda.

Now that, my friend, is a fucken beauty of a coleslaw and not a sickly-sweet bowl of wet shit that belongs in the confectionary section.

Serve possibly with the very un-vegan chicken wings we have a recipe for in this very book or with whatever and whoever you like.

Pavlova the Patience Cake

I mean, do I really need to say anything here? It’s a pav, for fuck’s sake. This is the BMX Bandits of cakes: chockers full of what I’m sure are Chrissy time memories of being  surrounded by punishing relatives you wish you could escape, as well as bizarre and often overly expressive fruit arrangements on what is more or less a giant meringue.

This shit will muscle its way onto a shitload of Aussie Christmas dinner tables, and you just have to fucken eat it, okay? So let’s make one that’s actually so sick it probably wears a backwards Monster Energy hat and does backflips on a jet ski.SERVES: 6–8
COOKING TIME: a few hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 egg whites from XL eggs (from a 700 g box of a dozen… if you’re using small eggs, say from a 500g dozen, then you need to use another egg white)
  • 1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar, plus 1 teaspoon for the cream
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • 300 ml thickened cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • fruit, to serve (berries rule but you can choose your adventure)

METHOD

Let’s just say that pavs are a little like snowflakes – they are delicate and have a range of structural integrity issues in their lives, just like we all do. I’m not saying you’re a pavlova, but maybe we can learn something from this calorie-dense dessert today.

Preheat your oven to 150ºC flan-forced (120ºC Normal Nathan style), and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Separate your egg whites from the yolks. There’s a whole book in explaining how to do that in so many ways, so let me make it simple for ya if you’re not great at it: wash your fucken grubby high-fivin’ hands, crack the eggs one at a time into one hand you’re holding over a bowl and sepa-rate your fingers just enough to let the white fall through into the bowl. Keep the yolks for some other shit. I dunno. . . Maybe make a yolk hat out of them? Or take them to an annoying yolk fes-tival and buy it an itchy pair of hemp pants with heaps of small mirrors on them that make them look like a failed magician? The options are endless.

Now, with the egg whites we have a mission ahead. If you don’t have a stand mixer or an electric handheld mixer, then maybe consider buying some kind of growth hormone and start a seven-days-a-week #nodaysoff strength-training regime for a few years prior to beginning this recipe, ’cause your fucken arm is gonna get a work-out if you use a regular whisk, muscles. Trust me, I have made this pav with a whisk before, and while it is possible, I do l have a habit of finding things out the ‘hard way’, and that’s not often the best way, so finding easier routes to do this des-tination such as borrowing a beater/mixer of some sort would be a smart move.

Whatever option you’ve gone for, you’re gonna need to whisk/beater/hard way those egg whites into soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until your arm has fucken called the cops on you, then goes in the corn flour and vinegar in the same manner. Keep whisking till all the fucken bloody sugar has dissolved. If you’re wondering whether the big white bowl of calorie clouds has reached this stage, then use your fingers to squeeze a little between them and see whether it feels sandy or not. It shouldn’t.

Spoon your effort into the centre of the prepared baking tray, using a forklift, or if you don’t have one of those lying around then the back of a spoon will have to do in order to shape it into a thing. You want to make this pile of fluff look like a shape that resembles something along the lines of a seriously deep dish large pizza. I suppose like all food that you create, it’s moderately conceptual so there is no right or wrong way to shape it since it doesn’t really affect the flavour. I like to im-agine the cheap supermarket mud cake kinda shape and go for that . . . seems to work well.

Okey dokey, Smokey. Drop that oven temp to 100ºC fan or 120ºC norms dogs, then place this hard work in the oven and cook for 1 hour–1 hour 15 minutes, until the outside is crispy and dry like something that’s crispy and also dry. Turn off the oven.

Now, this shit is weird, but here goes: open the oven and let SOME heat out 5–10 seconds, then fucken close it again like, um, what? Yeah close it and leave the pav in the residual heat for another fucken 2 HOURS MAAAATTTEEE!!! Yeah fucken 2 actual hours, otherwise it will crack, which to be totally honest actually does nothing to the flavour but may wound your already worn down patience at this time of year. So read the emotional room and go from there. Truly, what a lot of fucken carry-on nonsense for a stiff old meringue, right? It’s kinda worth it to old school flex at everyone later though . . . Or is it?

Now just ’cause you’re not over life enough at this point, why don’t you whip the thickened cream with the vanilla paste and teaspoon of sugar – a fucking slow, thankless task that may tip you over the edge if the rest of this fucken pav recipe hasn’t already. 45 years later you’ll have thick whipped cream and a cake that represents a great deal of patience, mental fortitude and calories.

Next, spoon the fucken stupid cream all over the meringue and go full ‘misunderstood artist’ on the fruit arrangement as if to suggest that no one appreciates what you’ve just been through because you only had a whisk and the thing ended up fucken cracking anyway, which doesn’t actually matter. If only your therapist hadn’t gone on holidays, you would have managed heaps better.

Fuck Christmas and eat the whole thing to yourself, you bloody legend.

But wait there’s more: Ceviche on the Beach, eh?

One of the most beautiful things in life is the simplicity of friendship. Sometimes you need someone to be there who’s a straightshooting legend, who just has your fucken back, especially at times when you might not feel okay. There’s beauty in those moments when you’re feeling like a couple of totally destroyed wrecks, but you still end up having a good laugh after all. This ceviche recipe is inspired by one such moment, when my two best mates and I formed a mighty trio of untouchable togetherness!

We set a goal to have a fucken shit-hot pool party up north, eat some good food and get through the tough times together. Ceviche is something that cemented the memory of that time together for me – I remember us all being amazed at how such a simple dish worked such fucken magic and took some of the worry away for just a moment. Times are tough, maybe we all just need to have ceviche on the beach, eh?

SERVES: 2–3
COOKING TIME: less than 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g raw kingfish, snapper or barramundi fillets, skin-off and pinboned
  • juice of 3 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1-2 jalapeños, finely chopped (or 2 long regular chillies)
  • pinch of sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed/minced
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp Tabasco, plus extra to taste
  • 2 tbs good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 baby Lebanese cucumbers, thinly sliced
  • 250 g small cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ½ bunch coriander, stalks and leaves, washed and chopped
  • 4 spring onions or 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 large avocado, cut into 2cm pieces
  • corn chips and a good mate to share a cold one with

METHOD

If you’ve had a bloody day/year/life of it all and can’t be fucken fucked right now . . .  Then this is the dish for you, my tired, hungry friend. Really the magic is what happens between the fish and the lime juice. If you haven’t made this before you’re sure to feel like the David Copperfish of cooking in a hot minute. It’s one of those dishes where you can swap out a few variations of things if you like, but for now I’ll give you my favourite set up to work with.

Firstly, it would make sense to chat about the fish. There is a long list of fish you can use for this, but by far my favourite is fresh kingfish if you can get your hands on it. Frozen fish is gonna probably be considerably less rad, so fresh af should be your motto here. Make sure whatever fish you buy has been boned thoroughly. Fish bones are a massive fuckwit to manage on their way down the oesophagus, so give the fillets the old RoboCop scan before you kick off to avoid further life stress.

Cut your fish into slices, cubes or small shapes of other types of fish. Doesn’t really Parramatta, champion, as long as it’s sliced up somehow and in a bowl.

Grease up the deck chair and get ready to recline, ’cause here comes the real easy bit: in a bowl of its own, combine the lime juices (*Hot Fucken Tip* roll the limes under the weight of your palm to loosen up the juice in the fruit before cutting and squeezing) and the zest with fresh jalapeño or chilli, along with a pinch of sugar, a minced clove of garlic, salt, a crack of pepper and a teaspoon of Tabasco sauce. Bung in your oh so creatively shaped fish designs and gently toss your artwork through all that shit. Now bang it in the fridge for 10–15 minutes. This is where the magic happens, Dave-o. The acid from the limes ‘cooks’ the fish in its own special way. You just wait and see how cool this shit is.

I mean, to be fair, you’re 10–15 minutes away from sliding into the lap of easygoing luxury, so let’s do a last few things to set ourselves up for the most powerfully relaxed sesh of all time, and make the rest of it. Pour your olive oil into a bowl, add sliced cucumbers (again at your artistic discretion, Picasso), along with the tomatoes, coriander and spring onions or shallots.

Now I know what you’re thinking: ‘What the freaking heck do we do with the avo?’ Well, at the 10–15 mark you want to introduce the fish to the salsa and diced avocado. BUT we aren’t fucking making guacamole here so don’t fuck around with it too much; very gently toss the cubed avo through the whole lot a few times and that will do ya.

THAT. IS. IT.

Serve with some non-committal corn chips and a cold beer, maybe talk some shit with a mate and try forget your worries just for a minute. It’s beautiful food and you’re a beautiful person.

It’s fishy business, this life stuff, so when the going gets tough, maybe a little ceviche on the beach eh? may be in order.

Photos: Warren Mendes


Nat’s What I Reckon‘s Death to Jar Sauce: Rad Recipes for Champions (Penguin Random House, RRP $34.99) can be purchased here.

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Nat’s What I Reckon: 5 rad recipes