Makes the case to bring rissoles back into Vogue
BLACK is back as retro Aussie classics make a comeback driven by a huge surge of public interest.The return of retro is reflected in the booming searches on recipe sites like delicious.com.au and taste.com.au for dishes like chow mein, sweet and sour, devilled eggs, coronation chicken and prawn cocktail.
So far, the humble rissole has been lagging behind in this revolutionary retro love-in. Perhaps memories of those original grey hand grenades of mince temper our enthusiasm for what should stand as one of the contenders for Australia’s national dish.
I say this not just because the rissole has been there since the earliest days of the bush pioneers and, made with rationed bully beef and grated hardtack, it sustained our Anzacs at Gallipoli, but because, like this great country, it is flexible enough to welcome all flavours from around the world whether they came here by plane or boat.This is the true heroism of the modern rissole.
The secret of a great rissole has been known for longer. It’s been 21 years since Darryl Kerrigan (played by Michael Caton) praised his wife’s rissoles in The
Castle. Sal (Anne Tenney) bats away the compliment with, “Everybody cooks rissoles, darl,” but then Darryl offers true culinary insight into this most Aussie of dinners,with the immortal words: “Yeah, but it’s what you do with them.”
That right there is the secret to the resurrection of the rissole. It’s always been a welcome friend to customisation, whether as a willing home to leftovers or pliant pal of your wildest flavour flights of fancy. So here are five rules for making your Aussie rissoles rock harder than Angus Young’s minor pentatonic riff in “TNT”.
SELECT YOUR MEAT
Whether it’s a fried – or fried and baked – patty you’re making,you can build a rissole with pretty much any mince you’d like.You don’t even need to use mince. Some more wisdom, this time from the young Dale Kerrigan (Stephen Curry): “Mum reckons the trick is you don’t use mince meat, she gets topside and crushes it.” Interestingly this is how it’s recorded that Franciscan monks in the Middle Ages made ‘rissoles’ for feasts: by pounding pork or chicken into a paste and then pressing it into balls.
CHOOSE THE FLAVOURING
If you look back at rissole recipes from the past century,you’ll find the minced meat flavoured with everything from curry powder and dried herbs to dollops of sweet chilli, barbecue or even tomato sauce. I think we can do better than that and make rissoles into something you can still call your own.
If you just press pounded or minced meat together to make rissoles you’ll get those grey grenades.That’s why good rissole recipes almost always include something to lighten the mix and also to bulk out the rissoles; whether it’s breadcrumbs, oats or cornflake crumbs. Other ways to add bulk include everything from lentils (great in a spicy vindaloo rissole) to leftover veg.
MAKE A GLAZE
Vintage rissoles would normally be served with something sweet and sour like a chutney or have that sweet and sourness already in them (thanks to the addition of sweet chilli, barbecue or tomato sauce). I would rather add this as a simple pan glaze to contrast with meaty salinity of the rissole. Making a glaze also means you can capture all the brown meaty goodness that might otherwise be left in the pan.
After cooking my World’s Best Rissoles, I’ll remove them and deglaze the pan over a gentle heat with a couple of tablespoons of malt vinegar and ¼ cup of mint jelly.When the jelly melts into the vinegar I return these herby rissoles to the pan and toss to coat. It’s amazing how a glaze will lift even ordinary lamb rissoles like mine to another level.
You can do the same thing with other rissoles.Turkey rissoles love a glaze of cranberry sauce and cider vinegar balanced with a little caster sugar or honey.Those hot vindaloo rissoles go great with a red wine and garlic gastrique. For pork rissoles with diced cooked carrot, fennel and five-spice powder, try a hoisin glaze. Chicken rissoles are great coated in sweet chilli sauce loosened with lemon juice, or just maple syrup with a little sriracha.
THINK ABOUT SIDES
Rissoles deserve mash but don’t be limited to potato.You can obviously stray as far from this norm as you like – rissoles are equally at home in a salad, served in dressed pasta, couscous, rice noodles or even with fried rice.You can eat them for dinner, or pack them in a school lunch box in a wrap, roll or bun. If you’ve glazed them, shredded iceberg and a little mayo will make any of these bready combos a real treat. Visit delicious.com.au for more of Matt’s ideas for making rissoles your own.