Cooking good food doesn’t have to be a chore and no one is more of an advocate for that than Aussie champion, Nat’s What I Reckon. After rising to viral stardom throughout the lockdowns with his hilarious cooking videos that invalidate packet meals and fight for the right to cook tasty food at home, Nat’s What I Reckon has since released four books. His latest, ‘Smash Hits Recipes’, compiles all of his most popular online recipes (and a few new ones).
Nat’s What I Reckon’s videos have been a wealth of humour and wisdom over the years and this cookbook is very much the same, with shit-hot recipes that are illustrated with incredible flair. Not convinced? We’ve been offered an excerpt from Nat’s What I Reckon’s Smash Hits Recipes, which gives us all the things Nat reckons are essential to keep in your pantry. Get out your shopping list, champions.
Nat’s What I Reckon: Smash Hits Recipes – Pantry Ammo
Like a solid friend or pair of killer jeans, there are a few things in life that always have my back.
In the kitchen we deserve that level of solidarity. It’s fucken annoying when you wanna cook the thing from the cookbook but you don’t have all the fucken things in ya cupboard – I get it. I like to keep a few faithful staples stocked in my pantry so I know I always have enough of the essentials to spice weasel a dish, or because I simply can’t be bloody bothered going to the shop to get all the tiny but important ingredients to cook a feed for Jules and me.
I’ll rattle off a trusty list of winning backups here that often save the day in my house.
1. Salts (Yeah, More Than One)
‘Yeah, good one Nat, everyone has salt, ya dickhead.’ Might sound obvious and yes I may still be a dickhead, but not all salts are created equal. It’s not totally necessary to have several but I like to have some classic hits cheap table salt, cooking salt, rock salt, along with some flaked salt to finish a dish with. You don’t need to have every single type, but having one for cooking and one for serving is a little bit very noice.
Table salt is your most common setup and does it all, more or less; it’s not too coarse and is cheap as all get-out.
I use it to salt water for this reason rather than for seasoning at the end of cooking, but it’s fine to use at any stage.
Cooking salt is usually bloody cheap and typically comes in a bag. It is a little coarser so is best used only for adding to water and sauces, but not so much for finishing a dish otherwise you’ll feel like you’re eating fucken sand.
Rock salt goes in ya grinder and is cheapest when bought in bulk. It can be used for any and all of your salination needs.
Flaked salt is the fancy shit that is great to finish a dish with just before serving and to have on the kitchen table.
2. Black Peppercorns
For reasons of a fairly obvious nature that usually involve it going in a grinder and then onto food. Avoid eating whole or doing what I did a few years ago and accidentally unscrewing the shit grinder and tipping the lot into the 6 litres of chilli you’ve been making all day. tears
3. Spices & Dried Herbs
This list can be as long or short as you like but the big hitters should get you out of trouble in most cooking situations and are great to turn veggie leftovers into proper meals. The ones that get used the most in my house are cumin, paprika, garam masala, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, turmeric, chilli powder, chilli flakes, dried thyme and dried rosemary.
With this selection you can make a shitload of curry powders, Mexican dishes, sauces, roasts – the list goes on.
4. Tomato Paste & Tins of Tomatoes
Whether whole, peeled, diced or crushed, tins of tomatoes last almost forever.
If you have the available bucks to hand over, spending a few extra cents or a dollar can make dinner a little nicer, but it’s certainly not a must.
Tomato paste is such a common ingredient in so many dishes, so is a ripper to have lots of in ya pantry. I buy the smaller tins or tubes to avoid wasting it or risk it going bad in the fridge after opening.
5. White & Brown Sugar
In addition to being a popular ingredient for baking, brown sugar comes in swinging when you need to sweeten up a sauce. It’s a little more malty and subtle than white sugar. The old white death is great for baking and putting in ya Tetleys, Jim.
6. Coconut Milk/Cream
Both are great for curries and coconut involved dishes (unless you hate coconut, in which case don’t buy it).
7. Beans & Lentils
Stock up on red kidney, black and pinto beans, chickpeas, and red and brown lentils simply because they’re fucken cheap, all rule and are full of rad shit for ya guts. Dried beans are great and cheap too, but if you’re not the soaking beans type then go for the tins.
If you’ve made it yourself then that’s fucken unreal. Though I am known for flipping my shit at jar sauce, storebought stock I don’t see in quite the same light. It gets people cooking interesting stuff and I dig that, unlike jar sauce, which is a fast track to dumping loveless boredom and mundanity onto actual food. Stock is a great tool to have on hand. Cartons of veggie, chicken or beef stock last a long time unopened. If you made your own stock you can freeze it so it’ll last for a solid whack of time, too.
9. Oils and Butter
A little butter, extra virgin olive oil and vegetable oil will get you out of most situations. A little sesame oil is nice to have around as a dressing or for stir frying.
10. Rice & Pasta
I like to have a few types of each and, friend – this shit is cheap. When it comes to rice, white rice (either jasmine or medium/long grain) is great for most dishes that call for rice. For Indian style flavours I prefer basmati, and for risotto I like arborio or carnaroli. Arborio is the easiest to find and is available in cheaper brands. When it comes to pasta, all dried pasta rules and lasts in the pantry for ages. I love to look out for bronze cut/ extruded shit, but that’s because I’m fancy like that. It tends to carry sauce a little better, so that’s my excuse. There are varying levels of quality with pasta and I have my faves. Like with tins of tomatoes, if you have the means to buy some slightly nicer stuff, I usually try to, but it’s not a deal breaker.
11. Soy Sauce, Sweet Soy & Oyster Sauce
12. Plain Flour
Does heaps of shit and costs very little. Get lots and make sure it’s sealed tight so those fucken little shit moths don’t get involved.
13. 100’S & 1000’S
Because I like to party.
This list could go for days. More or less all of this shit is cheap, you can buy most of it in bulk to save some bucks and stop you resorting to takeout as much.
Hope it helps, champion!
Smash Hits Recipes by Nat’s What I Reckon is available now, RRP: $49.99.
Lead Image: Penguin Books/iStock