Spring may be on the horizon, but we still face some chilly days and nights before the frost of winter finally melts away. Head Chef at Esca Bimbadgen, Mark Bennett reveals the ultimate winter menu to add that extra serving of warmth and help you survive the final weeks of winter.

Mark says, “Follow these simple yet soul-warming cooking tips to keep the kitchen hot and your belly full for the remainder of winter.”

1.       Relax
Winter food philosophy is all about taking it slow – leave your food to cook slowly while it soaks up the rich and comforting winter flavours.

2.       Expensive doesn’t always mean best
Winter is the perfect excuse to incorporate cheaper cuts of meat into dishes. Braise these down for a delicious, tender and flavoursome taste. Long and slow cooking processes are ideal for breaking down the tougher cuts of meat, and the general rule of thumb is that the tougher the cut of meat the more flavour it can carry. Winter is the perfect opportunity to bring out those long slow cooking processes that produce the best braises and stews. Make use of that slow cooker.

3.       Get hearty
Winter is a time to look to meals that warm you from the inside out. For the perfect hearty meal, opt for meat loaded with marbling such as shoulder, shank or neck. Sear it in a pan and add some baby onions and root vegetables. Pour in a bottle of wine and cover the dish with a lid or foil. Place in the oven until you can pierce the meat with a skewer or knife. Remove the cooking liquid and place in a pot to reduce to a sauce. Slice the meat and serve the vegetables and sauce.

4.       The grand finale
Winter dessert is about one thing and one thing only; chocolate. Chocolate fondant is without a doubt the perfect melt-in-your-mouth end to your winter feast. It’s warm, it’s soft… and it’s gooey in the middle. A flawless finale.

What are your favourite winter meals?

The Esca Bimbadgen Winter menu features a selection of delectable dishes such as Milk braised pork shoulder with roasted walnuts, apple segments, cannellini and tomato ragout; and the Bimbadgen Shiraz braised beef bourguignon with roasted shallots, mushrooms and baby carrots.

The awarded winery restaurant, Esca Bimbadgen has recently received outstanding accolades in recognition of its ongoing success, including the Restaurant and Catering Association NSW’s Best Tourism Restaurant in Northern NSW and a ‘One Glass’ rating at the recent Gourmet Traveller 2013 Wine List of the Year Awards. Esca has also been named a finalist at the Newcastle Central Coast Tourism Awards, with awards taking place on August 14th.