Ben Shewry’s Ants on a log

Photo: Ben Shewry's ants on a log and Brick Lane beer

Attica chef Ben Shewry’s riff on this mainstay of the snack table might offend some with its lack of peanut butter. But he’s not the first to go there. In fact, when ants on a log is made without peanut butter apparently it’s called ants in the pants. Is that the kind of party ice-breaker you were after? 

“Where’s the peanut butter I hear you say? You are looking at a peanut butter hater right here,” says Ben Shewry. “I mean peanut butter is sooo cloying. And the other spreads in the cupboard always complain about peanut butter. Seems as if peanut butter has a real nasty streak. Better to just not use it I say. Not worth the risk.

“As a recent arrival to Melbourne, it’s easy for me to break the rules. When I moved here in 2002 one of the first things I heard was The Avalanches rule-breaking record Since I Left You. Listening to that was a complete trip for me – a new sound and one of the greatest records of all time.

“Now, here I am humbly attempting to bring a 'new sound' to ants on a log!”

Serves 2 

Ingredients

½ can of Brick Lane beer

20 currants

2 small celery stalks (thinner middle ones are best)

50g spicy capsicum dip

1 tsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste 

Method

1. Gently warm the Brick Lane beer in a small saucepan – it needs to be hot but don’t let it boil. Place currants in a bowl, pour the beer over them and let them marinate for 2 hours (this can also be done the day before). Now might be a good time to drink that other half can of beer. Shame to waste it.

2. Using a potato peeler, peel the outside of the celery and then cut it into 4cm lengths. Trim a small amount from the base so the “logs’ will sit nicely and not drop their ants later.

3. Use a butter knife to fill the “trunk” of the celery “logs” with capsicum dip. Take the time to give your logs a little razzle dazzle.

4. Drain currant “ants” and place 5 ants on top of the capsicum dip. Finish with a few drops of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and black pepper. If you get your black pepper grind just right, it will look like baby ants. Awww, how cute.

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