About Mastering and Enjoying Home Cooking. Drink, Cook, and Live Well!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Cold Days Welcome a Hearty Braised Pot Roast

It is easy and serves many requiring a minimal effort. There is some magic going on in a recipe that can turn a plain brisket or chuck roast into a gourmet meal. These meats tend to be higher in connective tissue or come from areas with developed muscle. Actually any cut of beef that benefits from slow cooking could be used. A fresh brisket will have a consistency just like corn beef but without the nitrates. The pot roast here is a classic approach that reduces the cooking liquid in order to intensify the beef flavor into robust gravy. The second round of vegetables is to provide additional flavor along with serviceable vegetable that have not cooked to oblivion. Like corned beef, the meat should be cut cross grain in generous slices with a very sharp knife. The sauce and vegetables cover the slices. Braised endive or boiled shredded red and green cabbage with rosemary new potatoes goes well with this pot roast. The pot roast could be browned under the broiler first to enhance its appearance and flavor but this roast is so flavorful, it really is not absolutely necessary.

5 Pound of fresh brisket with the fat mostly on (or a chuck roast)
1 Tablespoon of Herbs De Provence
10 Bay leaves
20 Coriander seeds
20 Black pepper corns
2 Cups white wine
1 Cup scotch
1 Cup port
Crushed red pepper
4 Cloves of crushed chopped garlic
3 Whole onions
20 Cremini mushrooms, sliced
3 Ribs of celery
2 Cups of chopped carrots.
3 Tablespoons gravy flour 
3 Tablespoons (1.5 ounces) veal Demi-glace
1 Tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet
1 Teaspoon sugar
Sea salt
Garnish with chopped Italian parsley

The sliced mushrooms, 1 cup of chopped carrots, 1 chopped onion, and 2 cloves of crushed chopped garlic will be added in a finishing stage of cooking.

The first step is useful to help rid the roast of blood components. Bring several quarts of water to a boil in a large stock pot equipped with a lid. Cut the brisket in half and immerse the meat in the boiling water for five minutes. Remove the meat. Drain off all the water, clean the pot.
Add two cups of cold water (preferable not chlorinated), scotch, white wine, port, 1 cup carrots, and stalks of celery. Cut up and add two of the onions including the skins, bay leaves, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, crushed red pepper, 2 cloves of the chopped garlic, and the Herbs Provencal

Bring to a boil on the stove top with the lid on. Preheat oven to 360 F. When the pot is boiling well, place it on the bottom rack of the oven for 3~4 hours. (Less time is required for chuck roast.) Remove from oven. Remove meat pieces from pot with a fork to a platter. Stain off and retain all liquid. If you have a decorative Dutch oven crock, transfer the meat to this; else clean your stock pot and return the meat and two cups of liquid to the crock pot or stock pot. Chopped the remaining onion add­ing it and the retained cup of chopped carrots to the sides around the meat. Add a pinch of sea salt. Cover and put this back in oven. Raise the oven temperature to 425F. Cook for 25 minutes.

While the vegetables are happily cooking with the meat, take the remaining liquid and reduce it on high in a frying pan. You will be making the reduction in preparation for the gravy. Reduce to a third of its previous volume on high heat. Now add two to three tablespoons of fine gravy flour (Wondra) in a small bowl, add and stir in 4 tablespoons of the stock. When all lumps are gone, stir this into the back into the reduced stock.
Now add 3 tablespoon veal demi-glace, 1 tablespoon Kitchen Bouquet, and 1 teaspoon sugar. Allow it to boil to thicken. Now add sea salt a little at a time stirring and tasting until just perfect but not too salty. Simmer until pot roast is finished.

Now add the mushrooms and 2 cloves of crushed chopped garlic. Cover and cook another 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Remove lid. Pour sauce over roast. Allow to cool. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tagliatelle with a Lamb Ragu Steeped in Red Wine

2 Lamb shanks (1 ½ pounds)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Large onion, chopped
2 Cloves garlic, chopped
14 Ounce can diced tomatoes
1 Small can tomato paste
2 Carrots, diced
1 Rib of celery, diced
1 Bay leaf
Pinch crushed red pepper
1 Teaspoon chopped rosemary
Black pepper
Salt as required to correct the seasoning at the very end
1 Teaspoon sugar
Pinch each of sage and oregano
½ Bottle red wine
1 Cup of water
1 Pound of tagliatelle or wide egg noodles
Chopped Italian Parsley

Pre-chop the vegetables. In a Dutch oven, add olive oil until hot. Brown lamb shanks on all sides. When brown, remove shanks then add the chopped vegetables (except garlic and diced tomatoes). Sauté vegetables until onion begin to clear. Add garlic and cook 1 minute while stirring. Add tomato paste and rest of the herbs, and pepper. Stir for four minutes. Add tomatoes. Add wine. Return shanks to pot. Add bay leaf and additional water so liquid comes up on the shanks a bit.

Let the covered pot come to a low boil and place in a pre-heated oven at 300 F for 3 hours or more. About 2 hours in, check the water level adding more if necessary. Cook until lamb falls off the bone. Taste the sauce. Add a bit of sugar, and salt until properly seasoned. Serve over tagliatelle cooked al dente on a generous platter. Garnish with parsley.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Wor Wonton Soup - A Chinese Treasure

Wor mean “everything” and can easily be a complete meal. When my wife is sick, she makes me make this soup. Fortunately, I often have several bags of wontons ready frozen for a quick preparation.

Wonton Filling
¼ Cup chopped shallots
½ Pound ground pork
1 Teaspoons peanut oil
1 Tablespoon Tamari soy sauce
1 Teaspoon sherry
2 Teaspoons cornstarch
1/8 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon white pepper
2 Teaspoons peeled, minced ginger
2 Cloves minced garlic
1/3 Pound uncooked medium shrimp, peeled, deveined
1 Package wonton wrappers

This makes 55 or more won ton. When making these, line the plate with parchment paper and space prepared wontons slightly separated so the do not stick to each other. Freeze what is not needed in a plastic zip lock bag shed of as much air as possible. Serve 6 or more wontons per portion if using a dinner bowl or 2~3, if a smaller bowl is a first course.
Constructing Wontons
The round wrappers are the easiest to use. Place a teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. (See picture.) Wet your finger in a bowl. Rub an arc along the outside edge of the lower half of the wrapper, Fold the lower edge so it exactly meets the upper edge of the wrapper, which will fold the wonton in half. Press the edges together firmly to seal. Wet the right-wing edge of the wonton and fold it over a finger to join the left-wing. Now press firmly along the joined edge to seal. Continue making wontons until the filling is used up.

6 Cups chicken broth or stock, filtered
2 Scallion greens, thinly sliced
1 Small clump of cilantro, chopped coarsely
1 Baked thick marinated boneless pork chop, baked to medium rare then thinly sliced in strips
1 Small chicken breast, thinly sliced into strips, pounded flat, marinated
1/4 Pound sliced cremini mushrooms, sautéed in butter
1 Teaspoon sherry wine
1 Teaspoon soy sauce
Blanched julienned Napa cabbage (white section only), optional
Water chestnuts, optional
Blanched carrot slices

Stock Thickener
                1 Tablespoon wonder flour
2 Tablespoons butter
1 Teaspoon mushroom soy
1 Teaspoon Kitchen Bouquet
Drippings from baking pork chop
3 Tablespoons of chicken stock

Prepare this in the fry-pan and quickly fry the chicken strips.

Pork Chop marinade
                Red food coloring
1 Teaspoon Rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon Hoisin
2 Teaspoons Tamari

Chicken Marinade
                2 Teaspoons Tamari
                1 Teaspoon chicken stock
                ½ Teaspoon minced ginger
You will need large Chinese soup bowls, one for each person

Make the filling in a food processor and refrigerate for several hours ahead. If the wonton wrappers are frozen, let thaw 3 hours while still wrapped.

Marinate the pork in its marinade. Marinate the chicken in its marinade.

Use fry-pan and a tablespoon on butter to fry the sliced mushrooms. Toss to cook evenly. Set mushrooms aside in a bowl.  Add a tablespoon peanut oil to same pan, bring to high heat and quickly fry the chicken strip a minute on each side. Set chicken aside with mushrooms.

Make stock thickener in the fry pan. Add butter over medium heat and when melted, add flour and stir to make a roux. Cook while stirring several minutes. Add chicken stock, mushroom soy, Kitchen Bouquet, drippings from pork chop. Cook several more minutes.

When pork is cook, cool some. Remove pork from pan for slicing. Deglaze pan with a tablespoon or two of chicken stock. Save in a small cup. Slice the pork into thin slices and retain with mushrooms, and chicken slices.

Peel carrot and slice thinly, the cross cut 2 inch diagonal end cut sections. Blanch carrot when you later cook the shrimp. Peel, and devein shrimp.

Bring chicken stock to a simmer.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put the carrot and Napa Cabbage slices in a strainer basket and lower into boiling water. Cook until al dente. Remove strainer basket and cool vegetables under cold water. Divide blanched vegetables into each serving bowl. Add a pinch each of chopped cilantro and sliced scallion green to each bowl. Place shrimp in a strainer basket and lower into boiling water. Cook shrimp until orange. Remove strainer basket and cool shrimp under cold water. Divide cooked shrimp into serving bowls.

Bring pot of water back to a bowl. Place required quantity of wonton on a strainer and lower in water. Do not let them stick to bottom of pan. As the wontons come back to a boil, add a glass of room temperature water. Allow wonton to return to the boil. Use a strainer or slotted spoon, place required quantity of wonton into each serving bowl. Place some pork, and chicken, and sautéed mushrooms in each bowl, add thickener to chicken stock. Ladle simmering stock into each bowl to cover the wontons.