There has been some cooking going on up in here!

December 10, 2011

C'mon! Drop something! Pul-leeze?

Whew! Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, but I’m tired. There has been some significant cooking going on here today.

The toll to date:

  • Two loaves of pumpkin bread.
  • Two trays of toffee bars.
  • The Day 2 prep work for the cassoulet.
  • Ginger-glazed roast beef over rice.
  • And a crock-pot of bacon jam set to simmer all night and be ready to can in the morning.

Oh, and there was breakfast — cheese biscuits and scrambled eggs.

Saltine toffee bars. Ought not to work, but they do. Good stuff.

I’m TIRED! And I’m going to hit it again tomorrow — pralines, and homemade crackers, and finishing up the cassoulet for dinner. Canning the bacon jam, after it cooks all night in the crock-pot. Maybe waffles for breakfast (maybe not; ain’t decided). Maybe fudge. If I can get gift boxes done early, I’m that much ahead of the game. Might even take some to Philly for the folks up there.

This cassoulet, y’all. This sucker had better be all kinds of good, because not only is it expensive to make, it’s tedious as all hell. You brown your pork chunks; you brown your ham hocks. You boil your salt pork and pork skin. You throw all that in a pot with your pancetta and your proscuitto and some celery and some thyme and a bay leaf and some onion and and some tomato and some carrots and a whole head of garlic. And you pour two of the four cups of chicken stock over it, curse vehemently because you have just discovered your dutch oven is not big enough for this, and you move it over to your shrimp pot, which is the largest pot you own.

Currently, said pot, two pounds of white beans having been added in and cooked until they were tender, is residing on the patio table because there is No Room in the fridge.

Day 3 will involve dicing up the pancetta and proscuitto, pulling the ham hock meat off the bones and throwing it back in, discarding the pork skin, skimming off the fat (why do you put all that fat in there when you take it back out, anyway?), adding in the duck confit and the duck sausages, topping the whole mess with bread crumbs, and baking it for two and a half hours.

As close as I can tell, I’ve got about 40 bucks’ worth of meat in this thing, plus the duck confit that’s been reposing under duck fat in my fridge for six months. Which is OK, because confit is a long-time preservation method, and you can allegedly keep that stuff up to a year. I need to get these out so I can confit the other six leg quarters I’ve got in the freezer and get them out of my way.

I am going looking for Paula Wolfert if this stuff is not Sweet Baby Jesus good, I’m here to tell you.

Roast, ready to go in the oven. I should've used a bigger dish.

The beef was a new recipe — ginger-glazed chuck roast, which was supposed, according to the recipe, to be ginger-glazed short ribs, but chuck roast was what I had. It was pretty good; we had it over rice, with a side of caprese salad; the Mennonites’ greenhouse tomatos are in, so I will be having tomators for the next few months. My two-pound share this week was two tomatos, one of which is destined for BLTs — it’s that one-slice-fits-a-slice-of-bread size. The other made capreses for two, with enough left for another caprese tomorrow.

Yum. YUM, I'm telling you. This is good stuff.

Went by the Culinary District to get some buffalo mozz, but they didn’t have any, so I suffered with the cheap stuff from the grocery. What I DID get at Culinary District was some basil oil, which tastes just like fresh basil in good olive oil which, well, is what it is. Primo on a caprese, I’m just sayin’.

Here’s the roast recipe — ’twas a good one. Next roast, though, is carbonnade a la flamande, because I’m due.

  • 3 cups dry red wine
  • 7 to 8 pounds bone-in short ribs, separated into whole ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 whole heads garlic, papery outer skins removed, cut in half horizontally
  • 5 large fresh shiitake mushroom caps, halved
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • 1 4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
  • About a dozen allspice berries, lightly crushed
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 sheet konbu, 5 inches by 6 inches (available at Japanese or health-food stores)
  • A dozen sprigs fresh thyme
  • 6 to 8 cups chicken stock, homemade or low-sodium canned
  • 6 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

1. Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a saucepan, boil the wine over high heat until reduced to 1/2 cup.

2. Generously sprinkle the ribs on all sides with salt and transfer to a large roasting pan, bone side up. Scatter the garlic, mushrooms, carrots, onions, celery, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, konbu and thyme on the ribs. Mix 6 cups of the stock and vinegar with the reduced wine and add to the ribs. The liquid should come about 2/3 of the way up the sides of the meat. Add more stock if needed.

3. Cover the pan tightly with layers of foil. Transfer to the oven and cook until the meat is very tender, 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

4. Remove from the oven and carefully remove the foil. When the ribs are cool enough to handle, transfer them to a dish. Remove and discard the bones and any bits of vegetables and spice.

5. Strain the liquid in the pan through a sieve and discard the solids. Let the liquid settle, then spoon off the fat or use a fat separator. You should have about a quart of liquid. (At this point, you can refrigerate the meat and sauce, separately, for up to three days.)

6. To finish the dish, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the strained liquid back in the roasting pan and bring to a boil on the stove. Add the meat in a single layer. Transfer to the oven and baste frequently with the liquid, until shiny and thick but not sticky, and until the ribs are well glazed, 10 to 20 minutes. Serve the ribs with extra sauce.

I left out the konbu and the shiitakes, because I didn’t have ’em. And I halved the sauce ingredients because my roast was only about 2 1/2 pounds. It was good, though.

And I still managed to watch the tail end of the Indiana-Kentucky game. Take THAT, Wildcats!

Will update you and y’mama ‘n ’em on the cassoulet and the bacon jam tomorrow. You have a wonderful evening. Right now, I’m going to enjoy my wine.


2 Responses to “There has been some cooking going on up in here!”

  1. Whitney Reynolds Says:

    So you tried the saltine thing??? Jay LOVES them…

    They ARE good! I did saltines and graham crackers as well. I like the saltines better, NS likes the grahams better. I think I’m gonna cut down on the butter next time; they seem a little greasy. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Sharon Says:

    Can’t wait to hear about the cassoulet!
    Not surprised that chuck roast turned out so well – I like that cut better than shortribs.

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