Cold weather. Something must be done.
January 20, 2016
It’s cold, it’s gray, we had some sort of snofreet (snow/freezing rain/sleet) last night, and I am already sick of winter. I have no alternative but to take to the kitchen.
And this time, I’m sticking with stuff I know is good, since I’ve had a couple of abysmal failures in the kitchen this week. Tonight will be meat loaf; I can rock some meat loaf. Probably potato salad with it, and maybe some purple hulled peas, and I have slaw in the fridge. Additionally, I’m baking some bread, so I’ll have bread for meat loaf sandwiches, because I have been jonesing for a meat loaf sandwich.
That’ll go a long way toward chasing the winter blues.
Which beef stroganoff and vegetarian chili with butternut squash did not, thank you very much.
I had planned some beef stroganoff last weekend. Cooked a couple of top sirloin steaks, about 8 oz. each, sous vide at 130 degrees for 5 hours. When I didn’t make it when I thought I would, I popped them in the freezer, still in their SV bag. (One of the many reasons I love cooking SV; pre-prep of entrees.)
Monday, I pulled them out and let them thaw, then cut them up in strips. Meat was perfect. Gorgeous rare. Great taste from the salt, pepper and paprika with which it’d been seasoned. And I set about building the sauce. Onions (because Kroger didn’t have shallots), mushrooms, beef broth, cognac. Simmer. Add Dijon mustard, chopped fresh dill, cream, and the beef. Heat it just until the beef is hot, but still rare.
I did mine over grits, because I didn’t have wide egg noodles and didn’t really want them, anyway; grits are my starch of choice for such dishes, as in carbonnades a la flamande.
The sauce was a bit runny, but OK. One of my major failings is not reducing liquids enough when I cook. Usually it’s just an appearance issue.
I don’t know if this would have tasted better if I’d reduced the sauce as much as I was supposed to or not. I know as it was, it was intensely bland, and eminently forgettable. I chunked it.
And then I put a half-pound of Rancho Gordo vaquero beans, which are a pretty bean, kind of dalmatian-spotted, on to soak, convinced I’d made up for the failure with a huge winner last night.
Things started out well. Saute an onion and some garlic; toss in chili powder and cumin. Add the soaked beans and a pint of chicken broth. (Keeping homemade chicken broth frozen in pint cartons is about the best thing I ever learned to do, can I just tell you?) Pressure cook the beans, 40 minutes in the Instant Pot. Let the pressure release, add 8 oz tomato sauce and 4 oz tomato paste, along with a two-pound butternut squash, peeled and cubed. Another 20 minutes pressure cook.
I’m sorry. Chili just needs meat. It would have been OK just as chili beans, but the squash added nothing. Nada. I kept the leftovers, but I’m not sure why; probably couldn’t stand the thought of throwing out two nights’ leftovers in a row just because they weren’t good. Oh, well.
So tonight I will fall back on an old standby, albeit nothing approaching overt creativity. But then, who wants creativity when it’s cold and gray and slick outside? Screw creativity. I want comfort food.
You ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em can come have a meatloaf sandwich after the streets thaw.