02-20-07 - 1

I've made some of the best food of my life recently, just improvising. Here are some quick notes to remind myself as much as anyone else.

Braised "Delmonico" over Polenta. Use some kind of stew meat (I had Club Steak, but probably Short Ribs are better); brown very thoroughly in stew pan - get very very brown. In the mean time cut the veggies - mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions & figs - and put in a bowl with some bay leaves, cloves, fennel seeds, and a bit of brown sugar. Remove meat from pan and deglaze with lots of white wine, add chicken stock & boil. Put meat back in, toss in veggie bowl & braise for about 2 hours. Do a boquet of thyme too if you like. The goal is a very dark syrupy liquid, it should be almost all evaporated, slightly sweet. Serve over polenta with parsely.

Simple pasta primavera. Prep veggies first. Whatever you have is fine, but some suggestions are zuchini, peas, asparagus, artichokes, endives, carrots. Use some kind of meat - ham or shrimp is good. Brown the meat thoroughly in a sauce pan. When it's done cooking, remove from the pan, add oil & lots of garlic to brown, then deglaze with a tiny bit of chicken stock or white wine. Toss in all the veg and put a lid on so they steam in the liquid. Now boil the noodles, but the time they're done the veg is done. Toss it all together, add grated cheese, capers & julienned basil at this point. This was suprisingly flavorful just like this. Maybe a tiny bit of light roux or bechamel would be even better.

Slow roasted double cut pork chops. This is a very brief prep note. I've made this many times and never really liked my results. I always sort of treated them like a steak in the past, which means sear and then heat in the oven to get the inside warm enough, but still rare to medium rare. The result of that method is pork chops that are dry and tough outside and raw inside. I tried this new method and it's the money. First make sure you brine the chops in a sweet+savory brine for a day. Then sear on very high heat just to get color and crust on the outside. Put them in an oven safe dish and put in a 350 oven for 30 minutes (exact time varies). Remove and rest for 5-10 minutes. In the mean time you can make a pan sauce in the searing pan and make your side dishes or whatever. The result should be evenly cooked through, not more done on the outside and raw in the middle, and should be melting soft and tender, soft of like a filet mignon in texture. The typical pork chop sauces are good, like glazed browned apricots, etc.

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