What do I call this…?

So I’ve had it in my head the last week to make something resembling shredded beef to be eaten inside homemade flour tortillas. Thing is, I dunno what I would technically call it. The recipe I used as my template calls it Roja Vieja, which translates to "old clothes".

My brain is all fuzzed up and just broken since I started the new meds on Saturday.

I’ve been having headaches when I wake up in the morning, which is so not cool, and today I was supremely nauseous. Like I was saying to a gf this morning, I dunno what the hell I did at the lab, but omg my low back on my left side was killing me. Really? This is so not cool. Side Effects of the Adcirca: headache, muscle pain, getting red or hot in the face (flushing), nausea, pain (in the arms, legs, or back), upset stomach, and stuffy or congested nose. The only things I don’t have on that list are flushing, muscle pain… and the stuffy/congested nose is questionable given my cold, but I’m pretty sure I may have that too -_-;;; GUH.. I realize I am being rather immature here, but how long do I have to wait before the side effects wear off??? Why did we decide to do this again?? :P~

So after I got back from the lab, I prepped dinner. Unfortunately I don’t have my crockpot on hand because I lent it to Miss R so she could make enough BBQ beef to serve 40 people over the long weekend when they were helping to build a community garden at St.Barnabus church. I basically threw everything into my pot and let it simmer from about 100-ish til 4pm and have now tossed it into the oven for another two hours at 325F in hopes that the meat breaks down and ends up wonderfully fork tender. As it stands now, it’s not doing that and I am very, very sad because of it. I have my fingers crossed that it will end up doing what it’s supposed to, but I don’t have much faith in that right now and am very disappointed. Because of the lack of fork tenderness, I am making up a pot of rice to serve with the bison and all the tomatoes at the botom of the pot. It would be a shame to waste all those wonderful juices, and there are a LOT of them. I would actually consider just scooping it up into a bowl and just drinking it as a soup to be honest.

Anyhow, recipe with my changes are below. If this roast does in fact turn out the way I want it to, which is to say wonderfully fall apart and fork tender, I will definitely make this again to be tucked into some homemade flour tortillas, but for now I guess we’ll just eat this and all the wonderful juices over rice. I will definitely use the recipe again with some short ribs or perhaps even some oxtail, because it does smell pretty darn fantastic as it is and I betcha it would taste even better over noodles as a light sauce!

So what do I call it? I still haven’t quite figured that out yet. It needs a name. Help!

Yummy Bison

Cross-rib bison roast
olive oil
1/2 red onion, sliced
3/4 bulb garlic, sliced
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 bottle salsa verde
1 cup beef broth
salt & pepper
water

Season bison roast generously with salt and pepper and set aside.
In a large pot, cook onions and garlic until soft and fragrant.
Move onions to the outside of the pot and sear the bison on all sides.
Once meat is seared, add beef broth to pan to deglaze, be careful not to burn yourself from the steam!
Add fire roasted tomatoes and salsa verde to pot, swishing out containers with water to add to pot.
If needed, pour in extra water so that the liquid level comes most of the way up the roast.
Cover pot and bring to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer until meat is fall apart tender.

Crock-pot version: Put onions and garlic in bottom of crock. Season roast and place on top of onions. Pour tomatoes and salsa around meat and add beef broth, adding enough water to come most of the way up the roast, as needed. Cook on high until meat is fall apart tender.

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Bison Pot Roast

The pot roast I made yesterday in the crockpot, while I was out and about with the girls, was kind of tasty but it seems like it was missing something… I don’t think the ginger marmalade was flavourful enough to compete against the beef stock and the flavour of the bison. It went pretty nicely with mashed potatoes, but there is something missing. Perhaps it needs more curry powder? Or perhaps garam masala to up the flavour intensity?

The recipe called for a jar of chutney and I could have sworn I had a bottle in the fridge, but apparently I was wrong so I substituted what remained of a jar of ginger marmalade. I figured it couldn’t be a bad combination since there are recipes for orange beef out there. As much as I am generally not a fan of meat + fruit combinations, the raisins in this recipe didn’t make the pot roast overly sweet, which I liked. The little nubbins of juiciness were actually quite nice.

I will have try the recipe again with a proper jar of chutney (hot? mango? hot mango??) one day but for now, I still have a fair bit of leftovers that I need to contend with.

Spiced Pot Roast

3 pounds boneless beef rump or chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup chutney
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

In a crockpot, combine all ingredients and pour over roast.
Cover and cook until meat is tender.
Thicken gravy if desired.

Whoa Nelly!

…I kinda sorta made refried beans!

I mean, okay, so I used lentils instead of beans, but still…!

Beans! Fried in bacon fat! OMG!

They’re a smidgen bit too salty because of the Carne Adobo seasoning that I used for flavouring the lentils when I was frying them, but it’s nothing a piece of buttered gluten-free bread can’t fix right now with some mozzarella cheese underneath!

I didn’t have any pinto beans in the house, which I have gathered is the traditional bean to use when making a pot slow-cooked beans, so I used up what was left of this rather horrible bag of “instant lentils” I bought some time ago. I don’t know what kind of lentils they are, other than they’re kinda grey-brown and kind of UFO shaped. Even when I first bought them, they didn’t cook in a supposedly shorter amount of time, which the instructions said about 20 minutes, so I gave up on them. Yesterday I dumped the rest of the bag (about 1 cup) into my baby crockpot, rinsed them out and scooped off the weird floaties, tossed into the pot some dehydrated onion flakes, lots of granulated garlic and a good few shakes of carne adobo seasoning to the mix. Set the crock on high and left it for about 4.5 hours, basically until they were soft enough to eat straight from the pot if I wanted. Then I left the whole thing to get cold and tossed it in the fridge until this morning.

I don’t even know what prompted the whole refried beans craving to begin with, but the refried bean craving was just killing me so I had to make it to the best of my abilities with what was floating around the house. The smell of the lentils cooking was just driving me bonkers, it was so amazing.

This morning, in a small pot, I melted some cold bacon grease (uhm, yea, I actually have a tiny jam jar in my fridge that holds bacon fat) until it was all hot and spitty, added a scoopful of the beans, let it spit some more and then mashed it all with my egg masher. At that point they were seriously underseasoned, so I was lazy and just added more adobo seasoning. I got a little too liberal with the sprinkling and then it became too salty, so I added another scoopful of beans. It’s still a smidgen too salty, but the gluten free toast helps buffer it, so I am not too bothered. Plus I only made enough for 3 pieces of bread, the rest I put into a ziplock baggie and tossed into the freezer. Obviously if you don’t want to use bacon fat, you can use any oil you like, so this can easily become vegetarian, as you can imagine and probably already realize.

Yeah, in the end they’re just beans lentils, but WOW are they tasty!

Refried Lentils
1 cup lentils,water
dehydrated onions
granulated garlic
carne adobo seasoning
rendered bacon fat

Washed and pick through the lentils, removing any weird floaty bits or things that just don’t look right.
Put lentils into baby crockpot and cover with enough water to come up about 1/2way to the second joint on your index finger.
Turn crock on high, add onions, garlic and a generous few shakes of adobo seasoning.
Cook until lentils are soft and tender to your liking. Cool and refridgerate overnight or use as is.
In a small pot, melt ~1Tbsp bacon fat over medium heat until hot and sizzling.
Carefully add two small scoops of beans and mash until the beans are your preferred texture.
Taste and season as needed.
Serve over buttered toast topped with mozzarella cheese or however you like to eat refried beans.

Chinese Rice Porridge

Last night at the ungodly hour of 100am, I made joak.

In the crockpot. I just had a bowl for breakky and it was awesome.

When my parents first bought a crockpot, we tried making joak in the crockpot as our first recipe to try and it failed rather miserably. We didn’t know that it took a LONG time to cook stuff in there. Like ~really~ long time. Anyhow, the results of that first batch were extremely disappointing and we never touched the thing again until I started cooking for myself and experimenting.

I rarely make joak on weekends, unlike my parents who make a huge vatful every Saturday, because you can’t just make a small pot of the stuff. The amount of water required for even ½ a cup of rice is rather staggering. The Hubbs doesn’t like joak and I can’t usually finish a batch on my own. Not only that, but making it tends to take at least a couple of hours until it gets to the proper consistency, so it’s not a quick breakfast option when I’m really desperate for something that won’t upset my tum and is hot and filling.

I tried the crockpot thing again last night and left it to do its thing in its own sweet time. I am so happy to discover that it worked ^_^ I like having joak on the weekend. Growing up, you knew it was the weekend because Mom had a big monster pot of joak on the stove burbling away first thing on Saturday morning. Nowadays, even though Mom makes the exact same quantity, that same big monster pot will usually last through the weekend, which is nice because all you have to do when you’re hungry is scoop out a bowl, nuke it til it’s hot and you have instant sustenance.

The crockpot joak I made was kind of bland, but that’s because I didn’t add any flavourings to the pot other than a few dried scallops and the tiniest smidge of clam base. Normally when I make a pot of joak, I use a leftover frozen roast chicken carcass and toss in some dried scallops for extra added flavour. Whenever I roast a chicken, I’m usually pretty lazy about carving off the meat because I want to have enough meat on the bones for later on — I’ll take off the breasts, the legs, thighs, the mini drums and that’s about it. The rest of the meat on the carcass, along with the wings, I’ll toss into a big ziplock bag and throw the whole thing into the freezer specifically for joak. Come time to make the joak, all the remaining meat from the carcass falls off the bones and it makes for a really yummy bowl. The flavours were originally a little weird for my parents because of the stuff I season my roast chickens with, aren’t exactly Chinese flavours — garlic, rosemary, lemon pepper, etc. But to be honest, I don’t think you can actually make a terrible pot of joak. When Mom makes joak, she usually uses a handful of dried scallops and then tosses in a big hunk of pork to the pot and salts generously. For some reason I ALWAYS forget to add salt to my pot of joak, which kind of explains why I pour in so much fish sauce into my bowl. (That and I really just like the taste of fish sauce… Mom thinks it’s an addiction.)

When I woke up this morning, I went to check on its progress and found it to be the most perfect consistency! I’m so thrilled. Not only do I have a REAL breakfast ready for me to last the whole weekend + snacks, but now I know I can easily make it in the crockpot and it will work!

Usually we make joak using long grained rice, but talking to one of the boys (who’s Japanese), he mentioned that he prefers to use short-grained rice instead for a better taste and consistency. I figured since the rice was going to be in the pot for 9+ hours, I mind as well give it a whirl. Worst that could happen is I would have had to transfer the whole thing to a pot and boil it on the stove if the rice hadn’t broken down enough. I have to say, I like it. It gives the joak a creamier consistency, which is quite pleasant, and the grains of rice kind of melt but they’re not totally disintegrated. It’s a rather nice change. Long grained rice tends to explode into nothingness in the pot and doesn’t give the joak nearly as creamy a consistency as short grained rice does.

Since I haven’t been to T&T in forever (like.. uhm… since my car accident) I didn’t have my usual black eggs to eat with my joak. My normal bowl of joak would consist of lots of fish sauce, black eggs and green onions. Today, I foraged around in the pantry and found all sorts of tasty additions. I think I’ve found my new way of eating joak when I am without black eggs in the house. Along with my usual chopped green onions and fish sauce, I also added some sesame oil (something I rarely do, usually I find it too oily) and some pork floss. Tasting it, it was still missing something. Then I noticed my bottle of furikake – mine has nori, sesame seeds, egg, and bonito flakes. I dumped a little of that into the bowl and it was just awesome ^_^ My bowl looked rather… dark and murky with funny flecks of colour, but it was really darn tasty.

I think I shall be making joak like this from now on so I won’t have to worry about having nothing to eat when I can’t decide what to eat.

Bison Stew

Ever since we got our big box’o’bison, I’ve been wanting to make stew.

Unfortunately, there was only 1 package of stew meat in our box, everything else is a 2-3 pound roast of some sort — prime rib roast, cross rib roast, chuck roast, etc… or steaks. That’s a lot of big chunks! Thinking about it just now, I guess I could technically cut up the chuck roast into bite sized chunks and use that for stewing as well. It would just require a few extra prep steps and I would have to be cooking stew for more than just myself & The Hubbs. The package of stew meat was actually the perfect size for us. We each had a bowl for dinner and we’ll probably get maybe 1-2 more bowls each from the leftovers. Keep in mind: we are small eaters, so in reality, I think most couples could probably polish off the stew in one go.

Kind of back tracking a bit — a couple of nights ago, I was doing a little game of back & forthing on Facebook with Ozymand about recipe apps that I use for the iPad. For interest’s sake, I highly recommend: Epicurious, Allrecipes, and Big Oven. The best celebrity chef app I’ve found, to date, would have to be Mario Batali Cooks!. It has to be the most impressive cooking app I’ve ever seen. Every single recipe has a video. Every. Single. One. Not only that, but there’s a whole slew tips and techniques videos which is pretty fantastic for beginners. It’s just that amazing if you’re wanting to learn Italian cooking. Do make sure you’re downloading specifically the HD/iPad versions of the apps, not the ones for iPhone.

After having talked about the apps, I did a little random recipe surfing and came across a recipe for a dry chimichurri rub on Epicurious.

I don’t think I need to remind anyone how much I absolutely ~lurv~ chimichurri sauce. It is probably one of the most amazing sauces I have ever eaten in my entire life. It just makes my taste buds go crazy with a perfectly grilled steak. I actually dream of that sauce with a hunk of meat and some wonderfully crusty bread to mop up the leftovers. So yummy. *sigh*

Anyhow, since I rarely never have the fresh ingredients on hand for chimichurri sauce, I thought it would be fantastic to have this as a pantry staple for instant gratification. It wouldn’t be quite as perfect as having it freshly made, but it would certainly satisfy any cravings I had in a pretty quick minute.

Unfortunately, even for the dry rub, I found out I didn’t have enough/all the ingredients on hand: I ended up short on the thyme and I’ve never had savory in the house, so substituted it with marjoram. As far as I can tell, the rub tastes perfectly fine with the minor alterations and doesn’t appear to have suffered any great loss. When I run out of this first batch, I will be making it with the proper amount of thyme, but I don’t think I am going to be worrying over the savory-marjoram issue.

Dry Chimichurri Rub

3 Tbsp dried oregano leaves
3 Tbsp dried basil leaves
2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
2 Tbsp dried thyme leaves
2 Tbsp coarse kosher salt
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp dried savory (or marjoram) leaves
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp dried crushed red pepper

Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl.
Transfer to 250ml canning jar.
Store at room temperature.

To make a marinade: whisk 1/4 cup rub with 1/2 cup olive oil and 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar.

…Back to my stew…

It was really, really tasty. I’m still amazed that I can make stew!

Growing up, I didn’t like the beef stew my Mom made. She had the basics down: water, beef, celery, carrots, onions, potatoes, salt & pepper. But that was pretty much it for her stew. There may have been a bayleaf involved, but I’m not 100% certain on that. Seriously. That was it. I was really unhappy whenever she made it. Older bro, on the other hand, loved it. And as far as I know, probably still does. I always wished she would make a beef stew with a dark, rich and flavourful broth, but it never happened. I think mu biggest problem was that I could never tell her how to make it tastier. I just didn’t have the vocabulary for it. But then again, I imagine if Mom ever made a different kind of stew, then Older Bro probably wouldn’t be happy about the change. I guess if you’re into bland food, then Mom’s version of stew would definitely be for you. All I know is that it’s definitely not for me.

My original plan was to make stew for yesterday’s supper, but stuff came up and we ended up having family dindin instead. That gave me the opportunity to marinate the bison meat for a day until I made the stew today. That doesn’t sound right. Marinating involves liquids and I used no liquids with the bison. So what is the correct term for using a dry rub and letting it sit around to do its thing? I am having a complete mental block o_O;;

In a bowl I added 2 generous tablespoons of the chimichurri rub to the meat (I’m guessing that it was about 1 pound-ish) and mixed it well to coat, covered it up and stuck it back into the fridge until today. I suppose I could’ve added a little oil to help moisten things up, but I didn’t.

For the liquid component to the stew, I used some beef broth, de-alcoholized red wine that I still had leftover from my first beef stew experiment, a couple of sploshes of apple cider vinegar to cut the sweetness of the “wine” and a generous squeeze of tomato paste which was dissolved in the hot broth.

Veggie-wise, next time I think I will make sure to add some parsnips along with the usual carrots, onions and celery and perhaps even consider adding a turnip or a rutabegga for something new & different.

The stew ended up being on the watery side only because I didn’t have any potatoes in the house to add for the veggie component. I suppose I could have added a bit of a cornstarch slurry just before serving to bring it all together but I wasn’t terribly bothered by the thinness of the broth. I realize that for some people potatoes are a must in a stew, and I know the potatoes are a key thickening agent, but honestly, I’m just not a huge fan of potatoes to begin with and I didn’t really miss them. I think if I served the stew with mashed potatoes on the side, it would actually be a really tasty way to go along with some crusty bread for sopping up the extra liquids. Surprisingly, The Hubbs had no comments on the lack of potatoes.

The overall flavour of the stew was very satisfying. The addition of apple cider vinegar was an excellent choice that took away the unpalatable sweetness that I remember from making the beef stew. The funny thing about this stew was that it had this warmth that I couldn’t identify. I couldn’t quite put my finger on until I was almost done eating — it was the smoked paprika and crushed red chili flakes from the dry rub that was giving me the intriguing flavours. The Hubbs said he liked the warmth that they both gave to the stew, but I’m still on the fence about it. Mainly I’m curious to know how the stew would taste without the background warmth and smokiness.

Anyhow, I’ve totally guessed on the measurements that I’ve written for the recipe, so just run with what you know and like. Given that I went with the super lazy route for making the stew by not browning the meat in a pan first and not deglazing the pan with liquids afterwards, you could just mix the meat with the dry rub and throw it straight into the slow cooker along with the rest of the ingredients instead of marinating the meat overnight. I have no idea how it would affect the intensity of flavours, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt the recipe in any way and it would definitely take out the extra day’s worth of prep.

Overall, it was a perfect meal to have on a snowy December day and I would definitely make it again. It was just the right amount of interesting without making the stew feel like it had been changed too much from being a nice bowl of familiarity.

Bison Stew

1lb bison stew meat
2 Tbsp chimichurri rub (generous tablespoons!)
3 carrots, peeled & chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
1 onion, peeled & chopped
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 1/2 cup beef broth
1 cup de-alcoholized red wine
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp rosemary

Mix the bison with the chimichurri rub and put the meat in the bottom of slow cooker. (Or cover and refridgerate over night)
Add chopped vegetables on top of meat.
In a bowl, stir together the beef broth, wine, vinegar and tomato paste.
Pour broth over beef and vegetables, liquid should come almost cover everything, but not quite.
Add bay leaves & rosemary.
Cover and cook on high about 6 hours.
Serve stew with mashed potatoes and crusty bread, if desired.

A couple of recipes…

Yesterday, we had our usual panfried pork chops and kale for dindin after coming home from picking up Eggnog in the crazy snowy weather. The autobody shop was super nice in agreeing to putting on my winter tires when The Hubbs asked if it would be possible. They certainly didn’t have to do it and they get super huge thumbs up from a customer service standpoint.

But back to dindin — I made the usual pork chops, kale with garlic and panfried gnocchi along with some leftover chicken gravy from last week’s roast chicken.

It’s the gnocchi that totally blew me away last night. The day I went for my flu shot, a couple weeks ago, I had lunch at Sunterra Market, then I cruised around the store and picked up a few items that I needed and a few that piqued my interest. During that trip, I picked up a couple of packets of Scarpone’s shelf-stable gnocchi. I’ve tried making gnocchi at home from scratch (several times, in fact) with rather dire results. I suck at gnocchi.

Generally speaking, one is supposed to boil gnocchi and then toss it in with some sauce. Having watched Nigella’s Kitchen episode of Lamb with Rosemary & Port served with Rapid Roastini, I took her idea of just frying the gnocchi instead of boiling them.

The recipe for the gnocchi is more of a method than a proper recipe — you just drop the gnocchi straight from the packet into the hot frying pan with the residual meat juices and to that, I added an extra little bit of olive oil and little bit of minced garlic. The gnocchi was stirred all around to get coated in all the juices, then I left them alone for a few minutes to brown nicely. After a few minutes of browning, I added a splosh of water to the pan, covered it with a lid and let them steam for a few minutes longer until I was happy with the texture and then served up.

The porkchops I had left to keep warm in my awesome toaster oven and the kale I had been keeping warm on the stove, the whole meal probably took not even 30 minutes to cook from start to serving. (Have I mentioned how much I wuvs my new toaster oven? ;D )

Crazy, crazy good meal and I’m still boggled at how tasty the gnocchi were when fried on the stove in 10 minutes.

I think that the gnocchi may just become my starch of choice for panfried porkchops and rice the unarguable choice for when I make tonkatsu.

Sunday dindin I experimented with ground bison.

When I was growing up, I always wanted Mom to make spaghetti and meatballs, but she never did. She either made spaghetti sauce with ground beef (boooring, not to mention rather tasteless, in my opinion) or she made it with beef short ribs (my absolute fave and would so be a contender for “last meal” wish), but never, ever, meatballs. I think she always said it was just too much work.

Bright and early, in my world, I made a batch of bison meatballs and set them in the crockpot with a bottle of spaghetti sauce to simmer away all day long. The prep was minimal (though very, very cold!) and the results were fantastic. Love, love, loved them. My biggest worry when they were cooking was that because there’s so little fat in bison, they would be dried out and tasteless even though they would be simmering all day in sauce. I’m so glad they didn’t completely disintegrate into a pile of mush, either. They were just the perfect tenderness when you cut into them with your fork while still retaining its shape.

The meal was just an all around pleasing affair with the bison balls sitting on top of a bowl of spaghetti, a little bit of parmesan cheese sprinkled everywhere like snow and a few slices of warm & crusty garlic bread to mop up the residual sauce.

It’s funny, thinking about it, I’ve only ever had pasta with meatballs once in my life and it was at this tiny little restaurant almost 10 years ago, where they served only 2 items: penne with tomato sauce for $5 or penne with sausage/meatballs for $6, both came with salad. The sausages I remember being spicy and I think the meatballs were rather bland, so by comparison, my recipe is rather awesome.

Unfortunately I didn’t actually measure the ingredients that I put into the recipe, but I assume it’s a pretty standard-esque recipe for meatballs or maybe even meatloaf, so use your own expertise on the quantities and maybe be a little conservative when adding your breadcrumbs just so you don’t make a dried out ball of meat, mine were actually pretty gooshy when I put them into the crockpot.

Bison Balls
1lb ground bison
1 egg
1/4 cup parmesan cheese (or more to taste)
panko
minced garlic
dried onion flakes
dried oregano
dried parsley
salt & pepper
bayleaf
1 bottle of your fave spaghetti sauce (I used a sausage & red pepper sauce)

In a large bowl mix all the ingredients, except spaghetti sauce, together with your hands until well blended.
Form mixture into ~16-18 balls and set aside.
In a small crockpot, mix spaghetti sauce, some extra minced garlic, dried onion flakes and the bayleaf.
Add ~1/3 jar of water swished out of the bottle to the sauce mixture and mix well.
Drop meatballs into the sauce and gently push them to the bottom of the crockpot, covering with sauce if possible.
Cover crockpot and cook on high about 6+ hours.
Serve over spaghetti with garlic bread for dipping.

240 200F

Yumms

Pot roast was an absolutely incredible first run of our bison stash.

I had prepped for the roast early Saturday because I knew that the hunk of meat needed to have some considerable thaw time before being cooked today.

For whatever reason, this pot roast was infinitely better than my last attempt using beef. I don’t know if it’s because I bought the wrong cut, or I didn’t cook it long enough, or what, but this was the same fall apart tender that I experienced when I used those veal shanks my first time making “pot roast”.

Having said that, the recipe was pretty basic on all fronts — hunk of meat, 1 1/2 onions chopped, 4 homegrown baby carrots chopped, 2 bay leaves, 3 sprigs of thyme and beef broth to come up most of the way up the meat when it’s in the crock pot. I threw everything into the crock and set it on high from 10am-6pm because it turned out the bison was still pretty frozen in the middle.

During cooking there was a little bit of an accident while I was out getting my flu shot this afternoon — I had cut the string off the roast and as it thawed, the meat “popped open” which resulted in the lid being completely ajar for I don’t know how long. Dinner still turned out, but I was pretty worried for awhile that it the meat wouldn’t attain its proper fall apart tenderness by eating time.

Totally tasty and served with homegrown mashed potatoes, which were also absolutely fabulous, to boot.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with the, as usual, mass of leftovers. I could probably get about 2-3 more dinner meals out of our pot roast. Tomorrow I think I’m going to make bison dip sandwiches with some nice garlicky buns and then maybe concentrate the meat juices down to something really tasty. The Hubbs’ suggestion was that I make a shepherd’s pie, so I may try that this week as well.

Beef Stew

Some things just smell awesome, homemade beef stew being one of them, especially when fall starts doing its thang.

We spent an enjoyable evening on Thursday night with some friends watching old cartoons — The Hobbit & The Lord of the Rings in celebration of the Bilbo & Frodo Baggins’ birthdays.

For eats, our hosts made beef stew (bison? I didn’t actually ask) and served it with bread, plus the little junky bits that everyone brought over to watch movies with. Cuz yanno, you need junk food with movies — pretzel sticks, sun chips & my oatmeal bars.

Anyhow, on the way home later that night, The Hubbs & I were talking about beef stew and he described what I can only classify as being his “pedestal beef stew”. Meaning, he has this ideal of how beef stew should be in his head: the potato pieces have to be “just this size” and really soft, there have to be peas that are nice and mushy, along with carrots and celery and beef, as well the viscosity of the gravy has to be just right with proper amount of seasonings… it’s a lot to live up to!

So I tried to work with all that he gave me in his mind and came out with a pretty darn tasty beef stew with The Hubbs’ seal of approval.

There are no real measurements in this case, I just tried to get what I thought to be a proper proportion of veggies to meat going on. The weirdest thing that happened when I was making the stew (because I had it in my head to try something different) — I lost a lot of my braising liquid during the first two & a half hours when I popped the stew pot into the oven at 325F, thinking I could just “set it and forget it” like I would a crockpot. Thankfully I had the sense to check on the stew once before going down for a nap and topping up the pot again with liquids. After that minor disaster, I decided to just leave the pot on the stove to simmer like a normal person would.

A note on De-Alcoholized Red Wine: Yes, I bought a bottle de-alcoholized Merlot specifically for beef stew. I wanted the wine flavour without the harsh after-affects of alcohol. I’m not entirely sure that it was necessarily the right choice, but it did make for a nice and flavourful stew-gravy. I didn’t actually taste the wine on its own until Mom & Dad came over for dindin, but I did have a sip of the glass I gave to Dad. It surprised me. It tasted like… grape drink, but not as sweet. ~I~ can still feel the alcohol at the back of my head when I drink it, but the logic behind using it for cooking was that because it’s only 0.5% alcohol, perhaps whatever it contained, would burn off. We shall find out for sure in the morning. If I am correct (because not all the alcohol burns off when you cook if you’re using wine or beer or spirits, contrary to popular belief), I may have found my alternative. Though to counteract the sweetness of the wine, in the future, I will have to remember to add a smidge of acid to whatever I’m cooking it with.

Awesome Beef Stew

1lb boneless beef short ribs, excess fat removed (but do leave some on for flavour, please!)
1″ slice of pancetta, cut into cubes
olive oil
6 carrots, peeled & chopped
4 parsnips, peeled &chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1lb baby potatoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth
water
2 bay leaves, a few springs fresh thyme & one sprig rosemary
salt & pepper
2 cups frozen peas

Cut beef short ribs into nice big cubes, season generously with salt & pepper and set aside
In a large, heavy pot, warm olive oil over medium high heat with the cubes of pancetta and render out fat.
Drain pancetta cubes and set aside in a large bowl.
Using the residual fat in the pan, brown beef cubes in batches and add to bowl of pancetta as they’re done.
Once all beef has browned, add onions & celery to pan and cook until translucent.
Add carrots & parsnips to pot and cook a few minutes more. Season with salt & pepper.
Deglaze pan with red wine, scraping up tasty bits on the bottom. Be careful of the steam!
Add the beef broth, beef cubes, pancetta & potatoes and stir well.
Add enough water to pot to submerge beef and potatoes.
Add the bayleaf, thyme and rosemary, making sure to submerge them in the liquid.
Bring stew to a boil, then cover & turn heat down to a simmer.
Cook stew for 5-6 hours, stirring occassionally and add more water if liquid levels are too low.
During last hour of cooking, add frozen peas and taste for seasoning, adding more salt & pepper as needed.

Question…

When is a pot roast no longer called a pot roast?

Or for that matter, when is Osso Bucco, no longer called osso bucco?

Tonight I made Pioneer Woman’s Pot Roast, thanks to one of Pojz‘s weekend entries. Instead of using a proper roast (chuck, in the case of the recipe), I used veal shanks that I had in the deep freeze which were at some point going to be for Osso Bucco, but for whatever reason, I decided otherwise. I also decided to just throw everything into my crockpot after searing in a pan and deglazing with beef broth.

I’ve never had pot roast before and neither have I ever had Osso Bucco. So on both counts, however they’re supposed to taste, it was rather awesome. The only drawback I found to using the veal shanks was that it left a whole lot of residual fat in the pot and on the plate. This could be easily fixed by making the pot roast the night before and then just skimming the fat off the next morning before rewarming the dish for eating.

All in all, a very, very good first experience for “pot roast”, albeit *ahem* really, really expensive. It was especially tasty with garlic bread on the side as starch.

Changes made to the recipe:
2 veal shanks (about 2 lbs total weight)
1 1/2 onions (I had a leftover 1/2 onion already in the fridge)
1/3 bag of baby carrots
olive oil
2 cups beef broth
salt & pepper
dried rosemary
dried thyme

– Set crockpot to high to preheat while searing ingredients. Just cuz. (I thought it might help things out time wise.)
– Sear veggies in olive oil over medium high heat and throw it all into crockpot.
– Generously season meat with pepper, but go easy on the salt (beef broth is pretty salty or omit salting entirely, as I usually do).
– Sear meat until well coloured on all sides, then throw into crockpot. Deglaze pan with beef broth.
– Season pot ingredients with dried thyme and rosemary and cover with deglazed beef broth.
– Reposition ingredients in crockpot if needed.
– Set crock to high and cook ~9 hours.

Future changes to recipe:
Garlic, hello!
A slightly less fatty, but still well marbled, cut of meat.
Mashed potatoes on the side

“I’m packing your extra pair of shoes, and your angry eyes just in case.”

My brain has angry eyes right now.

I’m rather sick and tired of new illnesses and new drugs that keep popping up.

Really, I am.

Not to mention the fact that everytime something does come up, I happen to be watching TV at the time and without fail, it has something to do with what disease(s) I have.

So now I am blue… and puffy as all hell from the increased doseage of steroids I had to take on Thursday for the RHC and it’s not going away.

It’s just one kick after another, it seems.

——————————————————

Topic change: I made Cheeseburger Soup for dindin, though thinking about it after the fact, it’s more like a fully loaded baked potato soup.

The original recipe I found on AllRecipes was doctored as per usual and can be found here.

I have a rather embarassing admission to make — I had The Hubbs buy a block of Velveeta just for the soup. I’ve never purchased this strange stuff before and didn’t know what to expect other than ‘great melty cheeziness’. It comes in a cardboard box, like you’d find with shortening/lard, but inside is this bright orange slab of goo, almost vaccuum sealed in heavy-duty plastic. It was the most bizzarre thing I’d ever seen.

For the veggies: I zipped it all through the food processor until it became one amalgamated mess. Having a cold makes me lazy in the veggie chopping department and this way the soup was relatively smooth by serving time. You can obviously make this without the 2 hour simmer-time, I just found that the potatoes broke up nicely and made it relatively smooth & creamy without really needing any extra dairy like milk. Though having said that, the optional addition of sour cream to individual bowls at serving time is pretty awesome.

Anyhow, onto the recipe:

Cheeseburger Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 handful baby carrots, chopped
1 ginormo heaped Tbsp of chopped garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 large palmful dried parsley
butter
olive oil
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups frozen hashbrowns
bacon salt & garlic salt
pepper
1/2 brick Velveeta, cubed
Sour cream, optional

* In a large pot, warm olive oil and butter over medium heat and add veggies.
* Cook until the veggies have sweated out their juices and are nice and soft.
* Push the veggies to the side and add beef, cook until browned through.
* Season meat and vegetable mixture with basil & parsley and mix well.
* Add frozen hashbrowns to the pot and stir until everything is well combined.
* Add chicken stock, bring soup to a boil and leave to simmer for two hours.
* When ready to serve, season with bacon salt, garlic salt & pepper, to taste.
* Add Cheez cubes and stir until melted.
* Serve with a big dollop of sour cream in each bowl.

As an aside — If I had been thinking in advance, what I would have done is fried up 3-4 slices of chopped bacon in the pot to render out the fat, set aside the bacon, and then fried the veggies in the bacon fat instead of using butter & oil. The bacon salt for seasoning was because it seemed like an alright substitute for the real bacon you can top each bowl of soup with, at serving time.

This would in all likelihood make an awesome crockpot soup. I would just dump all the ingredients into the pot, including the Cheez but minus the sour cream, and let it do its thing. But I’m lazy that way. I suppose if you wanted to do the “proper” crocking technique, you’d follow steps 1-3 as above, then throw it and all the remaining ingredients into the crock, give it a good stir, then set it and forget it.