Feast 25 – Raging Hunk of Burning Love

October 26, 2009

ok, this weekend, i decided to make cajun food. its not something that i have had much experience with beyond the whole instant zartrains sort of thing but something that i consistently enjoy when i eat it. so why not? also, it gave me another excuse to use my crockpot. the love affair continues. i can’t help it, i love building a nice dish and then letting it cook until it a molten ball of goodness 7 or 8 hours later. the smells in the room, the occasional stir and taste (gotta make sure its seasoned right), it just turns the whole day into a feast. so, with that in mind, i decided on a gumbo.

the thing about gumbo is that almost every gumbo i come across is a seafood gumbo. not that there is anything wrong with that but i have been on a chicken kick as of late. it doesn’t hurt at all that the bags of chicken thighs are a meager $2.40 at the store. makes for an easy decision for me. a bit of hunting around and i found a recipe for chicken and smoked sausage gumbo. exactly what i had in mind, i call that a result. to go alongside, i thought it would be nice to have a bit of blackened catfish and a vegetable. well, okra is my first choice but the gumbo already has okra in it so i do some poking around. i come across a dish with the unlikely name of Maque Choux (pronounced “mock shoe”) courtesy of Emeril Lagasse. If there is one thing i will trust Emeril on, its cajun food so again, i will call this a result. ok, original plan was to make a nice batch of southern style biscuits but upon reflection, with the gumbo served over rice and the two other dishes, biscuits become extraneous. i’m really working hard to practice constraint because my natural inclination is to make six or seven courses but that would be entirely too much food. i enjoy leftovers but a bit of restraint and focus on three dishes is turning into my optimal planning pattern.

So, i mention over and over that the planning revolves around the meal that takes the longest. well, in this case, it was a bit extreme. i started prep for the gumbo at midnight the night before, setting the chicken thighs to boil and then reducing the heat to low and letting them simmer overnight. i generously spiced the water with salt, pepper, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and a large amount of cayenne. my thought process on this is that i will end up with a nice spiced chicken broth with extra to freeze for use in a future spicy meal. needless to say, it worked out well and at 7 the next morning, i removed the chicken from the water to cool and turned up the heat to reduce the broth a bit, cooking it for around another hour and a half.

with the chicken tender and falling off the bone, i skinned it, removed the bones and proceeded as below:

· 1/3 cup flour
· 1/3 cup cooking oil
· 3 cups chicken broth
· 12 to 16 ounces smoked sausage, sliced about 1/2″ thick
· 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
· 2 cups diced cooked chicken
· 2 cups sliced okra
· 2 cup chopped onion
· 1 cup chopped green pepper
· 1 cup chopped celery
· 4 cloves garlic, minced
· 4 diced jalapenos
· salt, to taste
· 1/2 teaspoon pepper
· 2 teaspoons ground red pepper
· 2 teaspoons thyme
· 2 teaspoons oregano

Preparation:

For roux, in a heavy 2-quart saucepan stir together flour and oil until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes more or until roux is dark reddish brown. Let roux cool.

Add chicken broth to a 3 1/2 to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in roux. Add sausage, chicken, okra, onion, green pepper, celery, garlic, jalapenos, salt, pepper, herbs and red pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 to 10 hours, or HIGH for 4 to 5 hours.
Skim off fat. Serve with hot cooked rice.

the recipe above was acquired off the internet and modified with the addition of the herbs and jalapenos, increase in the amount of cayenne, okra and celery. the thing about gumbo is that its a nice hearty stew that blends really well with the long cook time so you can balance the ingredients however suits you.

Ingredients for Maque Choux

Ingredients for Maque Choux

Maque Choux… what can i say, i really really really like this dish. its like cream corn on steroids. far be it from me to steal Emeril’s thunder so please by all means, follow this link for the recipe… i made a few modifications, using both a green and red bell pepper and increasing the jalapenos to personal taste levels. i also added all the spices individually instead of using his ever present Essence. it still had a little bam to it in my opinion though. i used fresh minced garlic as well because, well, fresh garlic is good.

after cooking the Maque Choux on the stovetop, i transferred it to a baking dish to keep in a warm oven both for ease of serving and to free up the real estate on my stove which is at a severe limit as most of you know from my constant whining about same. i felt the time in the oven helped the creaminess develop a bit more, individual mileage may vary but i was happy with the result.

so, gumbo stewing away, maque choux in the oven, i make a quick batch of white rice, nothing fancy, flavored with a bit of the same herbs from the maque choux to tie the dishes together on the plate. i like having a common thread. i was very subtle with the herbs though, no need to overpower it, its gonna be buried in gumbo anyway.

Catfish in the pan

Catfish in the pan

while the rice is steaming, i heated up my cast iron skillet with a knob of butter and an equal amount of olive oil, medium high heat. take some catfish fillets and make sure they are as dry as possible. sprinkle both sides with a mixture of the following spices (yes i’m lazy and doing a little cut/paste instead of retyping)

# 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
# 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
# 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
# 1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
# 1/2 teaspoon sugar
# 1/2 teaspoon salt
# 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Spice Mixture for the Catfish

Spice Mixture for the Catfish

press the spice mixture into the fish with a spoon or if you are me, with your hands. cook the fish in the heated cast iron skillet for about 4 minutes per side and serve immediately with slices of lemon on the side to squeeze over.

last step, bask in the glory and adoration of your dinner guests.

Gumbo, Catfish and Maque Choux plated, ready to eat

Gumbo, Catfish and Maque Choux plated, ready to eat

so, in the coming week, expect two posts… on saturday, i plan on a second bar food experience and on sunday, your regularly scheduled feast, still in the planning processes but most likely centered around spatchcocked cornish hens seasoned with a chinese five spice blend sort of thing. i’m considering a curried eggplant dish and a fried rice of some sort for the accompaniments but its just monday, give me a break!

oh, 56 days til i get to go home for a bit. keep the beer cold.


Feast 24 – The Battle of Midway

October 19, 2009

well, this is it, the halfway point. i feel excited and a bit relieved. its not going quickly but it is going.

with this being the midway point, i wanted to do something a little special. a little fancier, something to knock the socks off so to speak. my efforts to this end were two-fold. first off, as far as the menu, i opted for a few dishes that aren’t exactly everyday fare. this week i made a Brie en croute, Ratatouille on the side and for the main, a take-off from a faux maki that i found online using beef as the outer roll. not sure what to call it but it turned out quite nice. For the second departure, i decided to wait for all the prep until after Eddie arrived, to give a full demonstration of the process, start to finish. it was nice to roll through the steps, to verbalize them and to give reasons why each step was done the way it was done. in some ways, this reinforced my confidence in my techniques and gave me a bit of a mental boost.

I identified two key concepts that today’s prep revolved around. the first is the importance of a timeline when cooking multiple dishes that need to be ready at the same time. with more elaborate spreads, i use a whiteboard to identify the timing on key steps to make sure i keep on track. This is essential for large meals like Thanksgiving or larger dinner parties to make sure that your dishes are both ready on time and not ready too far ahead. a dish that sits is one that loses quality. every timeline that i make revolves around the prep/cook time of the dish that takes the longest. it sounds obvious but you need to remember it and focus on that when determining what time to start everything. you may remember me referring to a dish in past posts as my “long pole”, that is the dish that takes the longest and is either the most prep intensive or takes the most actual cooking time. once i’ve figured out what time to start this dish, based on prep time and the time i want to eat (usually about 30 minutes after i tell guests to arrive since no one ever shows up on time), i work backwards with the other dishes to fill in the time, subtracting the prep/cook time + 15 minutes wiggle room from plating time to determine the start time of each dish. it happens almost subconsciously with smaller meals like this one but takes a bit of planning with large meals.

the second key concept is the mise en place. this is basically laying out all the ingredients, tools and any other items needed to make your dishes. a well organized mise en place leads to smoother cooking processes. its much more important when you are cooking on a commercial scale but its a good habit for the home chef as well. i usually work with a partial mise en place, most of my items laid out and a few more that i dig for at the time of need either because they need to stay in the fridge or more likely because i forgot to get them out.

so, here is my mise en place for the three dishes i made this week:

Beef dish mise en place

Beef dish mise en place

Brie en Croute mise en place

Brie en Croute mise en place

Ratatouille mise en place

Ratatouille mise en place

ok, more than anything, i just have my ingredients laid out and my central area, pictured here in the Brie prep picture is my work station for todays meal. a nice clear area with your cutting board is essential for me in meal prep.

the long pole today was a split decision between the Ratatouille and the Brie. both take about 45 minutes but the Brie required some prep followed by some time in the freezer for the pastry to hold shape better so i started with it first. this gave me flexibility in building the Ratatouille while the Brie was chilling. The brie recipe was intended for an entire wheel of brie but given that it was intended for an audience of two, i scaled this back to individual cheese filled pastries, using a single sheet of puff pastry cut into six sections.

found at Epicurious.com
Mushroom stuffed Brie en Croute

Ingredients
1 small onion
1/2 pound mushrooms
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon dry Sherry
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
a 17 1/4-ounce package frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
a chilled 14- to 17-ounce wheel Brie
1 large egg

Preparation
Mince enough onion to measure 1/2 cup and finely chop mushrooms. In a 9- to 10-inch heavy skillet cook onion in butter over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add mushrooms, Sherry, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste and sauté over moderately high heat, stirring, until liquid mushrooms give off is evaporated. Cool mushroom mixture.

Mushrooms, Onions and garlic cooking

Mushrooms, Onions and garlic cooking

On a lightly floured surface roll out 1 sheet of pastry into a 13-inch square and, using Brie as a guide, cut out 1 round the size of the Brie. Cut out a mushroom shape from scraps for decoration.

Horizontally halve Brie. Roll out remaining sheet of pastry into a 13-inch square and transfer to a shallow baking pan. Center bottom half of Brie, cut side up, on pastry square and spread mushroom mixture on top. Cover mushroom mixture with remaining half of Brie, cut side down.

Staging the puff pastry and pieces of Brie

Staging the puff pastry and pieces of Brie

Without stretching pastry, wrap it snugly up over Brie and trim excess to leave a 1-inch border of pastry on top of Brie. In a small bowl lightly beat egg and brush onto border. Top Brie with pastry round, pressing edges of dough together gently but firmly to seal. Brush top of pastry with some egg and arrange pastry mushroom on it. Lightly brush mushroom with some egg, being careful not to let egg drip over edge of mushroom (which would prevent it from rising). With back of a sharp small knife gently score side of pastry with vertical marks, being careful not to cut through dough. Chill Brie, uncovered, 30 minutes. Brie may be made up to this point 1 day ahead and chilled, loosely covered.

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Bake Brie in middle of oven until pastry is puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. Let Brie stand in pan on a rack 15 minutes and transfer with a spatula to a serving

i modified this a bit by using a splash of marsala wine in place of the sherry, a combination of taste preference and this being what i had on the shelf. i also added 4 cloves of minced garlic to the mushroom mixture, personal preference again…

While the formed Brie pastries were chilling, i formed the Ratatouille. My original intention was to make this in my little corningware bowls in individual portions and then turn it out onto a baking pan to finish with some more parmesan under the broiler. this would have worked great with the exception that i was using my solitary pizza pan for the brie pastries and the bowls were way too hot to effectively manage a flip into any other type of container. so, i decided to just finish them as they were in the dishes and scooped them out onto the plates for serving. they were very cooperative and came out of the bowls whole and well formed so i have no complaints there. the recipe below is intended as a casserole, use your own preferences when making the dish. as i was making it as a layered formed dish, i sliced the eggplant thinly and did not precook it as in the recipe below. i also increased the seasonings, adding scant amounts of oregano, basil, majoram and cayenne pepper in the layers.

Ratatouille

2 tablespoons Olive oil
3 cloves Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dried parsley
1 Eggplant, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Salt to taste
1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
2 Zucchini, sliced
1 Large onion, sliced into rings
2 cups Sliced fresh mushrooms
1 Green bell pepper, sliced
2 Large tomatoes, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat bottom and sides of a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic until lightly browned. Mix in parsley and eggplant. Saute until eggplant is soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt to taste.

Spread eggplant mixture evenly across bottom of prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Spread zucchini in an even layer over top. Lightly salt and sprinkle with a little more cheese. Continue layering in this fashion, with onion, mushrooms, bell pepper, and tomatoes, covering each layer with a sprinkling of salt and cheese.

Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes.

My inspiration for my beef main was Japanese Beef and Scallion Rolls from Epicurious but i decided to deviate in such a extreme manner that it really can’t be seen as the same dish anymore. you can follow the link to see the original but here is what i did:

pound flat a cut of flank steak and slice into two portions. you want this as flat as possible and vaguely rectangular.

meanwhile, blanch 4 green onions and two large julienne cut carrots of the same length as the green onions in briskly boiling water, removing the green onions after about 45 seconds and the carrot after 3 – 4 minutes when they begin to soften. transfer to a bowl of ice water to retain color and prevent further texture changes.

toss two stalks of asparagus with salt, pepper and a bit of olive oil. pan roast in a dry cast iron skillet over high heat until blackened, turning to char all sides of the asparagus.

mince 4 cloves of garlic.

season the flattened steak with salt, pepper and just a hint of rosemary. place all your ingredients sushi-maki style on one edge of the meat and tightly roll. the original recipe called for these to be tied up in string which is probably a good idea. i improvised with some toothpicks to hold them together and it worked reasonably well.

beef ready to roll

beef ready to roll

fry the meat rolls over medium-high heat until all sides are cooked to desired level, around 5 – 6 minutes total.

let rest on a plate. while the meat is resting, deglaze the pan with a 1/2 cup of Bordeaux, cooking over medium-high to reduce the wine to a sauce consistency. slice the meat maki-style and drizzle a bit of sauce over top. serve and enjoy.

Brie, Ratatouille and Beef Roll, ready to eat

Brie, Ratatouille and Beef Roll, ready to eat

overall, i would say the meal turned out well. my biggest complaint is the quality of the cuts of meat available here at Osan. i should know after a few failures that you can’t get away with using a cheaper cut of meat because although a bashed the hell out of it, the meat still wasn’t very tender. the next beef dish i make, i will have to pony up for a more expensive cut. the only other criticism is that the brie overpowered the mushroom mixture and the subtlety of the filling was lost. i would probably opt for a milder cheese if/when i made the dish again.

Eddie brought a Mouton Cadet 2007 Bordeaux which was just what the doctor ordered for this meal. it was well balanced and tasty, definitely a wine i would have again.

with the leftover sheet of pastry, i made homemade pop tarts, going off the vague memories of seeing Alton Brown do so on an episode of Good Eats and recollections of my wife’s fruit compote recipe:

add frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup sugar into a pan, bring to a boil and continue cooking on high until the mixture thickens. add a generous splash of vanilla extract. use your immersion blender to puree most of the strawberries leaving some chunks. cool the mixture

roll out the sheet of puff pastry to a thin layer on a lightly floured surface. cut into four rectangular pieces, twice as long as you want your pastries as you will be folding them over. spoon some strawberry compote over the middle of each pastry bottom part leaving a bit of space between the edge to seal it. sprinkle just a hint of fresh ground black pepper on top of the strawberry compote. fold over the other half of the pastry and crimp closed on all four sides with a fork. transfer to a cookie sheet and bake in a 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes. try to save some to share.

unfortunately, no pictures exist of these pastries. i’m not sure what happened to them but by the time i thought of the camera, they were gone.


Feast 23 – Chili today, hot tamale

October 12, 2009

I’ve been reading this great book called Hidden Kitchens: Stories, Recipes, and More from NPR’s The Kitchen Sisters which is a great read covering non-traditional venues for preparing extraordinary food. it demonstrates the fact that where there are people, food will crop up. i’m only about 1/2 way through the book so far but each story tweaks my interest a little more. i shouldn’t be surprised, NPR as a whole has a tendency to appeal to my esoteric side and find the weird angles of whatever human interest to keep me on my toes. i must admit that i never thought of cuisine and NASCAR until i read the story. but, the way this relates to here, now and today is that they write a wonderful story on the chili queens of San Antonio, beautiful exotic women who would ply the locals and tourists with hot fiery chilis in the markets of downtown San Antone. well, you had me at chili. San Antonio being as close to a home as i have had, beautiful exotic women, spicy delicious food, this story was custom made for me, wasn’t it?

anyway, this sparked an interest in making a bit of chili. it was rather convenient as i had been trying to think of a meal that i could make that would leave me with leftovers for a few days this week to stretch my meager budget and make it til the next payday. chili is perfect for that, you make a big ass pot, eat some, store the rest and it just improves with age, mingling and settling into greatness in the fridge. with the budget in mind as well, i decided to go with pork, quality and quantity the least expense option i have on the table.

after a bit of searching, i came across a recipe for pork chili that called for a cup of coffee amongst the liquid ingredients. this intrigued me to say the least. i decided to up the ante and give a nod to the wonderful mole tradition, dropping in a few wedges of mexican chocolate that i now have thanks to my wonderful in-laws Don and Pat (from san antone, yet another connection in this story). For me, the perfect accompaniment for chili is corn bread. my wife makes great cornbread and since she does, i’m not sure when the last time i even bothered to make it. we have an informal non-competitive agreement in our household, any dish that the other makes, we refrain from making to avoid any direct competition, no comparisons of who can make the best (insert dish). we all know who would win that contest anyway. my wife is a great cook. so, anyway, to the point, i actually had to dig a bit to find a recipe that i was happy with for the cornbread. as luck would have it, one of the cookbooks i brought with me to korea is El Charro Café Cookbook: Flavors of Tucson from America’s Oldest Family-Operated Mexican Restaurant, a great little cookbook detailing the history and dishes of a wonderful restaurant in Tuscon, which i must visit at some point. They have a recipe for cornbread but oddly enough, in the edition i have at least, there is no baking time listed. i’ve baked enough bread to be able to figure out when to pull cornbread out of the oven but i found this omission odd.

On to the recipes:

http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Spicy-Red-Pork-and-Bean-Chili-102938

Ingredients
1/2 pound sliced bacon
4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large white onion, chopped
1 to 2 fresh jalapeño chiles, seeded and chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
1/3 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
14 1/2-ounce can beef broth
1 cup brewed coffee
1 cup water
28- to 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes with purée
2 (19-ounce) cans small red beans or kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Preparation

Bacon Crumbled and onion ready to slice

Bacon Crumbled and onion ready to slice

Cook bacon in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, turning, until crisp. Transfer with tongs to paper towels to drain and pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat from pot. Crumble bacon.

Pork Roast on the cutting board

Pork Roast on the cutting board

Pat pork dry and season with salt and pepper. Add oil to pot and heat over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking.

Browning the pork

Browning the pork

Brown pork in about 6 batches without crowding and transfer with a slotted spoon to a plate. Add onion and jalapeños and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until softened. Add garlic, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne, then cook, stirring, 1 minute. Return pork to pot with any juices accumulated on plate and add broth, coffee, water, and tomatoes with purée.

Close-up of Chili in the crockpot

Close-up of Chili in the crockpot

Simmer chili, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until pork is very tender, about 2 hours. Stir in beans and bring to a simmer, stirring.

Serve chili with bacon and accompaniments.

Chili, steaming hot in the bowl

Chili, steaming hot in the bowl

I increased the peppers to six, using 2 green jalapenos, 2 white jalapenos and 2 anaheim peppers. also, added three wedges of mexican chocolate, not enough to overpower the dish but i subtle undertone. if i hadn’t mentioned it, you probably wouldn’t have known it was there. would probably plus up on the chocolate next time so that it peeked its head out a little more. i did the dish in the crockpot after the pan browning of the pork, around 7 hours cook time on high to get the meat nice and tender. i waited until about 2 hours from serving to add the beans to prevent them from getting mushy. also used around 8 cloves of garlic and sprinkled in some chipotle pepper powder. the dish turn out really zesty without being overbearing. i hate it when people make chili and focus on nothing but the heat. its a real waste, there are so many delicious flavors to balance and enjoy, if you scorch your taste buds on the first bite, you lose all that and just have an endurance match eating white hot magma.

Cornbread turned out and ready to eat

Cornbread turned out and ready to eat

the cornbread is simple, mix together all the ingredients until they resemble a thick pancake batter, pour into a heated, oiled cast iron skillet and bake in a 350 degree oven until a knife inserted comes out clean and the top is evenly browned. bonus points for rotating the pan midway thru. should take around 18 – 20 minutes for the cornbread, individual mileage may vary.

ingredients:
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
6 tbsp melted butter

1 finely diced jalapeno
1/2 a can of creamed corn

Bowl of chili with sour cream and cheese

Bowl of chili with sour cream and cheese

the meal turned out great, good enough that i had two bowls of leftover chili this morning 🙂 Eddie brought over some Stella Artois, lager suits itself to chili quite well. i served up the chili with a bit of sour cream and shredded cheese over top, avocado, green onions, freshly diced tomatoes, whatever you like would also go nicely.

it occurs to me that next week is the midway point, meal 24. i should do something nice.

i wanted to take a quick moment to give some respect to Gourmet magazine, shut down this past week after 70 years of operation. a look at my recipes cooked and you will find a number of them start in the pages of Gourmet, by way of epicurious.com. I am thankful that Bon Apetit is still there but cannot deny that the absence of Gourmet creates a void.


weekend preview

October 7, 2009

for a variety of reasons, after speaking with my darling wife this evening, i have decided to make a big batch of pork chili this sunday… i ❤ leftovers.

i will probably make some jalapeno corn bread and some honey corn bread alongside. chili is one of those dishes that doesn't call out for any side dishes so it may very well be a one-pot affair.

at any rate, the crock pot will be put to use and i will have an abundant amount of chili for the coming week. that sounds like a win-win to me.


Feast 22 – Meat and Potatoes (It’s Grim Up North)

October 5, 2009

ok, this meal started because i had a hankering… i believe thats the best reason to ever cook something, because you get a notion that hey, i’d really like to eat that. and so, i caught a sudden urge for meatballs. as is my habit during research for these meals, i start free associating with the internet as my friend to determine what thematically would be appropriate. i find the regional cuisine pages on wikipedia to be fascinating reading. just seeing the lists upon lists of traditional dishes from a specific cuisine is like a culinary goldmine. and so, when i think meatballs, i think scandinavian style food. swedish meatballs. or in the case of today, Norwegian meatballs. which, to be honest with you, are identical to my mental image of swedish meatballs but i want to be as accurate in my reporting as possible. as far as an accompaniment i was kinda at a loss. from my western experience, it seemed that there would probably be some egg noodles involved somewhere with some steamed vegetable on the side. but that was just the american experience, i wanted to make this as right as possible. so just what do they eat up there? as it turns out, lots and lots of meat and potatoes… lots of fish. other root vegetables but nary a green leaf in sight as far as i could tell. so, between google, wikipedia and epicurious, i came up with a two dish ensemble to satiate my craving for meatballs.

Norwegian Meatballs with Spiced Cream Sauce

Ingredients
Meatballs

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 small onion, chopped
2 slices day-old rye bread, crusts trimmed, torn into pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
2/3 cup beef stock or canned beef broth
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 pound ground beef
1/2 pound ground veal

Sauce

2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
2 tablespoons whipping cream
Ground allspice

Preparation
For meatballs:
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly. Combine bread and stock in large bowl. Mix in onion mixture, egg, allspice and pepper. Add ground beef and veal and blend well. (Can be prepared 3 hours ahead. Cover and chill.)

Shape meat into 1 1/4-inch balls. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add meatballs and sauté until cooked through and brown, turning occasionally, about 20 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to platter and keep warm. Reserve drippings in skillet.

Meatballs simmering away

Meatballs simmering away

For sauce:
Add flour to drippings in skillet and stir over medium heat until brown, about 4 minutes. Gradually whisk in stock and cream. Simmer until sauce is thick and smooth, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with allspice, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over meatballs and serve.

Pan Sauces are not very photogenic

Pan Sauces are not very photogenic

i probably don’t even need to mention this but this is Osan so i was unable to get veal. i had to make due with a full pound of ground beef, 82% lean for the flavor adding value of that tasty fat. anything leaner and i think you really miss out on a lot.

i have to tell you, this is probably the best freaking pan sauce i have ever made. i cheated, in typical 48F fashion, increased the cream to stock ratio by just a bit and kicked in a healthy amount of cayenne. we can’t be traditional all the time. it spiked the sauce to a higher level in my opinion and was extremely tasty. i’d like to just call off the next 26 weeks of meals and make this pan sauce over and over. ok, thats not true, variety is the spice of life but it was a pretty good pan sauce.

For the side dish, i came across this potato dish called Janssons Frestelse, translated as Janssons Temptation. well, if it’s so tasty this guy Jansson can’t resist it, how can i resist making it? it’s a very simple dish, i kinda like it that way. a layered casserole with potatoes, onions and anchovies finished off with cream, butter and breadcrumbs. bake in an 400 degree oven for 45 minutes and serve. quite tasty and well worth the minimal effort it takes to prepare. below is the quoted recipe i found on the net, no real mods to this one, i did mine in three layers with anchovies on the first and second layer but not the top. i used panko breadcrumbs because they are damned tasty and add a nice crisp finish to dishes such as this.

Janssons Frestelse

5-6 medium potatoes
2 large yellow onions
15-20 anchovie fillets
2 T butter
3/4 C heavy cream
bread crumbs
freshly ground black pepper

First Layer of Potato, Onion and Anchovies

First Layer of Potato, Onion and Anchovies

Peel and grate the potatoes. Slice the onions thinly. Grease a casserole, about 9×12 inches. Layer the grated potatoes, onion and anchovies in the dish, starting with potatoes. Pour the cream, then sliced butter, bread crumbs and pepper evenly over the mix. Bake in a 400° oven for 40-50 minutes.

Finished Casserole

Finished Casserole

Well, one point of light in this bleak world… by some apparent shipping accident or bizarre mistake, the store here got a shipment of Kostriker Schwarzbier which is pretty damned tasty. it was just the thing for this meal and oddly enough, a few of them was enough to convince me to go shoot some pool afterward.

i can’t say enough about the meatballs and the sauce, the meatballs were moist and tender, the sauce zesty with just the right amount of creamy kick. This is one of my favorite dishes in quite some time.

plated and ready to eat

plated and ready to eat

oh, i also threw down the gauntlet for Eddie, i challenged him to come up with a theme for a feast, either a world cuisine, a key ingredient or a vaguely recollected dish that he might want to try. i like the thought of audience participation, who knows where it might lead?