Last night’s dinner was all full of experimentation.
My grocery has had cheap chuck roasts (and small ones, too!). And instead of making my standard pot roast or swiss steak, I happened across a recipe on the internet for beer braised beef (from [redacted]’s del.ici.ous links)
So I went and bought a six-pack of Negra Modela on my way home. I added the salt and pepper to the raw meat, and then I let it sit for a hour because I went to a demo at the restaurant school nearby last summer and the chef had said that rubs that included salt are used incorrectly when they are added right before cooking – instead they should sit on long enough that the salt not only draws out moisture, but also then re-dries forming a little crust of salty goodness on the outside of the meat. Whatever – I gave it a try.
After the browning stage with just the salt and pepper, the roast smelled wonderful and was very tasty (What? I hadn’t had lunch!).
I put in all three onions that the recipe called for (but none of the shallots because I didn’t have any and how were you going to notice the difference between onions and shallots in a dish with flavors this heavy?) and then I remembered that my roast was a little smaller than the recipe called for, so I pulled out some of them halfway through cooking – they are destined for an onion and potato curry with yellow thai noodle sauce.
Added beer. Cooked. Ate some ramen (because starving!). Flipped the roast. Dipped a piece of bread in the goody and ate that – MMmmm tasty! Cooked. Ate a yogurt cup. Made and ate a side dish. And then the roast was finished! So I nibbled at a corner and put it aside to be tonight’s dinner because I was full and it was 10pm.
Verdict: even with mexican beer, the beef tastes belgian. I think I’ll thicken the sauce to make gravy, and maybe that will give it a more yumminess. I secretly think that I should have added one of those mini cans of tomato paste to the braising right at the beginning, but I am not wise in the ways of tomato paste and do not keep those little can in stock. Maybe I should start.
ETA: Pulled beef out, brought liquid to a fast boil, and put a heaping Tablespoon of whole wheat flour in a little mesh strainer and sifted it in slowly while stirring – made a very tasty gravy.
About half an hour before the roast finished, I started preparing a side dish. Well, it ended up being two side dishes by accident. But I was trying a new vegetable kohlrabi.
A bit of preliminary research turned up that it was a member of the cabbage family and “just like broccoli.” Only it’s leafy and bulbous, and not much like either of those things, so I was puzzled.
Finally a found a recipe that seemed made just for this vegetable, instead of randomly substituting it into a brussel sprout recipe: Braised kohlrabi with garlic and parmesan
And thus I had a theme for the evening – braising everything!
And then I cheated on it because right after I had prepared the kohlrabi for the recipe, I realised that it wasn’t going to use the greens – so I cut them up into little strips and threw them into some olive oil a few minutes after I threw in some garlic. If I had thought it through, I think this is a dish that would really have been improved with the use of my fancy olive oil (I am starting to be able to taste the differences). And then, since I was shredding parmesan anyway, I tossed in a goodly handful of cheese before eating it
verdict (Greens): Reminded me a lot of broccoli rabe leaves. Soft and tasty without being bitter, but with a lovely amount of spiciness.
Right, so the real recipe – sauteing garlic and kohlrabi in butter was a brilliant way to start. Turns out that half an ice cube tray of duck stock melts out to exactly 200mL – win! So I had much more flavorful stock going in that is called for.
verdict (bulb): Again, color me unreasonably skeptical – it was just like broccoli. Well, broccoli stems. Only easier to peel and with more surface area. I’ve been using broccoli stems for years to replace water chestnuts from recipes – and kohlrabi will be even better. I am all impressed with this new (to me) vegetable.
Now I have leftover duck broth infused with the essence of garlic, butter, and kohlrabi. Do I (a) use it to marinate a chicken leg quarter as I thaw it, or (b) make some rice, pour that in, maybe cook a few greens for on top, and call it dinner?