Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My kitchen problem

I have a problem in the kitchen. I can't measure. I knew last night that I wanted to make stew meat for dinner and so I called my mom to confirm a recipe. Her recipe is a little of this and that. So I told myself as I was driving home that I would measure my ingredients so that I could make a post on last night's dinner. I was sure that I would make friends with my measuring cups and spoons. Until I got in the kitchen. It is second nature for me to pick up ingredients and just start tossing them in. Who needs measurements when you can add a dash, pinch or splash? So the result was a very tasty meal but no recipe for my blog. Stew meat is different from beef stew (so my husband says) in that you are eating cubes of meat and vegetables in a thick gravy like sauce. It is served over rice and doesn't have potatoes in it (which I think beef stew does).

Here are some of the things I pinched, dashed and splashed to get the meal:

First I made a flour mixture with flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt (kosher), and fresh ground pepper. I rolled my cubes of meat in the flour mixture and then browned them in my pan. I used maybe three tablespoons of oil to brown a whole lot of stew meat. I had parceled it out from a bigger package but my husband thinks it was about a pound and a half of meat.

Once the meat was browned on all sides (and I had to do that in batches), I removed them all to a plate and then carmelized one sliced onion in the drippings. Don't forget to add your pinch of salt because it helps in the carmelization process. Then I deglazed the pan with some red wine. I used about 1/2 cup of Merlot. Once that was bubbling and slightly reduced (but not nearly syrupy like it can get when you reduce) I added the meat back in and added about 4 cups of boiling water. I also added about a cup of beef stock. I let that simmer for about 45 minutes.

**** Please note: I should have added minced garlic to the onions right before I deglazed the pan but I forgot to. I realized it about 30 minutes in to the simmering process so I just sprinkled in about 1/2 tsp of garlic powder. I don't think it was as good but it was passing. ****

Once the 45 minutes were up, I tested for seasonings. I ended up adding probably a tablespoon of salt (I use low sodium stock and hadn't put much in the flour) and probably 2 tsps of pepper. I added in sliced carrots and parsnips (one of my new favorite things). I also made a slurry with about 1/4 cup of beef stock and the leftover flour from coating the beef and then I had to add a couple of tablespoons more flour to that. I turned the heat up a little since flour does not thicken until it boils. I let that cook for 15 more minutes until the vegetables were done.

I served this over rice that was cooked in half water and half beef stock.

This was very good and Michael requested that I make it again.

For dinner tonight I am on my own since Michael will be working late. I think I am going to try to "recreate" a restaurant meal that I really like. I am going to marinate a chicken breast in Teriyakki (or however you spell that) sauce and add in a little pineapple juice. Then I will cook in my grill pan and finish in the oven. I'll serve it with steamed veggies like I had at the restaurant. They were broccoli, cauliflower, carrots and snow peas. Then they were tossed with a small amount of butter and sprinkled with seasoning salt. I'll let y'all know how that goes and I will TRY to measure. I think I need to put a sign up in my kitchen "remember to measure your ingredients." Oh well. A zebra can't change it's stripes and I guess I can't change the way I naturally cook. I have some very exciting news to tell you and I will create a new post for that.

Bye for now.

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