Sunday, November 30, 2008

I need some input on a recipe idea that struck me today, I have not made this yet, but the idea just hit me while looking at some corned beef in the supermarket.Lately I have been trying to make homemade sausages using the sausage attachment to my kitchenaid. I tried some morrocan lamb sausages, but I way overspiced them, did some simpler lamb sausages that were good, but then put it away for a while.So today in the market I just happened to pass the corned beef, and I thought, "corned beef sausage?" I quickly realized that would not work, but then I thought, make corned beef hash, and stuff it into sausage casings, corned beef hash sausages. Think about it. Really think about it. Many people don't like hash because, well, it looks like it has been eaten already, and then brought back up. Yes, its a sign of the decline of our culture, that too few people appreciate the wonder that is corned beef hash. Now imagine it, corned beef, potatoes, onions, made into a good hash, then stuffed in sausage casings and fried again, a nice, neat hash package, with even more crispiness from the second frying. I am determined to try it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

My New Avatar!

The mystery 80s chick!

Blogging Creation: The Birth of a Recipe

Okay, I am right in the middle of the process of invention, and I wanted to start recording whats going on, if only to have a record of my thoughts and predictions to look back at, when it is done, and see whether it came out as hoped, or whether there were unexpected turns.

I will boldly predict what I think is going to come of this; something like Coq-Au-Miso-Lemongrass, a braised chicken dish, possibly with some vegetables, similar to coq-au-vin, but in place of the wine, a spicy miso-lemongrass sauce, but the sauce will not just be a combination of asian condiments, it will be a slow-cooked rich sauce, with a base flavor of sweet, deeply caramalized shallots.

How did this come about? Its very very complicated, and thats why I want to record this, the story of how a recipe comes to me.

This all started last Thurday, when I stopped at Wegmons on the way to my psychiatrists office (a 50 mile drive, its the only time I am ever near a Wegmons) and among other impulses, grabbed a big package of red miso, something I have never eaten or cooked with, just because I like the crappy miso soup they throw at you before the sushi at my favorite sushi place.

Then this past Saturday, once again as a side trip, I stopped at a large asian market in Pleasantville to stock up on asian basics that are unavailable where I live, thai curries, a big block of frozen, minced lemongrass (this is worth a post on its own; lemongrass is sparse and wicked expensive where I live, this product I found was a frozen block of minced lemongrass and chilis, in plastic, you can open it up and chip off a chunk, and when it defrosts, it is as fresh and pungent and wonderful as if you just chopped a fresh stalk, and I now have a years supply of lemongrass that will not go stale or get old, for $2.99, about what I would pay for 2 stalks fresh), bean thread noodles, sririhuacha sauce, fish sauce (smiling baby, of course), and some cool things like baby bok-choy and tofu and kimchee. All ultra-cheap.

So thats how it began, as of last Saturday, I had lemongrass, and I had miso, both random, impulse purchases. But of course I know they are there and they nag at me, they call to me, "use me, use me, Prommie" I hear them begging from the pantry and the freezer.

But I have been busy, because I have been working on another major culinary project, I have been making sausage, something new for me, and completely fascinating once you get into it. I got the meat grinder and sausage maker attachments for my Kitchenaid mixer 2 weeks ago, and have spent the last two weekends making lamb sausage with varying degrees of success. The details of that are another story, but the sausage making definitely played a role here.

Over the weekend, while looking for ways to use up all the surplus of sausage I had made, I started looking through some of my huge food porn books, the really big, stupid "Culinaria" books, not really much good food information, but great photos, and I get almost all my ideas from photos, and I saw this stuffed chicken wing dish, you take the outer two segments of a chicken wing, arduously remove the two bones from the bigger segment, without breaking the skin, then stuff that segment with some kind of stuffing. This had me thinking I would use up some of my lamb sausage stuffing some chicken wings. Last night I bought the wings, and I also bought some skinless boneless chicken thighs, thinking I would stuff those too.

Well, when I got home, I found out that when they bone thighs, they filet them, they can't be stuffed unless you sew them back up again, and I was not in the mood for post-mortem chicken surgery, so I set the thighs aside and stuffed the wings.

Now there is a method of cooking I like to do with chicken, I suppose it is a kind of braising, but it involves adding very very little liquid, and it can make the skin-outside of the meat a very dark brown and though not "crisp," nevertheless something I will call "snappy." You start out browning the chicken in a pan over high heat in a small amount of fat, as you would at the start of, for example, coq au vin. Doesn't matter really if its big or small pieces of chicken, skin on or off, just season, flour is optional, and brown in a hot pan with a small amount of oil. When the chicken pieces are browned all over, you lower the heat, add aromatics, and cover, but add no liquid. The only moisture in the pan will be that given off by the chicken.

Cook very very slowly for an hour or so, turning the chicken pieces occasionally, and the aromatics (in the case of my wings, I just added shallots and garlic cloves) will caramalize to a dark brown and meld with the tiny bit of chicken essence, and this will cause the chicken to turn an even darker brown and infuse its concentrated flavor into the chicken.

So thats what I was doing to the wings, but they were wings, and by now I have an instinctive, unthinking urge to always make wings hot, so I also added some dried red chilis. And then I thought of the lemongrass, how it lightens and brightens everything, so before you could say "bam," there went some lemongrass into the pan. And then I thought, OK, some fish sauce, and just a bit of vinegar, because now I am thinking "hot and sour lemongrass braised stuffed chickenwings," which is what it turned out, though just so I don't forget, it was not hot enough and was not sour enough, so next time, more chilis, and right at the end, a better jolt of vinegar, and some black pepper, I want that hot and sour next time, I think it will be epic if I can make it come out tasting like what I am imagining tasting right now.

But okay, thats where I was in the evolution of the "Coq-au-miso-lemongrass" as of last night, I had these skinless boneless thighs, and I had already thought I must make coq-au-vin, thighs are really good for that, better than breasts.

But this morning, the miso was calling to me again. I am sitting at my desk, where I ostensibly work, and I started googling for miso recipes, and I quickly discover that red miso is often used in stews. And that its not unheard of to combine miso and lemongrass.

Thats all I needed to hear. My vision of tonight's creation hit me suddenly and all at once just before I began to write this.

I am going to use the same cooking method as last night, and produce that same rich base of deeply browned, caramalized shallot and garlic (it was fantastic with the lemongrass and chili, on the wings last night) and then, at the end, fortify it with the red miso, and add some stock, to make a rich, brown sauce. The accent will again be lemongrass, which I was suprised to learn can be very subtle and unobtrusive in a braise. And there will be mushrooms, baby bok choy, and maybe parsnips, that yellow would be beautiful with this, so would the sweetness. And some chilis, always the chilis.