Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lazy Person's Stew

I am terrible at managing time. It's true. A task that I estimate will take me 2 hours invariably ends up taking 4. Am I planning to leave the house at 5:45 to make it in time for a 6:30 class? Whoops I guess I'm leaving at 6:10 instead! You get the idea. I've tried schedules, timers, strategically composed playlist lengths...nothing works. Whatever thing that allows people to be responsible, punctual adults, I was born without one.

So instead of aiming to actually finish something on time, I aim to circumvent all possible distractions that may prevent me from doing anything but the task at hand. Such as thinking about what to eat, standing in front of the refrigerator wondering what to eat, and any and all actual cooking, which invariably takes me hours. As such, I've made this stew recipe dozens of times out of the sheer convenience of it--I just cook a huge batch of it in a 5 quart pot, and when I get hungry I turn the stove on low to heat it up. Also unlike most things of which the taste substantially declines once it's cooled down and been reheated, I'm convinced that this stew actually tastes better each subsequent time I warm it up again! Maybe it's just because I was really hungry when I did that, I'm not sure.

Hungry Person's Beef Oxtail Stew

1 lb oxtail
1 lb beef stew meat, cubed
8 cups beef stock or water
3 medium carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery
4 medium red potatoes, cubed
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp butter
1/3 cup flour

~Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat; salt beef stew meat and oxtail and cook until golden brown. Remove from the pot and set aside.
~In the same pot melt the butter and saute onions until translucent. Turn heat down to medium-low and add flour, stirring constantly until it turns into a paste. Add garlic.
~Add 1 cup of beef stock to the pot and stir until thickened, then add the remainder of the beef stock, thyme, paprika, and the beef and oxtail. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook on low for 1 hour.
~Add carrots, celery, potatoes, and sundried tomatoes, and cook until tender (about 30 minutes). Add salt to taste.
~Optional: Let cool and refrigerate, then reheat on low flame and eat hot whenever hungry!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Honey and Rosemary

I have to admit I don't have a very good score when it comes to pork--the last time I tried to make pork cutlets they came out dry and stringy and I've been a little intimidated to approach them since. I've had a little more experience with not overcooking my meats, however, so for dinner I decided to modify this delicious recipe I found on Saveur's website.

Pork Chops with Balsamic Vinegar and Honey Glaze

4 bone-in pork chops
3 tbsp olive oil
⅓ cup balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp honey
zest of an orange
4 tbsp unsalted butter
sprig fresh rosemary, torn into 1" pieces

~Put pork chops on a plate; drizzle with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
~Mix vinegar, honey, and orange zest in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced to ¼ cup. Stir in butter and rosemary and take off heat.
~Heat up a dry skillet on high heat; when it is hot, place the pork chops in the pan to cook, fliping and basting with balsamic mixture every 2-3 minutes until browned and cooked through, about 12–14 minutes.
~Transfer pork chops to a plate and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

There seems to be a silly idea that pork should be cooked "until it's done", AKA until it's overdone, bone dry, and tough, which is, objectively, generally less than desirable. A perfectly cooked pork chop should be tender and juicy, as these don't overcook your pork!