Friday, August 29, 2014

The Virtue of Parsimony

This is not my recipe at all. I'm posting it as an object lesson in the virtue of holding onto scraps and leftovers even if you can't readily imagine their use and
detailing methods of preserving them at length for possible future use. Some of this will no doubt horrify germ-o-phobes. When I was a kid I didn't get snack money for school - I got a sandwich in a paper bag. And I was walking around and saw someone had dropped potato chips or Cheez Doodles on the pavement and they looked clean, I et 'em, never having any negative reactions; probably building up my immune system to frightening levels of resistance.

The recipe comes from John Gros keyboardist of the quasi-recently disbanded New Orleans funk band Papa Grows Funk (an, uh, "enthusiatic" judger of wares offered at the annual Po' Boy Fest on Oak Street).

3-4 lb. chuck roast
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
seasoning salt
I was recently cleaning the basement in preparation for plumbers replacing some pipes an found a box of spices from the 60's. I looked 'em over, gave each jar lookover and a sniff and if nothing seemed amiss, mixed them in with more recently purchased spices. Dunno if I'd sprinkle these on top a salad or some mashed 'taters, but used in casseroles, soups etc. they're doing me just fine.
1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
I don't use celery THAT often and frankly one bag lasts me for perhaps 10 recipes or more and getting thru it could take 3 months or more, a length of time which SHOULD far exceed the fridge life of a bunch of celery, BUT I've found (tipped by my mother-in-law) that if you wrap the bunch in a piece of paper towel that you then wet, and periodically re-wet, this stuff CAN last 3 months looking totally fine. It's good to seal the plastic bag it likely came in with a paper clips, rubber band, etc. It seems that it's dehydration that brings on spoilage in this case.
10-12 garlic cloves, chopped
OF COURSE I save all the onion and garlic skins, pepper seed balls, celery leaves etc, freeze 'em and save for making vegetable broth.
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
2 cups beef stock
This is the part I'm especially proud of. We went out for dinner when Amy came home from doing the Tough Mudder Obstacle race in Ohio and the specials included beef ribs. Now, I LOVE ribs, but I don't eat pork for quirky ethical reasons, so I jumped at the this offering. They were tasty too! And when the waitress came to clear the table Amy asked -- "are you gonna take those bones home?" which I would automatically do if it were chicken; and I thought - WHY NOT! So these ribs have been sitting in my freezer ever since, slated for inclusion in veggie broth when I start making borscht again. BUT I note that ya use beef stock here and grabbed the bones, a stalk of 2 mo. old celery and a 3 mo. old carrot (likewise preserved with the wet paper towel method). And VOILA!
2 cups red wine
I assume everyone gets well intentioned gifts of relatively undrinkable wine at holidays. This is the perfect way to use em other than giving them out to needy winos; and there's no shame in that neither.
2 TBSP worchestershire sauce
1 bay leaf

MUSICAL ACCOMPANIMENT: anything by Papa Grows Funk or perhaps Larry Williams' Bad Boy collection (you'll note how many of his songs were covered by The Beatles - probably more than of any other artist - excepting Arthur Alexander) preheat oven to 300 degrees
pat roast dry and season with all spices

chop all vegetables
dust meat with flour and reserve all leftover flour
heat oil in Dutch oven (i.e. heavy iron pot with lid; any pot with handles that can stand being in an oven will do; over safe Correll or Corning Ware is fine too; key points are: that it can go into a hot oven and it has a lid)
brown meat on all sides, then remove from pot
saute vegetables, excepting garlic until they're translucent
add garlic and saute another 3 minutes
add all leftover flour
add some beef stock and deglaze pot
return meat (and any juices that have run out of it) to pot
add wine and enough beef stock to cover the top of the roast
add worchestershire sauce and bay leaf
cover pot and bake in oven for 90 minutes
flip roast and bake another 60 minutes
if you're making a pot roast, add some peeled carrots and potatoes for the last 30 minutes of cooking.

if youre making po'boys, flip roast again and bake another 45 minutes
carefully remove meat from pot
blend gravy with a hand blender (or toss it in a food processor) until it's entirely smooth
break up meat and mix with gravy
serve on French bread, baguette or toasted hoagie roll.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mashed Potato Challenge

Hi! Here's another challenge I'd received and responded to a while ago and I post challenge and response for your further edification.

Dear Garbage Gourmet
What can I do with used mashed potatoes?

Dear Challenger:
Oh geez! like a bazillion different things!
1) Make em into patties, dip em in bread crumbs and pan fry em
If you find that your potatoes don't hold together well, you can beat up an egg, mix about 2/3 of it into your potatoes and mix together thoroughly. You can then dip each patty into the egg before dipping into bread crumbs.
I'd fry these in oil (just put in about a Tablespoon and swirl it around before you put in each patty or set of patties. If you save your bacon grease you can use that as well to add flavor.

You can also chop up about have an onion very fine and add that to your potatoes before forming them into patties. 2) Make a shepherd's pie
get yourself a pie pan
take a cup or two of leftover meat and chop up
mix with a cup of either frozen or already cooked vegetables - green peas, or chopped up carrots, etc.
add a can of some sorta creamed soup (whatever ya like: cream of mushroom, cream of onion, cheddar cheese)
pour all this into your pie pan
top with your mashed potatoes, spreading them out as evenly as you can manage
sprinkle with paprika to make it pretty

3) mix with 1 cup green peas, 1 Tablespoon curry powder and 1 cup sauteed onions and wrap in flour tortilla for a vague approximation of a Masala Dosai
4) mix with broth to make cream of potato soup, using 2 cups broth to 1 of potatoes
you can used canned broth, or bullion cubes and water
as potatoes are kinda bland be careful about your choice of broth as it's going to predominate in the final product.
SO - homemade vegetable broth which is good for making gazpacho or beet borsht as it's paired with other very strong flavors, might taste kinda green and yucky in potato soup.
Oh yeah, and you wanna make sure to make this absolutely smooth, so I'd suggest you beat the soup with a wire whisk or put it through a food processor.

Mango Salsa Challenge

Sorry for my long absence. Been really, really busy living life.
For now I'd like to post a couple challenges that have come my way of late.

Dear Garbage Gourmet

I have a challenge for the Garbage Gourmet. I made a big bowl of mango salsa for a party yesterday, then wound up not going to the party. This stuff is delicious but way too much for me to eat on chips. Any ideas?

Dear Challenger

Can ye tell me what ingredients you used in this salsa?
Most salsas have the same basic ingredients as: sauces and soups and final results depend on things like
1) do you then cook 'em and let 'em thicken?
2) add some more liquid and make it a cold OR hot soup

Dear Garbage Gourmet

It's mangoes, red onion, a little tomato, jalapeno, lime juice.
If it were a tomato salsa, I'd make tomato soup but this is very fruity and sweet.
I'm thinking it would taste good over vanilla ice cream or mango sorbet.
I might just try freezing some of it.

Dear Challenger
I've been to places that serve fruit salsas as part of a hot meal i.e. you'd serve it with sauteed or roasted chicken alongside rice. It'd likely work well with pork as well or fish, but I don't think the flavors harmonize with beef.
I'd suggest you freeze batches of it in smaller containers and use it up when it strikes you to rather than feeling forced to use it all up asap.
The ice cream idea is good - but ice cream is not something you wanna eat every night past a certain age.
Also if you cut it with vegetable broth (I'd think even parts). It'd make a nice gazpacho. Because it's fruity and sweet I think you'd want to eat this by the cup and not a big old bowl, but I think it'd be good.