Saturday, November 12, 2005

#1 of the One-Pot-Wonders

If you try Queens Hideaway, you’ll certainly forgive my previous transgressions…

Now, back to the matter at hand. I spoke to Dario and asked him if I could begin shopping and prepping at home for the passage. I emailed him a menu, to which he said ok without, I suspect, even looking at it – which is fine by me! Isn’t that every chef’s dream to cook whatever they’d like? I did a bunch of grocery shopping today and already have somethin’ on the stove.

For #1 of the One-Pot-Wonders, I’ve begun a curried lamb stew (it’s on the stove now). Recipes, for me at least, are just guidelines. I don’t think I’ve once followed a recipe precisely unless it was for baking. I have a basic recipe for curried lamb, but it doesn’t include anything other than lamb, some onions, garlic, ginger, curry spices and cooking liquid. I’ve decided to embellish the recipe since this needs to be a more substantial meal for the crew. I thought about adding potatoes, but wanted something more interested. I found fresh taro root at the produce market today (the benefit of living in an ethnic neighborhood). Taro is often found in Asian and Latino cooking and is often mashed into cakes or boiled and fried. I find it to be slightly more toothsome than a potato and it absorbs the flavors of anything you cook it with (it’s like the tofu of root vegetables). I figured it would be great to add to the curry as it will absorb the nice, rich curry sauce. I also found a nice Kabocha squash. Kabocha is fairly new to the United States. It’s a Japanese pumpkin and has a green rind and orange flesh. It’s sweetness is a little more subtle than a butternut squash, and it’s flesh is a little more firm. I’m also throwing in some green beans, so that my boys get some green veggies in their diet while we’re sailing. Since the stew is going to be frozen and reheated, I’ve decided to roast the squash off and add it at the end; and the green beans I’ve blanched and will wait until the stew is actually cold before I add them. It’s my hope that this might prevent the vegetables from becoming mushy with the freezing and reheating. I’m going to add some fresh cilantro to the cold stew as well so the flavor will come out when the stew is re-warmed, since I won’t be adding nice little herb garnishes to things while we’re out at sea....

And in this case, for the One-Pot-Wonders, I take a more guerilla approach to cooking. So, here is the guerilla recipe for my curried lamb stew:

Vegetable oil
4 #’s Boneless lamb, cubed (or beef)
4 c. chopped onion
2 Tbsp. chopped garlic (or a big, heaping mound if you don’t feel like measuring)
4 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chipped (another big, heaping mound)
2 Tbsp. cumin
4 Tbsp. coriander
3 ½ tsp. turmeric
1 Cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon)
3 Cloves
(or, if you really must, you can skip all these dried spices and add 3-4 Tbsp. of your favorite curry powder. But really, why not make it yourself? Curry powder isn't as intimidating as it might seem.)
Red pepper (or to taste)
3 c. finely chopped tomatoes or 2. canned tomatoes, chopped or pureed
1 Tbsp. kosher slat
5 fresh taro root, diced (or 4 med. Potatoes)
4 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces and blanched
1 med. Winter squash, seeded and diced
3 cups red wine (because why not? But this can easily be replaced by water or stock)
3 cups lamb or beef stock (or water)
5 Tbsp. fresh coriander leaves

I like to use a cast iron dutch-oven. Heat oil in the dutch-oven and brown meat in batches and set aside. Add oil to pan, along with onions. Reduce heat to med. and nd fry onions until dark brown, stirring constantly so they do not burn. Add garlic and ginger and fry for an additional two minutes. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, and red pepper, and continue frying until spices become fragrant (10 – 15 seconds), add remaining spices. Return meat to pan with tomatoes, salt and boiling stock and wine. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 1 ½ hours. Add winter squash and continue cooking for 15 – 20 minutes, until squash is tender. Add taro and continue simmering, covered, until taro is tender (10 minutes). Turn off heat and let rest for ½ hour to 2 hours. Before serving, bring to a simmer, add green beans, adjust seasoning and add chopped, fresh coriander leaves.

And there is the first of the One-Pot-Wonders.

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