Sunday, November 8, 2009

My favorite joke, and birthday dinners

What is the difference between roast beef and pea soup?

Anybody can roast beef.

This is actually from a Prairie Home Companion joke show, and will make a big hit with boys in the 6 - 8 year old demographic.

However, I am not sure that it is true. I cook all the time, but I have never make roast beef (as opposed to a gedaempfte brust) and it took be almost 30 years to actually bring myself to roast an entire chicken -- see one of my earlier posts on this. A formidable rib roast, cooked in dry heat is something that it may take me another 20 or 30 years to try.

All this is by way of intro of course. Usually I seem to make my own birthday dinners, and since I can be an unpleasant control freak when I enter a kitchen, this seems to make everyone happy. This year, however, I was fortunate to be invited two birthday dinners, both delicious. The one on my birthday itself was cooked by a friend with the same birthday, and featured English-style roast beef, which was wonderful, along with Yorkshire pudding and roast potatoes. I have never had Yorkshire pudding before, which is odd for a reformed omnivore. However, it was sublime in the truest sense of the word -- the apotheosis of beef fat. I could hear my arteries harden with each bite. (These are compliments.) I would not try to duplicate either of these, but they were accompanied by some of the best, crunchiest roast potatoes I have ever had, and I will post the recipe as soon as I get my hands on it.

The night before, we had Mexican brisket. This recipe has gone through a few stages of transmission already, and reflects what was served to us. The style is different from that of most of my postings. It comes from Emily as taught to Jay, with my edits. I think that this is the first recipe that I have posted that I have not tested myself, but that will come soon enough. I have put some suggested variations at the end as well.

Mexican Brisket4-5 pound brisket
Salt and Pepper
3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
4 cloves sliced garlic
2 cups Mexican beer (in this case light Dos Equis)
2 cups chicken or beef broth

2 ancho chiles, stemmed seeded and torn into big pieces
2 small cinnamon sticks (preferably the soft Mexican kind)
1 Tablespoon oregano, preferably Mexican
2 bay leaves
1 cup canned tomatoes (Muir Glen diced fire roasted is nice here)

1 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds

1 chipotle in adobo (available canned, I like San Marcos brand)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Salt and pepper the mean and brown in oil in a heavy pot or dutch oven.
  3. Add the ingredients garlic through bay leaves bring to boil, transfer to oven and cook for an hour.
  4. Add tomatoes, raisins and almonds and cook til tender..another two hours
  5. Take out the meat and discard the cinnamon and bay leaves.
  6. Puree sauce in batches, return to pot and add the chitpotles to taste.
  7. Refrigerate meat and sauce separately overnight.
  8. Degrease the sauce, slice the mean, and return to a 250 degree over to warm.
  9. Garnish with cilantro and toasted almonds.
  10. Serve with rice (night cooked in chicken broth), corn tortillas or boiled potatoes.
  • Add more ancho chiles, up to 4, and toast them lightly in a dry skillet after removing the seeds and the veins, being careful not to burn them, before adding to the pot. They are rich rather than spicy and won't result in a dish that is too hot -- you can control the spiciness with the chipotles added at the end.
  • Rather than using a Mexican beer, try it with something Belgian or Belgian style. I would love to try this with Tres Philosophes, a cherry-flavored Belgian style beer produced by Ommegang in upstate NY. I think it would be far better than one of the fruit-flavored Belgian lambics. In this case, I might also substitute dried cherries for the raisins. Although the dish went well with red wine, I would serve this beer if made this way.
  • A chopped white onion would not be amiss, and would add flavor to the sauce. Take out the meat and saute the onion it with garlic and spices before returning the meat to the pot.
  • This could probably also be made nicely with a chuck roast.
  • Leave out the broth -- the beer provides more than enough liquid and more will ooze out of the meat and onions. Maybe add a bone or two if you want the flavor.

No comments:

Post a Comment