As mentioned, I’ve been traveling frequently for work and pleasure over the last two months. This past weekend was my first spent at home since mid December; I’ve been quite eager to cook.
My first project was beef bourguignon. I was happy with it. I sous vide half the meat (the other half prepared traditionally) and after 30 hours the sous vide wasn’t quite tender enough. The flavor was “beefier” though, which makes sense as the flavors can’t dissipate into the braising liquid. I felt quite smug bringing my leftovers to work in my handy new thermos, while everyone else in the staff meeting ate terrible, terrible pizza.
A few days later I dug into a recipe I tackle once a year. It’s not difficult per se, but it does take some time and patience – Lasagne Verdi al Forno. I use a recipe similar to this, which originates from the Simili sisters of Bologna. There’s nothing quite like fresh noodles, creamy bechamel, and a rich Bolognese ragu with a rumor of chicken liver and prosciutto. Of course I forgot to take a photo of the finished product, though I used some of the pasta scraps to make a quick snack while cooking. I would have liked the bolognese to be a little more meltingly tender, but it was right tasty.
Next up, Super Bowl. A friend had been talking about getting together for it a while back, then realized he’d be out of town until a few hours before kickoff so he couldn’t cook in preparation. I offered to make the spread, and of course attempted more than I should.
Much of the inspiration/dishes came from Serious Eats posts which I’d tagged in my to-do. Here’s the round-up.
Duck Fat Carnitas (the recipe uses vegetable oil, I decided duck fat would be better). This is the second time I’ve made it, and it’s killer. The tomatillo salsa that’s part of the recipe uses the pork jus (separated from the fat) as the liquid base, which obviously lends great flavor.
Queso Fundido with Chorizo - Gluttonous cheese, can’t go wrong.
Ancho Tomatillo Salsa – I added some cumin and other spices
Habanero BBQ wings – I sous vide some wings at 147F for two hours, then baked them in this sweet BBQ sauce, with a nice lingering heat. Baked wings just can’t cut it in my opinion, but I liked the sauce.
Chipotle White Beans - Not many people ate these, but I liked them. The leftovers have been good for the veg wife too. Upon reading this post from 101Cookbooks in more detail, it turns out the recipe comes from Richie Nakano, formerly of NOPA, now of Hapa Ramen, whose unreal ramen I tasted at the NPA Harvest Party a couple years back.
Fried Confit Wings - A recent post of The Food Lab, Kenji suggests that frying the wings twice (once at low heat aka confit, then again at high heat) will result in better, crispier wings. It makes sense – it’s the same method used by many to produce excellent frites. I cooked the wings once at 225F for twenty minutes, then again at 400F for just a couple of minutes. Verdict? They were spot on. I did another batch of wings using a traditional ten minute 375F fry and the twice fried were noticeably better. More crispiness, less rubbery meat, and the size sort of reduced (the meat drew back on the bone the way a Frenched lamb chop does). Highly recommended.
No pictures from that evening, but I’ve been photographing my leftovers. Breakfast lunch and dinner has been a mix of nachos, tacos, beans, cheese, and chilaquiles.
Nachos #1 – Flannery ground beef and sweet pepper, black beans, ancho & tomatilla salsas, queso fresco, cotija
Nachos #2 – Both salsas, chipotle white beans with kale, carnitas
Queso fundido, El Milagro tortillas, salsas, guacamole with fresh oregano
Sugar/cumin/chili powder glazed carnitas, serrano, cotija
One lonely carnita with the sweet Habanero salsa