I got home earlier than Vicky last night. That won't be too hard to do, considering that she'll be studying for her CLA exam all week. Then, FREEDOM! She'll return to the real world filled with dishes and movies and... cooking...
So, I cooked last night. I dipped into Jenn's recipe for "Meat in Glue That You JUST CAN'T STOP EATING"! I had bought all the ingredients the night before - and, I'll warn you here, they can get a bit pricey. This is especially true if you're buying organic... which you really should... bitch.
Now, I have this system I follow when I cook one of Jenn's recipes. That is: I never write them down. So, I am perpetually running from one room to another, finding out what I need for the next step before this step burns. If good cooking is a glorious accident, I am uninsurable.
I laid out all of my ingredients and, in a flush of sudden inspiration, opened a bottle of pinot noir (from a Central California winery whose website I cannot find... dammit) that paired perfectly in the end.
And, so, on to the recipe:
Carbonnade a la Flamande
3/4 C All purpose flour
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Nutmeg
2.5 lbs boneless chuck roast, trimmed, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 Strips bacon, diced
2 C Chopped onion
1 T chopped garlic (I use two large cloves)
1 C Less sodium Beef Stock or broth (14.5 oz)
1 C Water
2 T Brown Sugar
2 T Red Wine vinegar
2 T Tomato paste
2 T Dijon mustard (don't use yellow mustard on this)
1 tsp Fresh Thyme
2 Bay leaves
1 (12oz) can Dark beer
2 T Chopped Fresh parsley
I tend to like to ready all of the ingredients before I start. So, I chopped the onion, which is usually Vicky's job but... oh well, so I cried for a while. I cut up the meat, opened the can, pulled out the seasonings... I was ready!
The first step, combining the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and steak in a large zip lock bag - Seal, shake to coat - is not a time to press all the air out of the bag. I did... and realized my mistake very quickly. You ever trying to blow up a zip lock bag? I have! But, after the air's in there, it's just fun time. Toss the bag around to your little heart's desire. I found that if you put in just the right amount of flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg, you'll just coat the steak, which is probably what you want.
I knew everything was going south shortly after heating up a large dutch oven over medium-high heat. I added the bacon to the pan, cooked it for one minute... and it wouldn't brown. The bacon wouldn't brown. I'd never seen that before: bacon that refused to cook. I think a good rule in cooking is "Whenever you see the impossible happen... stop." I didn't.
I added the beef mixture, cooking it for three minutes or until browned... you see what's coming, right? It refused to brown. In fact, it wasn't even cooking. I checked the heat. Yep, it was hot... but stubborn. Ten minutes later... nothing. Uncooked meat... oh wait! All of the flour had coated the bottom of the pan, making it impossible to wilt the onions in the next step.
So, I removed the beef from the pan and resigned myself to a horrible muck... poor Vicky. She'd have to eat it.
I added the onion (a large, red one) and garlic (one tablespoon, my ass!) to the pan and let it saute for five minutes... nothing... five more minutes... nothing. I resigned myself to uncooked food. The heat couldn't get through that lining of flour...
Fuck it. I put the beef back in the pan and stirred in the broth. Immediately, something happened! The solidified roux began coming off the bottom - heat broke through! I threw in the water, brown sugar, tomato paste, dijon mustard, fresh thyme, bay leaves and dark beer (Guinness, of course) all at once and brought it to a boil.
Vicky came in. "That smells really good," she said. So, I decided to let her live in her fantasy. Reducing the heat, I cooked it for a half hour with the cover on and a half hour with the cover off... by which time, we were both starving.
I nixed the parsley but did make egg noodles, as Jenn suggested.
Now, here's the thing. When I cooked it, this came out looking like meat in a dark glue - but that's a good thing! The sauce is rich and thick - a heart attack inducing heaven! And the ingredients, while strange when you first look at them, come together with an addicting palatability.
"So... you like my meat?" I asked.
Vicky agreed. She loved my meat.
"Would you like more of my meat?"
She had more of my meat.
So, I guess what I'm trying to say is this recipe is pretty hard to mess up - even when you're me!
(Actually, the whole point of this blog entry was just so I could write how much Vicky loved my meat...)