Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Cookathon

I've been spending a lot of time in the kitchen recently. A lot. I've been enjoying coming home everyday and making something delicious from fresh organic produce and grassfed meats, but sometimes I just want to spend sometime relaxing on the couch or reading a book and that means cooking big batches of food well ahead of time. Enter the crockpot. 

I love my crockpot. Today I woke up and put together a fantastic beef stew found here. Basically it involved cutting up the following: 

1 rutabaga
1 sweet potato
5 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic
2 carrots
1 onion
~2 lbs stewing beef

And throwing them in a crock pot with: 

2 cups homemade chicken bone broth
2 cups boiling water
1 can tomato paste
a bunch of oregano, thyme and pepper

Then...stew. Stew like you've never stewed before. I'll be honest, these ingredients barely fit in our fairly large crock pot. The above picture was taken about 4 hours into stewing, after the veggies had cooked down and released most of their fluid and it's still pretty full. We let this cook for about 8 hours and the end result produced this:


It is delicious. The beef was tender, the veggies soft but not mushy, and the broth - oh man, the broth is stunning. The mixture of homemade chicken bone broth with many hours of stewing beef produced a delicious dark brown broth that we made sure to put in a tupperware and save for later purposes. 


While this was stewing away I made some sweet potato hash. I tried this recipe out for the first time while Simon was in California and it tasted pretty damn good. I then made some for him when he came home and he loves it. I have a feeling this will be a staple in our fridge this winter.  In the three times I've made this I've altered the recipe in a number of ways. The final product now looks vaguely like the one in the recipe. 

First chop up a bunch of onion and get them caramelizing. I've tried caramelizing onions before and I always burn them instead of caramelize them. Both burnt and caramelized onions are black, but one turns out sweet while the other tastes bitter - the goal is sweet. For some reason this recipe's description of caramelizing onions really clicked with me. Throw some butter in a medium heat pan, wait for it to start to bubble/foam, and then throw in the onions. Turn the heat down REALLY low and just let them do their thing stirring occasionally.

After 5 or so minutes the onions will begin to sweat and start to brown:

It's tempting to stop the sauteeing as soon as they start to brown, but the onions will only get more and more sweet the darker you let them become. I let mine get about twice as dark as you see above, and then let the rest of the caramelization happen in the oven, which, by the way, should be preheated to 450 degrees. 

While the onions are cooking, chop up some sweet potatoes and toss them with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread the sweet potatoes on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (ah, parchment paper, you make cleaning up SO easy). Add the onions on top and place it all in the oven for 35ish minutes.

Halfway through cooking I take the sheet out and throw in some chopped bacon. 

As you can see, the sweet potatoes get soft, the bacon crisps up, and the onions get super black and super delicious.

 To end this really long post I need to say that I used the oven SO much this weekend that our carbon monoxide alarm went off and we had to evacuate our housemates and call 911. Some very nice firefighters came the wrong way down our narrow street in a giant firetruck and told us everything was fine but that we should always open a window if we're going to cook a lot.

good to know.

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