Home, cooking

26 12 2008

It’s winter…finally cool enough for me to feel really comfortable cooking my little heart out.  This is the time to make stocks and soups; braises; roasted things.  When you live in a really temperate climate where it rarely gets really cold…well…it’s always hot in the kitchen!  These are the days I long for, and live for when summer rolls around.  I never cease to be sorry I roasted an extra turkey, because there’s “our” roast turkey in July to add to salads.  And tamales?  WHO wants to slave over hot steamy kettles in July??  This is the time to make tamales! Especially if you live on the fringe of the wintering homes of migrant farm workers.  Truly authentic delights are readily available, here.  Now.  So this is the time I love to spend home, cooking.

So far, we did up a big beef stock.  That was fun!  I got a little worried when  I saw the amount of broth we had.  Worried because I really don’t have any freezer space right now.  I’ve got quite a bit of various meat products working in the freezer…pork for carnitas, tamales, etc.  I got about 3 quarts of  stock out of the bones, and I just didn’t have room for 3 quarts of liquid.  Then, it occured to me that we have a pressure canner

pressure-canner-debut1…why not?  Roughly 90 minutes later,  we were lifting jars of our own beef stock out of the canner.  What a feeling!beef-stock-canned2

While that was all going on, we’d picked up a lovely package of oxtails for braising.  I had one of those “taste clouds” envelope me, and I set my mind on how to get there…  I browned the oxtails in a deep cast iron skillet.  Kind of like a dutch oven, but with a handle like a frying pan…a chicken fryer?

Anyway…I browned the oxtails in the hot pan, and added half an onion, quartered and sliced, several cloves of garlic, and some chopped celery to the pot.  When things were getting nicely translucent, I added1 sliced carrot, 1 Tbsp. of tomato paste and half a dozen dried tomato halves to the pot.  A few minutes later, after the tomato had a chance to start to carmelize, I removed the oxtails and poured in a healthy amount of red wine.  It was enough to cover the bottom of the pan, and almost cover the veggies.  That heated and reduced by half.  I wanted mushrooms in here as well.  I rehydrated a mushroom mixture and added that to the pot, along with the soaking liquid.  I put the oxtails back in and added a couple of scoops of my beef broth (2 cups) to the pan.  I left this on the back burner with a very low flame for 3 hours. oxtail-braiseAnd it cooked…and it simmered…and it smelled so good!  We canned the broth while this was simmering on the back of the stove.  We rubbed down a pork roast with smoked paprika, cumin and black pepper for another day (thinking a Mexican pulled pork kind of filling for tamales),  and the house was full of lovely smelly-good stuff.  I think we also made the first of the orange-cranberry cookies this night.   Eventually, this is what resulted:

oxtails-braisedAbout all this seemed to need was a plateful of buttered noodles and some hot rolls.  It was silky and so full of flavor!  The mushrooms added just the right complimenting texture.  I’m sorry to say, this fed the two of us.  We could have shared with a third person, but that would have been stretching things a little thinly.  One smallish dog did manage to score some bones after the fact.  It was enough to keep her happy for the evening! All in all, not a bad way to spend Christmas Eve for two!


Today is Boxing Day up north, and across “the pond” and we’re still cooking here!  The pork roast we rubbed down a few days ago is in the oven following a technique affectionately known as Gretchen’s Pulled Pork.  We’ve changed the flavors and are cooking it down like we would for Carolina style pulled pork.  Instead of BBQ seasonings, we have Mexican flavors.  Freshly toasted and ground cumin and black pepper, smoked paprika and roasted garlic.  It will cook happily for about 8 hours at 250º.  Then…we shred it and make tamales!!

I’m dying to make tamales!  I found a great on line video, with recipes and techniques; I’ve got my tamale spreaders. and I’m ready!  I even have big kettles to steam these babies in!!  I know, I know…one step at a time.

That brings us back to leftover prime rib.  What the heck?  This could be most interesting…!  I’ll have to get back to you on that.  For now, I’m ready for a nap.



2 responses

31 01 2009

I have this same cast iron pan. I have to admit, it is my absolute favorite pan and I use it almost every day! I have a gorgeous set of SS pots and pans and several enameled cast iron pots but there’s something about the old-fashioned raw cast iron that makes things taste better!


8 01 2009

Wow, what wonderful smells your house must have had! I’ve never made oxtails before, but I’m inspired now. And canning your stock is brilliant!

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