Ali was back home from the UK on another school break so I invited him over on friday for an all day cook-a-thon while my chimney guys came and repaired the flu for the living room chimney. All week I plotted and planned to try and decide what we were going to cook. In the end it was rather a hodge podge of dishes, but braise and simmer seemed to be the keywords.
I started at 9:00 getting the bones ready to roast for the veal stock. 30 pounds of veal bones hit the oven to get nice and brown.
Once the bones hit the oven we started the split pea soup. Bernie, my half pig from Heritage Hill Farm had a few gorgeous smocked hocks and one of husband's favourites is split pea soup. I thawed a hock out and tipped that in a pot with some sweated carrot, celery, garlic and onion, tossed in a few bay leaves and 1 package of green split peas, 1 package of yellow split peas and a load of water and set the white pot on a diffuser plate on a back burner to simmer away.
Meanwhile Ali kept checking the stock to see if we needed to skim the scum.
Next I had seen something over at Ideas in Food where they made perfect soft scrambled eggs using an Isi cream dispenser. I forwarded the link off to Ali who is obsessed with all things related to molecular gastronomy or new cooking techniques. I picked up a new Isi at Restaurant Depot on Thursday and set up the thermal immersion circulator on the counter. Eggs, butter, salt, hot sauce and skim milk were mixed and then poured in the canister. This sat in an 82C water bath for 1 hour.
We let the canister rest and added to nitrous charges and shook, shook, shook the canister, but sadly in the end we had to scrape out the eggs. 82C is below eggs coagulation point of 180F so we aren't sure why it didn't work so we will test it again dropping it a degree or two and doing it for a little less time.
While the soup was simmering and the veal stock gently bubbling we started on the osso buco. I'm not going to bother giving you the recipe because we loosely followed the one in Molly Stevens All About Braising and if you don't own that book yet I really don't know what you are waiting for. Every damn idea in that book is delicious. We started them on the stove and popped it in a low over to do it's work.
Here they are at the half point stage.
And here they are completed. At this point I popped it in the fridge and then last night as the teenage trick-or-treaters were stealing all of the candy in my bowl in one fell swoop, I reheated it in a low oven with a bit more of that fresh veal stock and made the risotto bed. Need I say yum?
The last project was a surprise for husband. I made him Lancashire hot pot and braised red cabbage. I'm sad that I don't have any pictures of this dish because it was gorgeous with a cap of perfectly placed potatoes in concentric circles on the top. I will definitely be repeating this one again. Lamb loin chops, dredged, browned and added to a ton of onions, carrot and swede (rutabaga or purple topped turnip to me and you), veal stock and a few other things simmered UNDER a crust of thinly sliced potatoes.
Here's Ali prepping the cabbage for the braised red cabbage and in the foreground is the gratin dauphinoise he whipped up with the leftover thinly sliced potato from the hot pot. He had just made one last week when he took the Teens Cook: Julia Child class and this one was spectacularly good! Traditionally Lancashire hot pot is served with pickled cabbage but husband who professes to hate vinegar and all things pickled said he would have preferred having the pickled cabbage over the braised cabbage. Who knew? I can't keep up. Ali ate so much of the red cabbage raw his lips and entire mouth were stained deep purple when I eventually sent him home with his Dad. I also apologised profusely to his Dad since i introduced Ali to Ideas in Food, StudioKitchen, JB Prince, Le Sanctuaire and a few other dangerous places. He left as excited as a kid at Christmas since he finally found where to order an anti griddle and a pacojet. I don't think he shall ever be the same. He left on Halloween morning to go back to school for another semester but he'll be back for a long break in December and I have to come up with some plans to keep him busy!
Thus ended our long day mucking about in the kitchen. Yesterday morning I portioned and froze the soup and then strained and packaged up the veal stock, labeled it and divided it amongst the freezers for the long winter ahead. And I just have one thing to say about that stock.