We've had some good eating around here the last few days, if I do say so myself. Saturday was spicy lamb liver with these creamed onions (more or less). Yesterday I started from this braised pork butt recipe and got somewhere else entirely, which was delicious anyway. Today I had one celeriac bulb in my crisper next to a whole lot of chilled air, language school at supper time, and our veg/milk/egg delivery at 8pm, and that turned out even better than I expected too.
Not bad for nothing in the house there, Mother Hubbard.
The pork shoulder (why it's named after the other end of the animal, I don't know) got browned in some tallow in my trusty cast iron Dutch oven, then hauled out while I sweated a coarsely-chopped Spanish onion, some garlic, three quartered tomatoes, and 5 prunes with 3 bay leaves, 6 cloves, a little caraway, sea salt and whole peppercorns. When that looked right I added about 3/4 of a litre of whole milk and then a glug of balsamic vinegar. This was to replace the wine in that original recipe. What possessed me to add fresh acid to a pot of milk I don't know. If you're trying this, put the vinegar in with the veg and spices, get the juices - and their related sugars - flowing and then put the milk in. That might help the aesthetics a bit. Anyhow, I plunked the meat in, bunged on the lid and put it in the oven at 140-ish C for three hours. Afterwards, while the meat rested and was sliced/fell apart, I fished the chunks out of the sauce, threw a couple of ladlefuls of the liquid away (which I hate doing, but it was really too much) and pureed everything before adding the sliced meat back. This kept it warm while we got the sautéed Savoy cabbage ready and the table set. The colour is strange and the idea of milk and red meat just doesn't sound right to me, but I can say that all three of us had seconds.
The leftovers were fork-tender and even better than the first go-around.
Today's soup made a lot more dishes, but also won't last 24 hours. I picked up some bones from grass-fed veal at lunchtime and roasted them before putting them in a soup pot with a little red wine vinegar, sea salt, peppercorns and cold water to cover. I let that leach a bit and put four unpeeled garlic cloves in the still-warm oven to roast in the leftover heat while I peeled and diced the celeriac, three celery stalks, a good chunk of cured bacon (speck), half a red onion, and the 5 baby potatoes I found hanging out at the bottom of the pantry. Rummaging in the freezer in hopes of finding some other pre-prepped and forgotten veg, I found a bag of chantrelle mushrooms from the fall. Yes, Germans love gathering mushrooms in the fall. No, I did not gather those myself as I'm still paralysed with fear from the annual horror stories we heard as kids about mushroom hunting gone wrong. Anyhow, I thought they would bridge the freshness of the celeriac and the smoky speck, so I pulled out a good handful.
Once the water over the bones boiled I added the celeriac and two bay leaves and let that go for about an hour while I went off to read something centering. After tonging out the bones and bay leaves for another stock later (how do you like my shiny new verb?) I added the now-roasted garlic and once again pureed the whole thing before adding the diced celery and potato. The onion, speck and mushrooms got the sauté treatment with a bit of thyme (in the ghee/coconut oil blend I did up in the leftover oven heat after last night's dinner) before being finely hacked and added to the pot. At this stage I took my serving out, having had more than my share of dairy recently, and then stirred in about a cup of cream.
It was served with the whole-grain sourdough rye bread I picked up at the same place that sold me the bones. The mushroom butter I made as part of Nourished Kitchen's Preserve the Bounty Challenge last August should have been the topper, but it didn't thaw in time.
Can I just say, fancy butter or no, it was fab?
That book may turn out to be pretty right for me right now too. I've only managed 11 pages, but I can feel my Self stretching as I read. In rebellion and for lack of discipline my mind wanders as I read, but it remembers that stretch and revels in it while groaning about how unfit it is before flitting back to delightedly re-examine a passage. (Those 11 pages make more sense now, don't they?) We're supposed to have brilliant weather tomorrow. I foresee some more inner stretching on a sunny balcony during naptime.