Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Ingredients and Techniques Part 1

Nelli has been busy over the the Christmas and New Year’s week. But this being the beginning of a brand new year and all, might be a good time to talk about ingredients and techniques.
Now, I know that some of my info is not going to agree with what you hear from Martha and that loud mouth know-it-all Italian woman on the food network, but they’re not Rednecks, so what are you going to do?
This is the stuff that works for me. So here it is, fer what it’s worth.

Roasted garlic: Most Redneck (and other) foods are just an excuse to eat large amounts of garlic, onions, spices and cheese. For garlic, the best way to start is with roasted. Here’s how Nelli does it:

Prepare whole heads of garlic by rubbing off all the loose, dry skin. Cut the tips off the top, just enough to expose each clove. Place on a square of tin foil and drizzle with olive oil. Fold edges of the foil up to enclose the heads completely. Roast in a 300 degree over for one hour. Remove and let cool, leaving the foil pouch closed. When cooled, take the heads apart and squeeze each cove from the bottom. It should pop out easily being soft, roasted and ready to eat (it’s unbelievably sweet!) or use in recipes. To use in recipes, mash required amount of cloves into a paste or it can also be minced with a sharp knife.

Onions: To coarsely chop, peel and cut off both the blossom and stem ends. Cut in half from blossom to stem. Lay a half on the board, flat side down, and cut into ½ inch slices, keeping everything together as well as possible. Make three cuts crosswise and it’s ready to use. For a finely chopped onion, make the slices ¼ inch or smaller and the cross cuts at about every ¼ inch. For minced onion, cut as for finely chopped and then continue chopping at random until onion is in very fine bits.

Caramelized onions: Coarsely chop one large onion. Add to ¼ cup melted butter and sprinkle with 1 Tblsp sugar. Cook over low heat until very limp and slightly browned.

Nelli’s best sauces, soups and stews include home made stocks like these:

Chicken Stock: Heat 1 Tblsp olive oil in a a large stock pot. When oil is hot, add 1 large onion, peeled halved and sliced; 1 carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped; 1 stalk chopped celery, including leaves and one whole head garlic, peeled and separated into cloves. Saute 2-3 minutes. Stir in 4 quarts water, 4 bay leaves, ½ tsp basil, ½ tsp thyme, ½ tsp oregano, 2 pounds chicken wings and 1 Tblsp canning salt. Bring all to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 2 hours. Strain stock and discard vegetables and bones. Pour into clean pit jars, seal and freeze. Recipe doubles easily. Also makes good turkey stock, but you might want to add a pinch of sage with the spices.

Beef Stock: Heat oven to 425 F. Put 6-8 pounds beef bones (oxtail, soup bones, etc.) Drizzle with 2 Tblsp olive oil and roast for about 15 minutes. Turn the bones over and brush with two 6 ounce cans tomato paste. Roast 10 minutes. To the pan, add 2 heads garlic, peeled and separated; 8 coarsely chopped tomatoes (canned is okay), 2 coarsely chopped onions; 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped; 2 stalks celery coarsely chopped. Roast another 25 minutes until bones are browned and vegetables are tender. Transfer everything to a large stockpot. Add 8 quarts water, 12 by leaves, 2 tsp basil, 2 tp thyme, 2 tsp tarragon, 2 tsp oregano, ½ cup dried parsley, 2 tsp black pepper ad 1 Tblsp canning salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 3 hours. Strain the stock, discarding the vegetables and bones. Pour into clean pint jars, seal and freeze.
Use these stocks in any of Nelli’s soup or stew recipes or anything that calls for broth.

WARNING: After you’ve tried these stocks, you’ll never want to go back to those dried up little cubes of meat flavored salt!

Good home made seasoning salts Nelli likes to use.

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