0823 Watery Pork Goulash

I’m not exaggerating when I say that I planned my entire day around this meal.  See, I’d planned on making this for dinner on Sunday night – a dish that requires 3 hours in the oven is just not feasible for the average worknight, but is totally doable on a lazy Sunday afternoon.  When Shane texted me mid-day, though, to tell me that he wouldn’t be home in time for dinner, I decided that I would just go into and then leave work a bit early, and we could have a late dinner.

Fast forward to 6:30 or so tonight.  I was using a considerably smaller bone-in pork shoulder, so I pulled it after 2 1/4 hours in the oven, only to discover that there was WAY too much cooking liquid.  WAY too much.  I removed the pork from the pot, cranked up the heat, and reduced the liquid for half an hour before serving.

A brief digression: I like to write in cookbooks.  I find it really helpful to note recipe hacks, total failures, or successful pairings for future cooking.  I also enjoy opening a cookbook and being reminded of that time in 2003 when Dan and Michele came over for dinner and trivia and we drank too much riesling while eating spaghetti with sweet cherry tomatoes.  Or the time in 2004 when I hosted Meat Night and made Lebanese Lemon Chicken and we ate around the low coffee table.  A correct interpretation of my notes could’ve saved a lot of disappointment tonight – however, I read “cover halfway” as referring to the lid and the cook time, not the amount of liquid.  *shakes fist at the sky*

Even with the half-hour of reducing, the broth was insipid, and the pork – lacking the flavor that should’ve been infused by the broth – had already attained that gamey flavor and consistency that I find so off-putting in leftovers.  While Shane adjusted the seasoning on his dish and happily finished it, I ate a few bites and then pushed my plate away.  We left the pot on the burner for another 2 1/2 hours, by which time it started to resemble the photo from the cookbook.  We’ll see if it’s any better in leftovers for dinner tomorrow.

Recipe:
Spicy pork and chilli-pepper goulash from Jamie at Home

  • The recipe specifies to “pour in enough water to just cover the meat”.  Instead, add enough water to cover the meat halfway.  You’re going to be covering the pot, so this will be an adequate amount of cooking liquid for a good, tender braise.
  • The recipe claims to make 4-6 portions, but we’ve halved it both times and easily still made 4-6 portions.
  • You could probably use double the amount of each of the spices, though I’d suggest going easy on doubling the paprika the first time you make this recipe.  And note that it calls for smoked paprika, though I might try a spicier paprika if you have it on hand.

0626 Goetta

Such is my love and devotion to my husband that I spent this morning making the house smell like weird meat so that he could have goetta for breakfast on Monday.

What is goetta, you ask? That was my question as well when Shane and I first started dating and he would ask for it when we went out for breakfast. Wikipedia describes goetta as German peasant food. Like scrapple or hash, it’s meat, usually pork, cut with a filler to make it stretch out over more meals or servings. Goetta is made with pork and steel-cut oats, plus a variety of seasonings and occasionally beef.

Goetta is pretty hard to find outside Cincinnati – you can mail-order it from Glier’s, but otherwise you’re pretty much on your own.  We had a couple of pork chops in the fridge, and following an aha! moment earlier this week, I decided to try to make it at home, using a recipe from the Glier’s blog.

Goetta ingredients

First, you simmer your pork for about an hour, thus cooking the meat and making a pork broth.  I didn’t take pictures of this step, so use your imagination.  Using your food processor or grinder, grind your now-cooked pork, an onion, some garlic, and other seasonings together.  Put all of this back in with the broth, then add steel-cut oats and stir until combined.  Are you imagining a weird porridge right now?  Because that’s what you’ve made.

Goetta pre-bake

Pour the weird porridge into a loaf pan or baking pan and bake for about 90 minutes at 350F. You’ll want to stir it a couple of times, which will also let you check to see if it has set. The final consistency should resemble meatloaf.

Goetta post-bake

But you’re not finished yet!  To enjoy goetta as intended, take a portion, smash it down flat, and fry it up with some eggs, like so:

goetta is delicious!!
photo by yummiec00kies

Perhaps you have noted that I haven’t given you the actual recipe.  That’s because the goetta wasn’t very good.  I mean, it had the right look and consistency, but when Shane fried it up for breakfast, he said it needed a LOT more pork and seasoning.  So, a reasonable first attempt, but not a recipe we’ll be repeating.  Sorry, Betty Reisen.

0309 Handicapped by Kitchen Disasters

Remember how we made two ice creams this weekend?  And how I warned you that it’s very easy to end up with sticky syrup all over everything?  Well, let’s just say that I’m speaking from experience.  And this was confirmed when I turned on the oven on Sunday morning and the house filled up with smoke.  After a heavy round of scrubbing on Sunday (thanks, Shane!), we thought that we were in the clear.  No dice.

So, tonight I found myself trying to bake a couple of chicken breasts in the toaster oven.  And it worked out just about as well as you’d imagine.  The chicken was baked in a foil packet with wine, heavy cream, herbs, green onions, and some crumbled bacon – the recipe said 25 minutes, but it took closer to an hour, after which point the chicken hadn’t reached the correct internal temperature but was overcooked.  I also braised some leeks and lacinato kale, which finished long before the chicken.  Everything was fine, just not worth the effort.  I don’t blame the recipe or the equipment – it was just weird and disappointing, and the marjoram made it taste like soap.

Also, the recipe calls for ‘baby leeks’, but in the photos they look an awful lot like green onions.  What?!

Recipe:
Chicken Breast in a Bag with Cannellini Beans, Leeks, Cream and Marjoram from Happy Days with the Naked Chef

0202 Seared Chicken Breasts with Lemon-Chive Pan Sauce

A bona fide kitchen disaster tonight.

Jill and Kevin gifted us with a subscription to Cooks Illustrated for Christmas, and tonight was our first attempt at a recipe from the magazine this year. Shane devoured the latest issue one night before bed, and was very excited to try several recipes – including their new-fangled method for pan-seared chicken breasts, complete with a lemon and chive pan sauce. Following the recipe, I boned the chicken breasts and baked them in the oven for about 30 minutes at what my oven claims was 350 (just realized it was supposed to be 275 – first problem). The breasts were then brushed with a slurry of butter, corn starch, and flour and placed in the waiting cast iron and then WATCH OUT.

Almost immediately the kitchen filled with smoke, and I alternated between turning the breasts with the tongs and running around opening windows. And yes, it’s 25 and snowing tonight. As soon as the chicken was done, the cast iron skillet was relegated to the front porch. I put the pan sauce together, and we sat down to eat, having discovered that the roasted carrots were not anywhere close to being done. At least they weren’t on fire.

The verdict? Overcooked (my fault) and not at all the golden, tender breasts advertised. The flavor was good, though, and we sopped up the pan sauce with the Avalon International beer bread that we’re so into right now. If I were to visit this particular recipe family again, though, I’d save a bunch of time by just grilling the chicken breasts and making the delicious sauce, albeit slightly less delicious absent the pan drippings.

Recipe:
Pan-Seared Chicken Breasts from Cooks Illustrated (online subscription required)
Lemon and Chive Pan Sauce from Cooks Illustrated (online subscription required)