Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Recipe Development

I absolutely love the process of getting an idea in my head for a recipe and then following through in the kitchen. The inspiration can come from anywhere – something I ate or read or saw on TV. Many times I’ll have something that is just not quite right (or truly awful – like Hamburger Stroganoff that someone served to us once). And it just lodges in my head and won’t get out until I make it at home. This happened recently. For Valentine’s Day, we went to dinner at Mezzanine in Carytown. I know that it is never a good idea to eat out on Valentine’s Day or New Year’s, but, as much as I love to cook, I want to be pampered on Valentine’s Day. So out we go. The meal was ok – not nearly as good as it should have been considering that they were serving a limited version of their regular menu, but one dish stood out. The hoisin braised short ribs on grits was very, very good. But…well, there it is – it needed something more. I am a pretty good cook, but not inventive. I am totally derivative. That’s not modesty. I can do really good things by tweaking other people’s recipes – I just don’t make up my own stuff out of thin air they way that some people are able to do. So I had a recipe for a hoisin BBQ sauce that was good, but too strong - it overpowered the beef. I envisioned something that would let that lovely, BEEFY flavor of short ribs take center stage and I wanted LOTS of good sauce to sop up. So, last Saturday, I spent some quality time with my stove and got busy. Here are the notes from my process:

Actually they don't look too bad to me. Usually I am much messier!

I caramelized some onions and seared the short ribs and set them aside. I sautéed some garlic and deglazed the pan with balsamic vinegar. Then the fun started. I started with a half a jar of hoisin sauce, beef stock, soy sauce and sherry. I let that simmer for awhile and tasted and adjusted and added stuff. It was one of the most fun days I've had in awhile. Here's the sauce during the simmering:

Here are the ribs back in the sauce prior to going in a 300 degree oven for 5 hours:

Here's the finished dish, served on sautéed grits cakes:

This dish ended up tasting EXACTLY like I imagined. The short ribs were beefy and meltingly tender. The sauce was fragrant, deeply flavored and PLENTIFUL, but NOT overpowering. Mr. Kim and The Child thought it was wonderful. The Child said that it was one of the best things I'd ever made. I myself could have made a meal of just the sauce and some crusty bread. So this is just a little peek at what I love in my life.

On a completely different note, (but a happy update) it is looking like the situation with Jonah (the grandkitty) is not a dire as they had thought. It is more likely now that he has a kidney infection and not cancer!

I am a bad blogger, I know. I have a million ideas and bits and scraps of ideas for posts, but never seem to have the time to write and post. I don't mean for food to be the focus of this blog, but meals are easy to post.

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