Tuesday, May 4, 2010

slowly does it

I know - another post! I can't believe that I'm so prolific on my other blog, yet so crappy on this one. I'll try!

I was always an impatient cook. I hurridly chopped the ingredients, threw them in the pan, gave it a cursory stir and always seemed to throw in the next ingredient before the current one was ready to receive it. Now, I'm trying to slow down. I'm taking cooking as my form of meditation for the day. I can't sit in the lotus position and manage alternate nostril breathing, so, instead, I'll take my peace when it comes.

Now, slowly dicing the onion into small, even squares is my form of bliss. Then I'll chop carrots to a similar size and a stick of celery will join in the gang. The basic miropoix is the base for virtually any meal - but it takes time. I slowly heat the oil, not too much, and sometimes throw in a little butter for flavour. Then I'll add all the ingredients and stir them so they're well-coated in the oil and then let them sweat over a low heat for at least 10 to 15 minutes. I always used to rush this step and the onion was never cooked before I added the sauce and that was it, the onions stopped cooking and were always hard and nasty in the sauce.

When this is done, I'll remove them from a pan and then start to brown my meat. If I'm making a casserole I ask my butcher to chop up blade or chuck steak into 1 inch cubes. I dry them off with a paper towel {that's a Julia Child hint and oh boy, does it make for a lovely, caramelised piece of meat} then I'll toss it in some seasoned flour {just some salt and pepper added for flavour}.

I add some more oil, let it heat and then add the meat a little at a time. I don't like to crowd it or it'll sweat and leach juices and then stew rather than caramelise. Remember, this is meditation time, so what's the hurry. I only add enough to cover the bottom of the pan with enough space in between each piece of meat to fit in my tongs and flip the meat easily.

When all the meat's browned it's time for my favourite bit - deglazing the pan. Not deglazing the pan is a sin - all the caramelised goodness from the vegies and the meats sit on the bottom of the pan and they need wine or stock to release it. Pour in about 1/2 cup of whatever liquid you're cooking with - either wine or stock - and stir it over a low heat so that all the yummy bits from the bottom of the pan rise up and mingle with the liquid. When that's done return the meats and vegies to the pot, stir and add your remaining ingredients.

Deglazing's also the perfect way to make a sauce after you've cooked a steak. Add some button, saute some finely diced french shallots, then throw on some red wine and bring to a simmer. A length of fresh time and lashings of freshly ground pepper will make it sublime.

Bon appetit.


  1. Glad you wrote another entry :) I wish I was a 'slow' cook - usually I'm starving so I just bung everything in the pot. I might have to try a bit of the slow food cooking this weekend. Interesting idea about drying the meat off - must try that too!

  2. Drying the meat makes a huge difference Anna - give it a shot! And thanks, I am determined to blog on this one more!