Friday, February 16, 2007

Bison Carbonnade and crusted -up sausages

My interview about the 100 Mile Diet with Kait Light from Shaw TV is being aired and will be on rotation. Check it out on Shaw TV Channel 4.

After an assiduous week, I was ready for some coccooning yesterday. However, the universe wasn't on the same page. Forgotten errands ricocheted back, phone calls from frantic friends, unexpected visitors, and an uncooperative leaning, rotten backyard fence all conspired to keep me from my coccoon. By the evening, a mild pressure over my right eye blossomed into a full-blown tension headache. By 8pm, with dinner finally going, I settled in with my knitting and a cup of peppermint tea. Not two rows in and our usual unexpected visitor showed up at our door. ACK!!!! I just shut the gate to my personal space and knitted away and let DH deal with them.

Thankfully making dinner was a easy and quick affair. With the last of the Tuscan bean soup being sopped up last night, I was now yearning for a stick-to-your-ribs stew. With a quick look through the freezer, our pantry and fridge, I decided on a Bison Carbonnade.

No, not carbonated bison. Could you imagine the mess that would make?
Bison carbonnade is a fancy schmancy way of saying bison and beer stew. I used a couple pounds of bison stew meat from Island Bison, a bottle of Phillips Double Chocolate Porter.

It's a basic stew recipe. Here's the standard steps for any sort of stew.
1-Brown the meat in oil over medium high. Remove from pot.
2- Brown veggies (onions, garlic, carrots, peppers, celery, mushrooms are the usual suspects)
3- If using, dump in tomato paste. Let it caramelize a bit.
4- Dump in liquid. Bring up to a boil. Scrape all the bits of caramelized yumminess off the bottom.
5- Dump in meat. Dump in aromatics (herbs, spices). Bring heat down to a low.
6- Cover and let simmer until tender. For fresh meat it usually takes from 1-2 hours.

If I'm roasting or baking stuff in a low oven (300F) I'll usually just pop the stew pot into the oven with everything else.
You need enough liquid to just barely cover your meats and veggies. I used beef broth along with the beer as my liquid component. Stuff like potatoes can be added 20 minutes from the end of cooking. You can also wait until the end to add other veggies like peas, corn, greens to prevent them from losing too much colour. This time had leftover roasted veggies which I popped into the oven for 15 minutes to reheat them. To serve, I plopped a scoop of veggies in the bowl ladle the stew around it.

Once the meat is added back into the pot, make sure that the stew does rise back to boiling stage. It should simmer which means that anything livelier than small slowly rising bubbles coming up to surface calls for immediate intervention! Turn down the heat or else you'll end of with Shoe Leather Carbonnade.

We enjoyed our boozed-up bison stew with a glass of Scrumpy cider from Merridale Ciders. A tasty, dry cider that went well with the rich, deep and savory stew.

Remember all that sausage I cooked up in the beginning of the week? I still had a bunch left. I made a batch of sausage rolls for DH. They're nothing more than leftover cooked moose sausages and local bavarian sausages rolled up in some frozen basic pie crust pastry. I baked them at 350F for 30 minutes. My DH thinks I'm a genius. It took all of 2 brain cells to make them but I'm not tell him that ;)

Pie crust is one of those things that I used to be skittish about making. In the past, they'd end up either gooey or tough. The secret to the perfect pastry is to use both really cold ingredients and tools and to not handle the dough more than needed. Overhandling will lead to a tough dough. I usually pop my butter, water and mixing bowl into the freezer to get them good and cold.

Here's my Fast & Dirty Pie Pastry:

3 cups flour - I used sifted organic Red Fife flour from True Grains bakery
2 sticks of unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar (if you're making a sweet goodie. For savories, don't need add)
ice cold water

1- Sift the flour. Add salt and sugar
2- With a cheese grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour. This is easier than working with cubes of butter
3- Mix. Use a pastry cutter or a fork to incorporate the ingredients into a crumbly mixture.
4- Add water one tablespoon at a time. Incorporate the water in well before adding more water. You will use less water than you think you need. Once it starts coming together it'll still look at bit crumbly and ragged. If you pinch the dough and it comes together and sticks. It's done.
5- Dump the dough into a ziploc baggie. Pat the dough down flat and even. Put into the fridge for at least and hour before rolling it out.

As mentioned, it freezes fine. The above recipe is enough for 2 pie crusts. I usually keep them in 1-2 crust portions.

This is a note to Marianne/Mary Anne who I met at the Ban Terminator events this past week. I might have given you wrong contact info. Please email me.



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