You are cold-hearted poeple who enjoy reading about failure, so I was going to appease your horrifying bloodlust and go all Thomas Keller on your asses. On my ass. On someone’s ass. Whatever, there was going to be food and probably horrifying failure. And ass. Lots and lots of ass.
“He’s not stupid, he’s mentally challenged, and he’s doing a very good job here.’
That was before paxil withdrawal, those halcyon days when I wasn’t dizzy and anxious and my entire reproductive system wasn’t trying to lunge out of my body to forage for a more hospitable host. But those days are gone, and today I spent most of my time trying not to poke holes in my own forehead with a sharpened pencil. Which, incidentally, is also something that cooking Thomas Keller makes me want to do.
I guess I could have gone ahead with it anyway, because the tip of the pencil probably would have broken off in my head after the second or third stab. Instead, I ate some cold pizza and called it a night.
I do get the ol’ twitchy fingers if I don’t post on a Thursday night, though, so I thought I’d tell you about of of my favorite things to do when the weather gets chilly and I start cooking more hearty foods: insta-Bordelaise wine reduction.
“I hate this worm inside me.”
I think I originally read about this somewhere; it may have been Cook’s Illustrated or Fine Cooking, I don’t remember. It’s literally the best thing ever. A whole bottle of wine and aromatics, reduced until it’s about a third of a cup of deeply flavored, thick, syrupy goodness. It keeps in the fridge for a long time and in the freezer even longer and will elevate your pan sauces to the sublime: sear the meat, deglaze the pan with a little stock and add a teaspoon of sweet wine love; get a little decadent if you want by finishing the sauce off by whisking in a few pats of cold butter. A spoonful added to soups, stews and other sauces would also not be remiss, and a little dab’ll do ya’.
I like to use shallots, mushrooms, carrots, bay leaves and peppercorns. The wine is heated – in a wide pan to promote evaporation – just to the point of steaming, not to a simmer; you want to concentrate its winey goodness, not boil the holy hell out of it. The aromatics stay in for about 20 minutes before they’re strained out and the flavor-infused wine spends another 2 or so hours slowly, slowly, slowly reducing to a syrup.
Although it takes a while, you don’t have to pay any attention to it once you’ve hit the burner’s sweet spot to keep things steaming, so you’ll have plenty of time to pick all the pencil points out of your head with a tweezer. Don’t use pointy ones, or you’ll only end up making things worse.
“Five miles for Phyllis is like a death march.”
Despite the very small amount of work this takes, this lazy fucker of a dog couldn’t bring himself to contribute even a little. Even when I held up two bottles of red and asked him to head-butt the one he thought I should use he just laid there in the sun like a goddamned log. I have to assume he goes off to some kind of difficult, high-pressure job when I’m not around, or that maybe he’s a marathon runner, because even for a DOG there’s no excuse for this level of Extreme Laziness. Some mornings we have to force him to wake up and go on a walk, OH THE HORROR.
With no help from him, I’ve settled on a medium-bodied, evenly balanced red as best for this treatment; I believe wherever I first read about this suggested a Cote du Rhone.
That’s what I use if I go to the wine shop to get a bottle and ask them to pick one out for me. Most of the time I use whatever bottle of red wine someone left here the last time I had a dinner party; that’s how most of my wine collection is compiled, because I’m a classy bitch. The rest of you, who presumably know more about wine than me and don’t drink it on ice and mixed with seltzer, should just follow that whole “if you wouldn’t drink it don’t cook with it” rule.
‘I need to have a 1,000 yeard old church in the United States, and there has to be a rainbow.”
After about half and hour, your house is going to smell really, awesomely good. Like, I should figure out how to stuff this into a Yankee Candle and charge $19.99 for it good.
More importantly, it will make your steak really good – a quick pan sear and pan sauce with this, and you’ve got the best 10-minute dinner ever. Put the steak and sauce over some wilted spinach so the greens soak up all the juicy goodness, otherwise you will lick the plate.
You will. Oh yes, you will.
Wine Reduction for Quick Pan Sauces
1 bottle red wine
2 shallots, minced
4-5 button or cremini mushrooms, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp. peppercorns
Put all the ingredients in a wide (10″-plus) saute pan over low heat. Heat until the liquid is steaming but not bubbling at all.
Let the solid ingredients steep in the wine for 20-25 minutes. Strain them out and return the wine to the pan. Keep the wine steaming over low heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Store in the fridge for up to a month, or in the freezer for several.