Welcome to the Christmas Day edition of WFD? As you are filling up the corners by nibbling on your favorite dainties, enjoying your favorite beverages, and in general winding down the day, I hope you can join me for some food talk.
So, I originally wanted to do a diary on a new thing I wanted to try for Christmas—slow roasting a whole 3 bone beef short plate—basically the place where short ribs come from. This looked SO good when I saw the video, I wanted to try it. However, things didn’t work out and I have yet to cook it. So I’ll tell you about my family’s Polish Christmas Tradition instead. Mushroom soup has been covered before, but last year my brother in Arkansas wanted the soup and pierogis, so I did. It was the first time I had done all the steps myself.
So, first I used about 6-8oz of dried mushrooms. I used some assorted wild Polish mushrooms (on line ordered) and filled it out with some dried Maitake mushrooms. Put them in a bowl with cold water overnight to soak. In the morning, CAREFULLY squeeze the water out, saving every last drop, and chop into the piece size you desire. You must be sure to keep EVERY last drop of the water you can, because that’s all the flavor the soup will acquire. Add the chopped mushrooms to a pot and carefully strain the water, leaving any dirt and other detritus behind. Fill the remainder of the pot with water, and set to boil.
Once it boils, you may have to skim some scum off. Reduce the heat and gently simmer for several hours. The smell. Once it got going, the memories flooded of childhood. To us, THIS smells like Christmas.
In the meantime, dice a couple of potatoes (I used Yukon Gold this time) and cook them in stock (or water and a couple of bouillon cubes) until tender. Shortly before serving, add butter and water to a skillet and make a roux. Use the soup as your liquid for the roux, making sure there are no lumps before adding it to the soup. Bring to a simmer to thicken. The amount of roux is up to you, but I used a stick of butter and a half cup+ of flour. It’s “how we’ve always done it”. And the soup is not to thick, not too thin. Then using a slotted spoon, add in the potatoes. Heat until potatoes are hot, then serve.
My brother also wanted sauerkraut pierogi with the soup. Let's start with the filling. I used a 32oz bag of Frank’s, which I drained and rinsed. I added it to a pot with water, and brought it to a boil. I reduced the heat and simmered for like an hour and a half. 45 minutes in, I added a handful of barley. My mother always said that barley helped prevent “gastric issues”.
Once the kraut was done, I drained it, and added it to a skillet with a chopped onion and lots of butter and pepper. I gave it a gentle sweat until the onions were tender and any spare water was evaporated. I put it in the fridge to rest overnight.
The next day, I took the kraut out, and heated it in a bit more butter to really dry it out. This let some light browning happen on some of the kraut and onion. Keep the browning light, cause you don’t want crunchy kraut. Then I let it cool.
Meanwhile the dough. This was my first real attempt at dough, and it didn’t go too badly. I used a generic pierogi dough that I found by using the google. Basically flour, water, eggs, salt, the usual. I kneaded by hand and rested overnight.
Time to make them. I used a glass to cut out the circles. I rolled out as thin as I could, but not see through thin, of course. Put some filling in the ring, and sealed them. I dusted them with a little flour because I froze them.
I got some water boiling in a pot, then batch cooked them until they floated, then waited a minute or so more. I only had one leak, so yay me. Then I transferred them to a skillet with even more butter, and put butter on top. I slowly heated them so they browned and got crisp on the outside, but when you bite in, the butter is all absorbed and runs down your chin.
Finally I’m going to share one of the best—and EASIEST—ways to get a perfect rib roast every time. WARNING: This recipe and the math involved works only if your oven does not have a cooling fan. First, note the exact weight to the decimal of your BONE IN roast. And it must be bone in. Then, bring it to room temperature. While it’s coming up to temp, make a compound butter with pepper and herbes de Provence. Once the meat is room temp, rub the butter all over the meat. Then GENEROUSLY salt it all over.
Next, as your oven is preheating to 500-550 degrees F, enter the exact weight of the roast and multiply it by 5. Then round up, no matter how small the decimal. That is how many minutes you put it in the super hot oven for. Set your timer about 30 seconds or so after you put it in the oven, because the oven will cool slightly while it’s open. After your timer sounds, turn off the oven and walk away for two hours. Do NOT open the oven. After that time, the meat is rested, but still warm, and hot gravy or jus will be perfect on it. The result is the photo at the beginning of the diary. Perfect medium-medium rare meat, glistening and juicy, with a super flavorful crust. This recipe is courtesy of Chef John, who else? I’ve used this method on everything—boneless rump roast, semi boneless leg of lamb, and it comes out great every time. Depending on the bone situation as well as the shape of the meat, you will get slices for everyone, from medium well to almost rare. Use this method. It will change your life.
Anyway, yesterday was Christmas Eve. I spent it at my brother’s house, where he prepared a glorious rib roast. Christmas brunch was vegan quiche. Then I’m going to another brother’s house for Christmas dinner. I don’t know what he’s having, but I’m sure it will be wonderful.
So, fill the comments with all your Christmas Dinner comments. I can’t wait to read them all!
And may the Holiday (whichever you observe) be wonderful and filled with food, family, and festivities.
UPDATE: I found out yesterday that my nephew had tested Positive. Even though he’s isolating in his room, I’m not going to a house where there is an active COVID person. I’ll get my Christmas stuff maybe in a month for my birthday.