For the past month or more I’ve had a dinner dilemma. Part of my new identity is as an usher at a local community theater. It was fun the other day when I university colleague who I’ve not seen for probably 6 years attended. The first show of the season, Wonderful World (see the following for a very brief teaser: https://miaminewdrama.org/show/a-wonderful-world/), closed last night. We all felt so bittersweet; it was a tiring run, but the show amazingly, well, wonderful!
It meant that Wednesday through Sunday, I reported to work sometime before dinnertime. The early report time was to get daily Covid rapid tests. Audience members also had to show their negative test or proof of vaccination and wear masks while inside the building. We ushers learned to politely act as mask police.
Two recent dinners fit into my strange schedule. Tuesday night I prepared a meal that took some time and also yielded leftovers. I chose to excavate a brisket from the freezer; one more is somewhere near to bottom for another time, another recipe. From my file of saved recipes, I chose one that is frequently made for Hanukah (Holiday Beef Brisket with Onions Recipe – Bruce Aidells | Food & Wine (foodandwine.com)).
Brisket with Onions. Mix together 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 2 teaspoons chopped thyme, 1 teaspoon oregano, 1 tablespoon sweet paprika. Rub the seasonings all over the 6 pound brisket. In a small bowl, cover ½ cup of porcini mushrooms with1 cup of hot water, soak about 20 minutes. Drain and save the soaking liquid.
Preheat the oven at 350 degreesF. Heat about 3 tablespoons of oil in a casserole or dutch oven. Add the brisket, fat side down, cook til browned, about 8 minutes per side. Transfer the meat to a platter and pour off the excess fat. Add 2 cups of dry vermouth or white wine,* the reserved mushroom liquid, and 1 cup of chicken stock (or water); scrape up the bits from the bottom of the cooking pot. Add 2 cups of chopped Italian tomatoes, the drained and chopped mushrooms, and 3 bay leaves.
*This is a good use of any leftover white wine you might have hiding in the fridge.
Return the brisket to the pot, fat side up. Thinly slice 4 medium onions, scatter them and 3 tablespoons chopped garlic cloves over the meat. Cover and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Uncover and cook 30 minutes. Spoon the onions over the meat and cook about 30 minutes more. Cover and cook another 2 hours.*
*I did not plan well and did not have the additional 2 hours, maybe another half hour. The meat was very tender.
Dinner was completed with a sweet potato rosti (a sort of baked potato pancake, another Hanukah delight) and steamed string beans. Here’s the rosti recipe, I omitted the apple! (https://food52.com/recipes/84604-sweet-potato-apple-rosti-recipe?preview=true&utm_campaign=20220108_eds_resend_engaged&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_term=26276526). The very browned part was caramelized and so crispy, delicious.
On Thursday afternoon, for the somewhat quick dinner on a work night, I thought about using some ground beef for meatballs. A quick glimpse of the downloaded recipes, however, yielded the following, based on a Japanese recipe.
Soboro Donburi, Ground beef with peas and rice (https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/soboro-donburi-gingery-ground-beef-peas-over-rice). Start with 1 pound of good ground beef. Mix in 1/3 cup sake, ¼ cup soy sauce, ¼ dashi or water, 1 ½ tablespoon sugar. Cook over medium-heat in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium-high heat for 5 minutes – I just realized everything is medium! Stir often to break up lumps in the meat. Stir in ½ cup thawed frozen peas* and 1 tablespoon peeled grated ginger. Stir occasionally for about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Serve with hot cooked rice.
*I used edamame in lieu of the peas. I also quartered 2 baby bok choys and put them on top, covered the cooking pot, and steamed everything.
I’m looking forward to reacquainting myself with the inhabitants of my freezers and seeing what I can put together for our family dinners, now that I have time. Well, until March when the next show starts.
PS, When I was boiling rice, this mass of bubbles appeared under the lid. Never saw anything like this before.