18 October 2011

I Need Schmor

Due to the severe cooling of Sacramento to 86°F today, I needed something to warm the bones.  Naturally I chose to make a Berliner Schmorbraten or Berlin-style pot roast.  It starts with a mustard rub consisting of:

1 heavy tbs dijon mustard
2 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp each of salt/pepper
2 sprigs of thyme (leaves stripped)
a couple good rubs of fresh grated nutmeg
3 pulverized cloves

 + a 4 lbs rinsed and patted dry beef shoulder roast

= a mustard rubbed pot roast

This is seared on all sides and removed in order to saute some vegetables:

1 med parsnip
1/2 c carrots
1 med onion
2 stalks celery

Once browned, deglaze the pot with the Pflaumengeist (plum schnapps) that you keep in your cupboard.  Then add a tablespoon of potato starch, coat the vegetables, and place the pot roast back in the pot.  To this add:

1 can/bottle of Bitburger or other pilsener (a Berliner Weisse is ideal, but what can you do?)
2 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tbs sugar
1 tbs white wine vinegar (barring that, use your champagne vinegar)

Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer on low heat for one and a half hours.  Remove the meat and half the vegetables (discarding the thyme sprigs and bay leaves).  Puree the remaining vegetables and stock with a stick blender or however you want to do it.  Then add:

2 cubed red potatoes
5 large button mushrooms

Simmer at medium heat for 30 minutes.  Then slice the meat and plate with the reserved vegetables, potatoes, and mushrooms--pouring the thickened sauce over the meat and vegetables.

Mmm...now eat one plate and give the rest to your neighbor.

02 October 2011

Just Giving a Kraut-out

As Oktoberfest winds down to an end in Munich on the 3rd, I was reminded that today is the day for me to pull my sauerkraut from its three week transmogrification on the kitchen counter.  I initially had quite an intractable time with trying to get my cabbage to ferment properly.  After failing about three times, I abandoned the recipe from Charcuterie and contacting my Austrian friend a few months back to get her mother's recipe, which I liked when I ate with them years back.  

The key difference was the amount of salt used.  When I used Polcyn & Ruhlmann's recipe it had quite a bit more salt, which I found out after a little research creates an inhospitable environment for lactic acid fermentation to occur.  I have now successfully made sauerkraut four times now.  Like the vegetables that I have fermented, the cabbage remains crisp, slightly salty, and nicely sour.

How I dun it:

1 large head of cabbage (ca. 5-6 lbs)
4 lbs Granny Smith apples
200 g salt

I stamped down the sliced cabbage, grated apples, and salt in my food bucket with a potato masher.  Lehman's sells a wooden stamper specifically for this task, but my metal coil masher does the job well, and really, what else would I use the thing for?  Making a bucket of mint julep or a giant caipirinha?

After the cabbage and apple is well stamped enough for the salt to leech out the moisture, I tossed the herb and spices below to evenly distribute.

20 g caraway seeds
10 g fresh dill
10 g juniper berries
2 bay leaves

I placed everything in my 5 liter fermentation crock, filled the gutter for the water seal, and left it on the kitchen counter for three weeks.  The sauerkraut now resides in my refrigerator until people take it off my hands.