Experimenting in the kitchen

How to Cook Everything, Revised Edition by Mark Bittman

I’ll write this up fully later, but I just wanted to share a couple of photos with you. I’ve been in the kitchen more than my silence might indicate, but mostly doing simply things like hummus. Today’s my first experiment in awhile.

Well, I call it an experiment, but like the cautious cook I usually am, I took Marc Bittman’s recipe for “Braised Oxtail with Garlic and White Wine” and messed with it as I cooked. For one thing, I used beef neck instead of oxtail. It looks just as (if not more) tasty than the oxtails I’ve had, but was astoundingly cheaper. If this works out, I may never go back to oxtail.

His recipe also calls for 4 ounces of bacon. I didn’t remember that before I started quick thawing the beef neck. So I turned to my lard rendered from “that time we bought a hog”. I’m expecting this to be a tasty, but not really the same, substitute. It should have some nice pork flavor (because of the way it was rendered), but it has no smoke on it. I considered using kombu, from my experiments with vegetarian baked beans, but decided to try the lard instead. I considered both, but it seemed like overkill.

These are three ingredients in tonight’s experiment. Tomatoes I canned myself, earlier this year. Lard I rendered myself, in a slow-cooker. The lard has a bit more of a “pork” smell than I wanted, but I realized for savory applications (especially ones that call for bacon when I’m out of it), this is okay. And, finally, pork stock that my friend David and I made, from our hog.

Here’s what went into the oven.

That’s three chunks of beef neck, about 2 lbs, nestled into tomatoes and their juice, a cup of white wine, carrots, onions, garlic and celery.

My house smells insanely good right now. Dinner’s not for another hour, at least. I’m going to try to serve this with polenta and kale.