Thursday, April 21, 2011

Onions: Cooking past the Moment

I mentioned earlier this week that I spent the weekend clearing the old and planting the new in the garden.  When I cleared the beds, I pulled out a decent number of spring onions.  I pulled them out first thing and then left them in piles in the grass near the beds for the whole day.  I did not bring them inside until almost nightfall.  Shame, shame!  In my own defense, it was a very busy day which included helping a neighbor with a new landscaping plan and participating in a bee hive inspection with the kids at Dunwoody Nature Center.  When I (finally) got around to bringing them in, they were wilted and I didn't quite know what to do with them (yet), so I stuck them in a wash pan in the sink with about an inch of water.  And, there, I left them.  This was on Sunday.  When I got around to thinking about them again, it was Tuesday.  Oddly, upon inspection, they looked fantastic!

No longer wilted.  Nice and firm, not soggy.

So, I got busy with the business of making something of them.  On a quest for the perfect recipe, I turned to a new cookbook in my collection that I can't seem to put down, Cooking in the Moment: A Year of Seasonal Recipes by Andrea Reusing.  It took me no time to find it, Onion-Braised Overnight Brisket.  With only 7 ingredients, each individual flavor is sure to shine.  Perfect.  At this point, I would like to mention the fact that, as a household, we do not eat much red meat.  We have a couple of family members with high cholesterol, so when we have red meat, it is a real treat.  Paired with the fresh from the garden wash pan onions, this certainly would be a treat.  And, I was off!

All pretty and clean.
Sliced and ready to be sauteed.  But, now, they must wait again while I tend to the meat.
Garlic, rough chopped.  You add the salt and chop until it forms a paste.
You rub the paste all over the non-fatty side of the brisket and sprinkle it with pepper.  Then, roll it up, tie it with twine and sear it on all sides.
Saute the onions with a little salt, sugar and oil.
Add the beef brisket to the onions and add a cup or so of water.

Make a blanket of parchment to capture the steam and keep it moist while it cooks.

Put it in a low oven (225 degrees) for 7 hours.  That's right, seven hours.
After seven hours of low-and-slow roasting, I challenge you to get this beef to the table without nibbling first.  It is simply impossible.  It comes out fork tender like I have never experienced before, absolutely delicious flavor -not one single flavor dominates but they are all there and beautifully balanced- and moist as can be.  There is a whole bit about doing something with the onions to make a sauce, but I did not get that far.  I tore into this thing with my bare hands while still in the pot and never looked back (at the recipe, that is).  Wow.  I realize this sounds a bit primitive, but I would just like to point out that I am anemic.  So, that is, at least, partially to blame.  I think.  Or, maybe not.  People, it was good!  What can I say?

I would also like to mention that the cookbook author, the clearly talented Andrea Reusing, will be cooking at Watershed on Sunday, May 1st.  I would love to attend.  But, my usual dinner date will be somewhere that is not here that evening.  Therefore, I may not.  Plus, I get this thing near great chefs.  I have a long history of being a mediocre-at-best home cook.  I have never poisoned anybody (that I know of) but it sure feels like I've come close a few times.  Right now, I am sure my Dad would like to chime in with a vegetarian pizza story from when I was a sophomore in high school that I will never live down.  It was not clear to me at such a tender age that a head of garlic was different than a clove.  When, the recipe for a single pizza called for 10 or 20 or 40 cloves (who can remember?), I substituted heads of garlic. The bottom line is, because of my sordid past in the kitchen, anytime I am near such culinary genius, I get strange.  In the event that you are not similarly afflicted and you would like to attend, here are the details:


Andrea Reusing comes to Watershed to promote her new book, Cooking in the Moment


The dinner will take place on Sunday, May 1 at 6:30 p.m. and will include six courses plus wine for $125. Tax and gratuity is included. For reservations, call Watershed at 404-378-4900.

Finally, if you would like to preview the cookbook, you can do so here.

1 comment:

  1. As a fellow soul who (in the interest of family health) doesn't cook red meat, but loves to indulge in the occasional baby lamb chop when it appears on a restaurant menu, I was salivating while reading this. Shawn, you are NOT a mediocre cook, far from it! In fact you can be the chef in my kitchen anytime you want, especially if you'll make this brisket. (we'll cook it on the sly & devour it in a closet if need be) Also, anyone who tries a 1st time recipe requiring SEVEN HOURS of oven time is no slouch.
    Great food photos too (& we know those are not easy). Look forward to you publishing your cookbook! (No way?? OK, looking forward to more recipe posts then & news from the garden)