The only thing that could have made our icy weekend better for cooking was if the stuff falling from the sky had been flour and freezing grain. So what did you make to make the most of it?
On Saturday, I pulled an aged-out laying hen from the freezer -- a farmer connection steers them my way when he has to cull a few from the flock. They're scrawny and tough, so they're not good for eating, but they're fabulous for stock. After simmering stock for a couple of hours, I put a couple of cups in the freezer and used the rest to make chicken & dumplings, one of the great winter dishes, using some chicken breasts I also had in the freezer.
Some sources claim it's more Southern to make rolled dumplings, but I like drop dumplings. In this case, I made them from good rendered pork lard and some of my precious stash of Red Band flour. They ended up with a tender, fluffy consistency that was sort of like the Southern answer to matzo balls, floating in a rich, lightly thickened broth with a little turmeric and saffron to boost the gold color.
On Sunday, I took one look at our icy street, bade farewell to my usual activities of church and gym, and reached into the freezer again. This time, I pulled out a sirloin tip roast from Baucom's Best grass-fed beef and looked to my bookshelf for inspiration.
Back in August, professional food snarker Regina Schrambling wrote a piece for http://www.slate.com/ claiming that people who saw the movie "Julie & Julia" shouldn't buy copies of Julia Child's classic "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" because no one cooks from it. Au contraire, moan ami. The tattered spines on both of my volumes speak to plenty of usage, and this time, Child didn't let me down.
I settled on her simply named "Braised Beef," making a few adjustments. Instead of marinating in red wine, brandy, olive oil and carrots/celery/onion for 24 hours, I had to do it for three. No big deal, it worked fine. Then I seared the beef, cooked down the marinade and added beef stock, put it in the oven for 4 hours and served it up with the cooked-down sauce, glazed carrots and mashed potatoes.
Your turn: What did you cook for winter comfort this weekend?