Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Next on Cooking with Cranky....

I have two hints: one old and one new.

1) To cook wild rice, or one of those lovely wild rice/brown rice blends you find from Lundburg or Chieftain in your grocery, without hassle or scorching: place the desired amount of rice, and water as called for on the box in a dutch oven/covered deep casserole dish in the oven for about one hour instead of trying to cook it on the stove (where you must stir every 27 seconds to stop it from sticking to the bottom) or rice cooker ( where the heat is just too high, and it will never cook right).

My exact method is: Get out a small dutch oven, and put on the filled tea pot, turn on the oven. Brown a small onion, a bit of celery, and 1/4 of a green pepper (all at very small dice) in 3-4 tablespoons of Olive Oil. Add a few small sprigs fresh herbs if you have them, clipped small. Add two cups wild rice blend and stir to coat with oil, pour 4 cups of boiling water over the mix, add a tablespoon or so of concentrated chicken stock and some black pepper and stir. cover, put in oven on 325, check in 45 minutes, and add more water if needed. It comes out nutty and chewy without that teeth-sticking, odd raw centered problem that stove top methods can have.

If you make a double batch it can be refrigerated for several days and used in soups or casseroles.

2) Hamburger Bricks: For years I have browned hamburger before I freeze it to save prep time. As follows: in a large stock pot add 2-3 cups tap water, 5-6 pounds of burger, 1 TBS salt, 1 TBS pepper, 1 TBS onion powder. ( I find the smell of plain hamburger cooking gross, I season it so that it smells better while cooking, and no dish I make doesn't need this stuff anyhow.) cook covered over low/medium heat, stirring every 10 minutes or so until done. Mash with a potato masher to break up if needed (don't sweat mashing during cooking. it crumbles easily when it is done) Turn off and cool for 1/2 hour or so. Spoon into a colander over a big bowl to drain and use either 1 QT ziploc bags for single meal portions, or gallon bags for the "Break off a hunk" option. Smash them into flat squares filling the whole bag no more than 3/4 of an inch thick, pushing out all of the air with a cutting board just before sealing. freeze.
To use, thaw a bag or part of a bag in the microwave or add frozen to soups, pasta sauces, or stews.

Some people call these 'time savers" I call them things I've discovered since I'm lazy.


Side note: While typing this note I forgot about the pan of oatmeal on the stove in the kitchen, and burned it to a crisp. (to get scorched food out of the bottom of a pan, fill with water, add baking soda generously, heat to boiling then turn off, let sit for a few hours, pry crap off bottom of pan, repeat if necessary. )

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