|Grab down your 10-inch wide straight-sided sauté pan and put it over medium heat, and leave it there for five minutes. Meanwhile, rub down four lamb shoulder blade chops with a little bit of oil, and then sear them for one minute on each side. There you go.||
4 Lamb Shoulder Blade
Chops Rubbed With
2 tsp. Vegetable Oil
I always sear meat that I'm going to braise for two reasons. One, it creates
layers of deep, calorie-free flavor that you really can't get any other way.
Two, the high heat damages the cell structure of the surface of the meat, making
it more receptive to a marinade.
Now I'll just repeat with the third and fourth chop. Yeah, we could probably fit these all in the pan at one time, but that would be crowding them, and that would definitely harm our sear.
Then, let the chops cool down for a few minutes, and move them to a one-gallon zip-top bag. I like to put mine in this plastic container for stability. Just add them in. You don't need a lot of space. Get all the juices, and then add four rosemary spears, branches, whatever you want to call them. There, just as long as they're fresh. Then pour in your wine, 16 ounces of red. In this case I'm using a California meritage, but any shiraz grenache blend would do just fine. There.
4 Large Sprigs Rosemary
16 Ounces Red Wine
[at the refrigerator] Park the bag, its contents, and of course, the leak-proof containment in the chill chest for three hours. And give the bag a squish or a shake every hour or so, just to make sure the liquid is well distributed. This step, of course, is called marinating. Why do it? Well I'll tell you one thing, it's got nothing to do with tenderizing the meat. Check this out.
[at the kitchen countertop, showing two lamb shoulder pieces on a cutting board]
Have a look. Two cuts of lamb shoulder, both alike in dignity. This one spent
two hours in wine, and this one soaked for 24. And because of that, the outer
surface is obviously a little darker, because of the prolonged exposure.
But what of the interiors? [cuts into each] Now as you can see, the penetration has been about the same on each piece as is indicated by the discolored band there at the surface. As far as the deep interior, they're identical. That's because marinades, acidic or otherwise, really cannot penetrate meat, unless it's left there so long that the meat basically decomposes.
This begs the question, why marinate at all? Well remember, wine contains tricky little chemicals called polyphenols. And recent research has shown that water and phenols can react with protein at the surface of the meat, hardening it, so that the moisture inside is less likely to get out during cooking. So, marinating in wine doesn't necessarily tenderize meat, but it may very well preserve the tenderness that is already there, which is not the same thing.
Reactions also take place with the browning agents created during the searing, and that intensifies the overall flavor. And so, a short marinade in wine, just two to three hours, does serve a purpose. Going all night or several days, that's just crazy chef talk.
[at the stovetop] When you're ready to cook, just dump the entire contents of the bag back into your sauté pan. Try to distribute the meat so that it's in a single layer, and kind of shove the herbs anywhere it'll go. There, that's fine.
|[at the oven] Cover and park on the middle rack of a 250 degree oven, and braise—that's what this is a sealed vessel, a liquid cooking environment, relatively low oven—for three and one-half hours, or until the meat just pulls away from the bone.||
To save leftover red wine for cooking, freeze it in ice cube trays or muffin tins then move to freezer bags for long term storage.
When three and a half hours are up, it is time for the lamb to exit its wine-y bath. Just move the chops to a platter, and cover with foil while you build the sauce.
|Pour the pan juices into your handy dandy gravy separator. It really is the best tool for getting rid of the fat. Allow a few minutes for separation, and then pour two cups of the wine/broth back into the pan over medium low heat. Now this is important, okay? Wine is fragile stuff, and the hotter you cook it, the more ornery it's going to get. And by that I mean bitter, dull, astringent, nasty, okay?||2 Cups of Cooking Liquid|
Now wine is great for braises because they're typically cooked with low heat. But reductions? Well, they're often executed over a rip-roaring flame for speed's sake. Do not be tempted to follow this path, okay? Go slowly, and your patience will be rewarded.
|At this point we've kind of robbed the wine of many of its fruity flavors and a lot of the fruity aromatic esters that it once possessed. But, we can try to put them back by adding three ounces each of dried plums—remember when we called those prunes?—and dried apricots, just coarsely chopped. Whisk continuously for about 10 minutes, or until the sauce darkens in color and slightly thickens.||
3 Ounces Dried Plums/Prunes
3 Ounces Dried Apricots
|Okay, time to finish the sauce. Whisk in two tablespoons of ice cold butter that's been cut into four or five chunks. Now you're going to put one piece in, whisk until it's almost melted away, and then you'll add the next piece and continue to whisk, okay? The French refer to this as [beurre] monté, or mounting a sauce, which is basically creating an emulsion, okay? Just as you would, say, drizzle oil into a vinaigrette, you are slowly introducing the fat here because it is, of course, slowly melting off of the cold chunks. It's something that cannot be rushed, and you don't want to stop whisking.||2 Tbs. Unsalted Butter|
|Last move, we're going to brighten up some of the flavors that may have been dulled down during the long cooking in the oven. A teaspoon of freshly chopped rosemary, and just one tablespoon of whatever wine you used, just to bring the aromatic qualities back. Give it a taste, and finish with salt and pepper if needed. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't.||
1 tsp. Freshly Chopped
1 Tbs. Red Wine
[at the table] Ahh, here is a dish that's a perfect example of wine doing
everything wine can possibly do. It's providing a cooking medium, a flavor base,
a source of fabulous aromas, and even a sauce. It's ideal. Ha ha ha.
[stops suddenly] Holy moley! I nearly forgot about the beer. [gets up to leave, the camera moves in as if to eat the food] D-d-d-don't. You keep your mitts off of that.
Leftover wine? Pair with the dish for a delicious combination.
Let us quickly conduct the same questionnaire as before, with bread standing in
Now I understand some folks would say that bread goes with everything. But let's
just play it out see how it goes, okay?
Now, let us say that we had some lovely cod, a nice pile of kale, and a lovely cheddar cheese. What do you think?
[camera tracks in on the cod] Oh, the cod? Well it's a very mild fish, and is often cooked in a beer-based batter, hence, fish and chips. But that is another show. Try again.
[camera tracks over to the vegetables] Ahh, green vegetables. Well, kale and other dark leafies contain a fair number of bitter compounds which tend to clash with the roasty, toasty goodness of bread, kind of like, well ... [shows a mismatched jacket and shirt] There you have it.
I would argue that the best match here is definitely the cheddar cheese. After all, what could possibly be more satisfying than a grilled cheese sandwich, hmm? Now it would be tough to actually replace the bread in this equation with beer, but that doesn't mean we can't meld the beer and the bread and the cheese together. In fact, my very favorite thing to do with beer, other than the obvious, is to bake with it.
[at the garage fridge] I am an unabashed beer lover. And at any given time my garage beer fridge is
stocked to the gunnels with suds of many different styles and provenances.
Now when it comes to baking, three specific models come to mind. For soups, fondues, and fish batters, I reach for a plain old lager whose bottom-fermenting yeast ensure a clean, crisp, straightforward beer flavor. Dark, spicy porters, on the other hand, are quite good in chocolate cakes and brownies which I occasionally serve to visiting children on Christmas Eve. [makes a snoring sound, implying that the alcohol makes the children drowsy]
But for a particularly cheesy bread, I think that a pale ale with hoppy bitterness is the best way to go. And you're going to need three bottles, at least, maybe four. But we can always come back.
Hildegard, a 12th Century Benedictine nun, was the
first to mention the use of hops in brewing beer.
First step in our bread baking odyssey, crank the hot box to 375 degrees and face the software.
|We will combine eight ounces of all-purpose flour with four ounces of whole wheat flour. See, this is going to be healthy. One tablespoon of baking powder—not soda—one and a half teaspoons of kosher salt, one teaspoon of plain old sugar, one teaspoon of fresh chopped dill—powerful stuff, we don't need any more than that—and four and a half ounces, by weight, of grated sharp cheddar cheese. Then we are ready for the 12 ounces of beer. And oh, if you've got a funny little smiling cat bottle opener, that'll help.||
8 Ounces All-Purpose Flour
4 Ounces Whole Wheat Flour
1 Tbs. Baking Powder
1½ tsp. Kosher Salt
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Fresh Dill, Chopped
4½ Ounces Sharp Cheddar
12 Ounces Beer, Ale Or Stout
Yes, 12 ounces. I realize that's one beer. And I told you you would need at
least 18 ounces. I made a mistake. [drinks from the other bottle] Sue me.
Pour in the beer, and then bring the batter together as quickly as possible. And you'll want to use a spatula for this. Do not over mix it. As soon as it is thoroughly moistened, get yourself a 9" x 5" inch loaf pan, spray it down with some no-stick spray, and load her up.
|Sometimes, if I'm feeling especially hippy, I sprinkle on one to two tablespoons of sunflower seeds.||1 - 2 Tbs. Sunflower Seeds|
[at the oven] Bake for 45 minutes slap dab in the middle of the oven or until
the internal temperature hits 210 degrees.
[at the table] Upon exiting the oven, allow your bread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool another 10 so that the starches can thoroughly set. Then, you may slice and serve, along with the rest of the beer. [notes his beer is empty] Oh bother.
THING: [places another one on the table]
AB: Ahh. Thank you, Thing!
Delicious dishes, both. But, do they really sum up the full culinary capabilities of beer and wine? Of course not. We'll be spinning sequels off of this puppy for years to come. But there is one issue that I want to deal with right here and now. [takes out a remote control] Watch this.
GUESTS: TV Chef #1 (Paula Deen character)
CHEF #1: And don't you worry about all that alcohol. You just cook it awhile it'll disappear in the breeze.
GUESTS: TV Chef #2
CHEF #2: And in case you're worried about the alcohol, chill out dude. It'll evaporate. Totally.
GUESTS: TV Chef #3
CHEF #3: And if you're worried about all that alcohol, get over it. It's going to vaporize.
GUESTS: TV Chef #4 [Japanese character in period dress]
CHEF #4: [mumbles but indicates that the alcohol he's poring in will evaporate]
GUESTS: USDA Agents #1, #2 & #3
Let's look at the cold, hard facts. According to the United States Department of Agriculture:
|USDA AGENT #1: The amount of ethyl alcohol that remains in food depends on when it is added and how long the food cooks. For instance, when added to a boiling liquid and simply removed from the heat, 85 percent of the alcohol remains in the final dish. If the alcohol is flamed, then 75 percent remains. Continued cooking results in significant reductions as you can clearly see from this chart. Fifteen minutes brings the alcohol down to 40 percent of the original dosage. By 2.5 hours, only five percent remains. But rest assured, no matter how long you cook it, some alcohol will remain.||
Alcohol Time/Process Remaining Immediate Consumption 100% Boil & Remove 85% Flamed 75% 15 Min. 40% 30 Min. 35% 1 Hour 25% 2.5 Hours 5%
But not very much. So unless you have a hard and fast reason for avoiding even
minuscule amounts of alcohol, I wouldn't really worry about it.
Well, I hope that we have piqued your interest in and appetite for a little wine and beer in your food. The possibilities are endless, delicious, and altogether good eats. See you next time.
Transcribed by Michael Roberts
Proofread by Michael Menninger
Last Edited on 08/27/2010