Thursday, April 15, 2010
No, your eyes are not misleading you: I am also now a Daring Cook (as well as a Daring Baker, but more about that later). Every month from now on, in a very daredevil way, I am going to take up the challenge and cook the chosen dish with grace, style and, unlike today, on time. I do realise that the reveal date was yesterday, only yesterday I spent the whole day with the Fabulous Man looking at houses. That's right. You think the Daring's Cook's a challenge? Try moving house, having a baby, and then moving house again, all within one year. So I would like to apologise very sincerely for my lack of reveal post yesterday. Not a good way to start, I know. I was considering not doing it at all, but decided rather late than never, as they say.
The 2010 April Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Wolf of Wolf’s Den. She chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make Brunswick Stew. Wolf chose recipes for her challenge from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee, and from the Callaway, Virginia Ruritan Club.
I was pleased to see my first challenge turned out to be a stew. Impossible to mess up, right? Just chop a few things, throw in the pot, simmer for a while and voila! Dinner is served. And this is exactly what you do to make Brunswick stew, almost to the letter. What makes it interesting is the bits you chop up. The recipe asks for chicken and rabbit, which sounds great, except you can't find rabbit in the usual mums-with-babies haunts. What you do find next to the normal everyday chicken and lamb in Australian supermarkets is kangaroo. Which is amazing, because the number of Aussies I've come across so far who actually like kangaroo I can count on one hand. No, actually I'm wrong. I can't think of anybody I know who likes it. Supposedly it tastes too gamey. I don't know about that. I think it tastes marvelous. And it's a winner in Brunswick Stew.
My Brunswick Stew will not win any beauty prizes. In fact, let's just be honest and call a spade a spade: it looks like a mess. But it's a delicious mess, let me tell you. I'm not sure if it's the kangaroo or the chicken stock I used, or maybe just the magic of the right ingredients coming together. The smell was delicious straight from the start, and I couldn't stop my self from fishing out little bits of chicken to taste. The Little Girl also had a few slivers of chicken, and obviously thought it was much nicer than the organic sweet potato, pumpkin and apple baby mush I was trying to get her to eat. Sophisticated tastes, this Little Girl. I don't blame her. It tastes great, and according to the recipe it will taste even better tomorrow when the flavours had chance to develop. Yum. Can't wait.
50g bacon, diced
2 dried red chiles, stems trimmed, sliced, seeded, flattened
250g kangaroo fillet, diced
1 kg chicken pieces, skin removed
sea salt and pepper for seasoning
4-6 cups chicken stock
1 Bay leaves
1 large celery stalk, chopped
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, or other waxy type potatoes, peeled, rough diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup butterbeans
1 can tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
Tabasco sauce to taste
In the largest stockpot you have, fry the bacon over medium-high heat until it just starts to crisp. Transfer to a large bowl, and set aside. Reserve most of the bacon fat in your pan, and with the pan on the burner, add in the chiles. Toast the chiles until they just start to smell good, or make your nose tingle, about a minute tops. Remove to bowl with the bacon.
Season liberally both sides of the kangaroo and chicken pieces with sea salt and pepper. Place the kangaroo pieces in the pot and sear off all sides possible. You just want to brown them, not cook them completely. Remove to bowl with bacon and chiles, add more bacon fat if needed, or olive oil, or other oil of your choice, then add in chicken pieces, again, browning all sides nicely. Remember not to crowd your pieces, especially if you have a narrow bottomed pot. Put the chicken in the bowl with the bacon, chiles and kangaroo. Set it aside.
Add 2 cups of your chicken stock, and deglaze the pan, making sure to get all the goodness cooked onto the bottom. The stock will become a nice rich dark color and start smelling delicious. Bring it up to a boil and let it boil away until reduced by at least half. Add your remaining stock, the bay leaves, celery, potatoes, chicken, kangaroo, bacon, chiles and any liquid that may have gathered at the bottom of the bowl they were resting in. Bring the pot back up to a low boil/high simmer, over medium/high heat. Reduce heat to low and cover, remember to stir every 15 minutes, give or take, to thoroughly meld the flavors. Simmer, on low, for approximately 1 ½ hours. Taste the stock, according to the recipe, it “should taste like the best chicken soup you’ve ever had”.
With a pair of tongs, remove the chicken and kangaroo pieces to a colander over the bowl you used earlier. Be careful, as by this time, the meats will be very tender and may start falling apart. Remove the bay leaf and discard. After you’ve allowed the meat to cool enough to handle, carefully remove all the meat from the bones, shredding it as you go. Return the meat to the pot, throwing away the bones. Add in your carrots, and stir gently, allowing it to come back to a slow simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, for at least 25 minutes, or until the carrots have started to soften.
Add your onion, butterbeans, corn and tomatoe. Simmer for another 30 minutes, stirring every so often until the stew has reduced slightly, and onions, corn and butterbeans are tender. Remove from heat and add in vinegar, lemon juice, stir to blend in well. Season to taste with sea salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce if desired.
You can either serve immediately or refrigerate for 24 hours, which makes the flavors meld more and makes the overall stew even better. Serve hot, either on its own, or with a side of corn bread, over steamed white rice, with any braised greens as a side.