A blog about cooking and food, and how to make it taste good and be healthy. The dishes are almost all gluten/dairy free, and many are vegetarian. The focus is on techniques and ingredients over recipes - this is about everyday cooking, and that means making it work with whats on hand!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dinner with Eleanor

A few weeks ago, my cousin Eleanor came over for dinner, and we cooked up a nice big dinner of candied yams, collard greens, and dirty rice. All of these require some cooking time, but not a lot of preparation so its possible to prep one thing, start it cooking, and then prep the next dish, and so on.

The first thing we did was put some rice in the rice cooker (replacing half the water with broth for extra flavor, and using a little less liquid that usual to make it fairly al dente) and then start on the beef. The plan was to cook some stew beef into its own BBQ sauce. We started with browning some shallots in oil, and added beef.

While that was happening, we cubed the yams and melted some margarine, which the yams went into, with salt and a healthy pour of black strap molasses.

By this point, the beef had browned, and we added 3 diced tomatoes. Canned tomatoes won't break down into sauce because of a harmless chemical, so you have to use fresh tomatoes! (there are, however, harmful chemicals in canned tomatoes, due to the acidity of the tomatoes reacting with the can).

We chopped some celery and onions for the dirty rice, and then decided that the  yams weren't cooking properly on the stove, so we transferred them to a casserole dish and put them in the oven at 350 degrees.
By this point the beef (which we had been stirring occasionally) had had a chance to cook awhile, and the tomatoes were very soft, so we pulled the beef out of the sauce and chopped it into small cubes and returned it to the pan. We then started on the greens (not pictured), which were chiffonaded and put into a pan with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

The last thing to make was the dirty rice. By this point, the rice had cooked so we started the base of  onions, green pepper, chopped chicken liver, and hot sausage. I don't really like chicken liver, but it does add to the taste, and I find the sausage especially helps camouflage the liver. After that had cooked, we add the rice and mixed it up.

We finished the beef with cider vinegar, cumin, and molasses to make it something of a BBQ sauce. Because so much of the gravy was meat fat, it didn't have a strong BBQ taste, but was still very satisfying. We pulled the yams from the oven, and they were amazing - sweet and fluffy. (Amazing is an overused word, but I think this is the first time I've used it in this blog)
We threw the beef onto bread, and everything else onto the plate and chowed down. It took a bit over an hour, but with good company and a bottle of wine, it's a great way to spend an evening.

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