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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Mahogany Beef Congee

Adam and I got married in our backyard and it was the best party we've ever thrown.  We had cases and cases of wine and beer and champagne. (We will have our fifth anniversary this May, and we still have some wine left over.) Champagne got opened right as the guests were arriving, and we had half-pint Mason jelly jars for wine and bubbly and pint Mason jars for beer, but somehow nobody found the half-pints, so the party got underway with everybody gleefully drinking PINTS OF CHAMPAGNE.

It was awesome.

photo by Tod Brilliant

The next day, we discovered lots of opened, mostly-full jugs of red wine. Lots of lots of nice red wine, so much that there was no way we could drink it without it all going bad. We could have thrown a whole other party with all that wine, but we were ready to be not throwing parties the day after our wedding, so instead, Adam remembered that he'd made a recipe--Mahogany Beef Stew--years back that used a lot of red wine. So all the leftover wine went into a couple huge potfuls of the stew, which then went into many quart Mason jars, which then went into our freezer, to be happily remembered, opened and reheated on many busy at-home evenings. And we went off on our honeymoon, free of any guilt over neglected wine.

Last week Adam decided to make me Mahogany Beef Congee. The hoisin sauce in the recipe adds delicious Asian overtones, so turning the stew into a congee felt like a natural fit. Adam adapted the recipe linked above, and prepared the congee essentially as written except that he:

-skipped the cornstarch entirely
-used less beef (a little over two pounds, instead of the three-and-a-half pounds called for in the original recipe)
-added about 6 tbsps of fresh minced ginger (4-6 inches), and
-added about 2-3 tbsps of fresh minced garlic (3-5 cloves)

He started on the stovetop, heating olive oil in a large pan and searing the beef on all sides on medium high, being careful not to crowd the pan (you can do this in batches if your pan isn't big enough). As the beef came out of the pan, he lightly salted and peppered it. You can salt it before it goes in to the pan too, but don't pepper it till it comes out, because pepper will burn.

Once the beef was out of the pan, he reduced the heat to medium and cooked the onions in the same pan for about 15 minutes; in the last couple of minutes he added the ginger and garlic to the pan. Then he mixed the beef back in, and then added everything else except the carrots from the recipe, and let it all cook, covered, on the stovetop for one and a half to two hours, until the beef was very tender. (Note: This cooking time was longer than in the original recipe.)

He then put the stew in the fridge and went to bed.

The next morning, he added the stew to our big 10-cup rice pot with about two and a half cups of washed white jasmine rice, another cup of wine, the carrots, and enough water to fill the pot, and switched the rice cooker on.

Here's what it looked like the first day I ate it, when I came back from an early morning meeting to a house filled with a rich, winey, gingery fragrance that reminded me of those first giddy days of being married to the kind of man who will make winey, gingery congee for me:

And here's what it looked like the second day, topped with a perfect soft-boiled egg:

This recipe made enough for me to eat it for breakfast every day for about ten days, but I liked it so much I ate it for lunch, too, so it only lasted about five.

I'm one of those people who can eat the same meal ten times in five days and not get bored, especially if I add different vegetables to it each time. If you're not one of those people, though, this freezes beautifully. Just pull out and heat up a portion whenever you're feening for real, heartwarming-but-not-heavy comfort food.

1 comment:

  1. Your marriage and this blog really warm my heart, Relle.