E Pluribus Mores

Slow Cooking in the Knucklehole

In slow cooking on December 20, 2008 at 10:39 am

Magic Broth

2-3 onions
1/4 cup olive oil
one head of garlic
1 sweet potato
1 carrot
a fresh tomato
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1  lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 bottle of white wine

Welcome back to Slow Cooking in the Knucklehole. Today we will be making the Magic Broth (cooking time 2-4 hours, depending on the dish). Not magic in the Macbethian sense–what with the price of brinded cat and hedge-pig–but magic in the sense that it turns into almost any dish, and that it takes so long it seems a miracle when dinner is ready.

I find that the best broth begins with a major in the humanities. This results in the inevitable low-paying academic staff position, but plenty of time in the aftern0on. My major was the classics. You might say that tonight’s dinner took 2000 years to make–now that’s slow cooking!

For the broth you will need 2-3 onions, olive oil, one head of garlic, a sweet potato, a carrot, a fresh tomato, tamarind paste, a thin slice of lemon, salt, pepper, and a bottle of white wine. I pretty much always use the same wine–an Italian white from San Vincenzo. But any wine with a castle on it should work fine.

Cut the onions in large chunks. Pour a generous portion of olive oil in a large pot and cook the onions on high heat until they begin to burn. Meanwhile peel the sweet potato and garlic. Cut the sweet potato and carrots into large chunks. When the onions are browned/blackened, mix in the remaining ingredients. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes, then pour 1/2 of the bottle of white wine into the broth, retaining the remainder for after 5:00 or when guests arrive, whichever comes sooner. Cook for about 5 minutes, then pour in 4 quarts of water. Cook without a lid on medium heat until the broth is reduced by roughly half–about two hours–or until magic occurs. While this is cooking, I might suggest catching up on your research or checking if your blog has broken the three-views barrier yet today. When you are sure the magic has happened, strain the broth (reserve the veggies to use in dishes such as sweet potato flan or sweet potato cashew dip) and return to the stove on low heat.

Optimally the broth should be pretty much ready to go by 4:30. This allows you to plan dinner and go shopping. If you intend to use the broth for a reduction sauce, you should allow at least another hour and put cream and the high fat European butter on the shopping list. Magic broth transforms itself into:

soups (e.g. white bean, sweet potato, tomato, spicy Spanish, french onion, chowder), vegetarian stuffing, potatoes au gratin, goat cheese gnocchi with tamarind reduction sauce, sweet potato gnocchi, mashed potatoes, paella, risotto, gravy, sweet potato flan (again, with the reduction sauce), carrot cashew dip, potato knishes, and broth for invalids and the infirm. The list goes on.

That wraps it up for this episode. Just remember, as Julia Child says, “butter makes it good.”

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