Archive for the Home cooking and more Category

How to Sear a Steak (or any piece of meat)

Posted in General food knowledge, Home cooking and more with tags , , , on November 15, 2008 by restaurantouring
The signs of a properly seared steak

The signs of a properly seared steak: even golden brown crust, no gray or dull spots, no black or burnt bits

This tutorial explains how to properly sear a steak (or any piece of meat, really).  Hopefully, this will help beginners who read this post to become better cooks.  For more information about some of the finer points of searing, please check this blog entry.

Lots of foods that are high in protein (a steak, for example) are better when they are seared.  This is not to say that this is the only way that these foods should be cooked, but searing results in a lot of great flavors.  Too much searing and you get burnt food, so care should be taken in avoiding this by paying attention, watching your food and flame, and by using your nose.

To sear:

1)  It is first necessary to ensure that the surface of the food is dry.  Wipe off any excess moisture from the food (especially if it has been washed or rinsed under running water) with a paper towel.

2)  Salt should be added for seasoning, but probably not pepper, since pepper can burn easily and create bad flavors.

3)  Prep a pan by placing it over medium-high heat for several minutes, depending on the pan*.  Cast iron pans are excellent for searing.  Clad pans are also excellent.  Otherwise, any heavy guage pans will do**.

4)  Add oil to either the hot pan or to the target food.  Rubbing oil to the outside of the food you are going to sear is probably the better choice***.

5)  Introduce the food to the pan.

6)  Don’t touch anything.

7)  Wait for about two minutes, depending on how hot the pan was, how cold the food was, etc.

8)  The food may stick to the pan if it has not finished searing yet.  Proteins love to stick, but as foods sear, proteins coagulate and release from the pan.  Check if you are unsure.  The surface should be a deep brown but never gray or dull.  If it is, or if there are parts that are not browned, proper searing has not been achieved (probably due to either water or the fact that the food has not had enough time to brown).

9)  Repeat the searing on all the sides you wish to sear by flipping your food with tongs.  Searing is best done on fresh metal, so flip onto a clean part of the pan if you can help it.

*  Cast iron is a pretty bad conductor in comparison to other common metals used in making pots and pans.  Thus it takes much longer to heat up than a clad pan.  The benefit of cast iron is that once it gets hot, it tends to stay hot.  Thus, it can dish out some serious hot loving to any steaks or fingers that touch it, so be careful — always use a dry side towel to grab hot pans.

**  Generally speaking, the heavier the pan is, the more heat the pan can hold onto.  This is very important in searing food, since as soon as the food hits the pan, it absorbs a ton of heat from the pan.  If the pan has a lot of heat to give, searing is enhanced, thus heavier pans produce better sears.

***  If oils heat up too much, they start to smoke and produce off flavors, since the chemical composition of the oil is compromised.  The “smoke points,” as they are called, of different fats vary from oil to oil and fat to fat.  In general, animal fats have a lower smoke point, so refined vegetable oils might be a better choice for high temperature searing.  Canola oil is a good and economical choice.

Taurids and Hot Cocoa

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , on November 11, 2008 by restaurantouring
I know

I know that's not Taurus in the background. It's Orion. It's tough coming up with relevant pictures for a blog though, especially if you're committed to providing your own photographs. Such is life, I suppose. . . .

City life sucks. I mean, I guess living in or near a city has its perks, but there are some pretty big down sides to it, too. Hell, I live in Orange. There isn’t anything in Orange. Well, there’s noise. And light pollution. Sirens. Annoying dogs. But that’s about it.

To boot, it’s been cloudy or rainy around here all this week. Yesterday was gorgeous, and today was even better.  But now it’s getting later. Now it’s dark and cold. And damnit, there are clouds. How the hell am I supposed to enjoy this meteor shower?

Maybe it won’t be so bad. I’m fortunate that the windows in my room face east. Maybe, if I sit up long enough, the clouds will disperse and I’ll get to see some of those slow-moving fireballs the Taurids are known for.

I’ve got a mix of hot cocoa here with me. It’s just 3 cups of dry milk powder, 2 cups of powdered sugar, and a cup of Dutch processed cocoa powder (Dutch processed cocoa powder is more easily dispersed in water. This is good for making hot cocoa), plus a teaspoon or two of corn starch (to prevent clumping) and a pinch of salt (to bring out the flavor), which I mixed together in a food processor for a couple of seconds. I’ve got my electric kettle here, a few bottles of water, and my lucky mug. Fill up my mug halfway with the mix, and top it off with hot water (or if I’m feeling ambitious, I’ll heat up some milk to make it extra nutritious). A dash of cinnamon, or maybe some cayenne pepper (oh yeah, baby), and I’m good to go.

And if the Taurids suck this year, there’s always the Leonids next week. . . although, I hear they’re gonna suck this year, too. Not like back in 2001. That shit was epic.

Yeah, maybe it won’t be so bad, after all. This cocoa is good. And this chair is comfortable. I might even fall asleep here tonight. Hopefully I don’t fall out of my chair.

Blue Cheese Bacon Burger

Posted in Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , on November 10, 2008 by restaurantouring

blue-cheese-burger-with-bacon-055_resize

I love burgers.  I mean who doesn’t?  And a burger with bacon on it?  My god.  Shoot me (please don’t).  Everybody loves bacon.  Even vegetarians.

It’s a shame that the way most Americans get their burgers in this country is either through the drive-thru window of a fast food chain or from a big frozen box of a dozen or more identical, boring, tasteless, and probably E. Coli-infested “burger patties.”  It’s even worse because it doesn’t take much time or effort to make a great burger yourself, at home.  To boot, it’s satisfying work, and the results are tastier and healthier than the crap you can buy on every other city block.

This burger is really simple.  Take a pound of ground beef (80% lean, preferably.  A mix of chuck and sirloin, preferably.  It’s best if you grind it yourself, but store-bought will do in a pinch, even though it is far inferior), and mix it with some kosher salt (1.5 tsp), freshly ground black pepper (1 tsp), garlic powder (1.5 tsp), and onion powder or granulated onion (1.5 tsp).

Divide this mix in half, and divide each half in half again.  Now, you have four 1/4 pound hunks of meat.  Ball each one up, flatten it with the palm of your hand, and work it into a roundish patty, slightly larger than your bun or about a 1/2 inch thick, if you can manage.  The burger in the picture is a bigger one — probably about 1/3 of a pound and about 3/4 of an inch thick.  Set these burgers aside.  If the meat was cold (if you took the beef straight out of the fridge), time will allow the patties to come up to room temperature, which will make it easier to cook to your desired level of doneness (please say rare or medium-rare!).

Wash your hands.  Soap and warm water, please.  Lather up real good, and scrub for about half a minute.  I work in a hospital, so these things are important.

Turn on your broiler.  You know that section of the knob for the oven that says “broil”?  Yeah.  That.  Use it.

In a cast iron skillet, crisp up some bacon and set it aside.  Pour off any excess fat, and return the pan to the flame.  If desired, lightly salt the outside of the burgers with a little more kosher salt.  When the pan is screaming hot, slap down a burger or two.  Don’t overcrowd the pan or else you won’t get the delicious brown crust on the outside of the burger*.  This should only take a minute or two on each side, provided that your pan was hot enough to begin with.

You could make these burgers on a grill or on a grill pan as well, but I like cooking them a la plancha or on a big metal surface (in this case, in my 12″ cast iron pan) like this because more of the burger touches the pan, so more of it browns via the Maillard reaction (a complex reaction which I don’t fully understand.  Proteins and carbohydrates undergo complex chemical changes which produce a lot of deep flavors in food.  Sugars caramelize.  Too much Maillard reaction = burnt).

Flip the burgers and top each patty with blue cheese.  Stick it under the broiler for a minute or two.

As soon as the burgers go under the broiler, slice open some onion rolls and stick it in the oven for a minute.  Retrieve the pan of burgers after the cheese has melted, and grab the rolls from the oven.  Spread some mayonnaise on the bottom of the buns and grind some more black pepper on top of either the mayo or the burger or both.  Put the burger on top of the mayo’d bun, but the bacon on top of the burger, and you’re done.  Want some mushrooms with that?  You can saute some shrooms with the bacon fat before you start the burgers, or you can do it after the burgers have been evacuated from the pan.  Need some green?  Romaine to the rescue.  Don’t forget to turn your oven off.

And if you put ketchup on this burger, I will punch you in the face.

* The key to proper browning is to make sure that you have a hot pan with some oil in it, to make sure that the food you’re trying to brown is fairly dry, and to make sure you don’t overload your pan (called “overcrowding”).  Water soaks up a lot of heat and needs to evaporate before browning can occur.  This is because browning, or the Maillard reaction, happens at about 230 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas water can only reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level.  Typically, the more food you have in a pan, the more water there is to go around, so if you’re trying to brown with a crowded pan, you’re more likely to steam your food, rather than to brown it.  Eliminate the factors that result in steamed food (water, lower temperatures, a crowded pan) and you will have GBD — golden brown deliciousness.

P.S. The oil serves to transfer heat from the hot pan to the target food item, as well as to provide lubrication so that food does not stick [as badly].  Oil can get much hotter than water, and it can coat the food you’re trying to cook, which is very good for cooking and browning.

Mushroom Risotto with Chardonnay

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , on November 9, 2008 by restaurantouring
Like the dino squirt bottle?

Like my dinosaur squirt bottle in the back? Can you tell that I'm a fan of Alton Brown? I used to have a T-rex squirt bottle, but someone stole it. Sadness 😦

A few months ago, I was cooking with my cousin, Sharon.  It was her birthday, she was throwing a party because she wanted to cook for everyone, and I agreed to help with the cooking.  She suddenly started panicking, because she realized she lost her recipe for a mushroom risotto that she really liked (it was a Rachel Ray recipe, and my cousin adores Rachel Ray for some reason).  After calming her down, we made this risotto, which I love.  The picture above was taken tonight, since I had it for dinner.  Apologies for the terrible lighting.  My apartment is poorly lit and it’s been rainy and cloudy all week, so I haven’t had much luck with the whole photography thing.  Also, I’m using a shallow frying pan here because, quite frankly, the pot I would normally use to make it was being used by my roommate.  It happens.  It’s not my pot anyway.  The pan, however, is.

I’m a big fan of not following recipes.  That’s because I strongly believe that as long as you understand what’s supposed to go into a dish, you can wing it and you can get by just fine.  Sometimes, you just need to know a lot more about some dishes, especially if it’s a complex and very refined recipe.

So the question naturally follows: “What is a risotto?”  To me, a risotto is nothing more than a flavorful rice porridge — sublime when it is executed correctly, and utterly bland when the proper steps aren’t taken to maximize flavor.  To elaborate, risotto is a rice porridge that begins with an aromatic sweat*, usually with butter and olive oil (which add flavor, as well).  Then, the rice (classically, but not always, with arborio rice) is toasted, which develops more flavor.  Then, liquid is added several times during the cooking process, until the rice reaches the desired consistency and level of doneness.  Some people like their risotto al dente.  I like mine softer.

But the heart of the matter is that risotto is basically a rice porridge.  And I’m Chinese.  We Chinese people know alllllll about the rice porridge.  We eat rice porridge for breakfast (literally)!

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So, we began the risotto.  First, we assembled our meez (or mise en place, if you prefer.  It’s French for “everything in its place.” *cue Radiohead song*): chop a medium onion, dice a rib of celery, mince a couple cloves of garlic, steep about 7 or 8 dried shiitake mushrooms in hot water, stare at a package of button mushrooms, and set aside those button mushrooms for another day because they can be too bland for me (although they’re great for making duxelle, but that’s another blog.  I hope I’m not infringing on any of Alton’s copyrights, by the way.  That would be teh suck).

Then, we melted some butter (if you have to ask, I’d say it was about 2 or 3 tablespoons, but I hate measuring, which explains why I’m such a TERRIBLE baker), added some olive oil to the pot (regular olive oil, not the extra virgin stuff, since heat spoils the great flavor of aromatic oils), and started the aromatic vegetable sweat by gently cooking and stirring the chopped onion, celery, and minced garlic over low heat.

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While the aromats sweat, filling the house with fragrant deliciousness, we retrieved the mushrooms from the hot water (I usually just use my bare hands because I’m an idiot and I think that if you’re gonna cook in the kitchen, you oughta get a few lumps anyway).  I sliced off the woody stems and threw those into a pot of barely simmering, home made chicken stock (WASTE NOTHING!).

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Then, I sliced all the mushrooms into 1/4 of an inch thick strips and added those to the sweat (you can brown mushrooms like you would a piece of meat, as well, but since these were reconstituted and totally waterlogged, it would be difficult to do.  Otherwise, I’m always a fan of developing as much flavor as possible, which would include browning mushrooms).

Once the onions, celery, and garlic turned translucent, I added a touch more butter and olive oil (since there wasn’t enough), turned the flame up to medium-high heat, heated up the pan, and added the arborio rice (about a cup of it).  I toasted the rice and stirred it occassionally, to prevent sticking.

Once the rice started smelly nutty and turned a golden brown color, I deglazed the pan with chardonnay, and flamed the pan because I think I’m cool (I’m not).  Remember to always be careful in the kitchen, and keep a fire extinguisher nearby, just in case.

Then, I cooked this mixture down until it was almost dry to try to drive off as much of the alcohol as possible**.

Then, once the mixture was mostly dry and starting to stick to the pan (be careful not to let it burn!), I deglazed it again with the reserved water from when I reconstituted the mushrooms (That water is full of good mushroom flavor.  Also, WASTE NOTHING!).

After that, it was simply a process of dosing the rice with liquid just to cover, cooking it down till it was fairly dry, and adding more liquid to cover, until the rice had taken about 5 – 7 doses of stock or water, or until the rice reached a desirable consistency and level of doneness (whichever one came first).  Don’t worry about the rice getting mushy.  The rice is pretty hearty, plus the toasting helps to slow down the rate that the rice absorbs liquid, so by the time all that stock is either absorbed or evaporated, the rice hasn’t lost too much of its integrity.  The key is in proper, frequent stirring, which allows enough of the starch to mix with the liquid to make the rice creamy, without actually adding any cream.  Of course, if you want to add cream (and parmesan cheese, highly recommended), you can do so to very good effect.

I used homemade chicken stock, which is ridiculously easy to make at home, provided that you’re like me and in the habit of saving up all your chicken bones (WASTE NOTHING!).  In fact, it’s a shame that more people don’t do it, because that crap you can buy at the store is terrible.  I’ll include a recipe for chicken stock one of these days (probably soon), but it’s really easy, and good recipes can be found online quite quickly and easily.

Risotto Redux

Risotto Redux***

That’s it.  Risotto, with mushrooms and chardonnay.  Maybe with some chopped, flat leaf parsley at the end for flavor and garnish.  Started with an aromatic sweat, toasted some arborio, dosed the mix with wine, mushroom water, and chicken stock, and cooked it down until it was done.  Delicious.  And even more delicious the next day, since time allows the flavors to meld and deepen.  You can also make this with a touch of cream or with some shaved parmesan cheese.  Or both!  Why not?  The variations are endless.

another angle

another angle

* The term “sweat” in cooking refers to  cooking [vegetables] without frying or sauteing them.  It’s done over low heat, so you shouldn’t hear any sizzling, or you shouldn’t hear vigorous sizzling, anyway.   This gentle cooking allows the aromats to flavor the oil and whatever food that will be cooked with it.  Properly sweated veggies will turn soft and translucent (well, onions, garlic, and celery will.  Good luck trying to make carrots and peppers turn translucent, though!).

** You can never really totally cook out the alcohol when you’re cooking with it, so if you’re pregnant or cooking for someone who may be pregnant, you should probably avoid cooking with wine and alcohol whenever possible.  Yes, the amount of alcohol is tiny, but better safe than sorry, I always say.  The acidity that wine brings to the table can be substituted with just a little bit of lemon juice, added towards the end of cooking to brighten up the flavors.  Just deglaze the pan with stock, water, or the mushroom water instead of deglazing with wine, but it won’t be the same.  Depends on your taste.

*** I actually made the risotto again a little while later, since I had left over arborio rice that I wanted to get rid of.  This time, I stirred in some freshly grated parmesan cheese and some left over basil cream sauce from a roasted vegetable terrine I made earlier (WASTE NOTHING!).  I also had some asparagus, which I later threw into the mix, but that’s not pictured above.

Miracle Berry experiments, Part 1

Posted in Food experiments at home, Home cooking and more with tags , on November 3, 2008 by restaurantouring

A new gourmet grocery store opened by the trainstation on South Orange Ave. near my apartment.  They sell each berry there for $5.  They’re tiny.  The one I got was the size of a largish blueberry.  The pit inside is huge, about the same proportion of fruit to pit as a mango, maybe worse.  The berries themselves taste reminiscent of grapes, but they’re not very tasty overall.  Here’s the breakdown of what I tried, in no particular order, except for as they come to mind:
lemon = delicious.  Probably my favorite. The miracle berry seems to bring out the true flavor of the lemon, which is normally hidden behind all that acidity.
lime = nasty and bitter, but my roommate loved it the most. Perhaps it hit us differently. Perhaps I got a lime affected by citrus greening. Fucking citrus psyllids. . . .
coffee = tiny hint of sweetness and a richness reminiscent of chocolate, although that’s probably just the coffee itself.
jasmine tea = tiny hit of sweetness
dark chocolate (80% cacao) = mildly sweet.  Just the right amount of sweetness, in my opinion. I tried it again after the effects of the berry wore off, and I didn’t notice much of a difference. Perhaps the miracle berry didn’t even do anything?
kiwi fruit = tasty, but perhaps less so since the acidity was totally nullified. Either way, I loved it.
orange = particularly sweet.  Like the kiwi, this one was also probably less tasty because the acid was totally nullified.
cheap merlot = still awful.
a shot of raspberry vinegar = disgusting, but probably because the effects of the berry were wearing off.
manchego cheese = the same.
cornichons = veeeerry interesting and tasty. Complex and rich. Hard to describe. Tasty.
pickled cocktail onions = sweeter than the cornichons. Normally they are more sour, so it makes sense to me.
chipotle mustard = sweet. Too sweet. Kind of flat-tasting without the sourness.

That’s all I tried. I didn’t have beer. I hear beer tastes like a milkshake on miracle berry.

It’s important to note that my roommate and I split a single berry because I felt outraged at paying $5 for a single berry. We each bit off a piece, chewed thoroughly (we were Fletcherites for 20 seconds), and held the juice on our tongue for 20 seconds to ensure that our tongues were as coated with miraculin as possible. I’m ordering my own plant online for $95, which is old enough to bear fruit (2-3 years old). I just have to figure out when it’s supposed to bear fruit (season). Interestingly, though, even at such a low dose, the effects were significant and obvious. My assumption is that with larger doses, the effect is more pronounced and persistent. The effects of our experiment lasted about 15 minutes. I can’t wait to try more.

My epic dessert pivots around the usage of miracle berry, and I hope to God someone hasn’t already made a dessert like mine. It’s so hard to be original these days. Right when you think you’ve come up with an original idea, you find out that someone, somewhere, has already been there and done that.

Plant Sex

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Home cooking and more with tags , , , on October 30, 2008 by restaurantouring

So, while tending to my basil plants by the window, I got to thinking: “What a terrible life it must be to be a plant.”  I was in the process of cutting off a couple of the stems that have taken flowers when I thought of this.  When a basil plant flowers, any leaves that grow are smaller and less flavorful.  So, in the interest of taste, the flowers should be removed.  Any why not?  Basil is useful!

But, I mean, think about it. . . . plants don’t get to have sex whenever they want to, if humans are involved.  Take the case of my basil, for instance.  No flowers means no sex.  For the human (me), no flowers means bigger and better basil leaves.  I’m like an evil, selfish god to that poor basil plant.  I can’t imagine what it would be like if there were some sort of evil god out there, cutting off my reproductive organs.

Luckily, humans (for the most part) are useless.

A Dessert of Epic Proportions

Posted in Home cooking and more on October 29, 2008 by restaurantouring

I’m thinking about making a dessert inspired by Pacman and by bacon and eggs.  I guess it’s two separate desserts, really.  I was really proud of the bacon and eggs idea until I found out that Wylie Dufresne does something called the “cyber egg” at his restaurant, WD-50, in New York.  Sigh.  Oh well.  I’m still gonna make it.

Sorry for being so vague and non-descriptive — I just wanted to share that with all two of you out there.  Recipes coming soon (hopefully)!

A Cook’s Job is Never Done, Part I

Posted in Culinary ruminations and other random thoughts, Home cooking and more with tags , , , , , , on October 25, 2008 by restaurantouring

A cook’s job is never done.  That, I think, is a fact that most serious cooks need to understand and accept if they really wanna cook in the kitchen.

There’s too much to do.

There’s not enough time.

You gotta eat every day anyway, right?

A cook’s job is just never done.

This week, I worked as usual.  I also cooked a lot.  A friend of mine comes and visits me on Tuesdays, so I spend my Mondays prepping all the food.  This week, it was the beef short ribs I talked about in my “About Me” page.

Shopping.  I found a pack of Flanken-cut short ribs.  Not my favorite cut, but still good.  And cheap.  Two bucks and change per pound, cheaper than a fancy steak, and damn tasty to boot.

So, slice and trim them.  Salt — ALWAYS KOSHER — and pepper.  Heat the cast iron (clad pans work too).  Sear.  Flip.  Repeat on all sides.

Meanwhile, I retrieve the bag of beef bones I’ve been saving in the freezer.  Every time I have a steak or some ribs or oxtail or anything, I save the bones.  Them’s good eatin.  Well, not really. . . not YET anyway, but you’ll see. . . .

Boil a big pot of water.  Rinse bones.  Dump them into the boiling water to blanche for a minute.  Dump.  Refill the pot with cold water.  Bring up to temperature.  Skim that nasty foam.

Too complicated already?  Too bad.  That’s the way you make stock, so pay attention.

Bring the mix up to a boil for a minute and turn the heat down low.  Way low.  I don’t want to see my stock boiling anymore, but I want it piping hot.  Collagen starts to break down and turn into gelatin at around 140 degrees, so I want it anywhere from 140 to 180 degrees if possible.  Gelatinous stock is delicious.  Leave the lid off, since keeping it on will make the liquid boil even with the lowest possible flame.

Some people call this simmering.  I think it’s more like steeping, like tea.  Steep them bones for a few hours.  Then toss in your aromats.  Thyme, parsley, bay leaf, rosemary.  Celery, carrots, onion.  Classic French Mirepoix.  Maybe some garlic.  An hour later, you’re good to go.

Strain it.  Chill it.  Refrigerate.  You’re done for the night.

Well. . . almost.

Gotta clean.  Gotta do the dishes.  Damnit.

The downside to living in this apartment is that there’s no dishwasher.  In a restaurant, you have a dish washer.  After service, you might have a night porter that cleans everything else up for you.

I don’t have a night porter.

I don’t have a dishwasher.

Well, technically, I AM the dish washer.  Ah well.  I clean things better than any machine anyway.  Suck it up.  It’s relaxing and meditative anyway.

Soap. Rinse. Dry dishes. Put them away.

Wipe down the stove top. Wipe down exhaust hood, top AND bottom (that grease gets EVERYWHERE). Wipe down handle of the oven. Wipe down knobs and panel.

Wash the counter.  Spray with disinfectant (cleanliness is next to not-being-sickliness).

Quickly wipe the floors.  That grease gets EVERYWHERE.

Wipe eyeglasses.  That grease gets EVERYWHERE

Sleep.

Wake up.

Shit. Shower. Shave. Brush. Rinse. Get dressed.

Grab my shit: wallet. cell. keys. keys for work. work id. messenger bag. lunch.

Hungry. Eggs. Toast. Maybe some bacon. Maybe I’ll settle for milk and cereal instead.

Bust out the slow cooker. Peel carrots, wash celery, grab an onion.  Chop. Dump em in cold.

Take out the ribs from the fridge.  Dump em in cold.

Pull out a bottle of red.  This time it’s a Barefoot merlot.  I like cooking with cheap wine — the taste is more balanced once the liquid’s reduced.  Fancy wines just taste off-balance.  Drink the fancy, cook the cheap.

Pull out the stock from the fridge.  Remove the hardened fat on top (DON’T YOU DARE THROW IT OUT) and stick it in the fridge or freezer for when you make savory pastries or beef patties (I lived in Jamaica for a year and a half.  I’ve got a soft spot for beef patties).

Add both the stock and the wine to a pot.  About equal portions.  A little more of the stock than wine, maybe.  Boil.

Pour the hot stuff over the ribs and aromats until they are just covered.  Maybe a little more to account for evaporation.  Lid it.

Here’s the kicker: don’t turn the slow cooker on high.  Or low.  Turn it onto “keep warm”.  Remember what I said about collagen?  My slow cooker keeps things warm at 188 degrees.  I tested it.  Thermometers are awesome.

Here’s the downer: wash the dishes you just dirtied.  I don’t like leaving shit in the sink.

Time check: Damnit.  Five minutes late for work again.

Run, don’t walk.  Speed, don’t cruise.  Don’t get caught.  You’ll be great.

Check back for Part 2, folks.