For you, the dress code is casual.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

That's IT? It's OVER?

Ah, the weekend has flown past. I slept late, watched a movie, did some writing, then I rode around about 70 or so kilometres on the scooter today. Beautiful out there. Very nearly almost spring. I mean, hey, the crocuses are springing up.

Tonight's a bit of a treat. Somehow the price of asparagus has plummeted from $6.99 to $2.49 in my hood, and that's still from California. Clearly the produce/finance ramifications of the recent deep freeze is starting to subside.

So, tonight: A whole bunch of asparagus, grilled, with a barbecued steak, some cheap red wine, and too much bread broiled with butter and grana padano.

Something simple yet decadent -- 'cos I've been craving asparagus ever since it skyrocketed to $6.99 a pound. Yeesh. But I'm doing the slow-but-decadent treatment elsewhere in the kitchen. I'm taking my first stab at making homemade demi-glace.

I'm sort of pissed off at Anthony Bourdain now because he only briefly suggests how to do demi-glace sans sauce Espagnole, which apparently "no one does anymore". But I've tried finding more detailed instructions on ratios of wine to beef stock for the "faker's" take on demi-glace, but I seem to be screwing the pooch. I've found only one site that gives a relatively good look at how to proceed.
1. Sauté a chopped shallot or small onion in one ounce of butter (1/4 stick) for 1-2 minutes until translucent in a saute pan.
2. Deglaze with 1/2-cup red wine and reduce to an essence (approximately one tablespoon of remaining liquid). Be sure to remove the pan from the heat before deglazing.
3. Add 8 ounces of demi-glace.
4. Reduce the sauce until it is thick enough to coat a spoon.
5. Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.

The adding-pepper-at-the-end thing makes the skeptic in me scoff. Why would you strain the shit out of your stock only to add grainy bits of pepper at the end? Nah, I'll throw a couple peppercorns into the reduction instead.

When it's all said and done, I should have a couple cups of demi glace to work with. Then I'll need recipes to use it with. But I'm betting the combination of grilled duck breast, risotto, and demi-glace would be pretty out of this world. Then there's the ritualistic fancy-ass tenderloin grilled and served with a drizzle or two. Whatever. I'll the bones of some pretty amazing meals now, and I'll just need to figure 'em out from here.

The only problem with this demi-glace is that I'm using cheap-ass wine, and I'll know the difference, I'm sure. Whatever. It's what I can afford right now. It's still demi-glace, no matter how you slice it, and it's all from about $6 worth of bones and veggies, and about $5 worth of wine. $11 for enough stock to make demi-glace and an entire batch of what will be incredible onion soup is hardly much to gripe about!

A note on process: My stock is basically Anthony Bourdain's rather abrupt recipe in his Brasserie Les Halles cookbook. However, having a small onion and being limited space-wise does have its advantages when it comes to processes. Instead of roasting my beef bones and veggies at the same time in separate pans, I had to do it at different times in the same pan. So, I did the beef bones first, and brushed them with slightly-diluted tomato paste and flour, then roasted them. When done, I transferred my beef bones to the stock pot and carefully strained the oil/beef drippings from the pan into another dish. Then I tossed my veggies for roasting in the beef drippings, and went ahead and roasted them, too. They smelled incredible by the time they went into the stockpot. All the drippings rise to the surface of the stock when you refrigerate it overnight anyhow. Good stuff.