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Generally Recognized As True: Rediscovering wild rice, and ghetto clay pot cooking

Monday, September 01, 2008

Rediscovering wild rice, and ghetto clay pot cooking

I've been up to no good again.


Wild rice with cod: wild rice always seemed like a Southern (US) food to me, but I don't think it is. It goes well with chicken and fish. It has a distinct, very earthy/musty taste and takes a long time to cook (about 1 hour). Wild rice is expensive, but a little bit of rice goes a long way. You'd not want to have it every day, though. In the picture, the wild rice surrounds cod atop a mushroom and onion sauce made with cremini mushrooms, shitake mushrooms, the cheapest onions in the world, butter, whole milk, flour, salt, and pepper. The cod was broiled after being marinated for a couple of hours in olive oil and lemon juice. Sadly, only the parsley was from my garden (and the parsley is actually important here and not just for presentation -- it complements the wild rice very well). And despite the heavy ingredients in the sauce, it sits light in the stomach, which tells me that my recipe is gastronomically correct. This is a big difference from when you make things with white rice, which seems to just sit as a ball in your stomach until your stomach gets around to doing something with it when it has nothing better to do.


Ghetto-style claypot cooking in the Schlemmertopf: potatoes, carrots, onion, red pepper, green pepper, celery, basil leaves, garlic, fresh tomatoes, curry powder, salt, pepper, olive oil, and leftover canned tomatoes. 70 minutes at 425F with the lid soaked in cold water for 20 minutes during prep.

This was my first attempt at recipe-free cooking in the claypot using vegetables only, and it was the best result yet. There was a bit too much salt because I forgot to account for the salt already in the canned tomatoes. Since everything is thrown in at once and cooked for the same amount of time, I've learned that the secret to success -- particularly with potatoes, which were cooked just right in the picture and had quite a creamy texture -- is to cut the vegetables to the right size so that they don't overcook -- with carrots, for example, the slices get thicker as you progress down the taper. Some scorching, as you can see, and it was rather difficult to clean off!

The following day, I tried one with one less bell pepper, a bunch of bok choy, and fennel in place of the celery.

Note that no water is added. The juice is entirely drawn out of the vegetables by the high heat, making it incredibly tasty (the clay pot gets very hot inside; clay holds heat very well and the pot is still hot to the touch after an hour of cooling). However, if I was using vegetables that weren't very juicy (i.e. no tomatoes or peppers) then I think I'd have to add a cup of water or so... stock would be better, of course.

This is the type of thing you want to use if you're trying to convince someone to go vegetarian. Most of the vegetables (half of the fresh tomatoes, celery, potatoes, carrots, garlic, onion, fennel) came from the Whole Circle Farm CSA. The other half of the fresh tomatoes and the basil leaves came from my own garden.

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2 comments:

Ruano said...

Whoa! Those look delicious. I should start being more creative with my cooking.

Great account of Carnivale Lune Bleue, by the way. I'm impressed that you came all the way over here to see it! Totally worth it, I think. It was a pretty unique experience.

- Jessica

mattbg said...

Thanks, Jessica. I only really started being more adventurous with the cooking a few years ago. Once I got over the worry of making mistakes with it, it's a lot more fun and I don't make that many mistakes lately!

About CLB, I was hesitant to go at first because it was so far away, but it sounded like something that could go either way popularity-wise and might have been a once-in-a-long-time opportunity, and I don't think I'd have been happy with myself if I'd missed it!