What I love about cooking is that you don’t always get it right.
But sometimes you absolutely do.
That beef curry was fanfreakintastic. Best beef dish I’ve made in years. YEARS.
I learned two vital things that night:
1. My method of cooking stewing beef for only an hour and a half is why my stews are never memorable.
2. Cooking Light Magazine has a piece a couple of months ago about The 25 Most Common Cooking Mistakes that offered a lot of advice I already knew but one that really stuck out – You don’t know your oven’s quirks and idiosyncrasies.
See, a couple of months ago, my sexy fella and I were making dinner together (something that doesn’t happen very often because we both cook very differently and because there’s not a heckuva lot of room to move around one another). We were making Korean pancakes – MMM! – and I was pouring them into the pan while he flipped them (you’ve got to be quick with those l’il ones) and we noticed that they would slowly cook on 7 but once we upped the element to 8, they started to burn.
We had noticed inconsistencies separately before but not thought much of them – ’til now.
Which I confirmed when I made Beef Vindaloo Curry this past Friday night.
Wanting to brown the beef before adding the other ingredients (did you know that Jamie Oliver no longer believes/does this? Gasp), I started it on 8 to get a nice seared side, but before I knew it they were blackening. Oh no, I’ve got like 8 veggies and 5 other ingredients yet to add! It can’t be ruined already!
I managed to save them by quickly turning the range down, and then up. Down and then up again, until all the beef was done.
I thought that ordeal was over as I set everything to a low simmer.
Hmmm. When I turned the dial down to 3 – nothing. It wasn’t until I brought it back up to 6 that it started bubbling. So back down to 3 it went. I left it to stew, literally, while I went back to my desk to do work.
I heard this weird popping noise. Now, sometimes Cosmo likes to clean between his toes and makes this awesome crunching sound, but he was sound asleep just a few feet away at the end of the bed.
I went out to the kitchen and the stew was bubbling away like it was on 6 or 7. So I turned it down to 2. 15 minutes later, nothing.
It went on like this for the 2 1/2 hours that it was on the stove.
Our stove is not just quirky. It’s possessed.
At first, I was miffed. Great, here I am trying to learn to be a great chef and I’m working with an old jalopy! But now I realize that if I can cook great meals on this puppy despite its massive weirdness, then I will be a great chef after all.
The roast chicken dinner I made tonight was okay. The sides were what made it – summer crisp corn, wild and long grain rice and Swiss chard with petit haricots.
That chicken could have been better.
That’s why I’m going to work on figuring out the oven’s quirks next.