Saturday, November 19 –
The recipes this time ended up me-ified before I even got started cooking. I’m trying to learn the lesson about taking the ways people cook that I don’t particularly enjoy (like boiling meat) and fixing it so that I know I’ll enjoy it instead of just grumbling about it once it’s on my plate. This time I started out with the 4 potatoes like the recipe called for, which were peeled and grated by Wonderful Boyfriend. From there I used half of an onion, diced to pretty small chunks and an entire 8 oz. container of fresh crimini mushrooms, also diced pretty small. This made for a half-and-half ratio between the two that I thought would add better flavor to the filling. I put them in a pan with some butter and let them sizzle and brown.
In the next pan went 4 tbl. butter and 2 pounds of pork shoulder. I let them brown just a little on each side, but they weren’t really done (unlike the recipe). Then came the 2 cups of chicken broth, (Yes, chicken. That’s what I had and it worked just fine.) and the bay leaves and salt. I let it simmer for 20 minutes like the recipe called for and worked on the flour mixture while it cooked. I put in 2 tbl. of flour and 4 tbl. of the juices from the pan. It turned into a paste-like substance (like roux recipes normally do, I suppose) but when I added the sour cream, it didn’t un-paste itself. I tried to get it to blend together with a whisk, but it was pretty much a mashing more than mixing. After that had simmered for a little while I added it straight to the pork, without straining it. I thought it would lose all of the thickening if I took all of the chunky flour out. I poured the whole pan into a baking dish and put it into the oven for the 20 minutes the recipe called for.
I went back to the potatoes and made palm-sized patties in my hand, added a scoop of mushroom and onion mixture, put another patty on top and squished it all together. I fried the patties in the same pan that I cooked the pork in, figuring the juices that were lingering would only help add flavor. It took two batches, but they cooked like hashbrowns and browned pretty quickly. I didn’t simmer dried mushrooms to make mushroom broth – I completely skipped that part of the recipe. But fresh mushrooms and butter made an excellent combo in the end. As a side dish I added asparagus with a little garlic salt and pepper, just to add some green to the plate and break up the cream flavor.
Let me tell you, the picture might not be pretty, but everyone LOVED the meal. We had Wonderful Boyfriend, Roommate Extraordinaire, Hot Momma, and Baby Bear at this dinner, and everyone was happy with the flavors and textures that this meal was made of. I’m pretty sure there was second servings on most plates, which were quickly devoured.
This meal was pretty extraordinary, mostly because Wonderful Boyfriend doesn’t like mushrooms or sour cream and Roommate Extraordinaire doesn’t really like mushrooms, and they both thought it was delicious. Weird, I know. I was shocked too. Apparently the flavor of chicken marsala, which has mushrooms in the sauce, is ok as long as it’s not a texture issue. So with the onions and mushrooms chopped up so small inside shredded potatoes, the mushrooms didn’t offend them so much. I’m still not so sure how we got away with Wonderful Boyfriend liking the sauce, but I’m happy that everyone liked it!
Things I have learned: Saving this meat from being overcooked was definitely a win. Using double the meat recipe with the exception of the sour cream also worked out perfectly. Using an even ratio of filling for the potatoes was also a really good idea. Double hooray for following my gut feeling about this dinner and pre-fixing it to what I know we like to eat.
Thoughts about wine: Roommate Extraordinaire brought three different kinds of Malbec for this dinner, and they were an amazing flavor addition. Definitely a great suggestion if you’re going to make a dinner like this!
(recipes borrowed from the cooks at: www.marga.org)
Mushroom Stuffed Draniki
- 4 potatoes
- 2 tsp. flour
- 1 egg
- salt and pepper to taste
- vegetable oil for frying
For the stuffing
- 1/2 oz dried mushrooms
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- oil for frying
Instructions: Prepare the stuffing. Wash the dried mushrooms and soak in cold water for 3-4 hours. Wash the mushrooms again and return to the water you used to soak them. Pour water with mushrooms into a saucepan and boil for about 1 hour. Remove mushrooms from the stock and mince finely. Reserve the stock. Meanwhile, fry the slice onion until golden. Add the minced mushrooms and 1/2 cup of the mushroom stock and mix well.
Prepare the draniki. Shred the raw potatoes and wring them out. Add the flour, egg, salt and pepper and mix. Shape the potato mixture into small balls, flatten with your hand, put a little bit of filling on top and cover with more potato mixture. Flatten into patties and fry until golden brown. Place in oven for a few minutes and serve. You can accompany the draniki with sour cream.
Machanka (pork stew)
- 1 lb stewing pork
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. beef or pork stock
- 1 onion
- 1 tbsp. flour
- 1 cup sour cream
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
Instructions: Cut pork into bite-size pieces. Melt butter in a saucepan and fry the pork until dark. Add 1 cup of stock, bay leaves and salt, cover and cook for about 20 minutes or until the pork is half done. Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan, sauté the flour for a couple of minutes. Add 2 tbsp. of stock and mix well. Strain and return to saucepan. Add sour cream and salt to taste. Mix well and cook over low heat for 5 to 10 minutes. Heat oven to 350F. Put pork in baking dish, cover with sour cream sauce and bake in oven for about 20 minutes or until done. Serve with pancakes.