Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Cooking With Pig: Act III--Finalemento!

In her "Master Cook" column in the February 2007 issue of Food & Wine, Paula Wolfert calls this last step in a recipe for Provencal pork stew the "garnish." I have no idea why the editors decided to place this label on what essentially is the separate sauteeing of mushrooms, which are then added to the stew or daube and cooked again in the oven. Even in the French nomenclature, garniture does not seem an apt description for this process. Or maybe "garnish" is traditional to Provencale daube making. If so, it would have been nice to know.

In any case, it is now time to pull your daube out of the refrigerator. When you remove the lid, you will undoubtedly see a layer of creamy to golden looking fat. Use a tablespoon to remove as much of this fat as possible. This is a great advantage of cooking stews and braises in advance: the fat congeals in the refrigerator, making for easy removal before you serve it. Now lets set the pot of daube to the side, turn the oven up to 250 degrees and focus on the mushrooms. For this, the final step, you will need:

3 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, such as cremini, oyster, French horn, shitake

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/3 cup finely chopped parsley

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

In a large skillet over moderately high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil until it begins to smoke. Add the mushrooms, reduce heat and season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over moderate heat until the mushrooms are tender. If there is liquid at the bottom of the skillet, remove lid and continue cooking until liquid has cooked off. Add remaining oil and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in parsley.

Mix the cooked mushrooms into the daube. Place pot in the oven uncovered and cook 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender. Remove from the oven and stir in the vinegar.

Your daube is now ready to serve. But, if you're like me, your dinner party is still a day or two away. So back into the fridge the pot goes, to be reheated again at a later date. Not to worry, it will only get better with all the re-heatings.

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