This Friday I'll be cooking a dinner in honor of my dear friends Debi and Eric. I wanted a festive, rich winter menu. Here's the plan:
- blinis and caviar, frozen vodka
- chestnup soup with truffled mushroom wontons
- cold scallops and uni with avocado and grapefruit sorbet
- venison stew
- cheese and port
- mocha-hazelnut-orange parfait
It's a little heavy, but what the hell. We'll drink champagne with the soup and fish, then switch to a big red for the venison. Kate and Eric are my only friends with a proper wine cellar, so I look forward to their selection. I began yesterday with the stock and the pastry.
If you have great stock, you have a great meal. This is my recipe, which is cobbled together from various places including Lynn Rosetto Kaspar's magnificent book on Emilia-Romagna.
I'll use this for the chestnut soup and the venison stew. These quantities are really approximate: it's hard to go wrong as long as you use good meat, carmelize well and let it boil down a lot. Veal bones give the cleanest flavor, and the turkey wings add additional richness. I like to make a big batch and freeze what's left. You can also boil it way, way down to have a glaze for sauces.
6 lbs veal bones, cut up
2 lbs turkey wings
two bags of carrots, chopped into big pieces
bag of celery, chopped into big pieces
two bags of onions, sliced thickly (leave skins on)
head of garlic, split
Brown everything well in large saucepan with a little canola or grapeseed oil. Use many batches to avoid crowding in the pan and get a good sear on both meat and veg. As you finish, put them in the stockpot. This should take at least half an hour.
Deglaze with water. Taste the deglazing liquid. If it's bitter or burnt tasting, discard. If not, pour over meat and veg. Add to stockpot:
bunch of parsley<
few springs thyme
3 bay leaves
pinch black peppercorns
pinch whole coriander
Cover everything with enough water to cover the surface by half an inch. Bring to a boil. Lower to a very slow simmer and cook all day, like 12 hours. Cool. Strain (through a chinoise if possible), pressing on the solids lightly. Today I got about a gallon.