Thursday, March 25, 2010

New meaning to "The Joy of Cooking"

When I decided to make a brisket for this evening I had already planned it out in my head the day before when I purchased the 4 lb. cut of meat. What I didn't plan out were the memories that came flooding back while cooking it.

Neither of my parents really taught me how to cook. But I received a whole lot of inspiration from both of them throughout childhood. Our family home was always the gathering place, and my parents were big on entertaining large groups of people. When they remodeled the kitchen there was certainly no skimping on quality. Thermadore, Kitchen Aid and Revereware; all top quality names for their time and were a standard in our home. We were also the first family in our neighborhood to own a microwave oven and a trash compactor.

Both of my parents shared the cooking and both were equally as good, but as my mother grew ill, cooking dutes fell more and more on my father. I think I learned more of what would become 1 pot meals and fusion cooking techniques from watching him in the kitchen.

One of the house specialties was a wonderfully moist Beef Brisket swimming in Au Jus. Then sliced thinly on a hand cranked deli style meat slicer (another 1st, since it wasn't common to have a meat slicer in your home kitchen).

This afternoon as I prepared to make my brisket, I pulled out the same 12 Qt. Stock Pot that I had inherited from my parent's kitchen. As I poured the oil in to sear the meat, memories began flooding my mind. It was a warm happy feeling and felt as though both of my parents were watching over my shoulder as I prepared the meat and the braising liquid. I had never made a brisket this way before and was only working from the memory of watching either of them do it.

As I turned the meat over to sear the other side, I felt as though my hands were my mothers hands turning the meat.

Back in those days, we didn't have crock pots, so everything was done on the stovetop. In today's world, I was able to place the seasoned and seared meat into my 7 Qt. All-Clad Slow Cooker with some onion and herbs while I returned to the stock pot to make the recipe truly mine.

I degazed with a cup of coffee left over from the morning pot and poured the liquid over the brisket, set the cooker on low for 41/2 hours and let it go.

Later, I whipped up some of my famous whipped garlic potatoes and pulled out some thin sliced zucchini that I had vaccum sealed which was left over from last week's Ratatouille recipe.

Dinner was amazing and I was feeling warm and fuzzy with the memories I had experienced. Which, to me, brings new meaning to "The Joy of Cooking".