I give to you a couple of great recipes today. Each screams Umami, so be ready to put in your ear plugs.
The first recipe is one that many of you probably know and love, the humble pot roast. So what’s that Elvis, how does pot roast scream umami? You know that brown crust on the outside of a good roast, a little salty, a lot meaty, just mouth-wateringly intense? That browned-meaty flavor is umami. If you think about the flavor, you will notice that it marries well with mushrooms, soy sauce, pepper, and so many other great flavors. It is the base flavor that you build on to make that chunk of meat a meal. Ok, so how do we get it; and how to we build upon it? Jimmy, hold onto your chair cause we’re going for a culinary ride.
Techniques: Chopping, slicing, searing, braising.
Tools: Chef’s Knife, heavy pan (cast iron skillet is my favorite for this), dutch oven, or roasting pan.
3 lb. chunk of beef, i.e. rump roast, tri-tip, English roast, chuck roast, London Broil, etc.
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
5 medium russet potatoes, cut into 6 chunks each
1/4 cup fresh green peas (or frozen)
3 tbs, all purpose flour
3 tbs. butter
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp. black pepper corns
3 tbs. beef tallow, bacon grease, or cooking oil (this is all known as fat)
Preheat oven to 325′ F. Heat the skillet over medium-high heat on your stove top. Add fat to the skillet/pan, not the butter). Salt all sides of the beef. When you can start to smell the hot fat, place the meat into the pan. Cook for about 4 minutes per side until all sides are medium to dark brown. While the meat is browning, add two tbs. cooking oil to the bottom of the roasting pan. Place the remaining ingredients, except the butter and flour, into the roasting pan. When the meat is browned on all sides, place on top of the veggies, cover with a lid, and place into the oven. Let cook for 2 hrs.
About ten minutes before the roast is done, add the butter to the frying pan used for browning the meat. Melt over medium heat, then add the flour. Stir until well combined. Keep stirring until the flour turns medium brown in color. This is called a roux. By this time, the roast should be ready to come out of the oven.
Carefully remove the cooking vessel from the oven, and tilting up and away from you, remove the lid. Use a roasting fork and a large, slotted spoon to remove the roast to a platter, with all of the veggies around it. Ladle the pot juices into the pan with the roux, stirring to make a smooth gravy. Pour the gravy into a serving vessel andy you are ready to serve a meal that everyone will love.
Oh, and call me when you make this. I’ll be right over with a knife and fork.
All of the ingredients in the pot roast work together. The sweetness of the carrots and peas, and onion, the wholesome flavor of the potato (I hope you didn’t remove the skins), and the salt and pepper, all combine to make your tongue dance a little, happy jig, and warm your belly with pure comfort. My favorite beverage with this meal is milk. It’s sweetness balances the wonderfully umami and salty flavors of the meal. Enjoy.
2nd recipe; Sausage Soup
For this recipe, I used ground pork breakfast sausage, but you can substitute with Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Dinner Sausage, or just about any sausage you like, even Chorizo.
Tools: Chef’s Knife, Pot, Stirring Spoon, Soup Pot
1 lb. of your favorite sausage
1 small onion, diced
2 dried cayenne peppers (optional)
1 fresh tomato, diced
1/4 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1/4 cup frozen peas
2 tbs. Soy Sauce
Brown the sausage in the soup pot. Add the remaining ingredients. Cover with water. Simmer over low heat, covered, for 45 minutes. Serve with buttered French Bread.
It’s as simple as that. Again, the soy sauce and sausage flavor combine to give the broth that special umami flavor that belnds with the other ingredients so well.
I think you get the idea. There are some many things you can make when you recognize and concentrate on umami, the fifth flavor sense, everything from pasties, to meat pies, to perfect steak, chops, burgers, soups, roasts, sauces, gravies, fish dishes, etc. You just have to remember to balance a little sweet, and sometimes sour to balance the flavors. Now, go and explore the wonderful world of umami. Create some reci[pes of your own. Report back to me next Tuesday, and bring the teacher (that would be me, a bright and shiny apple).
From the kitchen of G.W North
May your warm things be warm, your hot things be hot, and your cheddar be at room temperature.
“No other success can compensate for failure within the home.” – David O McKay