Thursday, October 21, 2010

Invented Recipe 1

I've been cooking almost every day. The recipes from my backpacking cookbook can be hit-or-miss, so recently I've gone trailblazing (GET IT?.) with dishes from my own invention. Tonight's turned out especially tasty, and it abides by the principles I learned for one-pot, dehydratable, nutritious meals:

1. A complete 1-dish meal is usually a carb base, plenty of vegetables, and some form of protein.

2. Don't use too much fat, and the fats you do use should be saturated. Oil won't dehydrate; it just makes things greasy.

3. Small pieces de- and re-hydrate better than large.

4. Cook everything completely to release juices for thorough dehydration and to prevent spoilage.

The above steps, while great for dehydrating, conspire to make dishes look like unappetizing slop. The same is true for the following, but I think es schmeckt! You can certainly change the chop and doneness for at-home eating.

(Note that measurements are approximate; I was adding and adjusting as I went. You'll also notice that there's no salt; this was absent-mindedness, but it tasted seasoned enough from the brats, cheese, and salted butter. I also didn't make a proper roux because I'm lazy. Improv!)

Cheddar Beer-Brat Stew
(I'm tempted to dub it MandelBrats, in honor of the recently late mathematician.)

2 12-oz beers
About 1 lb bratwurst (my package had 5)
1 large onion, finely diced
Enough butter to saute about 1 cup of each:
cauliflower (finely diced)
carrots (finely diced)
1 scant cup whole-wheat cous cous
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1 cup milk
1/2 lb sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1 apple, diced

Puncture the brats so they don't asplode, and lay them along with the diced onion in a large stock pot or Dutch oven. Cover entirely with beer. (I used Long Trail Ale, in honor of the outstanding Cheddar Beer Soup they serve at their Vermont brewery, and in honor of it being in our fridge.) Bring to a boil, and set to simmer until the brats are cooked through and the onions are soft.

Meanwhile, saute the cauliflower, carrot, and peas in butter until they're softened.

Once the brats are cooked, remove them from the beer and set aside until they're cool enough to handle. With the beer still at a brisk simmer, stir in the cous cous. Return to a boil for a few moments, and then remove from heat and cover until the cous cous is soft and has absorbed the liquid.

Dice the brats. Add the brats and sauteed vegetables to the cous cous. Incorporate the flour and dry mustard. With the heat on low, slowly add milk, stirring constantly. Cook until the milk begins to thicken. With heat as low as possible, (or off, if you have an electric stove that takes like 20 minutes to cool, like I do) slowly add the cheese, stirring to incorporate. Add the diced apple before serving.

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