Women Rule in the Kitchen

Celebrity  chefs are money machines who owe their status to the spin doctors of television. They don’t count in the greater scheme of things, even if they think they do. When the day dawns that a Celebrity Chef is faced with feeding a family daily in the manner of a 1960’s housewife, I will take some notice of them. When they STOP self promoting and promoting food that is too cheffy and impossible to cook for the average household, then I WILL take notice. But until then my tongue will remain horizontally protruding towards the television.

This week we lost a great woman of food. Marcella Hazan, mistress of Italian food left us. Marcella Hazan was born in Italy in 1924 and died at the age of 89. She wrote numerous  books on Italian food and taught in Italy. She offered a different perspective on eating Italian.

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Elizabeth David, Julia Child, Marcella Hazan, all departed. There are some living legends, Margaret Fulton, Nigella Lawson remain active in their attempts to get us to eat well. Of course if you look into women in Australia who have been active in teaching food, there are many, CWA, local womens groups and endless women who have fed their families.

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We still have Alla Wolf Tasker, Stephanie Alexander, Annie Smithers, Kylie Kwong and a man, Luke Nguyen who do a lot to help us understand food, but better yet cook it in simple ways.

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Much has changed today. The way we approach and live life is so different. It is amazing to me that most families no longer eat together. It seems so sad that this simple bonding of families around the table is no longer part of family life. It makes me wonder why so many people bother to watch celebrity chefs if they dont actually cook what they see.

This is not a new mystery.. there has been a slow decline in the culinary arts and enjoyment of the table for some time. The social changes that have wrought this situation would take a lot of unwinding, if that is the solution. Perhaps its better to accept and somehow forge new ways that make home andf hearth a more central thing in peoples lives. Although whilst we are so obcessed these days with money, that seems like an impossible dream.

Start again, let them eat a damn fine roast.

A Chart of Cooking times for Meats

Roast Beef

Beef – expensive cuts

rare                  240 c for 15 minutes                then 180 c for 15 minutes per 500 gr

medium           220 c for 15 minutes                then 180 c for 20 minutes per 500 gr

well done         220 c for 10 minutes                then 180 c for 25 minutes per 500 gr

Beef – economical cuts

rare                  200 c for 10 minutes                then 180 c for 20 minutes per 500 gr

medium           200 c for 10 minutes                then 160 c for 25 minutes per 500 gr

well done         180 c for 10 minutes                then 160 c for 30 minutes per 500 gr

Roast Chicken Roast Dinner Plate Roast Lamb Roast Pork

Pork

Skin on and scored

Medium            250 c for 30 minutes                then 180 c for 25 minutes per 500 gr

well done         260 c for 30 minutes                then 180 c for 30 minutes per 500 gr

skin off

medium           240 c for 10 minutes                then 180 c for 30 minutes per 500 gr

well done         240 c for 10 minutes                then 180 c for 35 minutes per 500 gr

Lamb

rare      220 c for 10 minutes                then 180 c for 20 minutes per 500 gr

medium           220 c for 15 minutes                then 180 c for 25 minutes per 500 gr

well done         220 c for 15 minutes                then 180 c for 30 minutes per 500 gr

Chicken.

Chicken should always be cooked through

well done         220 c for 15 minutes                then 180 c for 30 minutes per 500 gr

Rabbit… consult with your supplier but remember that it is a tough meat with little fat which requires wrapping in a good bacon and then cooking in a moist environment most likely with a stuffing.

My mother, whose roasts I loved had a tendency to cook the meat, no matter what it was for as long as possible to the extent that on some occasions, the gravy was more tasty than the roast meat, albeit the meat was tender.

Roasting vegetables is a much loved way of cooking them and they were usually placed into the pan with the meat and cooked in meat juices.

Potatoes.

Choose potatoes that are good for roasting, that is they are not too waxy and will not fall apart when roasted. Peel and leave them in fairly largish chucks which some say are better boiled (with a dash of vegemite is great) until the potatoes are just cooked a little on the outside, rough them up a little in the sauce pan and place into the hot fat. This will allow the potatoes to crisp up as well as absorbing all the delicious juices from the roast.

Pumpkin.

Is better left with the skin on, which in fact cooks and you can easily eat. This way the vegetable will stay together. Remember that pumpkin is a quick cooker and takes about half the time of potatoes, so allow about 25 minutes for most. Queensland Blue, my own favourite takes just a little longer.

Carrots and Parsnips.

These both cook at about the same time as pumpkin and should be peeled, cut into large pieces and put into the hot oven at the same time as the pumpkin.

Onions.

Onions can be roasted whole or cut. Cut they can be put into the roasting dish as the beginning of the cooking and allowed to melt down to brown nothingness and give the gravy fabulous flavour. Cooked whole they are best cut in half and placed into the oven at the same time as potatoes.

There are a great number of vegetables that can be roasted although not that many are recommended to be cooked with the meat. Prepare a separate roasting tray and place in it some red capsicum cut in half and with seeds removed, some red onions, some tomatoes, some asparagus or some discs of eggplant, pumpkin too can be cooked like this. Simply drizzle some good olive oil over the vegetables and some salt and pepper. Roast in a hot oven till cooked.

Other Vegetables.

Pees, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes are all popular choices to accompany a roast. The legumes are usually boiled in a good stock, the cabbage is best fried with butter and a dash of sugar and splash of red wine vinegar added at the end, cauliflower can be steamed or fried, it can also be roasted. Tomato and Onion ‘Savoury’ was a strong favourite in our house with Mother slicing tomatoes with onions in about the same ratio, topping with salt and pepper in layers and finishing with breadcrumbs that were dotted with butter and the dish cooked in the bottom of the oven for as long as the meat took to cook.

Meat is cooked.

Remove the cooked meat to a dish and cover with foil, not too tightly, you do not want to steam the meat, just to allow the juices to run all through and this will be done after about 20 minutes.

Vegetables are cooked.

Remove the vegetables and place into a large flat dish that will hold them all without doubling up. This can be placed into a warm oven to hold for the time the meat rests and the gravy is made.

For the legumes, drain and add a good knob of butter with some black pepper. For the cabbage, just cover for the cauliflower, keep warm and the tomato and onion, allow to stay in the warm oven.

Gravy.

The roast will give a lot of juices that will brown and caramelise in the roasting pan as the cooking progresses. Some meats, specially the white ones will not give as many juices. Drain the dripping from the pan being careful to keep the meat juice and leave just a little of the fat. To this add a couple of tablespoons of plain white flour and mix well, place over a gentle heat and cook the roux for a couple of minutes. If you have steamed or boiled any vegetables, you will have kept the water from them and 500 mil of this is now added slowly to the roux, whisking all the while to make a rich brown gravy.  A couple of useful stand by’s are vegemite and soy sauce. The vegemite will add brownness and flavour, the soy brown and salt. Neither is essential, but both are handy.

Serving.

Carve the meat with a sharp knife being sure to carve in the right direction… ask your butcher to show you if you are uncertain. With pork that you have cooked with the skin on, remove the skin in one piece and put aside to divide up later.

I like to pile up the carved and residue of meat onto a platter and a separate platter for the vegetables, gravy in a jug and then let people help themselves.

Accompaniments.

For lamb, mint sauce and red currant jelly. Even some chutneys are good.

For beef, mustards, horseradish cream fill the bill.

For pork, apple sauce or some of the herb jellies are delicious.

For chicken try chilli jam.

All in all this sounds like it will take hours and hours, but in fact takes little time. Once you have tried this and become the roast master (mistress etc) then you will never have an empty table.

~ by peterwatsonfood on October 20, 2013.

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