I was loosely following a recipe for Vietnamese Pho broth and it really came out fantastic. There were two things I learned as I was making this.
One, don’t skimp on the onions. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like onions, if you like the dark rich broth you’d get in a Vietnamese restaurants, you’ll need the onions. You will end up straining them all out later, so don’t worry and just go for it.
Two, and this I consider the big ‘secret’ I learned by the experience is to roast your bones. For me, I used a couple pounds of large bones and a couple pounds of beef back ribs for soup. That way I had a good portion of bones and a good portion of meat too. You could go all beef back rib, but 50% cheap stuff works too 🙂 Put it all in a pan with a couple halved onions on the bottom and roast it all. If you want, put a little water in the bottom of the pan so the onions don’t burn too much, then cook at 350 degrees for 2 hours. The difference in flavor compared to boiling is phenomenal.
What was even more impressive, is after I was all done boiling the broth for most of the night, is that the meat is still delicious and the connecting tissue rendered perfectly.
The next time I make any kind of beef soup – minestrone, beef and been, vegetable beef… I’m going to try roasting the bones first and see if the intense flavor works too (I suspect it will!)
My daughter came home for the holidays so I made a new batch of beef shawarma rice. I took time to photograph the process of cutting, marinating, and the two step cooking I do to it. I haven’t seen this on the other sites, including the site I adapted my marinade from, and it seems to work really well for me. This time, I cooked it for a shorter time, 2.5 pounds for 90 minutes at 300 degrees. The meat came out of the oven medium rare, with some pink in the middle, and that allowed me to cook the meat a second time in a wok with onions to put the crisp on it. Next time I’ll heat the wok hotter OR use my grill pan with the raised edges to get a little more crispiness out of the meat.
Here’s the photograph collage of the various steps.
Here’s my reasoning. The marinade is what makes the thing. On a real shawarma machine, layers of thinly sliced beef are layered onto a long rod and the meat is slowly sliced off the outside edges as it gets crisp.
I’ve seen two ways of cooking the meat online, the first is in a pan, the second, is in the oven. Each of these has strengths and weaknesses, one being more tender at the cost of flavor, the other method more intense in flavor, but the possibility of the meat drying out. My thinking is that by cooking the meat in the oven first, but leaving it slightly under the amount of cooking desired for serving, that allows for a second method of cooking, the wok or grill, which intensifies the flavor, adds a bit more crispiness to the edge of the meat, and blackens it a bit (if desired). That way we can get the best of both worlds and more closely approximate the experience of grilled shawarma.
There’s nothing like the smell of roasting meat. Although I know some vegans out there may feel differently, as a die hard meat eater, it’s heaven to me. Today, I have a little over 17 lbs of USDA Prime, boneless prime rib. I picked it up in a single piece from my local Costco, split it in half, did a little marinade and rub and popped it in the oven.
For marinade, I first rubbed it with Worcestershire sauce and sliced pockets in the fat for slivers of garlic. Then I rubbed it with some Montreal steak seasoning (primarily coarse salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder, and a few other herbs and spices). Sometimes I just use salt and pepper, but today I felt like I wanted a little tang and the steak seasoning on it.
Preheated the oven to 500 degrees. Popped it in and turned the setting down to 350 degrees and am going to let it roast until it’s 140 degrees. After it stands for a half hour it’ll probably be between 145 and 150 degrees, which is perfect, as I like to serve it medium to medium rare in the middle, and still have from the ends to the quarter mark for well done and medium.
Family will be here tonight and we’ll be eating well 🙂
We stayed at The 252 Hotel in Phnom Penh Cambodia, which was really pretty wonderful. Details about the trip are here on our travel blog, abettertrip.com. One of the features that we liked was their nice cook to order restaurant. Our room included breakfast, but as we were tired some days and their food was quite good we ended up eating there for other meals as well. Here’s a sample of what we had. Continue reading →