Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rescuing a Dry Roast French Onion Soup

My wonderful friends who I'm staying with had a roast turn out of the oven dry as a bone. Not willing to toss such an expensive hunk of meat, but unwilling to eat it, it got stuck in the freezer for "Find a way to save this." Well, this weekend one came home with a bag of shriner's sweet onions (It's hard to find Vidalia's in Anchorage, and the money goes to kids who need orthopedic procedures or were burn victims), so I made French Onion Soup.

Ingredients:
one dry roast
1 tsp peppercorns
1-2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic
2 tsp thyme
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
5 onions (yellow is better, sweet is best)
1-1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cane sugar (white or brown will substitute)
1 cup leftover wine (preferably red)

Hardware:
crockpot
saucepan
spatula (bamboo is best)
chopping block & knife to cut onions

The night before, put your dry roast in a crockpot, add water to cover, and toss in a teaspoon of peppercorns, two cloves of garlic and a bay leaf or two. This will convert the water to beef broth that is not salty, and break the roast down into flavorful chewy shreds of meat.

The next day, when you have plenty of free time, get out a large saucepan. Chop as many onions as you can fit into the pan and still stir (I used five). Melt 1/2 cup (one stick) of butter in the pan, then over medium-low heat add the onions, stir, and turn on the vent fan to try to keep the entire house from smelling of onion. Add two pinches of salt. Stir enough that everything is coated in butter, and nothing gets too hot. This isn't very often at first, but as time goes on, you'll have to stir more and more frequently.

During one of your breaks in stirring, use your spatula or something to mash the roast into the flavorful shreds. Pull out the bay leaf if you can still find it. Add two teaspoons of thyme into the broth, and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce.

The onions will cook down and saute to transparency, but you are not done yet - you want to caramelize the onion.Add a teaspoon of cane sugar. (If you're going to lose patience and skip to the next step before properly caramelizing, you need to add more sugar to make up for it.) Keep stirring. When the onions turn yellow-brown (caramel-colored, even) and smell sweet, add two tablespoons of flour and stir until it's all been well-absorbed by the butter, and stir a little more for the heck of it. Then add 1 cup wine (some say red, some say white. I used the last of a bottle of red left out uncorked and overlooked.) After the alcohol has flashed off (that's not precise - I just waited until I stopped hearing sizzling and had scraped all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan), add to the crockpot of beef broth. Serve right away, or let sit in the crockpot on warm until you're ready - it only gets better as the flavors blend.

This soup actually turned out undersalted, unlike the oversalty canned beef broth - it went from good to great when we added another teaspoon of salt, and a little more Worcestershire. It may depend on how much your roast was peppered and salted - season to taste! And if you're a traditionalist, nuke a piece of toast in the microwave with some cheese, and have that with your soup - if that doesn't satisfy, you're likely also complaining that there's meat in the soup instead of eating and enjoying, and will get chased out of the kitchen.

1 comment:

phlegmfatale said...

This sounds delicious!

And I don't mind if the place smells like onions if the food was ossum. Can be a nice reminder of good food. nom nom nom