Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday Eats - DIY Dinnertime

Hey Folks - It's Abby T. Lab here with what's on our table tonight, which hopefully I will get instead of a bowl of N.T.C. (Nasty Dry Crap).  With a kitchen full of expensive gadgets, mixes and packaged food, most people can put dinner on the table. But truly understanding how basic foods are cooked and why flavors turn out as they do is the difference between an "OK" cook and a "why is there a line on my porch?" cook.

What did Mom have to work with? There's a few hamburger buns left from the last cookout, a few canned goods.  A cheap chunk of roast beast was picked up, one that will be best prepared by slow cooking as that will soften the connective tissue without toughening the muscle.  Still, it will need something to bring out the flavor.

It's DIY dinner time.

Mom said that you first need to sear the meat the get the flavors that come only from the Maillard Reaction.

 No, not Mallard! It's MAILLARD.

Mom said "It's a form of nonenzymatic browning resulting from a chemical reaction between an amino acid and a reducing sugar, normally with heat (and named after a French chemist who described it, not in the context of a French Dip but in attempt to reproduce biological protein synthesis). The reactive carbonyl group of the sugar reacts with the nucleophilic amino group of the amino acid, and forms a complex mixture of poorly characterized molecules responsible for a range of odors and flavors.
In the reaction, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created, that in turn break down, forming yet more new flavor compounds. The browning reactions that occur when meat is roasted or seared are complicated, but most  occur by Maillard browning with contributions from other chemical reactions, including the breakdown of the tetrapyrrole rings of the muscle protein myoblogin "

I just looked at her and said WTD???  Sometimes I think I need a "Momspeak for Black Labs (and we're no dummies) book".

But she want on to explain that this process enhances the flavor of any food that contains proteins and sugars and there are some food whose flavor profiles owe a LOT to Dr. Maillard.  Grilled roasted meats, crusty bread, dark beer, roasted coffee, chocolate, toast, cookies.


Any food that you are cooking at temps above 250 F are going to have some Maillard components giving it color/texture/aroma.  If you know that, and can take full advantage of it, your dinner guests will thank you, even if you experiment on them, like Mom does.

So don't forget to sear.  It's a scientific chain reaction of "MMMMMM". 

DIY Beef Dip (with old slightly flat, squished buns - no Mom - I was NOT talking about you!)

Into a crockpot went:

2 1/4 cups beef broth (with added water to bring total liquid up to 2 and 1/3 cups
1 cup Merlot
1 can cranberry sauce
1 package Knorr or Lipton French Onion Soup Mix *
1 heaping teaspoon crushed garlic
a couple of grinds of fresh  tellecherry black pepper
3 1/2 to 4 pound rump roast

*homemade soup mix  (no MSG!)=  3/4 cup dried onion, 1/3 cup Penzey's beef soup base or bouillon powder, 1/4 tsp celery seed, 1 tsp parsley flakes, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4  tsp pepper.  Store in air tight container and use 4 Tablespoons for most recipes that call for a package of soup mix. 

First, lightly and quickly sear roast in a smoking hot pan covered with a thick sheen of oil.  It's done properly when there is a light brown crust on each side and the smell is pleasant, not acrid.  Don't overdo!

Place roast fat side up in crock pot and cover with the remaining, ingredients which you  have blended in a bowl. Cover and set to lowest setting. Seven to eight  hours later, the meat will be falling apart tender and the au jus will be  fragrant and  incredibly good,.  The cranberry adds a delicious undertone, not a fruity taste.  Mom said she would have preferred some crusty Ciabatta rolls to stand up to dipping the sandwich, but messy will work with a knife and fork.

I may not understand how it worked but boy did it smell tasty!  (I got some plain beef treats as this had garlic which doggies should not eat)

Abby Lab


  1. OMD OMD OMD OMD your mom is like OUR Super CHEF Sasha... OMD you are sooooooo lucky...

    Our mom has MAD LOVE fur the Crock Pot cookering of stuffs... We just know that the meats come outta there... TENDER and JUICY... today we had Cubed Steaks with Mushroom Gravy

    We MUST get our mom to do the Cranberry Sauce thingy... Was it just the Jelly kind or was it the Whole Berry?
    GUESS WHAT.... SOMETIMES when mom Cookers HOME MADE Foodables fur US... she puts in Half a can of Pumpkin and Half a can of Whole Berry Cranberry Sauce... WE Love those flavors together...

  2. Frankie and Ernie - I saw the can - it was the jelly kind of cranberry Mom LOVES to cook she and Dad only eat out once or twice a month, which is great as they're not gone eating foodables without me.

    Since it's been hot out Mom made me some "Frosty Pause". She mixes a large container of vanilla yogurt, a banana and a little bit of honey in the blender and then she freezes in the dixie cups, using a dog bone as a handle for it. When they're frozen, peel the paper off and SLURPPP

    Abby Lab

  3. Hari OM
    No doubt at all about the chemistry, Abby... mine'll be the paneer and vege sausage substitute though...LUURRVVV cranberries... Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  4. Gosh, your mom sounds like a pro! My mom not so much ...she tends to just wing it. Sometimes her recipes are amazing and other times not so much

  5. We have a similar recipe, but we only use three ingredients: onion soup mix, a can of stewed tomatoes, and some kind of beef roast. (We found that our Wegmans store brand onion soup mix doesn't have msg in it.) We'll have to give your version a try sometime. Sounds yummy!

  6. Oh yes, this sounds so yummy. Mo is always looking for new crockpot recipes. She will just have to try this one too. Thanks for sharing although we too didn't get that whole Maillard thingie:)

    Woos - Ciara and Lightning

  7. That sounds super yummy, but I don't think your momma was speaking English!


Welcome to The Book of Barkley and the Blogville dog blogging community. This blog was created for more memories of Barkley as well as updates on our Lab Rescues that have joined our household since Barkley left us.

Stop in and say hello. However, comments from strangers offering business links will NOT be posted. I