More and more we are looking at what goes into the pan. Recently we cooked a half of a prime rib in the CVap. In the past we would season the meat and cook it swimming in butter flavored with garlic or onions. Aki took a different approach with this roast and it speaks to both functionality and a method for getting more usable flavor out of your food. In our book we spatchcock a chicken on a bed of onions and broccoli rabe. The juices and fat from the bird season the vegetables as they steam beneath while the skin on top crisps into a salty crackling. In all honesty I am happiest eating the skin and the vegetables and perhaps the wings. Aki drew from this idea (not a new one by any stretch, but a new angle here.) She cut up a ton of peppers and onions and then put the seasoned rib roast on them and into the CVAP. Once the beef was cooked, she let it rest and then broiled the exterior to brown the outside. The meat was delicious but the vegetables showed the most potential. Since the meat was cooked at a low temperature, 53°C, the vegetables underneath did not completely soften and caramelize. Instead they gently stewed in beef fat and juices. After the meat was cooked we served it with a gratin of cauliflower and broccoli and olive oil crushed potatoes. The vegetables cooked beneath the beef added aroma and flavor but were reserved with the cooking jus for another use.
The following day we roasted a rack of pork ribs on top of the vegetables. The seasonings from the pork dripped down and gave the vegetables even more flavor, the higher temperature let them brown and soften, and the juices reduced to a glaze. When the roasted St. Louis ribs were finished, we let them rest on the pepper base and then transferred them to a plate. The juicy glazed peppers and onions were enticing but they were not beautiful. I reached for the food mill and ran the whole mess through. The result was an incredible vegetable sugo, just begging to be put on pasta. So Aki and Amaya graciously waited while I boiled water and cooked up some fresh horseradish noodles to go with the ribs. This was certainly not her original plan for dinner but she was willing to accommodate my whim. When the pasta was ready, I folded it into the sugo. I grated a touch more fresh horseradish into the mix and fetched some mitsuba leaves from the garden. We topped the pasta with the mitsuba leaves and Ossau Iraty cheese. Then dinner was finally served. Amaya had butter and cheese glazed horseradish noodles, Aki had ribs with a side of pasta and I had a big bowl of pasta with a few ribs to accent.
The idea of the bed of vegetables underneath an ingredient or even a bed of meat underneath a vegetables is a small inspiration, which leads to greater flavors and more opportunities in the kitchen. It takes a tiny amount of and effort delivers exponentially delicious results.