Friday, July 29, 2005

How About a Little Curry

I have found that if you show up at one of the local supermarket chains before 10:00 am, ideally at around 9:00 am, you can score some amazing deals. Everything that has a sell by date of that day is half off. This past Monday there was a bonanza in the meat department. I ended up with a roasting chicken, two huge sirloin steaks, some veal scaloppini and beef cubes for $25 dollars. I stuffed all the beef in the freezer and roasted the chicken that night. It was a mighty fine bird, succulent and tasty.

Today I pulled out the beef cubes from the freezer, I will use them to make a beef curry.

It is a strictly seat of the pants recipe that I learned in college while I was in England for the latter half of my junior year.

1 lb of beef cubes (any cut will do, stew beef is what I normally use)
4 large onions, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 beef bullion cube, dissolved in ½ cup of hot water
1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste
A handful of flour
Curry powder to taste (I use at least 1 tablespoon)
1-2 apples peeled, cored and cut into bite sized chunks

Sauté the onions on medium heat in the olive oil until it is transparent.
Add the bullion, tomato paste and flour, stir well (it looks a bit off at this point).
Bring to a very slow simmer and add the curry and the beef.
Periodically stir the mixture and DO NOT BOIL*.
After about 30 minutes, add the apple chunks.
Cook for another 30 minutes, again keeping at a slow simmer.
Occasionally stir and taste to see if the curry taste is strong enough, with the right level of spiciness.

Serve it over a bed of rice.

*If the mixture boils it destroys the taste of the curry, but not the heat.

I was forced to learn how to cook when I was in England. During my first week at my English University I checked out the dining hall with a fellow American. We were appalled with the glop they served us. It was pale, soft and with no taste whatsoever. We were considering buying meal tickets, but we both agreed we would rather starve than eat the slop they served. I had thought my college had bad food, but it was positively gourmet in comparison to its English counterpart.

The dorms at most British Universities are set up so that you can cook most of your meals. A cluster of rooms would have a common kitchen with a fridge and a stove. Lockers were provided to store nonperishable foodstuffs. For me it was literally sink or swim. I picked up this book and taught myself how to cook. It was a fun adventure going shopping and dragging my haul home. The best part was the milk. English milk is far superior and it was delivered to right outside the common kitchen! We would fill out the sheet on the door detailing what, how much and when we wanted it and it would magically appear early in the morning. Once a week we would pay our bill. It was a wonderful treat for me.

I have since lost the book, but I’ll never forget what I learned.

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