01 June 2007

Benito vs. the Produce Section: 白菜

Before anyone gets excited, I've eaten bok choy before, and even considered planting some toy choi because of the easy portion size. It's not that exotic of an ingredient, even here in Memphis. But while roaming through the produce section, I realized that I'd never cooked with it.

On the same grocery store trip, I came across a few pounds of beef spare ribs on sale. Perfect. That evening, I assembled a dinner that was part Chinese, part Italian, and all delicious.

A diced shallot and a few garlic cloves went into some melted butter in the venerable enameled cast iron Dutch oven. Then I separated the ribs using my beloved hand-crafted, carbon steel butcher knife. Ribs went in the pot, along with a can of whole tomatoes, a big can of beer, a few sprigs of thyme, and I let it all simmer for a couple of hours. I didn't incorporate the bok choy until the end. I chopped up the greens and set them aside, and then cut the white stalks into edible chunks. The white portion went into the pot for 20 minutes, followed by the greens for five. Threw together a little salad to go with it. (It's spring, I'm craving green things.)

For garnish on the ribs, I tried a little Thomas Keller trick and sliced a shallot into thin rings. These were dusted in flour and fried in canola oil until brown and crispy. It's sort of a cross between the fried onion topping famous on Thanksgiving casseroles and a batch of homemade onion rings. Great flavor, yet light and delicate. Damned easy to make, too, and it doesn't require a lot of oil. (You'll probably have to click on the photo in order to see them.)

In the grand frugal tradition of using every part of the buffalo, there was little waste from this meal. The leftovers were packaged up for lunch tomorrow; the scraps of the veggies went into the compost pile, and the succulent bones were given to the dogs.


fredric koeppel said...

god, that looks great! but what was the wine? and you shouldn't give bones to your dogs.

Jen said...

I have never cooked with bok choy either because I have yet to find any around here that isn't hopelessly wilted. I've got my eye out, though, and the first fresh bunch I find is mine!

And, yes, what was the wine? I think this might be a tough pairing.

Benito said...

No wine with this dinner--I did yard work while it was cooking and just guzzled down lots of ice water. If I'd used white wine in the broth maybe a crisp Sauvignon Blanc would have been an interesting accompaniment. Although this is probably better suited for winter, the veggies lighten it considerably.

And I just got the bok choy from Kroger, though if you're having trouble, check out some of the local Asian markets.

Matt Mikulla said...

Benito...I am willing to leave Alaina for you and your cooking. Don't tell her though.

Alaina said...

Funny, Matthew. I'd leave *you* for Benito and his cooking. Fight you for him...