I made a simple little shrimp dish for dinner last night. And then I made a simple little exceptional shrimp dish.
The base was shrimp, white wine, onion, garlic, mushrooms and lemon juice cooked in a mixture of olive oil and butter.
The exception was canned lemon.
Suddenly, ordinary everyday food (well, maybe not ordinary everyday food) has been elevated to Olympic heights. Each little piece of canned lemon was like a mini pomegranate with a bright flavor that spiced up the more subdued shrimp.
I could only do this because I had a fresh can of canned lemons in the fridge.
They were easy to make and didn’t take long. It all cost me less than five dollars – it’s just lemons and salt – and now I have a revolutionary seasoning that I add to seafood, chicken, veggie dishes, and even red meat (in the right recipes) next time. from six months to a year.
I’m talking here about what economists call ROI: Return on Investment. Small culinary investments bring big culinary profits.
And it wasn’t just canned lemons. When I said I fried the shrimp and other ingredients in a mixture of olive oil and butter, I really meant a mixture of olive oil and ghee. Ghee is butter that has had the milk solids removed, so it can be reheated—say, to fry shrimp—and it won’t burn.
It’s easy to do. Just gently melt the butter and pour most of it into the jar. Milk solids are white pieces at the bottom; stop pouring before they hit the jar.
It doesn’t even need to be refrigerated because milk solids are the part that can go bad. It takes maybe five minutes, and the investment pays amazing dividends within a few months.
Two days before I cooked the shrimp, I made a dish of braised fillets that I served with basmati rice. Once again, the hearty beef stew is commendable – I commended myself for making it.
And then I made it obviously special by adding one wedge of demi-glace.
I made demi-glace a couple of months ago, kept it in the freezer, and have since dispensed it sparingly when I wanted to send food into the exosphere.
I’m more frugal with my demi-glace because, frankly, the time and money costs are much higher than with canned lemons or ghee. But the payoff is much greater.
Demi-glace is easy to prepare, but takes a lot of time. Basically, you roast the calf bones and then slowly boil them in a very large amount of water, along with a few flavorings for extra flavor. The next day – this is a two-day recipe – you boil the liquid for a few more hours until it reduces and concentrates its flavor from eight or more liters to one and a half liters.
One and a half quarts of fine gold. I cut mine into 12 wedges – it has so much natural gelatin that you can cut it open once it’s cool – and freeze them until it’s time to take a dish that’s already good and turn it into something. that’s really impressive.
Lemons (see note)
Salt, preferably coarse
1 bay leaf, optional
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, optional
1 dried chili, optional
1 cinnamon stick, optional
Note: Smaller lemons work best for this recipe, and seasonal Meyer lemons are ideal. I put 10 Meyer lemons in a 38oz jar.
1. Wash your lemons. Cut off the stem if attached. Cut the lemon lengthwise at the other end, stopping about 1 inch from the bottom; then make another downward cut so that you cut the lemon in an X shape.
2. Sprinkle the lemon with coarse salt where you made the cuts. Don’t skimp on salt: use about 1 tablespoon per lemon.
3. Put the lemons stuffed with salt into a clean, large glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Add a few coriander seeds, bay leaf, dried chili and cinnamon stick if you like, or a combination of both. Press the lemons hard into the jar to release the juice. Cover and leave overnight.
4. The next day, do the same by pressing down on the lemons, encouraging them to release more juice as they begin to soften. Repeat for 2-3 days until the lemons are completely covered in liquid. If necessary, add freshly squeezed lemon juice to cover them completely.
5. Store for 1 month until canned lemons are soft. At the moment they are ready to use. Use or store canned lemons in the refrigerator for at least 6 months. Rinse before use.
6. Remove lemons from liquid and rinse before use. Divide in half and scrape out the pulp. Cut the lemon zest into thin strips or cut into small cubes. You can pass the pulp through a sieve to get the juice, which can also be used for flavoring. Throw away the pulp.
Yield: 12 servings
10 pounds calf bones or equal parts calf, beef and chicken bones
1 pound carrots, washed and unpeeled, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 large leek, cut in half lengthwise
3 ribs of celery, cut into pieces
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
Note: Veal bones are available from some butchers. They may need to be pre-ordered.
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Place the bone pieces in a large baking dish and brown in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, turning once halfway through. Add carrots and onions to the bones and continue to fry for another 30 minutes.
2. Use a slotted spoon to remove the bones and vegetables from the roaster and transfer to a large saucepan (at least 12 liters). Pour and discard the accumulated fat in the broiler. Add water to a broiler to a depth of about 1/2 inch, bring to a boil and use a metal spatula to scrape brown bits from the bottom of the pan and melt the hardened juice.
3. Add this liquid to a saucepan and cover with water. Bring slowly to a boil; then reduce the heat to a slow simmer so that there are only a few bubbles on the surface at any one time. If your heating element is too hot for a low simmer, move the pot so that it only covers part of the heating element. Simmer for 1 hour, using a strainer or spoon to remove foam that rises to the surface.
4. Add tomatoes, leek, celery, bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. Bring to a boil again, then reduce the temperature to a slow boil. Cook over low heat for 10 hours. As the liquid evaporates, periodically add water to keep it at about the same level.
5. Using a Chinese sieve or fine sieve, strain the bones and vegetables. Place stock in a clean saucepan and simmer until reduced to 1 1/2 quarts (6 cups) of liquid. Let cool, then pour into a bowl and refrigerate overnight.
6. Skim any fat from the top, then remove the gelled demi-glace from the bowl. Cut into 12 wedges (each will be 1/2 cup). Wrap each wedge in plastic wrap, place everything in an airtight plastic bag, and store in the freezer for up to 1 year.