Thursday, April 11, 2013

Nordic Ware Dutch Oven Duel for #FBC2013

So tonight I cooked dinner. This is a rare thing. My cooking skills are pretty much limited to breakfast, where I have my own special recipe for scrambled eggs everyone seems to love. I literally caught a kitchen on fire boiling water to make Kraft dinner at our first apartment. I usually stay out of the kitchen.

Well I'm going to the Food Bloggers of Canada Conference starting tomorrow afternoon. As a guest one of the promo items I received was a Nordic Ware dutch oven. There's a contest deal where you show off what you did with it. Much to my wife's surprise I thought it would be cool to enter. I get to try out the new 'toy', she gets a night off cooking, it's win win.

My wife is also going to the conference and she runs a mommy blog called Maple Leaf Mommy. She came up with the idea to make this a bit of a contest. So last night she cooked this really amazing Lemon Chicken with Curds thing. You can read all about her entry here:

The Nordic Ware Dutch Oven
Who knew this was a cooking tool?
First off I had no idea a Dutch Oven was a cooking tool. Come on, I know I'm not the only one. So first I had to ask my wife what exactly it was we received here and do a bit of research online. After figuring out it's kind of like a Crock-Pot that you can put on the stove and move right into the oven and back (or do some really cool stuff using coals outdoors) I started to look for recipes online.

Eventually I found this Goulash Recipe on the Food Network website.  It sounded quick and easy, plus it will let me face that fear of making Macaroni (I wasn't joking about the fire).

Reading through the recipe I already decided to make some changes. The first and main one was to get rid of the House Seasoning. Pepper doesn't sit so well with me and I really dig a mix of oregano and Parmesan with a touch of thyme and garlic salt as a spice mix (there's a bit more to it then that but I'm not giving away my scrambled egg secret), so I planned on using that. The other main complaint I had just reading this was the total lack of cheese. That's not something I can live with so I knew I would be adding cheese at some point. Well more cheese than the Parmesan I was already planning to add. Have I mentioned I like cheese?

Here's what I finally went with:

2 packs of lean ground beef
2 large onions
3 big cloves of garlic
3 cups of water
2 cans of tomato sauce
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon of Garlic Salt
A few dashes of Oregano
Enough dashes of Parmesan cheese to cover everything before stirring.
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 Bay Leaves
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
1 Tablespoon Seasoned Salt
2 cups of Macaroni
About half a big bag of Kraft Tex-Mex cheese

With it I served some pre-made Dempster's garlic bread (with cheese to be added on top).

How I cooked it:

Beef browned and veggies cut.

Browned the beef, breaking it up as I went and draining fat along the way. Remember to next time buy leaner beef. Added the veggies (onion and garlic) and cooked them until they were soft. I dunno maybe 8 minutes or so for that. Added the water, tomatoes, and all the seasonings (everything but the Mac). Figured out I didn't have a big enough dutch oven. Panicked  Skipped one of the cans of tomato sauce. Put a lid on it and and really hoped it would simmer down a little, while updating the blog about my panic. Fully realizing that by having the lid on that probably wouldn't happen.

The solution to the emergency.

Okay, new plan: let it cook for about 20 minutes. Then take half of it out and put it in a bowl, all nice and cooked (still minus the macaroni). Split the second can of tomato sauce between the bowl and the oven. Add only half the macaroni or so to the dutch oven and continue to follow the recipe from there. Then a couple days later we can toss all of the stuff in the second bowl, already prepped, back into the oven and toss in a cup of Mac and we should be good. At least I hope so. I haven't lit anything on fire so far so I think things are actually going pretty well.

Almost finished just needs cheese.

So I proceeded according to plan B. I took out a little under half of the goulash mix and added just over a cup of Macaroni. Realized that I'm not sure exactly what we will do with the other half since we are heading up to the Conference tomorrow. Right now it looks and smells like it would be a great stew, so probably going to go that way later. For now it went into the freezer. As of then I had half an hour, some of which I'm used to update this here. Oh and I remembered to get some more pictures. Actually I've been good about that, I was worried I would forget about the picture thing.

Well the next step was easy enough. I turned off the heat and let it sit. I've got to say at this point the house sure smelled awesome. About half an hour later I cut up the Demptster's bread and tossed some of the cheese on it. At the same time I tossed a ton of cheese on top of the Goulash. I put both in the oven at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.

So how did it turn out?

The finished meal before serving.
Rather good I do have to say. The Macaroni was a little softer than I would have liked, but that could have easily been caused by not splitting the liquid well during that emergency in the middle. The meat tasted fantastic. It had absorbed all the other flavours. I was slightly tempted to just drain it all and use that ground beef as a base for a Spaghetti Sauce (something I may actually try sometime in the future). I think baking the cheese on top at the end really finished it off. My wife liked it enough that she went back for seconds. Not something she does often. The kids seemed to dig it, though they both said they preferred Kraft Dinner.

My plate, well my first plate.

Overall I'm really happy with how things turned out. The Nordic Ware Dutch Oven worked great, even if I did underestimate how much I could fit in there. I loved being able to take the finished goulash, toss some cheese on it and transfer it right to the oven for a quick broil. If I ever made this recipe again I would cut all of the ingredients in half. As it stands I think we have enough left for at least four more delicious meals.

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