Slooooooow food
November 24, 2007 12:36 PM   Subscribe

We're looking for all-day cooking projects - we're willing to rise at dawn, source esoteric ingredients, spend hours chopping, whatever it takes.

One of our favorite things to do once winter sets in is to take a Saturday or Sunday and spend it on some sort of long, involved cooking project. We hole up in the house, spend the day cooking and puttering, and generally wind up the evening with a movie, a fire, and the fruit of our labors. It's a really pleasant ritual - the house smells great all day, we get to relax and focus on simple stuff, and it reminds us of how good being quiet at home can be. I'm looking for more recipes - ideally, things that take the better part of a day (or at least several hours), involving many steps and, most importantly, time. We like things that are sort of slow and cumulative, with a kind of simple contemplative rhythm to their development - we're getting really into baking bread, smoking the perfect pork butt, and making great cassoulet. Any more ideas for slow, sloooooooow food? We've got braises and stews covered, mostly. I'm especially interested in ethnic foods - traditional recipes, maybe special occasion-specific, that take serious time to prepare: Bstilla, what with the pastry and nuts and fillings and sauces, would be a good example. On the shorter side, old-school osso buco would be another - though it doesn't take very long, the component parts make it pretty involved. The catches: 1) it's just the two of us, and while we're down with leftovers/having people over, projects like roasting a whole pig are probably out for now. 2) We'd prefer projects that end more or less in dinner (so, not canning and preserving and the like, unless it's a step on the way to something else, i.e., making duck confit for a cassoulet). Bonus points if the project is the kind of thing we'll want context for - that we'll want to research and learn about. Thanks!
posted by peachfuzz to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
I'd suggest making a dish with mole (the Mexican chocolate-and-chile-based sauce, not the furry animal). I made it once, and it took over six hours to prepare.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:50 PM on November 24, 2007

Tamales! I have spent full days with friend's families preparing tamales. They freeze well and you can easily make several fillings and sauces. Unfortunately I don't have any recipes to share, buy you've inspired me to look. What a great idea for a winter day!
posted by maya at 12:53 PM on November 24, 2007

You could make something with a maple syrup glaze, in the morning actually making the syrup, and then making the dish in the afternoon.

Also, seconding tamales and mole. Those are actually the first two things that came to mind, as my grandmother used to spend the better part of some days making either one.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:56 PM on November 24, 2007

I nominate Chiles En Nogada. It involves preparing a slow-cooked meat, mixing that with plenty of seasonings and additions, stuffing that mixture in roasted mild Poblano chiles, topping that with a sauce made creamy with walnuts and then sprinkling pomegranate seeds on top. There are thousands of recipes for this (it's been called the Mexican national dish), but I'd be willing to bet Diana Kennedy has a suitably complex and lengthy one. She's a great resource for this kind of thing in general. I make this with leftover turkey every year after Thanksgiving, but you'll naturally want to start from scratch. Do blanch and peel the walnuts, it's reasonably easy to do if you let them soak enough.
posted by cali at 12:59 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

ooo liz is right, mole is good stuff.

I'm afraid I have no decent input of my own... I've spent my life trying hard to find recipes as easy and fast as humanly possible.

I guess if you want to put time into it, making everything completely and entirely from scratch would do it. But I imagine you already do that.

If you're going for dessert too, making a pie with homemade crust takes a lot of time. Or chicken pot pie with homemade crust and fresh rosemary.

So where do you live and what time should I be there for dinner? =P
posted by purelibertine at 12:59 PM on November 24, 2007

If you're not averse to killing your own food, try to find a friend that raises chickens and butcher your own. It can really open your eyes if you've never done anything like that. Roasting the chicken won't take that long, but if it's the first time butchering, it could take the better part of the day from moment you pick your bird to when you sit down to eat.
posted by glip at 1:18 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

How about a big Indian spread? Lots of small little dishes, bake some rotis etc. I remember from my childhood that somosas can be fairly labor consuming.

I also remember my dad spending the better part of the day when he got into his spring roll-making mode.

...and I'll be watching this thread.
posted by AwkwardPause at 1:22 PM on November 24, 2007

My father and I have spent lots of good time making Manicottis and their filling all from scratch. That takes a lot of time.
posted by mmascolino at 1:56 PM on November 24, 2007

Mincemeat pie.
posted by paulsc at 2:01 PM on November 24, 2007

Make a classic demi-glace. This will more than meet your standard of a consuming multi-day cooking project. It is a formidable but rewarding project. You will have better sauces as a benefit and probably a sense of awe that historic sauces are vastly more simple and less time consuming than a demi-glace.

If you're looking for a good book on the subject I recommend "The Saucier's Apprentice" by Raymond Sokolov.

It's something I'd suggest to those who are into classical cooking past a certain point. I'd also suggest there are effective modern shortcuts the second time around :).

Caution, if steps like the following deter you, look elsewhere for a project!

-"set a 35-40 quart stockpot over as many burners as it will stradle (two 20 quart stockpots work as well so long as you divide..."
-"reduce heat and simmer for 12-15 hours"
posted by rudyfink at 2:36 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

replace "simple and less" with "complex and more"
posted by rudyfink at 2:37 PM on November 24, 2007

Cassoulet? For extra slow-cooked goodness, make the duck confit first. The recipe I've listed to is a quick one, at 4 hours, but I believe that all day is more traditional. Essentially, it's fancy baked beans but - oh god - it's good. Perfect winter food, too.
posted by ninazer0 at 3:47 PM on November 24, 2007

cali is right about Diana Kennedy having a great recipe for Chiles en Nogada. Delicious, and takes the whole damn day. I find Mexican food often incredibly labor-intensive, especially given the somewhat low regard in which it is held in the USA. It might be cheap, but it ain't easy!

Some Indian dishes have to cook for ages, especially curries based on goat meat. You could use a pressure cooker, of course, but if you want to spend all day, find yourself some "mutton" curry recipes. Especially the kind that start by blending onions, garlic, and chilies into a paste and then cooking that in ghee until the oil separates. You can't speed up that part by pressure cooking, and you have to use fairly low heat so the paste won't scorch. Then, while the meat simmers, launch into a pilaf and some dal, and a little raita, and before you know it the whole day has gone!
posted by Quietgal at 4:05 PM on November 24, 2007

You could start experimenting with burgoo.

Maybe burgoo with sourdough bread.

Or serious barbecue - there are ways to do it in inside, and oh is it time consuming and labor-intensive to do it right.

Candy making is another possibility, but won't get you dinner. (Anything involving marshmallow creme is cheating).
posted by dilettante at 4:23 PM on November 24, 2007

If you want something you spend a lot of manual labor on, vs. something that just needs a lot of long slow mostly unattended cooking, here are some ideas.

* Make a proper puff pastry from scratch, and create things like elephant ears and napoleon from it.

* Very similar but even more complicated - make croissants. Hours to make, minutes to disappear.

* Make sushi from scratch. Make the rice, source the fish and other stuff, cut, prepare, etc. It's way more complicated than you might think.

* Make a whole dim sum spread. Lots of different little dumplings, cute little steamed buns, spare ribs, and so on.

* A couple of days late, but make a turducken. (We did this a couple of years ago at our house, and the wife wrote it up with all the gory details. It put us off of turkey probably for the rest of our lives, but ymmv. Sorry for the double family link but I am a fan of the wife's site. )

* Make a sourdough using totally natural airborne yeasts. This will take several days and hours and hours of research.

* Make mince meat pies. Source the ingredients (suet?), make the pastry, etc. Or make a whole bunch of different pies. Give away the extras or have a pie party. (Send me an invitation.)

* Make pasta, different kinds of pasta, from scratch. You can freeze any extras. There's nothing like the sight of a kitchen covered with flour and strands of drying pasta hanging from a clothes rack.

* Make your own wine. Or beer. Or cheese. There are lots of resources online for these hobbies.

* Make your own candy - caramels, fudge, brittle, even pulled sugar candy. Learn how to temper chocolate and dip truffles into chocolate. (We took a class last year on how to do this, it was great.)

I think we have actually done most of these ourselves. This is what you get from living with a food and cooking fanatic. Not that I'm complaining.
posted by derMax at 4:23 PM on November 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Rijsttafel (Dutch: rice table). Rice plus 10-50 side dishes. It's a Dutch adaptation of Indonesian food. I'm having trouble coming up with recipes online, perhaps because it's really just a whole bunch of different recipes.
posted by agentofselection at 4:54 PM on November 24, 2007

God, I totally didn't read that you already do cassoulet. The election tv has obviously killed my braincells. Please ignore.
posted by ninazer0 at 5:13 PM on November 24, 2007

Persian food. If you make a few different dishes you can easily spend a full delicious day cooking some seriously special food. Imagine basmati rice with 15 different fresh herbs meticulously minced beyond recognition, full-flavored eggplant stews with saffron and cinammon, chicken/pomegranate syrup/walnut dishes, delicate sorbets of rose water and microscopically shredded homemade starch noodles... (this is involved and delicious cooking at its best.)

A few recipes to investigate: falodeh, pollo sabzi, choreshte bademjun, ghondi, tadik, and my favorite: fesenjan. Spelling will probably vary.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 6:11 PM on November 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

If you have not ever done a full on turkey dinner (and now may not be the time, since it's just over Thanksgiving), you should. We do this every New Years' Eve with some friends - we have a whole turkey and several dishes from our childhoods - home-made honest to goodness mac and cheese, cornbread dressing, the whole deal, with dessert, and it takes almost the whole day. It's cumulative in and of itself, and it's a lot of fun. The best part is how some things (mac and cheese) are an integral part of my family's traditions and other stuff (like green bean casserole) is a staple of hers.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:40 PM on November 24, 2007

Oh peachfuzz, I hear you. If you lived in Toronto, I'd invite you to cook with Stonerose and me.

There's really nothing like spending all day on a meal, and one of the most fun things in the world is the french laundry's Blanquette de veau. It's a white stew with dozens of ingredients, all of which need to be cooked separately and slowly. It's to die for, and better yet, it's not difficult, just time consuming. When you taste it, it will be worth every second. Each ingredient has its own flavour to contribute. And better, it's dirt cheap to make.

Get thee to a library or a bookstore and check out thomas keller's French Laundry Cookboo. I am making a tarte tatin, a carmel apple tart that takes an hour or more to reduce on the stove. Eating is sublime, but making it is more fun than you can possibly imagine. There are dozens of recipes that wil make you feel like a day spend cooking is well worth the effort.

I like tameles, but I've never felt they were worth the effort. But I've only had them made my Colombians. Perhaps there are better ones.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:55 PM on November 24, 2007

OOh. Persian food. I've never made it, but man is it delicious. Shitty government, great food and nice people. Sadly, I've never found recipes that matched the restaurants I used to go to in Chicago.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 7:59 PM on November 24, 2007

Roast a pig over a spit outside. You will need a 60-70 pound pig, a spit, and 1/4 cord of hardwood.

It will take 8-12 hours to roast while you stand and tend the fire sipping mulled cider and telling dirty jokes.
posted by plinth at 8:00 PM on November 24, 2007

Exactly what plinth said. A friend of mine just did this last week and it was awesome!

Or buy a suckling pig that can fit in your oven.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:58 PM on November 24, 2007

Second the pasta making - you can spend time making several different fillings for stuffed pasta (eg slow cooked lamb shank for filling), there is the making of the pasta, the sauce to go with it. Good thing is that it generally freezes well too.

If you want ethnic, I'd suggest taking a look at David Thopmson's book "Thai Food" for ideas. Lots of stuff like grinding up curry pastes, making your own coconut milk, making dipping sauces, all of which can then be used in the recipes -which are certainly not quick and easy Thai.
posted by AnnaRat at 9:26 PM on November 24, 2007

we just made spring rolls for part of Thanksgiving dinner. that took a LOT of chopping, of numerous ingredients (fresh crab meat (we bought a huge crab and boiled him and then took out his meat etc), mushrooms (woods-ears and the other, uh, round kind... sorry i don't know its official name) that were left to soak in hot water to expand etc, shallots, mince pork, a couple of eggs, etc...
it's all very labour-intensive. the chopping takes a long time if you're making a lot of them. and after you chop, you wrap the spring rolls. and after you wrap them, you fry all of them.

aside from that, there is kueh lapis - a quick google-search turned up this recipe, but i don't know how good it is...

actually, i think any kind of kueh-making is pretty time-consuming... i remember my mom used to make those during lunar new year and they took SUCH a long time. you basically bake the cake layer by layer, and it consists of tons of thin layers. so you can't really leave the cake alone in the oven for a long period of time, even - you have to keep on watching the cake to make sure it doesn't burn or something.

we also made fried glutinous rice balls stuffed with bean paste and rolled in sesame seeds today. that takes quite a bit of time too, i guess. anything dumpling-ish or anything that requires a stuffing/filling (which you prepare from scratching) and wrapping etc seems to be time-consuming.

it seems like a lot of asian food can be very time-consuming in terms of its preparation, if you make everything from scratch...
there are probably a lot of asian desserts and soups that take the whole day to make as well.

you could make popiah (imagine spending a whole day preparing the filling from scratch...). you could make noodles from scratch, and use them in a soup-noodle dish involving a lot of other ingredients. you could make cheng tng (my favourite dessert, heh...).

if you're interested in more southeast asian suggestions, i could think of more...
posted by aielen at 9:44 PM on November 24, 2007

Petit fours? I believe those can get quite absurdly complex. An aunt of mine once tried to rope us into helping with a petit-four project that involve four pages of recipe (in small type) and a large number of different components that had to be made separately and assembled: cakes, fillings, individual fondant coverings for the cakes, may have gotten into multiple days of work. Unfortunately I do not know where to find the recipe--probably from an older cookbook.

I do believe you can get these to keep for a while, and I suspect they'd make good Christmas gifts.
posted by fermion at 9:46 PM on November 24, 2007

uh sorry for the bad punctuation and the 'scratching' which of course should be 'scratch'...
heh am sort of very tired out from the big cooking-and-eating session today (lunch, and then dinner... one big continuous thing...)
so, yeah, southeast asian cooking is time-consuming etc... and now my friend is making vietnamese fermented rice... which also takes a long time (you have to cook it twice, ferment it with yeast... and... i don't know what else...)...
posted by aielen at 9:53 PM on November 24, 2007

Christmas Pudding!
posted by mr. remy at 12:18 AM on November 25, 2007

we used to make pierogies from scratch, that took hours (though maybe not the entire day)-- i think anything where you make the dough by hand and has small pieces would take a while...

of course, there's always thousand layer lasagna. i haven't tried yet, but it sounds delicious.
posted by actionpact at 8:49 AM on November 25, 2007

My favourite 'day off recipe' is Lemon Tart from The River Cafe Cookbook, reproduced here...

It takes a very long time and will make the arms of both of you ache from whisking and has so many eggs in that it will probably give you a heart attack... but it is soooooo worth it :-)
posted by alicegoldie at 8:52 AM on November 25, 2007

Oh, I forgot- you could make little filled fondant candies! Fondant takes a very long time to mix, but it's delicious, and the dipping process can result in hands completely covered in chocolate. I've made huge batches of these and given them away as Christmas gifts.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:19 AM on November 25, 2007

Feijoada is a pretty good all day meal - it's the Brazilian National dish with several good sides - recommend you research as the history is interesting too, also I would recommend Alton Brown's method for making French Onion Soup.
posted by clanger at 11:00 AM on November 25, 2007

Pho. There are some recipe links at the bottom of the Wikipedia entry.
posted by candyland at 2:43 PM on November 25, 2007

Pick up either of the Heston Blumenthal Perfection cook books. Classic dishes cooked in the most over-analysed involved way possible. Really good fun.
posted by roofus at 3:12 PM on November 25, 2007

I can't believe nobody mentioned veal Prince Orloff, especially given the Mary Tyler Moore episode.

That epicurious recipe is a reliable one, too.
posted by kmennie at 9:43 PM on November 25, 2007

I would suggest making homemade sausage. There are plenty of ethnic variations (think Greek loukanika, Moroccan merguez, cajun andouille or a good old hot Italian sausage with fennel).

There are meat grinding and sausage stuffing attachments for the KitchenAid mixer that make things easier. I like to do this methodically, doing all the mise en place before hand, then all the grinding and stuffing.

There are a couple of excellent books on the subject if you're looking for research and context. Paul Bertolli's Cooking by Hand has a lot on sausage-making (and many other all-day projects to boot), and Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn's Charcuterie thoroughly covers the subject of sausagemaking.

I was thinking about projects to do over Christmas, and sausage-making is top of my list (I also like making pasta - projects that can involve my kids). As a bonus, you can definitely count on good eating at the end of the day. I make about 5kg at a go, eat some on the day and freeze the rest.
posted by sagwalla at 1:14 AM on November 26, 2007

How about Hasenfeffer? Delicious! And if you do it right (marinate the rabbit for 6 hours, grate the chocolate, etc., it pretty much takes the whole day. Plus, nothing's more romantic than feeding each other nibbles of the delicious dark chocolate and sips of the wine as you prepare the ingredients.
posted by peachy at 10:46 AM on November 26, 2007

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