Saturday, March 01, 2014

Bread Lid for Stew

Well, this is the finishing touch from yesterday's lamb stew. The stew was cooked with bread as the lid. A very interesting concept, and a good way to cook your soup and bread all in one. I suppose it is somewhat like the idea of serving stew in a bread basket, though this time the bread is on top. The bread dough is actually placed directly on top of the cover of the pot - that is why there is a metal handle sticking out on the center. The bread is supposed to help seal the pot and keep in moisture, as well as help cook the bottom of the bread and keep it flavorful. I am not really sure how this works since the cover is already creating a complete layer between the bread and the stew, and well really we discovered that the bread didn't really fulfill this purpose. However, that is not to say that this wasn't a neat idea that didn't work out, because it did seem to.

The resulting bread is an extremely crisp and crunchy hard bread - like a hearty European bread and nothing like a soft American sandwich bread or even a homemade loaf - think crispy baguette. This occurs because the bread is baked for a long time - first at a very high temperature, then at a lower temperature for a few hours, so it really cooks through. In addition, the bread is placed on the lid in a fairly thin layer, so it does not take long to cook and is thin and crispy. 

Really any basic white (or I suppose whole wheat) bread recipe can be used for this recipe - though you do not require a large amount, you only need a thin layer of bread. I found the bread didn't have a lot of flavor, and wasn't a rich bread or anything, but that too could depend on the recipe. This bread is really designed for dipping in the stew. The bread absorbs the yummy broth just like a sponge and still retains some of the crisp texture. Then the bread becomes flavored with the salty, flavorful broth, and some of the bacon sticks to the bread and makes it delicious. 

One more word of advice - since the bread is baked directly on the cover of the pot - it is essential that the cover is well greased. The recipe also recommends brushing the lid with some egg yolk, which gives the bread a richer color and a bit more depth of flavor. But still, the cover may be difficult to clean. 

No comments: