Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Baeckoffe" with kimchi: Alsatian-Korean fusion...and musical rumination on the many Spanishes

"Baeckeoffe"<--"how do you even pronounce that?" you may wonder...
Well, HERE's how you pronounce it.

Now, WHAT is it? It's a slow-cooked meat-and-potatoes dish (cooked in white wine) from the French/German borderland region of Alsace. Recently, I came across Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten's recipe for his family's version--it's a fusion twist on a comfort food from his childhood. (You can find it in the cookbook that he and his wife wrote to go along with their PBS series "The Kimchi Chronicles."

French/German meets Korean--right away I knew that I would have to try it!
So, one night last week, with my Korean mother visiting us, I made it for dinner.

The prep took a bit of time, but then once you've chopped and layered, you just leave it in the oven for a couple of hours or so. The fusion of the kimchi, meat, potatoes, and Riesling--a cross-cultural alchemy of deliciousness! Mom and Wife were pleased.

Here's a play-by-play, in case you'd like to try it..
(Merci, Chef Vongerichten!)
Les ingrédients
for "Korean Baeckeoffe:"
 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
Coarse salt
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
3 green onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cups coarsely chopped sour kimchi
(the kimchi--Korean sauerkraut with a kick--must be 'sour.'
Ask your Korean grocer.)
2 pounds lamb shoulder, cut into chunks with excess fat discarded
(I used a combination of lamb chops and beef chuck roast instead)
1 teaspoon 'gochugaru' (Korean red pepper powder)
1 bottle (750 ml) of white wine (preferably a Riesling, Alsatian if possible)
crusty baguette, or white rice, or both, for serving

While the oven is preheating to 400 degrees Fahrenheit,
put about half of the potatoes in the bottom of a baking dish (that has a lid),
sprinkle with some of the coarse salt,
and then place about half of the carrots, green onions, garlic, onion on top...
 ...and then place about half of the coarsely chopped kimchi on top:
Season the meat with some of the coarse salt and red pepper powder, 
(which looks hot, but it won't be overly fiery)
then arrange it on top of the kimchi.
 Cover the meat with a layer of the remaining potatoes,
carrots, scallions, garlic, and kimchi,
and then for the finishing touch,
pour the Riesling into the baking dish,
just covering the meat and vegetables.
You may or may not, depending on the shape of your baking dish
and the density with which you pack it,
need the entire bottle of wine;
I used it all:
 Cover the dish and bake for 2 1/2 hours at 400 degrees,
checking every now and then to see how the level of liquid is doing.
If it dries out, add a splash more wine or water.
(I didn't need to add much.)
Cook until the vegetables are soft and the meat is tender.
When you take it out of the oven, it will look something like this:
(You'll have enough to serve four to five people.)
Serve hot in soup plates with the liquid;
This "Korean Baeckoffe" is a hearty yet not heavy stew: 

Bon appétit...Guten Appetit..Chahp-soo-seh-yoh!

So, after some fusion,
now for a bit of linguistic confusion...

Have you heard of the newest viral YouTube video?
It's "Que difícil es hablar el español"
For an explanation in English, click here.

For those of you who speak Spanish,
and especially for those of you who have 
lived/traveled in various parts
of el mundo hispanohablante,
you MUST watch this!

And now, directly from the source:

Finalmente, here's the video, as seen on YouTube:

¡Viva la confusión!

Today's gem from the classroom:
"Wait, rabbits don't have eggs?!"
Several students--14 and 15 years old--said that today.
Context: learning vocabulary about rural life and farm animals
in a second-year foreign language class.
The Easter Bunny has left behind a troubling legacy, it seems.
These are the same kids who've said:
"OMG, olives grow on trees?!"
"Turkeys have eggs?! I thought only chickens did!" 

One last thing--an update about last week's posting
and the "Catch" photo competition:
click here.


  1. Seriously, Joe, your blog never ceases to amaze. That recipe looks delicious... except I can't stand Kimchi. Any thoughts on substituting it for German sauerkraut? Oh, and skipping the chilies... Ummm, okay, I know that's probably ruined it, but maybe it makes something delightfully different? =)

    Miss you both very much!

  2. Hey there! Hmm...so substituting sauerkraut for kimchi and eliminating the chili powder...that would make it just 'regular' baeckeoffe, I suppose, no? ;-) There are many recipes for baeckeoffe--I'd be curious if you find one you like...and then if you do--YOUR turn to food-blog, eh? I (and Jason) await the tasty results...