Sunday, January 29, 2012

I Wanna Duck You Like an Animal (a brief affair in which i learn to love)

Today's Specials:  Roulade of Gratitude, Raised Expectations, & Pride in a Raspberry and Scotch sauce.  Garnished with a Penchant for Duck Fat.

Set to the tune of Ween's "I Can't Put My Finger On It"


I know we've only been together a short while....but I really feel like I can tell you've just got that kind of face, I guess.  So I'm gonna let you in on a little something about me.  You all know I love bacon.  But what you may not know is, duck confit comes in a pretty close second.  And guess what?!?  I got to make both of them this week!!  I wish there was a 'scream like a little girl' emoticon!!

I see some of you out there are confused.  "What's duck confit?" you may ask.  To which I reply, I don't want to know you anymore.


We're here to learn, right?  So I'll tell ya.  It's duck legs that have been cured, poached in duck fat, and packed in a container along with the aforementioned fat.  That's it.

Did I mention it stays good (and actually improves in flavor) for up to six months?  Yeah...true story.  Turns out, 'confit' (pronouced CON-fee) is a pretentious-sounding French word for 'preservation'.  I could go on about how packing the meat in fat halts oxidation especially when combined with the salt curing blah blah blah.....if you want to know all about it, it's here.

So here's my duck confit adventure.....*cue Indiana Jones Theme.*

Ok, this isn't a recipe for you guys, per se and I'll tell you why.  Reason #1, this is the first time I've made duck confit in a sous vide machine* and as of this writing the jury is still out on the results.  I certainly wouldn't pass-along information to you without testing and verifying the end-product.  If it works out ok, I'll post a recipe later....with some modifications.  Which brings us to Reason #2, the method I used to sous vide is......questionable.  And not exactly FDA approved, if you know what I mean.**  And frankly, I may have fucked it up.  But, I made a promise to you dear readers and I intend to keep it.  Victories and failures are ours to learn from!

 *What the hell is a sous vide (pronounced soo-veed) machine?  Simply put, it's a hot water bath that is precisely temperature controlled.  You place the food to be cooked in little plastic bags and the bags are immersed in the water for long periods of time until fully cooked.  The result is a fully cooked, tender, moist (as no moisture has left the food at any time) and relatively easy product.  If you want to learn a little more about the practice, check it out here.

**The traditional method for duck confit is 1, cure the legs for a few hours or a day.  2, heat up some rendered duck fat.  3, pour the fat onto the legs and cook (either on the stove top or in the oven) at a very low temperature (never to exceed 200 degrees). Then put it all into a sealable container and let it ripen.  Use it when you want awesomeness.  The sous vide method is 1, cure.  2, place into little bags with rendered duck fat.  3, place into water bath and cook for hours (the temperature never exceeding 200 degrees).  I....sorta did a hybrid of the two.  It's not exactly the safest method (and I don't recommend it), but I figure if something went wrong, we'll know long before it's time to eat this stuff.  That's the good news about duck confit.  It doesn't KINDOF go's rancid meat that's been sitting around for months.  My guess is if I didn't do it right, when the time comes to eat this stuff the bacteria would have evolved to the point of sentience and would be able to tell us themselves if they've gone bad.  Or it may just get up and walk out on it's own....I guess we'll find out.

So here's how I did it.

We got our ducks in whole....I butchered them and put the legs in one pan, the breasts another.  The rest gets roasted and turned into a stock.  On the left are (of course) the legs....the breasts have another amazing fate (we'll talk about it in another post - we'll also be talking about breasts in general I imagine). 

Then I rubbed them in salt to cure them.  This is just salt.  Then they're covered and refrigerated for 24 hours.  Then they're rinsed off and patted dry.  Unfortunately your jackass photographer and humble narrator did not get any pictures of the result of the cure.  Suffice to say the meat was darker in color and firmer in other words, cured.  They're then put on a wire rack to dry a little further while I prepare the rest of the procedure: Melting rendered duck fat.  You can render your own if you'd like....but I was doing a lot of legs here and I wanted to make it as easy on myself as possible so I bought the stuff in 10 lb buckets from the same farm as the ducks.  Again, jackass picture boy didn't get a shot of it...but it's basically a tub of fat.  White, very soft, creamy. Fat.  I accidentally dropped some of it onto a piece of toasted bread and had to eat it (we can't have any waste, now can we?).  It was delicious.  This was a good idea.  So I warmed up the fat in a pot until it was fully clear (didn't take long) and we were ready for the next step.  Combining the two.

The legs were layered into my trusty Sous Vide Supreme machine and covered with the now hot fat being (carefully) poured over. According to the machine's thermometer, it was 202 degrees.  Slightly high for the need, but perfectly acceptable.  The temperature was set to 188 degrees and the lid was placed on it....and we were on our way to Confit-land.

So who wants to hear something funny?  Ok, good.  I started this whole process around 1pm....I did mention this was a 10+ hour cooking process, right?  So about 1130pm rolls around and I have to excuse myself from my drinking companions so I can "check on my duck legs."

I'm not sure how many of them knew what I was talking about....I'm not sure I want to know.  But I come back and this is what I see....yes it looks a lil.....strange.  But my god...the smell.  So. Fucking. Good.  Like sex, but in my nose (so exactly like sex).  

The only steps left were to pull the duck legs out carefully....they were perfect:  Not falling off the bone unless they were carelessly handled (which, incidentally, is just how I like my women).  The legs were gently layered in  a sealable container, covered with the poaching fat, and placed in an ice bath for quicker chilling.  Then into the fridge.  

We'll check back in on them in a couple months....

Anyone curious as to what's going on with that bacon?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's Like Sex, But The Fork and Knife Are Optional (a philosophy)

Todays Specials:  Bacon-wrapped Terrine of Lurid Conversation in an Honesty Sauce garnished with some Sage Advice from a Female Perspective.  Served with Sushi.

Set to the tune of Does It Offend You, Yeah?s "With a Heavy Heart (I Regret to Inform You)"
"'To Serve Man'......It's a COOKBOOK!!!"

I'm a simple man. I like the little things in life....a sharp knife, rendered duck fat, old episodes of The Twilight Zone...

Oh, and a woman who EATS!

And I don't mean the casual, laissez-faire fork and knife eating. Everyone does doesn't impress me. No, I'm talking gums deep in a turkey leg. I'm talking nachos by the fistful. I'm talking two handed BBQ annihilation with juices running down her arms and off her elbows; indecipherable noises coming from somewhere deep inside the core of her being.  Sounds usually reserved for wedding nights or lead singers of metal.

You know, the kind of woman who knows how to lick a bone clean....

**Disclaimer: Ok gang...time to be real here for a second. It's not gonna get any cleaner or more appropriate for work from if you're offended already by the double entendres and lurid epicurean imagery, then I'd suggest you stop reading and go back to your funny pictures of cats with spelling errors and poor grammar. End Disclaimer**

Ok, how many of you stuck around? Good.

Now here's what I really want to say now that we've gotten rid of the prudes.

Food is sex. There's no way around it, and I can't say it any more simply. Food is is fucking.

I mean, other than cooking, what other activity do you offer a part of yourself (and if you're cooking properly, you're putting something of yourself into every dish) for someone else put it into their bodies?

Maybe Scrabble....maybe

I was recently told by a good friend of mine (to protect her identity we'll call her “Orange Blossom” - that is actually her real name) that: “I refuse to have sex with a man if I can't stand the way he eats.” 

That's a very telling statement....and, reflecting, I'm guilty of the same thing. I can't tell you how many nights I've spent sitting across from a woman who is gorgeous....or would be if she hadn't ordered a salad with light dressing and 'just water'....and then spent 30 minutes of my life that I'll never get back pushing it to and fro on her plate with the same look on her face that I'm sure she gets when she accidentally drops something in the toilet. I mean, let's face it, if she's looking that way at her salad, what's she gonna do when she sees your naked body? And no bullshit, ladies....if you ordered just a salad, you probably don't want to have either inside you.  Not really, anyway.  Though, I'm sure Ranch dressing would help....

The point is this: You can tell a lot about a person by the way they eat. And I'm not just talking to the men. Ladies, if your date salts his food before he tastes it, not only do you need to question his worth as a person, but be prepared for strictly missionary position and occasional orgasms. Maybe on your birthday he'll get creative....but he's still a prick for salting his food preemptively. You don't need that kind of he probably kills kittens. And gentlemen, if a chick you're into doesn't want to try new foods, then the sex you two will have will probably not require a towel...and that's just sad.

What's that?  Your partner eats their steak well done?  My both you and your genitalia.

Now compare that to the satisfaction I have received on many a night upon hearing sex noises coming from the people I've been lucky enough to cook for.  Things like: “MMMmmmmmmmm!!” and: “Oh my fucking, GAWD!!” and: “I need to change my pants” not to mention: “I wonder what Fred Savage is doing these days”.....Simply put: both my most successful dinner parties and my most successful liaisons have required an hour cleanup (always after....never during) and a load of laundry. Hell, one time I needed to run the dishwasher on it's 'Heavy Wash' cycle.

Maybe I'm getting off point here....

Orange Blossom tells me about the time she served her guy sushi off of her naked body....and wasabi burns was the best sex she'd ever had.  She says it was because it made him taste for the first time....which made him come back for seconds.

Then a horror story about the guy that ate his food so fast he was done before anyone else had really gotten started...

Man...I DO love a good double entendre.  

Then she tells me about a guy she used to see that made love to the spoon with which he used to eat his ice cream....and that it was telling (and ultimately true) of how he'd perform in the bedroom, but that he was 'finnicky' and 'picky' when it came to meat (“I had to do all the work”) and that was  also telling (and also ultimately true). She also said he liked going to Applebee's....but we'll leave that one alone. For now. 

Fuck you, Applebee's.


So what does this say about cooking? 


Are you afraid to use ingredients or techniques that are foreign to you? That says something.
Do you adhere religiously to recipes? That says something.
Do you go to a new restaurant and ask the chef for his speciality? That says something.
Do you pull a Meg Ryan when your food is perfect? You're my kind of girl.

Marilyn Monroe loved steaks and she used to cook dishes she learned from DiMaggio when friends would come over.

Now I want to be clear about something. I'm not talking overly ornate, elaborate, and technical cooking. It doesn't have to have a million ingredients to be good. No.  Good cooking (like sex - are we sensing the theme, here?) does not require great skill or experience....enthusiasm goes a LONG way. There's poetry in a simple meal prepared simply. There's magic in Boeuf Bourguignon (which is a pretentious-sounding French word for Beef Stew).  I mean, don't get me wrong,  you gotta know some basics: the difference between a simmer and a rolling boil...which muscles to flex for vigorous whisking and which to flex for a gentle stir (and the stamina/patience to accomplish either)...when butter is appropriate (hint: always.)  ....and those basics are easily learned, but after that....have fun., life isn't a recipe. It's improvisation. Do not be constrained by your ingredients.

Audrey Hepburn claimed to eat pasta and chocolate everyday.  Now, while she didn't say if she ate them together....I can respect that.

So what have we learned, Braisers? Besides not to come to my dinner parties without protection? Which reminds me:

**Public Service Announcement: Remember kids, always, ALWAYS use a napkin. Every time. Keep a wetnap in your wallet or purse if you need to. It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. End Public Service Announcement.**

We've learned to have fun with it. Experiment. Enjoy. Sometimes you won't like it....that's ok. Sometimes you'll make a weird face. Sometimes you'll be disgusted. Sometimes you'll need a drink to wash that flavor out. All of it is ok. Keep putting it in your mouth.

Oh...and try some new food every now and again, too.

But now I gotta go...Orange Blossom is coming over and I wanna hear her make some noise.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Rind of Bleu (a recipe)

Set to the tune of Bob Dylan's "Tombstone Blues"

"I am in the kitchen with the Tombstone Bleu"

I'm gonna level with ya, Braisers.  I'm not a fan of bleu cheese.  I've just never been able get beyond the dry/tart/sour/gym sock flavor that foodies seem to love paired with cranberries and walnuts and pears and people who liked your favorite band before they 'sold out.'

No, no.  Not my scene at all.  So bleu cheese and I just never hit it off.  

It wasn't until I went to a restaurant here in town some years back.  I had a friend working there and a cabbage and bleu cheese soup was suggested to me, as it was one of the specials.  I immediately made a face of someone who has clearly sat in something wet and warm and continued to look at the menu.  "No, no, no....just try it.  Tell ya what, let me get you a small bowl and you can have a taste...if you don't like it, no problem.  But it's really good!  Even if you don't like bleu cheese."

Ugh.  Fine.

You know how I feel about people that won't try new I tried the damn soup.  And you know what?  It was delicious!  The cabbage tamed the bleu and the creaminess brought it all together for me.  Add a couple bursts of caraway here and there and it was a delightful surprise.  My dinner companion, That Bitch (you remember her, right?) also enjoyed it a great deal.  We enjoyed the rest of our meal and had a lovely evening....but that soup was nagging at the back of my mind.  Where did it get the nerve of making me....and I can't believe I'm saying this.....enjoy bleu cheese?

Bastard soup.  What did it have up it's creamy, caraway-kissed sleeve? 

So I resolved then and there that I would no longer fear the dreaded foodstuff (I mean it's CHEESE after bad could it really be?).  Instead I would learn to make it myself and tweak it even further to see if I could get others to enjoy it as well. And that's what I did....I reproduced it as I remembered it tasting that night.

So now when someone says they don't like bleu cheese, I have a secret weapon.  I still think your favorite band sucks now, though.

Don't let the name fool you.  The soup is pretty bangin'.....even if you don't like bleu cheese or cabbage.  Just try it.  Don't be a pussy.

You're gonna need:
2 Tbl Butter
3-4 lightly packed cups of  Shredded Cabbage
2 Tbl Chicken Base
7 cups Heavy Cream
8-10 oz Bleu Cheese*
5 sprigs of fresh Thyme
Pinch of Caraway Seed
Salt & White Pepper to taste

*I used Maytag Bleu for this recipe, but just about any variety will do.  Beware different brands, and varieties will have different strengths.  It's all about taste, not about a recipe.

Step 1:  Melt butter in a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pan.  Once the foam subsides, add cabbage.

What were looking for here, gang, is to sweat the cabbage, not brown it (although a little bit is ok).  So keep the heat pretty low, and stir a lot until the cabbage starts to release some liquid.  Keep tossing it around and cover the pot for a few minutes until the cabbage is completely soft.  

A quick word about the cabbage.  You can use pre-shredded or whole and shred it yourself. I've done both and either one works beautifully.

Step 2:  Pull the leaves off of all but two Thyme sprigs and add them (the leaves, jackass) along with the Chicken Base, & Caraway Seed.  

Stir it around a little, and then add your cream.

Step 3:  Turn up your flame slightly until the cream comes to a light don't want to go any more than a simmer on this or you run the risk of curdling, and overflowing.  And cook for about 10 mins after the simmer starts....we want to reduce slightly. Stir it occasionally...taste it.  Once the flavors impart themselves into the cream you're ready to add your bleu cheese.  I like to crumble mine in - and keep tasting as I go.  You can always add more...but it's pretty damn hard to take bleu cheese out of the soup once it's in there.  Plus adding it in increments makes the cheese melt a little faster.  Keep stirring until the cheese has all melted and you're good to go.  Lower the heat if it starts simmering again.  Taste it...season with salt and white pepper....add more bleu cheese if you's your life, you don't need me to run it for you.

Garnish with the Thyme sprigs and impress your friends and influence members of your family.

See ya next time, Braisers!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

(Overture and First Movement) I'm Cookin' MC's Like a Pound of....


         No, not that one...

....there we go

You know it. You love it. Even you vegetarians out there secretly want a little rich tasty pork goodness in your mouth from time to time....deny it all you want. Jesus and I still love you....not as much as bacon, of course....but what are you gonna do? It's could never compete.  Accept it now and we'll all be able to get on with our lives.

Bacon is one of those great, super-versatile things of life, ya know?  I mean you can:
re-create works of art

eat it on it's own
wrap your other, inferior, foods in it so
that people will like them more

Make boobs more noticeable.....FINALLY!
make your significant other forget
that they could do a lot better than you...for a little while

fight Muslim extremism

wrap your other, inferior children in it so
that people will like them more

But you know what I hate? I mean, fuckin' HATE? Shitty bacon. Believe it or not, such a thing exists. It's that limp, stringy, mostly fat, shrinks-the-hell-up when you cook it crap that a lot of places try to pass off as food.  It's probably racist, too.

But it's not bacon! And you should smack anyone who says otherwise. Right in the face. With a slab of REAL bacon. Bacon you can believe in. Bacon you can fall in love with. Bacon you can have a meaningful relationship with. Bacon you can take home to meet your parents and won't hit on your mom. Bacon you can marry and raise a family with.

Bacon you make yourself.

Now when I tell people “I'm gonna write a blog about making bacon”, most people say “....well whats so hard about that? You just take it out of the package and put it in a pan.”


I'm talking about making your own bacon. CURING your own bacon. From pork flesh to crispy proof there is a God....with ZERO degrees of separation between you and flavor country. You ready? Ok let's do it.

Today's Specials:  Bacon....haven't you been paying attention?
Set to the tune of Nine Inch Nails' Piggy

I'm gonna be honest, I'd never cured my own bacon before.  The process seemed easy enough...and I'd done pancetta, but bacon was new. I'd just never gotten around to it in my culinary career.  One day I picked up Michael Ruhlman & Brian Poleyn's book Charcuterie and was instantly inspired to undertake the project.

It's a great book, full of mouth watering recipes and very detailed, step-by-step instructions.  The products covered include preserved lemons, guanciale, pancetta, duck breast prosciutto, sausages of every ilk, salamis, and duck confit.  It also has a good sourcing section telling you where to get some of the specialty ingredients.

I dig the book, so the recipe we're gonna be using today is right out of it.

You're gonna need:
1 lb/450g Kosher Salt
8 oz/225g Sugar
2 oz/50g T.C.M.*

5lbs Pork Belly

*What the hell is T.C.M., right?  It's curing salt (sometimes called pink salt, Insta Cure #1, DQ Curing Salt, and a number of other brand names.  It all works) and it can be pretty easily purchased from a butcher or anyplace that jerky/sausage making supplies are sold.  There are also many sources online.

[Another quick note:  You'll notice thats a lot of damn curing rub for just 5 lbs of meat.  This is true...and it's WAY more than you're gonna need. And actually, I ended up curing about 30lbs with the above recipe. All of those ingredients are cheap and will keep for a long time....and you're gonna want more than five pounds of bacon right?  If you set it up just so, I bet you can have a new 5 lb slab ready at the same time that you're finishing off the last one.]

isn't she beautiful?
So start with your pork belly.  Where do you get pork belly?  You just order it from your food purveyor at your restaurant job, of course. don't have a restaurant job?  Well then you'll need to go to your grocier (that's French for grocer....actually it's just a typo that I thought I could turn into a visual gag - I imagine it being pronounced 'gross-ee-ay') and talk to the meat dept.  It's a fairly common item, so there shouldn't be a problem getting it in.  They can even cut it down to the right size and dimensions.

Since I ordered it wholesale, it came in 10lb slabs which we'll need to cut into the proper portions and trim a little.

This is to maximize the surface area for the curing.  You can use the trimmings for cooking (chop it up, and use it at the beginning when a recipe calls for bacon.  It's milder, so it's not a true substitute, but I think you'll be pleased with the result).

Now take your dry cure rub it all over your pork belly.  I added a little pepper, but other than that, it's exactly the recipe from Charcuterie.  

And....that's it.  Put it in a covered container (the book even suggests a sealable plastic bag) and put it in the fridge.  It's gotta cure for at least 7 days and then we'll proceed to the next step.  There's going to be a large amount of liquid released, so make the appropriate arrangements.  What's important here is that the bacon cure in it's own juices so you want it in contact with the fluid at all times.   That means that you need to flip it once a day.  If you've chosen the ziplock bag method, the same holds true.  This process is literally turning the bacon over and re-covering.

So we'll meet back here in 7 days to see how were doing....I can't wait, Braisers.  Over and out.  In the meantime.....consider this definition of irony:  Kevin Bacon is a vegetarian.

I know!!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Hipster Chef Says: "I Liked Roasted Red Peppers Before They Were Coulis" (a recipe)

Today's Specials:  Excitement Slathered in a Sauce You're About to Learn to Make with a side of "Oh My God, This is SO Good"

Set to the tune of Red Hot Chili Peppers' Sikamikanico

Ok, gang, it's time to get down to business. Welcome to the first Braised In Captivity recipe entry. It's finally here!!

Today were gonna be making Roasted Red Pepper Coulis. It's a delicious, versatile recipe that will both surprise and keep those you cook for coming back for more.

You need:
6 Red Bell Peppers
1 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Tablespoon Chicken Base*

Spices/Herbs to Flavor (more on this later)
Salt to Taste

A Blender

*What the hell is that?  It's basically just bouillon in a paste form.  At home I use "Better Than Bouillon" brand (the organic line is great), but Stouffer's and Knorr both have similar products.  


Step 1: First thing we need to do is roast those peppers.  So, the ridiculously complicated measures you're going to have to take is; remove any little stickers and place the peppers on the actual grates of your range.  That's it.  Turn on your flame and you're on your way!

What's that?  You don't have a gas range?  No problem.  Just throw those bad boys on a foil-lined cookie sheet and broil them in the oven, turning with tongs so the skins blister.  They'll leak all the foil is pretty much there for easy cleanup.
Now what we want is a nice layer of charred pepper skin (there's a good band name in there somewhere).  The point of all this is to remove the skins and impart a nice 'roasted' flavor to the pepper flesh.

So as each side blackens, you're going to turn the (yes...with tongs).  Until eventually we get...

roasted red peppers

Now I know some of you are thinking "what if I leave them on for too long!?!?  Help me mighty Chef Rob!!!"  


You weren't?  Fuck you!  

But it's pretty hard to leave them on for too long (I hesitate to use the word 'burn' them...since that's kinda the point of all this).  Not impossible, but....difficult. 

So now you need to put them in a container and cover them.  The covering will help the peppers steam and let that charred skin loosen.  Five to ten minutes is all you need.  It's not essential that you do this, but it sure makes it a lot easier.  Which brings us to...

Step 2:  Now that we've got our peppers nice and roasted, steamed, and slightly cooled (but not too cool - cool enough to handle) we want to take a nice sharp knife and cut out the stem, and slice the pepper down the side.  Open it up.  Remove the seeds and ribbing so that:




See that little knob of seeds and white shit near the top of the pic?  That's all the waste you should have.  Now flip it over.

Now you're ready for...

Step 3:  Scrape the charred skin off of the pepper.

I like to use the back of my chef's knife for this...but you can use whatever you find to be easiest.  Sometimes the skin will stick in a couple places.  That's ok.  Just cut it away or leave it.  Your choice.  We're pureeing this so, in the end, it won't be noticeable.  

Here's what you should be left with after all is said and done:

I like to leave a little of those tiny flecks of char on the pepper.  It's easy enough to remove them through aggressive scraping or rinsing under the faucet, but I don't for a couple of reasons.  1, We're after the oils and fluids which have taken on some of that roasted flavor.  Washing them away seems like a sacrilege.  2, It let's your diners know that, yes....I DID do this myself.  It adds a little touch of humanity.  

At this point I'm reticent to mention that roasted red peppers are available in a jar....packed in oil.  But I strongly suggest making your own (and yes, you can make a big batch, store them in a jar packed in oil. They'll last a while in the fridge).  It just tastes better.  It's also possible to do this with just about any variety of pepper ('duh' note:  if you're using one of the smaller varieties, you'll have to put a grate over your burners). now we decide what genre of cuisine this will be.  Yes...once you've roasted your own peppers,  you've earned the right to use the word 'cuisine'.  Today, I'm going Indian.  So that means:
1 Tsp Cumin
1 Tbl Coriander 
2 Tbl Curry
2 Tsp Ginger Powder
1/2 Tbl Garlic
1 Tsp Onion powders
The Chicken Base and maybe some Mace if you've got it.

**Yeah, yeah, yeah....I can hear all you judgmental sous-chefs out there saying "Rob!!  Why don't you use real garlic and real ginger?" Well the reason can. And, frankly, it'll taste better if you do. BUT, I'm making this as versatile as possible, and if you add real garlic and ginger, you're gonna need to cook it a little to remove the raw taste from those ingredients.  You can use it right away if you use powdered.**

And here's what's great about this recipe....versatility.  You want Indian, stay with me.  You want Hispanic?  Cumin, Coriander, Chili, Garlic, Mexican Oregano, Paprika...maybe a dash of cinnamon ( me).  Want French?  Onion Powder, Garlic, Dill, Marjoram.  Italian?  Basil, Oregano, Rosemary, Thyme and maybe a little fennel and red pepper flake to add a hint of heat.  Irish?  Yer shit outta luck, they don't know how to cook with red peppers.

Getting back to the recipe (stop interrupting):  Put the peppers, whatever flavoring spices you're going with, and the Chicken Base in a blender.  Blend.  If it's too dry, add some cream to lubricate (don't you love that word) the process.  The goal is to get a nice, smooth texture.  Don't add too much cream as the blender may turn it into butter or cause it to curdle.  For the record, this won't affect the flavor too much, but it doesn't look pretty.   Add just enough to get the process started.  A little water will do it if you're afraid of cream.  But I figure if you add liquid, it should be flavored with something.

If you're going to cook some meat or veggies in the sauce, do it now.  Otherwise, proceed to...

Step 4:  Hit it with some Sour Cream.  Mix with a spoon or a couple of spins in the blender.  The reason you don't want to add the sour cream before if you're cooking it some more, is because the heat will cause it to curdle and (again) it's fine just looks a little too much like cottage cheese.  

There ya have it.  You should end up with a smooth unctuous (another great word....Braised In Captivity is all about vocab) sauce that tastes....well.....amazing.  It should look like this:

It's great as a dip or sauce, and if you're looking for a Halloween costume, you could do a lot worse.  

Stay tuned for the next installment, Braisers.  Ima show you how to cure your own bacon (you heard me).