Miso en Place

My meals are often made out of sequence. Well, partially made, anyway.

On the days I work the closing shift, if I want to boost my odds of eating a better dinner than carry-out slices or a bowl of cereal or a scrambled egg or two (and believe me, that happens often enough), I have to think about dinner before I think about lunch—or sometimes even breakfast.

By the time I get back over the bridge, walk the dog, feed him and the cats, and get settled into the kitchen, it’s usually well past 9:00 PM.

So, yes, I regularly time-shift my meal prep, chopping and portioning ingredients, mixing marinades, double-checking the fridge and pantry to make sure what I think I have on hand is really what I do have on hand. All while I’m having my morning coffee. And all so I’m ready to put fire (or microwave) to food once I get home.

Salad greens spun . . .
. . . and bagged for later.

Behold, the miracle of mise en place.

Did you see that? In the link? The entry immediately following mise en place is . . . miso. Another miracle. 

Seriously, if you don’t have a tub of miso tucked into your fridge door, you should. It keeps forever, and—with just a spoonful – it creates the ultimate shortcut to umamiland for the time-challenged cook.

tub of goo
Fermented soybean paste. Superfast savory with superlong shelf-life.

With parsnips and carrots still in heavy rotation (just how big are LFFC‘s root cellars?), I’ve been roasting roots a lot lately. Honey-thyme, maple syrup, and just plain olive oil are my defaults, but miso’s a welcome pace changer. Give it a shot.

Miso-maple roots
casual roots
Going overboard with the underground.

serves two

  • 1 lb root vegetables
  • 1 tbsp (or more, to taste) of miso paste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola)

Wash and peel (if necessary) the roots. I used carrots and parsnips in roughly equal proportions this time; turnips and rutabagas are great here, too. Chop them into same-sized pieces, and, if you’re prepping for later, pack them up for refrigerator storage.

Swim the cut carrots in water so they don’t dry out. Add a squirt of lemon juice to the cut parsnips so they don’t brown.

Preheat your oven to 425°.

In a small bowl, whisk together (or shake in a jar) the miso, syrup, vinegar, and oil. If you go the shake route, know that you really need to shake to get all the miso paste to dissolve and incorporate into the other liquids.

to shake
I actually prepped the glaze early, too, and stuck it in the fridge with the veggies.

Toss the glaze and the veggies together, coating well. Arrange them in a single layer on a Silpat- or parchment- or foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about half an hour, until they’re cooked through and beginning to caramelize.

The presence of the syrup increases your odds for a burned, sticky mess, so give the pan a shake a couple times during cooking.

Serve hot. I usually enjoy most roasted vegetables at room temperature, as well, but these for some reason taste best to me straight out of the oven. I’m therefore more apt to make soup out of any leftovers than I am to eat them as a side dish later on.

plated and poured
Seared NY strip topped by sautéed mushrooms, over fresh arugula, and aside miso-roasted roots.
What to drink?

2010 Château Haut-Rocher Saint-Emilion Grand Cru

2010 was the second of two consecutive “perfect” vintages in Bordeaux. As much about finesse as about power, this Grand Cru from Château Haut-Rocher does not disappoint. Velvety cassis, blackberries, a little vanilla, and, yes, a hint of truffly umami—beautifully accessible now (with steak, lamb, mushrooms, earthy roots), and will cellar for another 15 years or so.

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