Sunday, March 28, 2010

Meals of Folly, or, It's All in the Sauce, Dummy

I believe this was the best browning job I have thus far done on short ribs. I used my nose to tell me when to turn them! Skills! I've been thinking, with every short rib meal I make, that they are one of the best cuts of beef. I might just like them better than steak. There. I said it. Although, the dishes one makes with this cut are rather like chocolate mousse in that you start eating thinking that it's the best thing on earth and that your serving is way too small and that there better be more because you are going to plow through this plate like no one's business. And then you hit your halfway mark and you think, "Huh, maybe it was the right serving size after all." Finally, you are a mere four bites from Clean Plate Club membership, now realizing "Lord have mercy! I am so full and should have stopped several bites ago." This is my experience with short ribs (and chocolate desserts), anyway.
So, what gives with the title? Where is the folly in this dish? Well, Dear Reader, we all know that you roast these bad boys for a couple hours in a nice sauce. Of course. We all know that it's all in the sauce - and this sauce is a good one, albeit unique: onion, celery, beef broth, vinegar, sugar, dry mustard, and ketchup. The line item actually says "ketchup or chili sauce." Please note, it does not say "hot" chili sauce. I'm sure you see where I'm going with this one.

So I don't have very much ketchup. In fact, I have 1/3 cup ketchup and I need 1 cup. I start squirting Sriracha hot chili sauce into my measuring cup thinking Maybe I should limit this to 1/4 cup and make up the difference with tomato sauce. Hmmm. But I do not stay my hand, nooooo, I continue to merrily squirt until the 3/4 cup mark. Hmmmmm. Folly.

It's a good dish. And it's good spicy. And my way was really spicy.
Folly Part II: Chicken Stew, by Dave Lieberman.

I have already bagged on Simply Ming, now I will have my verbal way with Dave L, that simp, that sorry excuse for a celebrity chef, that, that....

Again, I knew this sauce was going to suck. I knew that you just can't keep carrots boiling away for that long and actually expect them to be good enough to eat in the end product. The only liquid called for is water. I put in a little chicken broth - this would be the only place where I trusted my instincts. But the wreckage continued: onions became unrecognizable, carrots deteriorated, potatoes fell apart, the liquid was flavorless, the green beans were over-cooked. Well, that last part was my fault because I forgot to set the timer. The whole experience was awful. I thought, when I read the recipe, it sounded flavorless. I thought, as I put the ingredients in the pot, it sounded flavorless. I was so prescient and I did nothing to stop it! Nothing!

I think this is why I wasn't upset. Normally, Josh would have returned from putting Sam to bed to see me in a ball on the kitchen floor, cursing, raging, pondering the point of it all if I just can't get dinner right. But I knew what right was. I just didn't make it happen. I was calm and collected when I suggested we order pizza.
But Josh wanted to salvage it. He busted out the food processor and a sieve and made a really ugly, really plain, soup. I plan to add bacon and caramelized onion ... and Sriracha.

The moral of the story is: Trust your instincts, humble home chefs. You know what you're doing. Don't let the voice of self-doubt (and loathing?) creep in there and mess with your dinner!

No comments:

Post a Comment