Monday, November 29, 2010

Eat Your Heart Out!

Alright, here's a perfect example of my food assholery. This weekend was Thanksgiving. We headed up north to spend time with the family (in-laws to be precise). During the course of the trip we consumed a large amount of food followed by a slightly larger amount of alcohol. We repeated this process daily. My brother-in-law hunts the 500 acres that Grandma and Grandpa's house sits on, so I also had the pleasure of butchering a couple deer (more on that later). It's safe to say that fun was had by all.

Since I did the majority of the cooking, it was my job to make the most of the ingredients on hand. The last evening I recreated a John Besh recipe that I found in an issue of Field and Stream laying around the house. Here are a few pics of my version:

The recipe is a rock solid venison stew. I added a few tablespoons of butter and a splash of red wine at the end. Other than that, modifications are not required. The editors do say that the turnip/potato mash is, "one of the bet things we've tried all year." I'm not sure I can get on board with that, they must not be eating very much. Trying to sell readers on the turnip mash in this recipe is a little like trying to sell someone a BMW because the cup holders are elegant and can still hold a 32oz beverage. I find the lack of cream in them an issue, plus, cooking the potatoes and the turnips at the same time produces a definite gap in doneness between the two roots. I digress.

As a precourser (I call it a precourse, because appetizer doesn't do it justice), my sister-in-law made these killer biscuits; heavenly little herbed pillows of buttermilky goodness. She topped them with a little chedder and served them warm from the oven before dinner.
I looked at these lovely little things that were beginning to get "oohs" and "ahhs" from the inebriated crowd growing around the island, and decided that they needed a little improving. Since we were out of beef stock for the deer recipe, earlier in the day threw together some fresh stock made from a beef heart that I had defrosted the day before. The stock was intense and could have been served as a consume. After simmering for an hour or more, I allowed the pot to cool slightly and then removed the heart to a cutting board. I sliced it thin and across the grain, and then returned the slices to the stock pot with the broth. I took a quarter cup of horseradish, half a cup of yogurt, a pinch of salt, and a turn or two of cracked pepper and mixed it together. I sliced the drop biscuits open and smeared a generous amount on the top. I ran to the fridge and grabbed a jar of Major Grey's Mango Chutney. I smeared about a teaspoon of the chutney on the bottom of what essentially was now a decadent roll, and then I laid a few slices of the heart in between with a pinch of kosher salt.
Now here's a word for squeamish readers when it comes to offal: deal with it or become a vegetarian. If you are of the meat eating persuasion, there's something morally wrong with you if you aren't open to a little (or a lot) of organ meat. How can someone justify killing a whole animal for a couple of burgers, a steak, and a sausage? It's ludicrous and selfish. I'll say one more thing in the topic here and that is this; Fergus Henderson is my hero. Heart tastes like filet when seared and roasted slightly, and like brisket (that hasn't had the shit cooked out) of it when simmered properly.

The resulting sandwich was nearly a main course. Several more cocktails wear consumed while noshing, and dinner had to be delayed by about 45 minutes. Here's what makes me an asshole, I nearly sabotaged a great dinner to make sandwiches that hid the brilliance of a perfect biscuit. What's more, this kind of thing happens nearly every time the in-laws get together. Whether it's my job to cook or not, I end up in the kitchen stealing the spotlight. I can't help myself, and it's starting to wear on my loved ones. Most of the people in my family don't even bother cooking anymore. They just head to Costco and return with tubs of food for mass consumption. When cooking is attempted it's always preambled by some long drawn out apology for the state of the meal. I have become judge, jury, and executioner for nearly every family meal. So far I have not figured out a way to climb down from that tree. I'm hoping this blog will help alleviate a bit of this apprehension. That's right, we're talking about blog as therapy...well, and recipes, and food news, and there will probably be a restaurant review on occasion too.

Eat well or not at all.

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