Chef esteem? Duck fat.
0 comment Monday, July 28, 2014 |
This, my last post of the year, is not a political post. No, it's about my cooking -- how I wish it were fiction --and what I've learned so far.

1. Cooking is like sex. If you're mad at someone, you simply cannot cook for them.
Wednesday night was to be pork tenderloin, but my husband got beans and rice instead. When Mr. M asked what was for dinner and I said, "Frijole negros and rice pilaf." This stumped him.
2. If you need to curse, duck fat works.
Tuesday night I tried a new chicken recipe from the back of a can of Old Bay. I took a quick bite at the counter and it was fine. Delicious, actually.
Until my husband looked up from his plate and gasped, "you put two cups of water in the rice, right?" "No," I said, waving him off, lost in the reverie of my cooking triumph, "just one."
The rice, desperately required by the chicken, was a glob of hard grain.
So I got back on the horse last night with a pork tenderloin recipe. My tenderloin inspiration comes from the Publix cooking lady who fed me samples she'd cooked in brown sugar. She made it look so easy, and I was so hungry.)
As I was carefully measuring out the black pepper -- 3 tablespoons were called for in this rub -- the mammoth container dumped a vast amount into my too-late-to-start-over mix. It was like the clumps of ice in your tea that hit you in the face.
I scooped out as much pepper as I could, visually estimated that 3 tablespoons remained, added more brown sugar, and hoped.
But I sneezed four times rubbing the rub on the meat. When it came out of the oven, one bite left my lips burning. My husband was the only one who could tolerate it. Poor Mr. M had a hard-boiled egg sandwich -- and, over loud protests, some wretched canned yams, which my husband forcibly fed him.
"Some people just don't have a taste for sweet potatoes," I said, provoking an evil glare from my husband.
After the pair trudged upstairs for baths, I tried once more for redemption, glutton that I am. "My Own Perfect Roast Chicken" recipe by "Tom P" beckoned from my ipad. I've had decent luck with roasted chickens, and this one hooked me.
Tom P's recipe sounds fantastic, and based on the enthusiastic comments, utterly fool proof. The only problem is it calls for "preserved lemons," which I'd never heard of, and they take some time to make.
But then again, Tom P said the lemons were easy. And mission critical for his perfect roasted chicken. Just throw sixteen lengthwise lemon wedges into a bowl with sea salt, lemon juice and olive oil. Let ferment for seven days.
By some miracle, I had all the ingredients and forged ahead. But something was wrong: Tom P also said this concoction would go into a two-cup pyrex bowl (which I had already measured) and it looked like a lot of stuff to fit in that little bowl.
Quickly I re-read the lemon part again. Yep. I'd totally botched it. The olive oil goes in after seven days of fermentation. Kill me now. So I wiped the oil off the lemon wedges, rinsed them, dried them, and made them one more time, sans olive oil.
Here's what "preserved lemons" are supposed to look like:

Here are mine, two hours into fermentation:
Oh well. At least I've still got my neighbor fan, Mindy, even if she is thin and tan. She bakes a pre-seasoned turkey in a plastic bag with no shame, and she'll tell anyone, even her mother-in-law.
Ever since she saw me popping popcorn in a pot the caveman way, she thinks I'm some kind of kind of gourmet chef. But I think it was a bite of my ribeye that pushed her over. Because of Gordon Ramsay I can actually pull off a good pan-seared steak.

When I make "my perfect roast chicken" in eight days, with its precious preserved lemons, I'll file a complete report. If not? Well then duck fat chicken anyway.
So, cheers. Here's to better days in the kitchen next year.

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