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As I Lay Bleeding
Once more I have cut myself to the quick, or at least on the tip of the first finger on my left hand. Though the actual wound is measurable in millimeters, I am a hearty man and prone to emotional outbursts, and thus those of my children within earshot at the moment heard what we once described as “salty” language.
Wikipedia tells me that these days the kids do not use “salty” as shorthand for the profane language expected of a sailor in the 18th century, but rather as a description of someone who is angry and/or upset. What I find interesting is that the distinction between the generational meanings is subtle enough that for the last year when my son or daughter have used the term, I’ve understood the gist of what they were trying to say.
I cut myself slicing a skirt steak that I cooked for dinner for my family. That detail isn’t terribly important, but this is a blog about food after all, and so far food has been merely tangential. I figured I’d throw the skirt steak detail in at this point to keep you reading. I know how you people love a) skirt steak, and b) details.
I cooked lunch today for a friend who may be leaving town. This is a person with whom, aside from my wife, I have shared more meals with than anyone over the last 20 years or so. Meals that were great in no small part due to the company.
We don’t have a lot of lunches left, I think, given our age. That’s a bit sad, but as I always say, “when the chips are down, who the fuck has chips?” I don’t actually say that, but if I were the sort of man who had chips now and again, I bet I would.
So for lunch I bought a few lamb t-bones at Whole Foods, which to my surprise was about the cheapest place I could find lamb. I trimmed the chops of excess fat and rendered that fat in a pan. I added some Wondra flour, port wine, a bit of tomato paste, minced marjoram, garlic and shallot and let everything come together before adding some water and letting it reduce.
I marinated the chops in olive oil, lemon, salt and a bunch of different herbs from my garden, then broiled them in my oven on top of a cast-iron grill pan. I regret to say that a couple of the thinner chops overcooked a bit, but the thicker ones turned out well after we let them rest.
I bought some broccoli raab at Rouse’s and braised it in the water clinging to the leaves after I washed them with thinly sliced garlic, shallot and Aleppo chile flakes. I should have used more of the peppers, but I suppose that’s the sort of error you can correct post facto. It’s much harder to recover from adding to much of something like that.
Because I sometimes take too long to cook things, I decided on cous cous to accompany the meal. Cous cous – at least the variety we can find here – takes around 5 minutes to steam after you add boiling liquid to it.
Because I apparently believe people will love me if I cook complicated things for them even though I know the people for whom I cook complicated things already love me, I made a mint-lemon balm broth for the cous cous.
I made the broth by combining a pretty good couple of handfuls of fresh mint and lemon balm in a blender with salt, water and a pinch of sugar. Then I strained the result into the saucepan I used for the cous cous. I didn’t add quite enough of the broth for the amount of cous cous, but man that broth was good. Lagniappe: I used the minced hers I strained out of the broth to make a condiment by adding a bit of lemon juice, a pinch of sugar, salt and olive oil. It did help a bit with the over-dry cous cous.
I did not make dessert, unless one considers a cocktail dessert, in which case I made dessert.
It was a good lunch more because of the conversation than the food, but the food was pretty good too. It is a sort of lunch I will miss, but I am getting older and recognize that things end, but damnit I don’t know who the Ponyboy is in this situation and who is the Johnny.
That’s not the best analogy, I know, but I did want an excuse to link to that scene so there you go.
Without seeming like I’m just pandering to get comments, please let me know how (if?) you cook lamb. There was a time in the late 80s/early 90s that lamb was as inexpensive as pork, and I used to roast a leg one a week. These days, at least for me, it’s a special occasion thing. I suspect that’s the case for most of you, dear readers, so I’m interested to know what you do with lamb – what cuts, what method, do you allow for mint jelly? Comment, damn your eyes!