February 16, 2008

Cheap Cravings.

My Meat is Gone.
Things have gone awry. Approximately once a month (gee figure this one out), I get cravings for steak. Not posh steak, just red on the inside and black on the outside. Prime rib is great, but I really don't care if it is a random chunk hacked off an outside round roast either. Just need beef, and well-done is not an option. The man is not usually on board (unless Prime or NY striploin). He is more of a pizza/hamburger type. The Boy though, will eat most stuff and also likes it rare (he has requested rare pork chops, an obviously strict NO NO).

I haven't had this craving lately. I have been eating rare tuna steaks on occasion and have found that, seared with a lot of pepper, they taste like a very delectable light beef. This is not a cheap option, but a pleasant occasional treat. Yesterday I bought a 2 kg chuck/blade roast; it was on sale. This is pretty much the cheapest meat there is, but the marbling adds a lot of flavor and the meat can get quite tender if treated properly. I had the heady plan of braising it in the oven for hours, stuffed full of garlic cloves and fresh herbs until it fell apart into tender mouth-watering fatty chunks topped with a freshly prepped horseradish and cracked black pepper. My plan, however, was thwarted by The Man.

In an extremely uncharacteristic turn of of events, The Man looked at my meat, and had a full-on Steak Requirement. I swear, I could see him taste the meat with a highly focused, intent look. This means cutting up my carefully selected roast and grilling the trimmed steaks on the cast iron grill pan (which I love, for another day). However, this careful carving destroys the roast shape. No more roasting plans for me. I relented. First, because I hadn't planned to roast until the next day, second, because when someone wants something that bad, it is unfair to let your personal OCD expectations stand in the way, and last, because the roasts were still on sale and I could grab another in the morning. The Man was appreciative of my willingness to compromise, and we made jokes about how I would be roasting that meat Forever in my head.

This morning I went to Safeway, intent on acquiring another roast so I could get the roasting plan in motion. When I get an idea in my head, I have to do it, or else I get weird. IT Must Be Done. Guess what? No roasts. Prime rib? Yes. Chuck, no. I even asked the butcher. They were out. Thus, I wimpered my way home with no roast in hand.

I did get a rain check, thus this story is not over. I must roast something soon, since it is now in my head. However, this unusual turn of events leaves me worried. This is precedent that I cannot necessarily predict how The Man will react when I bring home Precious Ingredients for my weird food projects. What next? Is he going to make a seafood stew out of the large salmon in the freezer? Will he decide he likes liver? Is he going to excited about pork hocks? Will he start putting sesame oil on stuff? Is he going to horn in on Things Made from Lamb (he did eat a precious braised shank...)? At least the response to cheese predictable; it gets eaten.

I like to Boil Stuff.
The events described above necessitated a substitute Saturday cooking plan (you should try this, it is a very good way of avoiding things, like cleaning the bathroom). Having watched my roast get torn apart into constituent bits of meat and gristle, I was left with a meaty mass without form. This is a good basis for stock fodder, and as you may have observed, I like to Boil Stuff. A good stock is one of the most satisfying things to make or enjoy. So, after my discouraged mission at Safeway, I looked at the beef bones so that I could fool my brain into conceiving glorious stock plans.

The bones were incredible. Beef stock bones sell for less that 3$/kg, and I picked up almost 2 kg of bones. Several were inches in width, and contained visible quantities of marrow. These were quickly roasted in the oven, and the oily gooey marrow scooped out into a bowl. It is my plan to experiment and make some marrow dumplings; a recipe I found on the internet which basically involves mixing the goo with seasoned bread crumbs and egg white, then dropping into boiling broth. The rest of the bones are simmering with garlic, onions, celery, and carrots. The stock looks good and I now have some goo to play with.

Fortunately, The Man reacted as predicted. He is suitably disgusted. Things are not so bad after all.

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