Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Meat and Potatoes

I was in a lousy mood yesterday, so I was yearning for a comfort-food dinner.  I was thinking mac and cheese, but Bruce was thinking a big hunk o' meat.  Since I wanted to take my mind off my ailing cat, I decided to cook something that I never had cooked: veal chops.  I've had them at restaurants, and loved them, but assumed they would be daunting to prepare.  Not a bit!  (And, yes, it was sustainable, cruelty-free, uncrated veal, okay?)

Of course, with meat, potatoes are de rigueur.  The first step, then, was to get the baby Yukon Golds in the oven.  Wash, dry.  Place on a baking pan, then coat them with olive oil, rosemary, and sea salt.

Roast at 425 until the skins are wrinkly and the insides tender and creamy, about 30 minutes.  (Meanwhile, take the chops, which should be about an inch thick, out of the fridge and let them come to room temperature.)  Pull the potatoes from the oven, and turn it to broil.  Rub the chops with garlic, then salt, pepper, and rub with olive oil.  The broiler rack should be on the highest shelf.  Broil 4 1/2 minutes per side, then let rest for 5 minutes or so.  The inner meat should still be pink.  If you are, heaven help you, a devotee of well-done meat, cook for 5 minutes per side, but I won't answer for the consequences.

I served the meat and taters with delicate little fiddleheads on the side.  It wasn't mac and cheese; in fact, it was far less time-consuming to make.  And pretty comforting, at that.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sorrel Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Perhaps not quite the hardest, but it is frequently massacred by people who should know better. Sorrel is pronounced like the color, not Rob Petrie's writing sidekick, Buddy Sorrell.  To confuse matters further, sorrel the leaf is not related to the chestnut-horse sorrel, but to an old German word for sour, which is more than apt.

Last Saturday, when I was planning on making cream of sorrel soup, I got to the market too late; all that was left was a bunch of tender baby leaves, not nearly enough for me.  This week, at the same stand, the sorrel was all grown up, sporting huge coarse leaves and a rather insolent air.  Perhaps I would not be chiffonading this bunch, but wrestling it to the ground.

Sorrel soup  is tartly refreshing, and can be served anywhere along the heat scale from steaming to icy, generally in inverse to the weather.  The day was  relatively warm, so I decided on a lightly chilled soup.

First, peel a medium baking potato and cut it into smallish chunks.  Next, chop about 5 good-sized shallots, totaling about 1/4 cup.  While that was going on, melt a lump of butter (2 tablespoons or so)  in a large pot.  When the butter starts to bubble,  turn down the heat a bit and added the potatoes and shallots. 

 While they're heating,  chop up  five large bunches of sorrel, discarding any thick stems or brownish leaves.  Add to the pot, stirring as they soften.  Bite into a leaf: You'll get a real citrus punch!  Once the leaves are wilted, pour in about five cups of chicken or vegetable stock, bring to a simmer over medium to medium-low heat, and cook until the vegetables are quite soft, from 25 to 40 minutes, depending on your, stove, your pot, and how you chopped the vegetables.  Soup is very forgiving.

Remove from the heat and let cool a bit, so that  you don't burn yourself during the next step, which is pureeing the soup using an immersion blender or food processor.  Leave it a bit chunky , if you'd like, which is better for hot soup or puree it more thoroughly for cold.  Return to the heat, add a cup of heavy cream, bring it to almost, but definitely not, a boil, then turn off.  If serving hot, season and serve.  If serving cold, season more vigorously (cold turns down the temperature on spices), and chill. Don't shove it in the fridge right away, though, as doing so can quickly bring your fridge's temperature down to an unsafe level.

I like to garnish this soup with very thinly sliced young radishes, and serve with popovers.

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I'm a ninth-generation Brooklyn native living in Manhattan.