Pam of Daily Gluttony recently wrote an honest-to-goodness entry about the importance of family, friends and, of course, food. These three are closely intertwined within our daily lives and with every passing moment involving the three, they should be cherished and never taken for granted. Mealcentric, sadly, has also lost a friend who he had shared many moments with while dining. In respect to the fore-mentioned, even the simplest of foods can bring about a smile or reassurance that you actually matter to someone. I couldn’t agree more. It could be slicing up those juicy, Korean pears for your parents. Going on a carne asada burrito run for your friend who says he’s hungry, but has just completely passed out in the back of the car. Wait, that was me in the back of the car. Making chicken noodle soup or porridge for someone feeling under the weather. For me, a bowl of porridge with green onions, fried egg and a little Maggi Sauce brought a smile to my face when I was sick. Only because Mom made it. It’s little moments like these that matter the most.
For me, cooking is one of the best ways to show appreciation for one’s friendship and love. You devote your own time in making sure that they get something yummy in their tummy because it makes them happy. You’re also keeping them one step further away from being on a Sally Struthers infomercial, or being pictured on one of those donation boxes at Ralph’s. This Christmas, I’ve decided to invite friends over for a culinary present. One, because I love to wreak havoc in the kitchen. Two, I am too broke to buy gifts for all the good children of the world. (Thank you, advertising industry.) And three, I want to make sure that my friends gluttonize and make unfulfillable resolutions for the New Year - like working out at the gym. I love to hear that kind of bullshit.
My first guest was MLT, whom I met back in college in ICS classes, which stands for Information & Computer Science. Once upon a time, I believed that I would be writing programs. *Scoff. I bailed out of that major after one semester of pure hell. But, she was fortunately there to provide “aide” for me before I left. Most people know it as cheating, but who cares. We also attended a wedding together this year and like a total jerk, I left my date alone because I was too busy getting inebriated and dancing with other girls. Only a friend would forgive you for such behavior. And I thank her for that.
Me: “Hey, what do you wanna eat?”
MLT: “I like veal.”
Me: “Well I can attempt to make the Osso Buco dish I had at C&O’s?”
MLT: “Sounds good. What should I bring?”
Me: “Wine. Lots of it. After we eat and drink, we’ll go to a bar and I’ll leave you by yourself while I go talk to other girls.”
I studied a few Osso Buco recipes off Epicurious and Food Network. Here’s a tip for those that love to cook. Look up at least 5 different recipes when you plan on making something. Just because Rachael Ray can teach you how to make it in less than thirty minutes doesn’t mean it’ll taste the same. She does use shortcuts because of the time allotment on her show, and a lot of times, compromises the true taste of a particular dish. Emeril loves to desecrate a dish by adding way too much alcohol and garlic just to hear his audience bark like seals at Sea World. It’s important to find the common ingredients that make the dish what it is. Once you’ve memorized the essential ingredients, you can simply add your own twist to it. Only then, can you call it ‘your own’ recipe.
This dish was chosen also because it was an excuse for me to buy a Le Creuset pot - one of the nicest kitchen tools ever. You’ve all seen it. It’s that big, blue or flame red ceramic Dutch oven that all the Food Network hosts use to sauté their mire poix (onions, carrots, celery – what I refer to as OCC) and braise heavenly food. I got a tip about the Le Creuset from Immaeatchu and proceeded to search the internet for the best price. Turns out that I got a good deal at Tuesday Morning, which sells brand name stuff for 50-80% off. I got my brand new, 7.25 qt pot for $144.99 – retailed at $299.99.
I then went to shop for the veal shanks, the main ingredient for the Osso Buco dish. Whole Foods and Bristol Farms wanted to charge me $13/lb and a free raping at the same time. Fuck that. When you need four veal shanks, are YOU going to pay $52 for that? I was driving down Santa Monica Blvd. after an interview last week and happened to see a Kosher meat deli. What is the difference between a Kosher meat deli and say, Ralph’s? The Jewish method of slaughtering an animal requires only one stroke of the blade to the throat of the animal, and is then bled dry. After it is bled completely, it can then be sold to consumers. I was like, "Give me 4 shanks please." I got my four veal shanks for $17 total. Was it good quality? Hmm…. *hint. I AM STILL ALIVE.
Here we go:
(1) Veal shanks are tender, obviously because they are baby cows. Veal is kept within tight, dark quarters and fed milk to tenderize the meat. Unlike Kobe style beef, the young cows are not massaged and fed beer and corn. Right about now, I’m getting e-mails from PETA about this posting, so I better hurry and complete this.
(2) Tie the shanks with butcher twine to bind the tender meat with the bone. One simple knot is fine, just make sure it’s tight. Dredge all sides of the veal shanks with flour that’s been seasoned with S&P. Brown the shanks and remove from the Dutch oven.
(3) Prepare mire poix. Mire poix is the quintessential ingredient for any type of stock, whether it be chicken, beef, veal or lamb. It consists of 2 parts onion to 1 part carrots and 1 part celery. Sauté these in a Dutch oven with EVOO and butter. After about 10-12 minutes, they will become translucent and somewhat brown. Add the shanks back in and add Chianti wine to about the halfway line on the shanks. Submerse the shanks with however much beef broth is needed. Toss in your bouquet garni (4 bay leaves, 4 thyme sprigs, 1/2 a tablespoon of black peppercorns), 2 garlic gloves and a little bit of olive oil. Cover and bring to boil.
(4) Once it’s boiling, toss the Dutch oven into the oven at 375-400. remember to baste the tops of the veal shanks every 20-30 minutes so that they don’t get scalded. It should be done in about 1.5 – 2 hours.
(5) Serve the shanks over linguini. Strain the braised mixture to remove the bouquet garni and mire poix. Season the sauce with S&P and butter, also known as monte au beurre, and pour sauce over shanks and linguini. Say mmmmm and enjoy.
(6) DO NOT FORGET TO SUCK THE BONE MARROW OUT OF THE VEAL SHANKS. MISSING THIS PART IS LIKE MISSING THE ENDING OF A MOVIE. FOR THOSE THAT ARE SCARED, IT TASTES EXACTLY LIKE FAT AND IT’S THE MOST FLAVORED THING ON EARTH YOU’LL EVER TRY. STOP WHINING, IT’S NOT FEAR FACTOR OK?
This dish was the best thing I've ever made so far. I've never said "mmmmm" so many times besides, well, you know what. I hope you do try Osso Buco out sometime and cook for a friend and a loved one sometime soon. It'll mean a lot. As always, thank you for reading.
Monday, December 19, 2005
Posted by e d b m at 11:28 PM