Monday, December 08, 2008

Still A Day Behind

Another two-meal post here, since on weekends I like to spend a little time making lunch. Yesterday it was minestrone, and hoo boy if it wasn't a good one. The key, as always, was the ingredients, and a little deliberate care in the making. To begin, a broth made from the chicken bones; they had a bit of tomato sauce on them, which added a nice component. I tossed in a carrot and a quarter onion and let them simmer while I did everything else.

Which included sweating onion, garlic, and guanciale, then pressure-cooking chick peas and borlotti beans in that mixture with water, cutting up some more roots, and toasting croutons in the iron pan with garlic, salt, and and pepper. Once the beans were mostly tender, I strained the broth, added the roots (carrot and parsnip) and the beans plus a scoop of acini di pepe- a tiny whole wheat pasta much like couscous. After more simmering, this was as hearty and homey a Sunday lunch as we could have hoped for.

Sirkka had left us some local lamb sausages the other night, so over the course of the day I went through possible ways to cook them. I knew they were middle Eastern in flavor, but wasn't sure exactly what was in them, so I kept it simple, toning down some of my more elaborate ideas in favor of simple flavors and techniques.

While the sausages cooked in the pan, I pressure-cooked our last cabbage with some seeds: cumin, fennel, caraway, mustard, and coriander, plus a little water and cider vinegar. Meanwhile I steamed a bunch of parsnips with celery root and then puréed them with soymilk, yogurt, and a drop of vanilla. For a little spicy kick, a mixture of Dijon mustard and garlic scape pesto. The other flavors were good, but the sausages were disappointing: too smooth, and with no particular character, they just didn't deliver. To compensate, a 1998 Gros Noré Bandol more than delivered- it almost made up for it. Really, I don't understand how it's possible to make bland sausage- especially with lamb.


Heather said...

I find lamb sausages to usually be overpowering, frankly. You keep tasting them for hours, every time you burp. It's kind of disgusting. Maybe it's the too-much garlic they usually put in those things. I dunno. /shrug

Zen Chef said...

Lamb sausage, bland? How can that be possible?

I like what you did with the cabbage and the root vegetable puree. The Gros Nore Bandol, i want!

peter said...

Blanche: Merguez is one of my favorites, but I like the strong lambiness.

M. Zen: I don't know. Seriously, I'm going down there to tell them how to do it right.