Sunday, May 10, 2009

Die Zauberflanken

I have never been much of a fan of the greeting-card industry's manufactured holidays, though I have always understood that other people feel differently and thus tried to act accordingly. But Mothers' day sucks. All of you who have living Mothers should feel free to celebrate, or not, as you choose. But for those of us who do not, it's a great big thumb in the eye and I hate it. Even though my wife, who is also a Mother, is wonderful and expertly exemplifies the most exalted attributes that the vocation requires in abundance, I'm still pissed off.

Having said that, the profound changes that spring works upon us are in full effect, and I've regained some of my desire and imagination in the kitchen. The perfection of the ingredients- despite, or even because of their limited selection at this point- has gotten me all a-flutter because the flavors are so pure and intense that cooking becomes more a question of curating or editing than just technique. It's all just variations on a theme of green right now, and it's wonderful. And gardening helps to connect me to some powerful memories.

I had much bigger ambitions for this meal, honestly, but they bumped into the reality of the day and didn't fare so well- much, say, like a rickshaw might against a garbage truck. So it became one meat-and-potatoes course with a gorgeous salad on the side instead of the three-course extravaganza I had originally imagined. I even went on the internets and found a RECIPE for DESSERT. But to no avail.

What we did have was a pounded elk flank stuffed with treviso-curly endive pesto (garlic, parmigiano, olive oil) and asparagus then wrapped in bacon, tied, and stuck with rosemary branches to hold it all together. I took some fingerling potatoes and slowly cooked them in the iron skillet with a mixture of duck and bacon fat until they were tender, then added asparagus slices for 30 seconds or so, then removed the mix to a bowl, seasoned it, and kept it warm. I heated the skillet up a little and browned the roulade pretty hard all around, then covered it and turned it a few times to finish cooking. It was a little tricky to get the meat just right and the asparagus tender, but it worked. Next time, after I pound and season the flank steak I will cook it sous-vide and then roll it up so I have a little more control over the finished textures. But for a flank, an elk flank even, it was quite tender and very tasty. While the various things were doing their various things, I took some red wine, added a little 5-spice, pimentón, BBQ sauce, and agave syrup and let it reduce a bit. When everything else was ready, I whisked in some butter, and got distracted so it broke (I should have brushed it on the plate for better visual use of the brokenness.)

We began the day with lemon-vanilla French toast and bacon with maple and mulberry syrup, for which I opened a nice sparkling Vieux Pressoir Saumur rosé. We had another glass of this while I was getting everything ready, and then moved on to a Pleiades XV, which like some of its siblings had a faint trace of fizz. It's still C's favorite wine, and the XVIIs are on their way. So there's a sliver lining, etc.

It still sucks.


Heather said...

Mother's Day is only marginally less depressing now that I'm pregnant, but the spa gift certificate and smoothies in bed that Scott dotingly provided certainly helped.

Nice rouladen, Peter.

Zoomie said...

I miss my Mom, too, but not so much on Mother's Day, which she always scoffed at as a "manufactured" holiday made up by the gift card companies. I miss her most in art museums and/or shows - those were her favorite treats. When do you miss your Mother the most?

cook eat FRET said...

reading this way past 'the day'.

the elk is lovely but the lemon vanilla ft is what i want.

Anonymous said...

I can understand where you're coming from because I have the same reaction to Father's Day.

But... that dish looks AMAZING. Really beautiful.