Sunday, May 16, 2010

Very Simple, Very Easy

What a perfect day. Sunny, breezy, in the low 70s, and smelling of high spring. We went out for most of the day. First, a short detour to look for arrowheads in a spot a neighbor told us has a good reputation. No luck. Then, lunch in Rhinebeck at Gigi, which is a perfectly nice place for lunch. Onward then to a nearby nursery, looking for thornless blackberries. They wanted the utterly ridiculous amount of $25 each for small, scrawny plants, so we left. Dutchess county kind of sucks that way sometimes.

Then, a lovely stroll at the Poets' Walk, where we got lots of sun and caught the breeze off the river. And last, a stop in Kingston to grab some grub for dinner. In this case, local lamb stew meat and bones. Once home, I roasted the bones and put them to cook with a carrot, a charred onion, a clove, a star anise pod, some parsley, a few peppercorns, and half a cinnamon stick. I also trimmed the stew meat and tossed it in a marinade of wine and coriander, cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds that I ground up with garlic, salt and pepper and mixed in. I did some gardening while the stock simmered, then came in with a handful of mixed herbs and greens to make pesto: radicchio, arugula, dandelion, chives, rosemary, oregano, peppermint, spearmint, thyme, and chrvil. I puréed it all with garlic and lots of olive oil to make a smooth, dark green paste.

I threaded the cubes (roughly) of meat onto skewers and lit the shichirin. While it reached nuclear hotness, I cubed and sautéed a sweet potato with a whole cinnamon stick and smashed garlic clove in some of the fat that had rendered off of the lamb bones when I roasted them. I tossed some (bought, sadly) flatbreads on the grill to toast and soften, and brought everything out onto the porch so we could continue to enjoy the gorgeousness of the day.

The meat cooked very quickly on the grill. Once the interior of the stove heats up–the inside of the barrel glows as brightly as the coals do– this thing gets so hot that anything cooks in seconds flat. I always overestimate the amount of charcoal needed, so there's tons of heat to spare. When it's still spring, though, and the evenings are cool, that heat is a welcome companion at an al fresco dinner.

I had really wanted to make a tzatziki-type sauce to go with this; there's nothing quite like the tangy, garlicky coolness of a yogurt sauce to make grilled lamb among the best foods in the whole world. But the rest of my family is off dairy for now, so instead I made a quick sauce of goat butter, red wine, and a bit of the lamb stock. (Butter is mostly fat, so it doesn't seem to have the same exacerbating effect on their allergies).

That was it; we folded these up and enjoyed the hell out of them. Bitter mash, sweet... uh... potatoes, rich, charred, tender, spice-infused meat, pillowy bread, and a buttery, winey sauce. I double dog dare you to make something better in as little time. For dessert, since like last time the furnace would not be denied, we grilled apple slices and drizzled them with honey. Afterward there was still a bit of honey left in the bowl, as you can see.


Zoomie said...

Who was that TV chef who used to say that? "Very simple, very easy" in an accent like our governator? I used to love the way he said "solt und pebbah." Are you old enough to remember him? I think he was on PBS.

peter said...

I don't remember the chef, only the phrase. Didn't he also say "I vas only following hors d'oeuvres!"?

The Spiteful Chef said...

Off dairy?? Gadzooks, man. That's crazy talk.

Zoomie said...

He had the right accent for saying that, anyway! I'll have to research him and see if I can figure it out.

Zoomie said...

Found him! Chef Tell was his stage name and he was German-American, immigrated from Stuttgart. I don't think of Stuttgart as the center of fine dining, but I do remember him 'way back when.

Anonymous said...

Yeeps, hope there's dairy on your family table again soon. But I am so covetous of your little tabletop cooker. Better not let my husband see it as he's a bit crazy for overloading the barbie too; he'd probably burn the porch down. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend a weekend day, excepting the thornless raspberry sticker shock, though. For that price do they plant them for you too?

peter said...

Kristie: She has asthma, he has eczema. Dairy makes both worse.

Zoomie: I liked the crazy German painter dude, too, even though his landscapes belonged in the Bates motel.

El: I have a cheese stash in the fridge. The shichirin is perfect for small jobs like this. The key is to have plenty of food to put on it; I should have figured out some sort of grilled appetizer, too. Today I'm going to try to get some blackberries somewhere else.