Sunday, March 20, 2011

Friday, fried egg

The other day I was reading this article in The New York Times about how there is a new trend in restaurants where chefs are forbidding you from customizing your food or making substitutions in any way. I'm not sure how this is puritanical, as the title of the article suggests, but maybe there's something in there that's analogous to the way the Puritans presented their religion. Of course, the Puritans didn't do so well in Europe, did they? Anyway, if you're keeping track, the trendiest meal you could get right now according to the New York Times is heirloom vegetables on artisan toast, wine on tap, and quinoa-crust pie, with no substitutions allowed.

But I digress. Accompanying the article is a picture of some restaurant in New York where you can only order steak with fries and a salad and the only choice you can make is how you want your steak cooked, and you're not allowed to say "medium rare" because that is how you probably want it, and so having that as an option wouldn't be hostile to the customer. The restaurant sounded really stupid but it made steak frites sound really good, so I decided to stop by my local butcher on my way home on Friday and grab some hanger steak.

Oh man. First of all, I'm not going to spring for fancy strip steak anymore because I think I get the same amount of pleasure from a nice, fatty hanger steak, seared, roasted until it's rosy, sliced thin, and dripping sweet bloody juice all over a pile of crispy fries. The fries were Kenji's modestly named "perfect french fries", which are blanched in acidified water and then fried twice. It sounds like a lot but with a little work setting up an assembly line it's not quite as hard as you'd think, and you can easily make them from start to finish in an hour or two.

To gild the lily--or rather, enrobe it in golden yolk--I topped everything with a sunny-side up egg. So the eating process became sort of like: cut off some steak, drag some fries through the juices, add the steak, swipe everything through the egg yolk. Oh, perfect. There's a salad there too, mostly for color.

Because Jeff was coming over, and everybody knows Jeffrey loves scallops, I decided to make a first course of a huge caramelized scallop set on a bed of chickpea porridge and charred brussels sprout leaves. It was pretty good, but the sundried tomato sauce I made was a little too sweet. Next time I think I'd go for an earthier sauce made from some reduced stock or something. This has inspired me to make veal stock and freeze it in an ice cube tray, so that I can have little stock cubes ready to make rich meaty sauce at a moment's notice.

I have become a crazy person.

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