Back of the House
One evening back in Delaware, during the worst of DuPont, I got out my copy of Joy and made oyster stew. It was inedible. We had to go out for a burger. These things happen sometimes.
But not so much; after all, if you start with decent ingredients, good food is, well, good food. You can only mess it up so far. “Oyster stew” became proverbial, but it’s pretty rare.
If you cook like I do, you never know exactly how things will turn out. That’s why they play the games. On any given Saturday…
- ginger carrot soup, with cilantro and creme fraiche; roasted garlic and rosemary bread (sauvingnon blanc)
- duck confit, potato and fennel gratin (cotes du ventoux)
- slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with rosemary, anchovy, lemon zest, farro, spinach salad
- pecan pie (bourbon, coffee, Heath bars), whipped cream (port)
This time out, lots of things went wrong. I got into the weeds and had to jettison the mignardises. At the other end of the meal, the gougeres were just a bit underdone. The confit didn’t crisp as well as I would have liked. Farro is a new dish for me, a nice way to use the fresh chicken-duck stock I’d just made. It went fine with the lamb, but “serves 4” was meant for another context, and I’ve got leftovers for a small army.
The freezer was getting a bit filled with poultry bones and so I made a batch of fresh chicken/duck stock for the soup. It’s a good thing I did, because farro has an insatiable appetite for stock.
The slow-roasted lamb was a bit of a mess, but this wasn’t Clotilde’s fault. At the butcher, there were only boneless shoulder roasts, and I realized too late that for Clotilde’s dish this isn’t a detail. The bone isn't just there for a little extra flavor; it's also supplying more fat and connective tissue that the slow roasting cooks to moisten the meat and improve the texture. Without the bone, the lamb was just too dry.
But it was lots of fun anyway, and I won’t need to eat anytime soon.