I had the boy all day today, so I wisely thought ahead and pulled some beef shanks out of the freezer to thaw. By late afternoon I was beat, but at least had the beginnings of dinner under way. I peeled and sliced some burdock I dug up a couple of days ago- nice big fat roots- and threw them into the rice cooker with yesterday’s chicken broth and the local 10-grain blend augmented with extra brown rice, quinoa, and polenta since there wasn’t quite enough. With the addition of some dried porcini, it cooked up into a kind of polenta-risotto hybrid that warrants more tinkering; the hands-off ease of it all is appealing for days spent pursuing Deconstruction Monkeys™ all over creation.
The meat received a most traditional post-browning braise with aromatics, wine, herbs, and tomato paste for a couple of hours, and I made mash with the rest of the dandelion and arugula. All together, the dense, nutty grain and burdock mix was an excellent substrate for the rich meat and liquid (I hadn’t had time to chill it and remove the fat) and as always the mash was a perfect bright green counterpoint to all the various browns. The one drawback to cooking the shanks for this long is that the marrow mostly disintegrates into the liquid, but lacking that pleasure one can take solace in the super-tender meat. Some consolation can also be found in a 2000 Aquila Sangiovese by Sean Thackrey, which by his own admonition is never to be confused with Brunello but nonetheless makes “la bella figura” with semi-traditional fare such as this.