Short Stack

We came back from Boston pretty tired and glad to be home. I planted the potatoes that had arrived on Friday and thinned a salad of galia endive. There was some ground lamb in the fridge, and some big sweet potatoes that needed eating, so I stood in the kitchen for a while staring at everything like a dummy and eventually figured out what I wanted to make. Sometimes it’s hard, but eventually the wheels do turn.

First I seasoned the lamb with lots of garlic, cumin, herbs, 5-spice, sudachi zest, and a splash of wine. The potatoes par-baked in the oven while I accidentally invented one of the best things ever- nettle purée mixed with Greek yogurt and a little truffle oil. The nettle and the yogurt flavors overlap in the most amazing way, complementing each other and amplifying the overall effect; it’s perfectly balanced between creamy and green, and the truffle oil (and a little salt) make it sublime.

I pulled the not-quite-soft spuds from out the oven and sliced them, then browned them gently in some of the fat rendered off the little lamb burgers I formed with the ring from a mason jar lid. They all made nice little stacks, and got topped with sautéed Swiss chard and lardo that Christine had made for Milo since he got hungry before we did. In a perfect world, I would have done two things differently: made a nice red winey fruit reduction to dribble like maple syrup on the stacks, and prepared the chard stems separately from the leaves- say by giving them a quick pickle or vacuum-sealing them with salt for a bit- to scatter around for color and textural contrast.

But the nature of home cooking is working within the constraints of life, including long drives, fatigue, residual jitters from an awful cup of Whole Foods coffee, a hungry child, and a hundred other things. I plan on revisiting this dish later with a few refinements. At the end of the day, though, it’s more fun to invent and improvise; sometimes things don’t quite work, but sometimes there’s a thick green Perfection Sauce to enjoy. It’s also fun, and satisfying, and makes for a more interesting blog, but for me the main reason I like to cook this way is the knowledge that when I make something like this, I can be pretty sure that the lavishly beautiful woman across the table is totally going to give it up later on.

3 comments to Short Stack

  • cook eat FRET

    enough said
    thank you and goodnight

  • Heather

    I really can’t wrap my mind around the nettle-yogurt-truffle sauce. I will take your word for it, and give it a go in my own kitchen some time.

    It’s such a nice day, I might head over to the creek and pick some nettles!

  • peter

    Claudia: Drive safely.

    Heather: You really should try it.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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