Hells Yeah

We had some friends over for dinner who live close by but for some reason we don’t manage to see often enough- even though the kids all get along so well and we always have a great time together. I had an idea recently, spurred by the bacon, so I wrapped scallops in bacon, glued with activa, and vacuum-sealed them into tiny muffin tins to help them keep their shape. After about 8 hours I opened the bag, popped them out, and dropped them into a shrieking hot pan for about 30 seconds on a side, then cut the heat and added a glug of flat old champagne from the fridge to deglaze, and covered them. Meanwhile, more champagne reduced with kimchi juice and then finished with a pat of butter became the sauce for these luscious morsels, and I garnished them with rosemary and chioggia beet slices. Not the worst appetizer ever made.

And while all this was going on, two chickens smoked merrily on our own apple wood, and potatoes boiled for salad. Now I know that there are loyalties and traditions when it comes to potato salad. I also know that they’re reduced to mere nonsense in the glare of genius that once again my Grandmother’s version brings to the subject. Dress cut, still-hot potatoes with good vinegar(s), olive oil, pickles, scallions, garlic, salt, pepper, and copious herbs from the garden and you will bask in the reverent gratitude your guests/hosts/random sycophants radiate towards you as they wordlessly wolf it down. As far as the chickens are concerned, green mash is the best companion a cooked animal ever shared a plate with, and a salad should go without saying. Notice the skin of the chicken- like Catwoman’s rubber suit, and twice as tasty.

We drank, in order, a “Triple Zéro” sparkler followed by a Clos de Brettonière- both by Jacky Blot (see last night’s post; I’m loving the Loire right now for summer quaffers as well as world-class ageable reds) and moved on to a 2005 Spinetta nebbiolo and a 1999 Lisini Brunello- both decanted, they ramped up the Earth and funk to a pretty sublime level in a perfect way as I hoped they would, and handled the food admirably. We finished with a shot each of our friend’s illegal applejack (eau de W. vie, as he calls it, since it’s made from WV apples) that gives Calvados a run for its Euros.

5 comments to Hells Yeah

  • Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

    What is acteva? And did the bacon crisp sufficently in such a short time? This dish — really the simpler scallop-and-bacon — is required by law to be served at every Long Island wedding. it’s in statute. You could look it up.

    I like the color contrast between the scallops and the chiogga beets. All you need to get it good and lurid would be some sort of green sauce…

  • peter

    Activa is transglutaminase, an enzyme that permanently binds proteins to each other.

    The bacon crisped very well at the edges, since the pan was so hot. The version I envisioned was much fancier, but it will have to wait until next time- I’m shooting for the Hamptons here, not just Long Island.

  • cook eat FRET

    ok – so like you’re the ONLY person i know that actually has activa in their home.

    wait, i don’t know you….

    and merrily smoking chickens? i’m just glad if mine happily roast. merrily smoking sounds like way more fun.

  • Zoomie

    The whole meal looks really, really, really good. You have redefined “rubber chicken” with the catwoman suit reference.

  • peter

    Clauia: 80 bucks can get you too a kilo of suspicious-looking white powder.

    Zoomie: I’d run for office if it were so.

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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