Hit Return

We made it back from Chicago in much less time than it took us to get there; all told we could nearly have driven the 800 miles in the 11-ish hours we spent on Thursday getting from here to there. Winter holiday travel can be such a treat. I’ll put up a post about Xmas dinner, and I have a couple others which predate the trip, but for now we’ll just have a look at what I made (after a quick grocery stop) this evening.

There’s nothing not to love about having packages of thinly-sliced domestic Wagyu beef in the freezer, and this meal just further underscored that fact. All it took was some sweet potato and kale from the store to begin the long journey back from sugar-heavy holiday excesses in fine style. I steamed rounds of the spuds, and when soft, dressed them with a mixture of reduced carrot-orange juice (also from the store) and gorgeous near-locally made white miso which I strained to keep the lumps out of the final product. I made oshitashi with the kale, and the stems littering the cutting board got me thinking; I browned them in a little smoked duck fat, then deglazed and steamed them with sake until just al dente. I rolled little bundles of these up in the beef, pinned them with little skewers, and quickly sautéed them. In the same pan I whipped up a little sauce of the juices, ponzu, mirin, spicy pickled onion juice, and an egg yolk whisked in to give it some body, and I sprinkled a little togarashi over the finished plates. They worked very well, and offered a good way to showcase the considerable character of one of the humblest of kitchen scraps.

I dressed the kale with soy sauce, yuzu juice, and ume vinegar. It really is a delightful way to serve any dark greens.

There were a few beers left in the fridge by the people who stayed here while we were gone, so I drank a couple. There’s a not-inconsiderable pleasure to cold beer on a cold night, provided the food is warm enough to make it all work out all right. Given that it’s in the single digits out there right now, it looks like this will be a pleasure I can afford myself a great deal in the coming months.

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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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