Yes We Can! As Long As Joe Lieberman Says It’s OK!

So dinner yesterday was not soup, actually. It was steak. The roads improved a bit, so the family set off to buy a Christmas tree. And returned with strip steaks. (And a tree, sure, but let’s concentrate on the important stuff). There were also maitake and brown birch mushrooms. Instead of just making sweet potato fries, I busted out the saladacco and spun a tuber into lovely thin strips which I then double-fried into appealing tangles of sweet, crunchy orange joy. To the steaks I gave what is by now standard procedure when there’s no time for sous vide: brown them in butter and then grate homemade lardo over them while they rest. Then I gave the mushrooms a quick sautée in the steak skillet and deglazed with a little wine. That little grey mound next to meathenge is a mixture of grated daikon and black radish mixed with salt, pepper, truffle oil, and kimchi brine.

I should have taken the picture a minute later, after I added homemade red onion-habañero pickles and a fat dab of mustard to the plate. Lest anybody reach for their pearls at the dearth of greenery- that little thyme sprig only highlights it, really- there was a big bowl of lovely winter mesclun also in attendance. These fries need a tetch of tweaking to attain perfection, but they’re close. And I should have made a post-mushroom pan sauce since they bogarted most of the wine I poured in. To make up for it, I poured some wine into myself- a 2003 Ada Nada Barbaresco “Valeirano”- that ably tarted up this barely glorified pub fare.

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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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