All Together Now

One one level, this was a pretty straightforward meal: local ribeyes, a gratin, polenta, and mushrooms. On another level, though, it was, well, on a whole other level. The polenta was leftover from a few nights before, and thoroughly congealed–as is the wont of polenta. I brought it back to a pleasing pourability by whisking in some homemade beef stock, local butter, and lots of pepper. The maitake mushrooms got a long, slow sear until they were richly browned, and then I deglazed the pan with the umami-boosting blend of soy sauce, sake, and beef stock, letting them simmer a bit in the liquid to reduce it. The gratin is the first draft of an idea I had last week while out for a walk with the family (there’s nothing like a good walk for getting one’s think on). It was thinly sliced turnip alternated with mandolined ribbons of fennel and leek, and baked in buttermilk with good local cheese on top. I broiled it for a few minutes at the end uncovered to get a good brown on the cheese and evaporate a bit of the liquid.

The steaks–seasoned with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence–got the now-standard sear in butter and finish with grated lardo. Whether or not I have the time or inclination to sous-vide a steak, this treatment is hard to beat. When the new stove arrives, I’m anticipating a whole new world of searing; losing this easy-bake™ piece of shit cooktop will be among the highlights of my life. In the meantime, we make do. The little extra care with each component really made this into a satisfying plate of food. To drink, a 2007 Domaine des Vallettes Borgueil. Not expensive, and a delightful Cab Franc after about an hour in the decanter.

Posting is going to be erratic for the next few weeks as I wrestle with the kitchen, but I’ll get to it when I can. (I’ll take lots of pictures of the takeout food I eat while the family is in Florida and I have no functioning appliances.)

8 comments to All Together Now

  • Zoomie

    I know it's exciting to dream of a re-done kitchen but you have my sympathy about the inevitable intervening chaos, and for the loss of your family to warmer climes.

  • Julia

    God, this looks amazing. Any word on that class? Or is that on the back burner? (So to speak.)

  • peter

    Zoomie: They're not gone yet; I'm getting a few pieces of the job crossed off while they're still here.

    Julia: I'm going to begin classes when this work is done. Stay tuned for an email towards the end of the month.

  • We Are Never Full

    that fucking grated lardo trick again! why do i never remember to do that!!? such an awesome thing… thank you for thinking it up.

    this post is making this hung over chick really, really hungry.

    i'm w/ julia – you just let us know when/where the class is.

  • Heather

    YouTou had too much to think last night.

    Yeah! Why not have two starches? That gratin is just like the one I made when you first started commenting on my blog, a coupla years ago. Memories! Nice touch with the buttermilk, though. Veruh nice.

  • Heather

    Stupid iPhone typos.

  • lisa

    Buttermilk in a root veg gratin. Thank you. I never would have thought of that, but now, I'll use it!

  • peter

    Amy: Look for an email soon.

    Blanche: Shouldn't you be dabbing puréed carrots on your wrist or something?

    Lisa: Happy to help- let me know how it turns out.

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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