Sometimes everything is in place for a wonderful meal to happen, and yet it does not happen. I defrosted some local, grass-fed ribeyes and assembled the supporting cast. Leftover pressure-cooked beef stew with sweet potatoes from last week (the meat had just about all been eaten, so it was mostly a silky, beefy orange goop) was already halfway to being a nice purée, so I finished the job, adding a bit of pork stock to thin it. I had visions of a gorgeous spring vegetable ragout, so I cut fennel onion, leek, daikon, and potato into large dice and sautéed it all for a while, adding wine to steam it soft at the end. I took some green mash from the fridge (made with our own pan di zucchero and radicchio) and added brown mustard to it to make it even meat-friendlier. And I wilted pea shoots in the steak pan after putting a good hard sear on both sides and removing them to rest.
But it wasn’t very good. The meat was, by itself, but all the other flavors were just sort of drab and dissonant and out of focus. It was a pretty joyless plate of food. And I can’t really figure out why; the ragout was mushy, true, without the crispness that the season would seem to insist upon, but more than that it just didn’t taste like much. The purée was just sort of wrong, and the mash didn’t work at all with anything besides the meat. Some days the mojo has left the building, I guess.
On the plus side, though, the bones from these steaks and those from the chicken escabeche made a fabulous stock, with which I made a minestrone using this ragout, the vegetables from last week’s braised pork belly, pesto, a bunch of fresh vegetables, and Israeli couscous, and it was just wonderful. I’m having more of it for lunch today, along with some of yesterday’s lamb leg before I put the bone in the big stockpot to make a ton of lamb phở which will end up stacked neatly in the new chest freezer.