Outside In

The rest of the carrot risotto–and the remaining quart of the silky carrot-phở soup that flavored it–became in turn the jumping-off point for another meal that celebrated the bounty of high-quality leftovers: Sicily’s arancini or, when in Rome, supplì. And the tongue pastrami (see previous post) just sealed the deal.

Beyond the obvious guilty pleasure of fried food with melted cheese inside it, there’s also a quieter joy to be had in efficiently purging the fridge of various containers and making good use of good food before it grows less appetizing. And the nature of things at hand meant that I got to play a little with the flavors, incorporating some of the inner components into a sauce for the outside.

First off, the meez:

Beginning in the background, we have a beer. (Keegan’s IPA: über-local and über-good). This is an extremely important part of any mise-en-place, and should never not be present unless there is a glass of wine in its place. Moving on, we have the bowl of leftover risotto, next to which are twin piles of pastrami and 2-year old Vermont cheddar. Then an egg, beaten with some steak stock (a ribeye bone, simmered with the usual. I have a pint jar of it left) and last a bowl of panko seasoned with salt, smoked paprika, and Espelette pepper. The metal bowl has warm water for hand-rinsing, and the radicchio slices got seared hard on both sides as an accompaniment. (You can see it as a purplish blur on the left side of the top picture. There was salad, too).

What made this somewhat more interesting than regular old rice balls was the interplay between the carrot-flavored rice with pastrami inside and the sauce I mentioned. I took a pint jar of the wonderful Blue Beech tomato purée from the pantry and added just enough of the carrot soup so that the flavor was evenly balanced between the earthy, spicy carrot note and the bright, fruity acidity of the tomatoes. Their respective sweetnesses made for some saucy goodness. To complexify it a bit more, I added a quivering dollop of the tongue jus that I saved from the sous vide bag after cooking the pastrami. It contributed a whisper of meaty smoke that foreshadowed the prize inside.

And the caramelized radicchio got me really excited; I’ll be exploring an idea it gave me in the very near future. Stay tuned.

5 comments to Outside In

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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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