I Wanna Be Elated

The last couple of days have marked a change; the sun is higher and warmer, and things melt quickly when it hits them. There’s still a ton of snow all over the place, but even a thick coat gets greatly diminished by a few hours of sunlight; a half-assed morning shoveling makes for immaculately snowless paths by afternoon. Thoughts turn to seeds, and compost, and mulch. And dinner. A smidgen of foresight led to the welcome presence of some ground turkey defrosting in a bowl of water come dinner time tonight. That foresight did not alas extend to the other several items on the shopping list which I somehow managed to lose between the house and the store, but such is life.

I made a simple pasta dough with the local 00 flour and two eggs and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour, then rolled it out into sheets and bedolloped it with the turkey, to which I had added minced garlic, herbs, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. I wetted, folded, and sealed them up into ravioli and dropped them in batches into the pot. While they cooked, I made the sauce. This sauce was the happily accidental result of having two superb by-products on hand: shrimp butter and duck confit jelly.

The butter was from Gerard; he gave it to me when we had lunch recently. It was made from shrimp shells cooked in butter with a little Madeira. It’s the deep orange of Colby cheese and tastes like shrimpy, buttery bliss. The duck jelly is the liquid that I separated from the fat when I decanted the last batch of duck confit. It’s pure culinary gold, and a little goes a long way. I whisked bits of butter into the hot jus to thicken it like a beurre blanc, then spooned it over the steaming ravioli. Parsley and Espelette pepper to finish.

Ground turkey can be very bland; it needs fat and other things to give it a boost. When I use it for burgers and such I always add some duck fat or similar to give it flavor and keep it moist. In this case, the sauce was rich enough to add all the lubrication it needed, and the seasonings in the meat were quite good. This plate of food is precisely why I hate going out for Italian food; why would I want to pay $18 for something not this good when I can make it at home in under an hour for $4 a head?

And speaking of cheapness, I built a light box for $2 and bought a cheap flash. Lo and behold my old camera has a new lease on life. Now the quality of the photos here won’t fluctuate in exact sympathy with the seasons.

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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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