So that paella? Was but foreplay for this, my original idea. I’ve been basing dinner on strategically deployed leftovers for so long now, I’ve started to think backwards. See, I took a small square camembert from a recent batch and cold-smoked it back when we did the photo shoot for the DIY article. I figured that if I was going to fire up the actual cold smoker, then it would behoove me to use it to good and photogenic effect. So I popped the camembert in there to bask in the fragrant smoke of cherry chips and some grape vines I had pruned.
And then I wrapped it up and put it in the wine fridge to age and ferment, getting slowly digested by mold into the stinky, drooling mess we know and love. The smoke only added to the stank; where regular camembert is merely sexy, smoked camembert is actual hot sex. I kind of thought it would be, since the two flavors of moldy funk and smoke seemed made for each other, and smoked cheese is generally a good idea. But why is it always the hard cheeses that get the smoke (Gouda, Cheddar)? I’m all about the freedom, man.
I took the paella rice (somehow the shellfish had all gotten eaten) and formed it into balls, each containing a pungent nugget of rank and runny cheese. Each ball got the customary dredge in flour, beaten egg, and panko, and then a fortifying fry in some piping hot canola oil. While I worked my way through the plate of shaggy orbs, I washed and spun a salad, and chopped and sautéed a bunch of collard leaves that I had cut when I went out for the salad. Two greens are better than one, and having both raw and cooked garden makes any meal better.
The meal couldn’t have been simpler: fried balls on greens with a big-ass salad on the side. There could have been some sauce, true, but I’m teaching myself that evenings like this when I don’t have enough time to complete something fully are but dress rehearsals for future dinners. What matters is that my initial hunch was right: smoked camembert is varsity food, and its complex stank is highly harmonious with paella and its various flavors, especially the smoked paprika. Remixing frugal peasant standards with funky DIY experiments is where the action is for those of us who can’t do this full time.