Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Nutcracker, or, Saucing with the Stars

Last of my dishes. Best of my dishes. Two reduction sauces, a twist on potatoes that open a big 'ol can of whup ass, rib eye steak? Oh, did I mention the Big K Grape Soda?

I decided I wanted to do one savory entree (Florentine) and one sweet entree (this one). Randy wanted to do a raspberry/cabernet reduction. Who am I to deny him?

Since we had cherries too, right off the bat I said I would do a black cherry/balsamic reduction to double up on the sauces. It was simple. Bag of frozen cherries, 2-3 cups of balsamic vinegar, 4T light brown sugar, 2T sugar. Put it in a saucepan and cook it. A little bubbling is good, stirring frequently is critical.

Interlude d'pop

Dave and Trish and I had been talking about pop earlier in the day. Mark frequently has Big K Grape soda at the house because he likes it, Bubby LOVES it, and it's a tasty treat in general.

Greco kept announcing "First use of..." and Dave would dutifully report it to the crowd. So Dave came into the kitchen and reported Greco's most recent feat, and then asked me when I was going to have a first. I reached into the cupboard (fairly mock-angry), pulled out the Big K Grape pop can, poured some into the reduction, and harrumphed "There. First use of Big K Grape soda."

It worked well because it was a grape and cherry combo and a little corn syrup never hurts in a sweet sauce.

And now, back to our show...

The steak was simply grilled again.

I saw Greco had used baby bok choy, and I felt I needed to as well. So I halved them and charred them on the grill for garnish and veg.

The potatoes, dear readers, were, in the parlance of our times, da bomb. Potato puree, simple, creamy, tasty, elegant on which to present the steaks.

Randy had peeled and boiled these earlier on so they were ready for my simple treatment of heavy cream, a stick of butter, and the blade of justice in the food processor. It was 1 pound of yellow new and 1 pound of red-skinned new.

(Yes, I should have used Yukon Gold. Yes we had them. Damn me.)

So I grabbed the pan of potatoes, the cream, the butter, and the cleaned out processor and got set.

And then I saw the bag of . Into the processor they went, and Walnut Potato Puree was born.

I grabbed Randy for a taste. It was awesome, but it was still missing "something." I looked at him, looked at the processor, and jumped.

"Salt and Chicken Broth," says Mori-Dano.

"Jackpot (or some similar phrase of agreement like "That's it"), replies the trusty sous chef.

It was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S.

I usually believe in mashing, not pureeing. I believe in skin on, not skin off. And Lord knows I believe in garlic. But this wasn't cooking for my belly, it was cooking for someone else's mouth and belly, and chunky, garlicky potatoes would NOT be a good idea here.

Judging Awesome

Worst part of the night was when I took this out to the judges and started explaining what it was. Trish doesn't do nuts. Not an allergy, just a digestive preference. Fortunately, Trish got to try the reductions, and she'd already had a good deal of grubbin', so she wasn't going to waste away (though she IS a trim little cutie these days). The other judges decided Dave would taste that part of the dish and score it.

In the end, this was the dish on which the judges awarded me a perfect score. People were going into the kitchen to stick their fingers in the potato dish.

And who was I to stop them.

Making it at Home

2 lbs peeled, boiled Yukon Gold or New potatoes
1 cup whole walnuts
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
8 T unsalted butter (yes, that's a stick, this is NOT a Cooking Light recipe)
salt to taste.

Put that stuff in a processor and pulse it.

I think the sweet works better with a puree, so I'll probably keep this smooth when I make it again.

1 comment:

I'm The Chez said...

It rocked the house right!