I feel like I should start this post with a blanket defense of my perceived inability to eat a whole ham in a two week period. It was commented on my previous post that this may be a failure of my porky aptitude. It’s not that I CAN’T, believe me. It’s that I don’t ONLY have a ham in my freezer. I also have duck breasts and sausages and edamame and pork roasts and whole chickens. So if I have to pick the easiest transportable item, I’m going to say a 20 lb ham that has been frozen into a solid block. And then I’m going to spend two weeks trying to plow through the rest of that crap. I am a food hoarder. TLC should do a show on me. I already have to donate a pornographic amount of other food to the local shelter because it can’t come with us.
And some of it is so weird that I’ll feel guilty donating it. Although, if I were ever out of work and had to go to the food bank, and I came across squid ink pasta, lentils, a 10 lb bar of Guittard chocolate, panang curry paste, tahini, piquillo peppers, etc… Well, I’d be thrilled. There have to be homeless foodies, right?
Oh, and I’m assuming the homeless shelter doesn’t want an entire leg of lamb, so who gets that?? It’s not like I bothered making friends out here or anything. Maybe I’ll post it on Facebook.
And I can’t eat that much meat without having a few vegetarian meals. I’m not an Atkins-approved girl, and I would go into gastric shock if I ate nothing but animal protein for two weeks.
Fortunately, vegetarian meals lend themselves beautifully to cleaning out the pantry and fridge. I get asked for vegetarian recipes all the time, and the truth is there are far more of them out there than there are meat recipes, so it should be relatively simple to locate them. Or just come up with one on your own.
First of all, pick a protein. Will it be Eggs? Cheese? Yogurt? Beans? Lentils? Tofu? Historically, most protein in the world’s diet isn’t even from animal flesh. There are buttloads of options, so hop on that bad boy and give it a whirl. Then pick a carb. Pasta? Rice? Bread? Bulgur wheat? Couscous? Again, this category is endless. Then pick some veggies. Onions and garlic are a gimme for pretty much every dish. Everything else should just be whatever looks in season and fresh at the farmer’s market (or grocery store, or garden, or whatever).
Now go smoke a bowl or something, because all you really need is a touch…an IOTA…of creativity and hunger, and you’re going to come up with something good. I am persistently frustrated by the idea that a meal without meat is some kind of elusive goal. Pastas, pizzas, chowders, soups, salads, fritters…
Last night, I had some gorgeous portobello mushrooms in the fridge that had been hanging out since we went to the farmer’s market on Saturday. Normally, portobello mushrooms at the grocery store look like fish fighting through the BP spill…just barely. They’re broken and dirty and smeared in black nonsense. Half the gills are beaten to hell, and they’re completely inedible. At the market, the gills are tightly closed, they’re easily cleaned, pretty, sturdy. A few scrapes to get the gills out, a brief rinse to get off any dirt, and then a wipe down with flavored oil or fat gets them ready for just about anything you can imagine doing to them. Maybe not that, you sick bastard.
What I imagined doing to them last night was stuffing them and baking them. I do this a lot, but last night was so stupidly simple and delicious that I thought I’d pass it on to you so you could give it a shot. It’s filling, and has all the important nutritional components of a great meal.
**Notes on substitutions**
As a point I’ve beleaguered pretty thoroughly, I’m clearing out the fridge right now, which means I found a tub of black truffle butter. I also have a few dribbles of truffle oil and a container of truffle salt that are ready to be eaten. So I added a truffle spin to the dish. PLEASE feel free to substitute whatever you have at hand. If you don’t have truffle butter, use regular butter or garlic butter or chive butter or whatever. If you don’t have truffle oil, use olive oil. If you don’t have truffle salt, use plain ol’ kosher. The point isn’t to go out and buy new ingredients, but to use what’s at your disposal.
Okay, so without further ado, here’s the world’s easiest stuffed portobello mushroom. It’s a shell recipe, meaning you can make it what you want, provided the method is similar.
3 portobello caps, gills and stems removed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T butter
1 C onion, chopped
1/2 C parsley, chopped (sub spinach or kale or whatever green thing you have)
2 C panko breadcrumbs (or regular, if that’s what you’ve got– panko=crispy)
1 t truffle salt
2 T truffle oil
3 T truffle butter
3 eggs (go cage free, it’s easy and cheap)
1/4 C grated parmaggiano reggiano
-Preheat oven to 375
-Rub your portobellos with truffle oil inside and out, and set on a lined baking sheet
-In a saute pan, melt butter over medium high heat and saute your onions and garlic together until soft but not brown. Scrape into a mixing bowl.
-Add breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, and salt and stir together.
-Add eggs and stir to make a thickish “stuffing” mixture. It should be wet enough to pack into a semi-solid ball in your hand, but not so wet that it squishes through your fingers.
-Pack the mixture into each portobello, filling generously and tightly
-Dot with small pieces of truffle butter and a delicate sprinkle of salt.
-Bake at 375 until golden brown on top, then dot again with butter
-Serve immediately with a salad or whatever suits your fancy
Maybe I’ll have to start eating real meals for breakfast and lunch, too, just to get through all this food. As it stands, I go through a family-sized box of Kashi or Total every 2-3 days (no joke whatsoever, and accounts for 2600 calories per box), plus truckloads of Clif bars. The only real meal I eat is at dinner, with Chris, because as much as I completely am gay for cooking, I’m also really way too lazy to make meals of food for just myself.
Okay, fine. I’m going to ban myself from buying any more cereal or Clif bars for the duration of our time here. And I’m out of regular AP flour and down to weird hippie flours like spelt and graham flour. It’s about to get seriously “alternative” up in my kitchen.
I’ll post what will likely be a large string of failures for your amusement. Don’t say I never did anything for you.
Also, would you like a leg of lamb?