Cheese your own adventure

Lest you think that we’re not eating, I suppose I’d better post something about food, too. We’re still eating meals on a semi-regular basis, it’s just that we’re moving in 14 days, and I’m trying to use up all the random things we still have lurking in the freezer and the pantry. Sometimes this is inspired, and sometimes it’s clearly “using up the ingredients” and nothing more. Also, we ran out of propane a few days ago, so no grilling. And I have to mail my knives to Shun so they can sharpen them and send them to the new house. So no fancy knife skillz. And I’m slowly cleaning and polishing all of my cool kitchen gadgets and setting them aside to be packed, so my days of frying, bread-making, panini-pressing, and shwarmatizing are numbered.

I’m taking my spices with me, but there are a LOT of canned Asian veggies and curry pastes that will be getting donated to the homeless shelter. Hopefully they know how to use foods like whole water chestnut to feed the masses. The military is weird about what they will and will not ship for you. Canned food is one of the big “no” items, like dead hookers or semi-automatic weapons.

I am transporting a whole ham. Is that weird? I may have told you about this, but you probably forgot, too. I have a huge, spiral cut heritage ham that I bought on sale after Easter and froze. It was originally…a lot of money. I got it for slightly less money. I want to eat it, but there’s no way that two of us could do any kind of damage to that much meat. So it’s going to be in a cooler in the car with us. What else can I do? Two cats, a dog, two bikes, two adults, a suitcase of clothes, and a frozen ham. All in/on a single Honda civic, with no pit stops in the desert because I’m afraid of tarantulas.

I don’t care. I can’t WAIT to GTFO. And I’m eating all my other freezer findings with relish (not, like, actual pickle relish or anything. Just with great fanfare and excitement).

For example: Duck. I’ve got a couple of whole, vacuum-packed Hudson Valley duck breasts all up in there. And a single pack is plenty for Chris and me to eat for two nights, plus two lunches for him (provided there are other items to pad his belly).

Night One: Chimichurri Duck with duck fat home fries

Step one: Score your breast. Or someone else’s breasts, really. It doesn’t matter all that much. Just make sure that you only score through the fat layer, at about 1/4″ intervals, and that you don’t hit the muscle. Cut down the middle to make two breast halves that will be easier to manage.

Step two: Season with salt and pepper.

Step three: In a large, hot, cast iron pan, lay your breast halves fat side down and heat over medium-high until the fat has rendered. Your duck will be swimming in fat at this point, and the fat layer will be golden brown. The top of your duck, though, will still look pretty raw.

Step four: Stick the whole pan in the oven at 375F until the internal temp registers about 135F. The final product, after being turned over, will look like this: This is half of a whole breast. Or one of the duck’s titties, if you prefer to think of it that way…as I do.

Step five: Rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board and slice thinly. You can keep one of the breast halves unsliced, wrapped tightly for another meal.

Step six: Make a chimichurri sauce.

-1 lemon, zested and juiced
-3 cloves garlic
-1/4 C red wine vinegar
-1/2 C olive oil
pinch red chili flakes
pinch kosher salt
1 C fresh parsley
1/4 C fresh cilantro

Pulse it all in your food processor or blender to make a pesto-like sauce. Taste it and add salt, oil, or vinegar to taste. If it’s too loose (heh), just add some more parsley.

Chimichurri sauce is good on damned near everything, but really shines on red meat. Argentinians eat it with steak all the time, and for good reason. A duck is just a steak that flies, if you ask me. So they go together so much better than I could have even predicted. Wowza.

I also sliced up some tiny yellow potatoes from the farmer’s market and roasted them in the rendered duck fat. Honestly, there should be a whole post devoted to why potatoes and duck fat are best friends and lovers and dirty sex machines, but I have no time for that nonsense. I’ve got a business to run. A business of polishing my kitchen gadgets for packing!

The next night, I set up a fun “choose your own adventure” of Philly cheese steak for Chris. He brought out the meat slicer, and I sliced up onions, jalapenos, sweet banana peppers (all from the farmer’s market). Then I sliced up some sharp, smelly provolone cheese. Finally I thinly sliced the leftover duck breast. A rough chop of a portobello (also from market), and a few store bought bolillo buns, and a small dish of minced garlic and it was go time.

I gave Chris a plate and a pair of tongs and told him to hit it up like he would at a Mongolian BBQ, loading his plate with his own pile of meat/veggies/garlic.

Mongolian BBQ is a great concept, but the finished product always tastes like a bag of spicy asses. This is probably due to cheap ingredients, weak sauces, and failure to layer flavors. So I hate them. But the idea of people getting to pick out their own ingredient ratio appeals to the controlling food beast in me. As long as all you’re doing is rolling out a quick saute or an omelet, this can be a great way to give everyone what they want, have them be involved in their own meal, and appeal to both vegetarians and meat-devotees in your group. Just be sure to use the slicer on the meat last, so you don’t have to clean it in between items.

All I did at that point was toast the bun with the provolone in the oven while I sauteed his veggies and meat together with a touch of butter, some salt, and a squirt of water toward the end (to keep it all moist and steamed through). Took about 3 minutes. I slid the filling onto the cheesy bun, mashed it together with a spatula, and handed it to my husband.

Please forgive the blurry photo. The other one I did without the flash, and it was too dark to work well.


And THAT is why I am the best wife/short order cook in the history of mankind.

It’s another example of why it’s so cheap to eat well. Market ingredients? $3. A whole duck bosom? $18 (and that’s a MAJOR luxury ingredient). Rolls? $2. Cheese? $4. So $26 for four dinner servings, plus two lunches. $13/day feeds two of us our major meals, when they include duck breast shipped from the Hudson Valley. Suck on that, Applebees/Red Robin/Fazolis.

2 thoughts on “Cheese your own adventure”

  1. I ate at Mongorian Grill once.
    I don't want to talk about it.

    Seriously? You can't eat do away with that ham in 2 weeks? Pssh. I would fuck the shit out of that ham in a fortnight, easy.

    You guys are pussies. Good luck with the move.

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