Thursday, March 26, 2009

Food as Fuel

I don't generally think of food this way, but every now and then--a few days before payday, for example, when I'm short on cash and relying on a couple of dollars a day to see me through--I come to think of what I eat as sustenance, something to get me by rather than something I savor. And some weeks, I just end up making a whole bunch of meh - either the recipe doesn't work out quite right, or my heart isn't in it, or it just isn't what my brain and body wants that day. That was the case with a couple of dishes I made this week--both of which, to add insult to culinary injury, I had really been looking forward to. The first was a posole recipe I adapted from Serious Eats. With hominy, chicken thighs, chile powder (homemade) and a generous jolt of cilantro, I thought there was no way to go wrong. But the recipe was just... off. Too much broth, not enough flavor, and weird instructions for trying out the chicken fat that just resulted in flabby skin. (I rescued the skin by panfrying it, but the bloom was off the rose). The second was red beans and rice with sausage, which--at no fault to the sausage, which was amazing turkey andouille homemade by my coworker Jonah--ended up too thick, somehow both overcooked and undercooked, and somewhat tacky in texture. Maybe it was the fact that we were out of white rice (I used brown basmati) but even a small serving ended up being too much food for a person to confront.

Given that losing streak, I'm a bit nervous about the dinner I have planned for later this week--Mark Bittman's Hainanese chicken, which calls for simmering a whole chicken in water with ginger and garlic and serving it with a spicy pan sauce. I've made--and loved--simply prepared chicken before, but my recent string of so-so culinary experiments has made me long for something assertive, spicy, and altogether unfamiliar. Sigh--maybe next week.


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