I've been having a very meaty week. I really prefer vegetables, and I've had great success feeding Cranky non-meat or "meat-lite" meals. But he'd eat meat every day if he could.
Well, the other day I woke up hungry for a steak. My head still lying on the pillow, I turned to Cranky and informed him that we were in for a meaty meal. I knew he'd jump at the chance, and he did.
We went to Boca steakhouse in Novato, where I had a stupendiculatastic hanger steak. I don't usually expect to enjoy eating meat this much, but my steak was guuuud.
On the way out, we ran into an old friend who proposed a dinner date later on at the same restaurant, so it looks like I'll be having another meaty meal tonight.
And what happened in between those two meaty meals?
Cranky, damn him, decided to look at The Fatted Calf's newsletter. He discovered that they'd be selling a Brasato al Midolo, aka Tuscan-style pot roast made from Marin Sun Farms beef, stuffed with marrow and seasoned with rosemary and black pepper.
You can read that description again, and if you don't get absolutely gobsmacked by the phrase "stuffed with marrow," well, here, can I offer you a slice of tofurkey? You just wouldn't understand.
Cranky got all wiggly and wouldn't stand still (this was still really early Saturday morning) and I was defeated. Defeated by Cranky's wiggliness? Maybe a little (I can usually stare him down pretty good). Defeated by "stuffed with marrow," most decidedly.
"OK," I said, "get dressed and run over and see if they even have any left that haven't been pre-ordered." I think he was first in line.
Meanwhile I looked up how to cook this hunk of protein (Fatted Calf recommended a very slow braise in wine and shallots; good idea, and they said it would be even better the next day). In Paul Bertolli's book, Cooking By Hand, I learned that this kind of meat is most successfully sliced cold, so next day it was to be.
Let the cooking commence: First, brown the meat all over in a Dutch oven. Then apply shallots and liquids (we ended up using a kooky but surprisingly delicious combination of red wine, turkey stock and vegetable broth). Place lid on and slide pot into oven. Wait three or four hours, and a most amazing thing happens: your nose suddenly tells you the meat is done. The aromas have been pretty nice throughout, but there's a magic moment when you smell completion. And, yep, the meat is so-o-o tender and the marrow has leaked out and dissolved into the braising liquid and the shallots have collapsed. Oh. (And you slap your forehead and think, "Hey, those Fatted Calf kids must have remembered to salt the meat, because I didn't, but this tastes perfect.")
So the meat gets wrapped in plastic, tightly, and both it and the braising liquid, still in the pot, just go straight into the fridge (after cooling). And the next day you pick off the layer of fat from the liquid and gawk in happy fascination at the jelliness of the former liquid. It's wiggly! Just like you knew it would be. It's so wiggly, you have to reheat it to melt it, in order to strain out the tired shallots. And you reduce it on the stovetop, just a little... And when you finally spoon some into your mouth, it's so sticky, it glues your lips together.
Jeez. Maybe I'll just order a salad tonight.
Serving notes: Each plate got a layer of cooked Sardinian pasta called Fregola Sarda, flooded with a ladleful of the tasty lip glue braising liquid. The meat slices were rewarmed briefly, covered, in the microwave, and then placed on top of the pasta. I think another spoonful of lip glue would go nicely over the meat, don't you?