A celebration of spring

March 26, 2010

Suitable for eye-rolling gastronomic ecstasy, this is.

Have mercy.

I believe I may die. But if it’s tonight, I’ll go happy.

Have a friend visiting and sous-cheffing for me this weekend, so I’m taking advantage to cook some good stuff for a change. Tonight, it was a New York Strip, risotto primavera (ok, the peas were frozen and the carrots probably came from Mexico; deal with it), and caprese salads with the very first locally grown (in a greenhouse) vine-ripened tomato of the season.

And I repeat — have mercy!

This is one quarter of $11.73 worth of about the best NY strip I ever ate, even if I did cook it myownself. I thought  organic free-range meat was supposed to be pricier….less than 3 bucks for a damn fine piece of steak isn’t too bad. Cooked it according to the Bittman method — hot-hot grill pan, ungreased, sprinkled with kosher salt, seared on side 1 for 2 minutes, side 2 for 1 minute, in a 500-degree oven for three more. Probably should have held it to 2 more. It was slightly more done than I like…on the medium side of medium rare. But it was juicy and it was good. I seasoned it with Spade L Ranch Beef Marinade and Seasoning, which I first had and brought home with me from Phoenix last fall. Damn, but it’s good. And I just Googled them and discovered I can order online when I use up this jar, which I most assuredly will when grilling season gets here. That would be some killer stuff on burgers. Here’s their site: http://www.spadelranch.com/index.html. You’re welcome.

Ed the PJF guy handed me a tomato with my meat order today and instructed me to enjoy it this weekend. It was a wonderful tomato; it was a tomato of which superb spring dinners are made. It was a delectable base for a slab of fresh mozz, some olive oil, some cracked pepper, and some basil.

And there was the risotto, which I believe was one of the better risottos I’ve made in my life. I don’t make risotto a lot, because it’s labor intensive, but it is in fact worth it every once in a while. Like tonight. And it just now dawned on me I had green onions I meant to chop and put in it, and I forgot ’em. Oh, well. In any event, here ’tis.

  • 1 cup arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2/3 cup fresh or frozen green peas
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 medium shallots, diced
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup grated parmegiano

Dice the shallots and carrots, and saute in the oil in a medium sized dutch oven or deep skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat for about 5 minutes, and add the rice; stir until it absorbs all the oil and begins to stick to the pan. Pour in the wine and stir until it’s all absorbed.

When wine is all absorbed, begin adding the chicken stock, which I forgot to tell you to keep at a bare simmer on the stove, a couple of ladlefulls at a time, stirring after each addition until all the liquid is absorbed. When adding the final batch of stock, stir in the peas.

When the last of the stock is absorbed (about 20-25 minutes all told), remove from heat and stir in butter and Parmegiano. If I’d had some fresh parsley or tarragon, I’d have garnished it with that. But I didn’t.

Good stuff, although my feet hurt.

With that, you and y’mama ‘n ’em enjoy the basketball, and I’ll be back to report on rendang tomorrow.

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