November 6, 2016
It’s an odd thing.
I can, on a whim, cook Mexican, Asian, North African or any of a number of other regionally-inspired cuisines. (Maybe not WELL, but I have at least the makings on hand.) But when it comes to Sunday dinner, I’m coming back home.
Specifically, when it’s time for Sunday dinner, I’m going to cook where I came from: The American South. Now, in part, that’s because the Sunday dinner table list generally includes Child C and SIL 2, who have come to retrive AGC2, who hopefully is napping by the time they get here after church. And while Child C will try most anything, she’s more comfortable and happy with home cooking. And SIL 2 — well, bless his heart, his culinary tree doesn’t branch much.
So I stick to the tried-and-true stuff on Sunday. Today, I hit it out of the park.
For one thing, I have learned how to make the best country-fried steak on the planet. For another, I had mashed potatoes made from Yukon Gold potates, which are just the best damn potatoes ever created. For the third, I reached deep into my collection of church-lady cookbooks for today’s dessert, colloquially known as a “dump cake.”
SIL2 was ecstatic, and Children A and C voiced no complaints, either.
Country fried steak, corn and purple hulled peas from the freezer, mashed potatoes, gravy. Damn hard to beat. Except I didn’t eat the steak because, well, I don’t care for country fried steak that much. Besides, veggies.
Here’s how you make the best country fried steak in the world. First, get you your basic minute steak. My quarter-steer comes with several packages of “tenderized round steak,” which is surely deceptive advertising, because just because they have run that piece of cow through the jacquardizer, it is NOT necessarily tender. Hang with me a few, here, and we’ll get it that way.
I thawed two packages of “tenderized round steak,” aka minute steak, salted and peppered it liberally, and divided it amongst a couple of zip-locs. Those got all the air I could squished out of them, and into the sous vide last night they went. Overnight, or about 10 hours, give or take, at 145 degrees. Sumbitches OUGHT to be tender.
Took them out this morning and chunked them in the fridge, to contend with when I got home from church. Meanwhile, I made rolls, cooked peas, set corn out to thaw, peeled and cut up potatoes. And then went to church.
Got home, and for 45 minutes or an hour engaged in the intricate ballet that involves:
- Grilling AGC 2 a cheese sammich, because, well, he won’t eat grownup food, and then putting him down for a nap.
- Triple-dipping the steaks (seasoned flour, egg wash, bread crumbs) and frying them.
- Boiling and mashing the pre-cut-up potatoes.
- Cooking the corn.
- Warming up the peas.
- Finishing off the par-baked rolls.
- Making the gravy.
I only had to draft Child C’s assistance a couple of times. If you knew Child C’s culinary abilities, you would understand why we were all grateful it was a limited number.
The dessert, thankfully, had been made the day before. Not that we were in any rush to eat it.
What do you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em cook when you’re putting on a spread for the home folks? Inquiring minds want to know.