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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Going With The Flow

I spent most of last week placing orders, shopping, prepping, and cooking for a Broadway Live series event associated with the Lexington Opera House. Although I had an absolute blast doing it, the process must have left me mentally distracted and fatigued because  kitchen disasters at home haunted me throughout the week.

Earlier in the week, in an attempt to put something fun on the table for us to enjoy, I made a huge blunder. After preparing and plating a long braised succulent stew, I selfishly tried to capture every drop of stew from the dutch oven by pouring it directly  from the pot into our large stew-filled  bowls. In the blink of an eye, my 400 pound enameled cast iron dutch oven slipped from my grasp and crashed  onto our serving bowls, rocketing molten glass-flecked stew into the air, onto the floor, and over the countertops. There were specks of stew juice spitting from the twirling ceiling fan. Fun. I was flabbergasted. It was ridiculous.  Michael and I stood in stunned silence staring at the catastrophe before we finally bolted into action. After mopping the floor and wiping the countertops, we noticed that Michael's portion had escaped the carnage. We checked it for glass chards (none), divided it into smaller bowls, and  enjoyed  our tiny amuse bouches.

The following night,  I somehow managed to overcook barbecued chicken by completely forgetting about it while I happily prepared roasted ears of butter-laden silver queen corn on the cob. Dry barbecued chicken? Really?  Yep. Go figure.  Distracted.

After that, I gave it a rest for a couple of days.

With massive mise en place, I finally got the event under control and decided to venture back into our tiny kitchen. I played it safe.  Very safe.

Because the previous nights mishaps steered me away from our kitchen, I had gorgeous thick-cut well marbled ribeye steaks accidentally dry-aging in the refrigerator  from purposeful neglect. I also had potatoes.  Specifically, I had wooden bowls filled with  long awaited late season farmers' market Casey County fingerling white and red sweet potatoes.  Steak and potatoes. Safe.

 Because the potatoes were young and tender, they didn't need  peeling. The skins were delicate and thin, making the preperation a snap. I simply sliced them in  half and tumbled them into a baking dish.  After tossing them with olive oil, I seasoned the potatoes liberally with salt and pepper, loosely tented them with foil, added 1/4 cup chicken stock, and slid them into a pre-heated 350 degree oven to roast/braise for an hour.

After a few glasses of wine, I pulled the steaks from the refrigerator and seasoned them liberally with salt and pepper. With a grill pan cranked on high,  I chargrilled the ribeyes until they felt medium rare to the touch, about 4 minutes per side.

When the steaks were perfectly chargrilled,  I tented them and set them aside to rest. While the steaks snuggled under foil, I blistered peppery Elmwood Stock Farm celery stalks in a screaming hot cast iron skillet until they wilted, charred, and caramelized  before dousing them with fresh lemon juice, salt, and pepper.

Back. In. Business.

I plated our crusty ribeye steaks and  topped  them with the tender caramelized pan-seared celery stalks. After nestling the braised/roasted sweet potatoes alongside the juicy steaks, I gilded the lily just a bit by drizzling  them with a combination of warmed pure maple syrup, melted butter, and crunchy sea salt.

The steaks were wonderfully tender and perfectly cooked. When sliced, buttery pink flesh  melted under the crusty charred exteriors, providing contrasting textural mouthfeels and flavors. We moaned while we ate. Gutteral joy.  The fingerling sweet potatoes were velvety sofy with each smooth bite balanced by snapping  skins. Napped in a buttery salty maple syrup, they hinted toward autumn without screaming bring on the holidays.  Delicate and sweet, they were reminiscent of darling early baby spring vegetables.

I was in heaven when the savory steak juices puddled with the sweet maple syrup, creating a new sauce to swipe the meat through. Perfect.

Without distraction, it was fun to cook again.
 And nothing broke.

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