Today’s words sounded like a challenge on one of those cooking shows. The contestants go into the kitchen and have so many minutes to prepare a meal from the beef, cheddar and duck that have been supplied as today’s mystery ingredients. Some how I envision grilling the steak and duck breast, then slicing them thinly and serving them with cheddar mashed potatoes. That probably would not be nearly chi-chi frou-frou enough to win on one of those television shows, but it might be darned tasty. The pulled duck in barbecue sauce over cheddar polenta pictured above seems to be the sort of dish that would be chi-chi frou-frou enough to win on one of those programs, though perhaps they would lose points for not including beef.
While hamburgers are obviously the first thing to spring to mind when my thoughts turn to beef– from the rather prosaic offerings of chains like McDonalds to the more mid-range offering of places like Carl’s Jr. to rather extravagant burgers like the ones from Five Guys, burgers really are ubiquitous, at least in my neck of the woods. And yet none of these burgers could hold a candle to a real New Orleans roast beef po-boy, the brothy beef sliced thin and piled high and smothered with debris* and gravy. And a thick slice of prime rib served with a bowl of au just and a bit of horseradish on the side, can truly be a meal fit for a king.
Duck is much less common on bills of fare in these parts, and is more likely to be thought of as cute bird to feed bread in a park, rather than something that’s for dinner. Occasionally, Ron and I like to go to one of several Chinese buffet restaurants in our area. Often these places will have some kind of duck. Sometimes it is very greasy and not very appealing. Other times though, the skin is crisp and delicious and the succulent meat– overall much darker than chicken or turkey– is absolutely delicious. I’m not sure I would ever order duck at a non-buffet restaurant (and risk spending good money for the greasy and un-appealing sort of duck). But I do enjoy it every now and then.
Living here in the Northwest, I first associate cheddar cheese with Oregon’s Tillamook Creamery. While Tillamook may not be in the same league with smaller artisanal producers, the cheese, butter and ice cream are all first rate and buying Tillamook does feel just a bit more like an indulgence than buying some nationally distributed brand. I also find myself thinking about the cheddar cheese soup I used to occasionally get on the soup and salad bar at Shoney’s restaurants, when I lived in Louisiana. Shoney’s also had an every day breakfast buffet– more times than I care to count I went back for plate after plate of fluffy scrambled eggs, topped with sauteed mushrooms and cheese sauce, piles of grits swimming in butter and quantities of bacon and sausage that would undoubtedly make a dietitian blanch.
I have long taken comfort in the fact that this blog allows me to devote considerable time and energy in to talking about food and showing scrumptious pictures of it, without ever taking on even a single calorie. Yet is seems almost cruel that lately I have been cranking out food posts day after day, even while we are early this month to the ‘running out of money at the end’ thing-a-ma-bob. (I have lots of perfectly edible food but few of the wonderful things I’ve been writing about and no ability to buy any of these luxuries until next month). And finally today, my thanks to Vince Periello who provided today’s words.