INT. A CUBICLE IN THE MTV NETWORKS BUILDING IN TIMES SQUARE, NYC, CIRCA WINTER 2007
TODD sits at his desk composing an email to the woman he has been seeing for a few weeks now.
TODD hits send on the email and almost immediately a reply comes in
EXT. NIGHTTIME, OUTSIDE A SMALL APARTMENT BUILDING IN WILLIAMSBURG
JULIE is knocking on the door and being let in
INT. A KITCHEN IN A STUDIO APARTMENT
TODD takes JUILE’s coat and goes back to the counter to finish slicing beets.
They sit down to eat. TODD serves JUILE a piece of bone-in chicken, some mashed potatoes and beet salad. JUILE pushes most of the food around on her plate and demolishes the potatoes.
Several weeks later…
INT. VESELKA, A UKRAINIAN DINER ON THE LOWER EAST SIDE
A WAITER is standing next to a table where JULIE and TODD are seated.
The couple talks idly while waiting for the food to come. The soups come and they start to eat. TODD finishes his bowl and JULIE hasn’t really touched hers. The WAITER returns.
The WAITER and TODD sit in stunned silence for a second.
Let me tell you something about that story.
“I like pretty much anything!” turns out to have been the very opposite of true. “I figure it was harder to tell you all the foods I don’t like and I could just eat around the stuff that I didn’t like.”
Nearly eighteen years later our kids have followed well in her fuckery.
(Also apparently I don’t swear in my memories which sounds really fucking out of line for me? I definitely know I swore MORE then before we had children! SEE WE CAN ALL FUCKING CHANGE!)
BUT! I recount this story to you not to bury her in shame (OK, just maybe, MAYBE a little), but rather to demonstrate that you too can over come adversity in being a fucking picky eater! She’ll now definitely eat beets! Such progress! So wow! But wait, I’ve fucking lost the thead here already. I asked her what I should cook when we have our friends over for dinner later that week and she, I shit you fucking not, said the phrase I’ve been trying to get to to agree too since we had kids:
SHORT RIBS AND POLENTA
(I know, I know, I’m fucking wet with excitement too. Do you know how long I’ve been fucking waiting for her to say that? SINCE WE HAD CHILDREN!)
Short ribs? They come on the goddamn bone?! Then I realized a few seconds later that she knows that if you braise them, its better to braise them the day before so they can rest, you can remove the nubbly bits, defat the cooking liquid, and reheat them off the bone. However, by george, she was on to something. I hadn’t braised short ribs in probably a decade and nothing sounded more delicious at that minute.
So on Thursday afternoon I set the oven to a gentle 300º and then seasoned a few short ribs and browned thenm in neutral oil in my dutch oven. I then added a head of garlic with the ends lopped off to brown the cut sides, and a whole onion, peeled of the outer skin but otherwise left in tact. WHen these had gotten some color, I added a half tube of tomato paste and let that brown for a few seconds and immediately deglazed the pot with a non-offensive bottle of Italian red wine. (I used a cheap Chianti Classico!) I added the ribs back, along with some bay leaves, two whole carrots, three celery stalks and a bundle of fresh thyme and rosemary. It was then topped off with 2 cups of chicken stock and water to cover. When this started to boil, I put it in the oven and then went out to run errands. When I arrived home several hours later I was welcomed to the wonderful smell of braising beef. I took the ribs out and strained the braising liquid, and let them cool and packaged them separately.
The next day I took out the braising liquid and took the solid cap of fat off, and added to a pan to reduce by 2/3, checking occasionally to ensure it wasn’t getting too salty. At the end I adjusted the flavor with just a little soy sauce, and then mounted it with 4 tbsp of butter, whisked in over high heat, a small cube at time until it was emulsified. I then added the sliced up rib meat, put the lid on, and turned the heat down to the gentlest simmer.
While that I was cooking I softened a thinly sliced shallot and more garlic that would be prudent in some of the beef fat from the braise and then added two and a half quarts of liquid: a combination of chicken stock, whole milk and water. When this came to a boil I added 2 cups of coarse cornmeal along with 1/8 of a tsp of baking soda while vigorously whisking to prevent lumps. Also do you know what happens when you add milk AND baking soda to boiling liquid? Its like the end of Ghostbusters when they blow up the Stay Puft Marshalmallow man. Only it’s way harder to clean it off the stove. So use a big pot and turn down the goddamn heat. I added the rind from a block of Parmesan that I found in the freezer and have no fucking clue how old it was. This cooked for a good hour, stirring more than occasionally, less than frequently. (What quantifier is that?) When it was nearly done I added a half stick of butter (yes, readers, that is an ENTIRE stick of butter in the meal so far), and a metric shit load of grated parm and stirred it in.
Also, the other day I was wondering around Costco and saw they had truffles packed in olive oil and it wasn’t like stupidly expensive (mostly because you can farm some types of truffles, but they have not a lot of flavor, but you can add synthetic truffle flavoring to oil REAL easy, so like, ooooooooooooooooooooh FUCKING TRUFFLES.) Obviously I bought these and added a bunch of the truffles to the polenta.
And because this all seemed like it was really unhealthy I sauteed some chard in some garlic oil I made. (I confited? confeed? confiteed? what the fuck French a bunch of garlic for a good hour at like 200º until it was crispy and golden.) I also took the chard stems and pickled them becuase we needed something vinegary to cut through all the fat.
(We sent the kids downstairs with a pizza and had a lovely meal with our friends!)