avoiding mistakes, find.eat.drink, over cooking, polenta, pulled short ribs, reading recipes

Plethora o’ Polenta Fries

There are things to consider when looking at recipes on the internet:

  1. Are the ingredients things you already have on hand or do you have to put on pants–normal pants, not the sleepy pants you’ve been putzing around the house in for the better part of the morning–and join the rest of humanity? (This is very important and usual makes or breaks a recipe option).
  2. How much time will it take? Should I have started this 170 degree slow roast last night, before I went to bed, or should we just plan on having dinner tomorrow morning at 2 am?
  3. Can I remain sober while cooking this recipe or, because it’s my day off, will I find myself melted into the couch listening to a killer ’76 show and playing PS3, forgetting that the recipe calls for more than just peeling two shallots?
  4. What is the exact yield of the recipe?

It’s that last question that I fail time and time again with. I over produce. I blame a bit of it on my grandmother. She grew up during the time of food shortages and rationing. She always made sure that there was enough for anyone, if you had it then you were lucky and you shared it because it may not be there tomorrow. Even to this day you could stop by for a visit with her, explaining that you just had a five course meal, and she would still offer you something to eat.

“Want me to make you a sandwich? Something small? Potato salad?”

For her, it was her way of making sure that her family never went without. For me, it’s pure obliviousness. I’ve overcooked my entire life mostly because I don’t tend to pay attention to the yield. I know this. I went to culinary school so I know one of the first things you’re told is: “Read the entire recipe over. Then read it again before you start anything.” Absorb and understand the task you’re about to take on. I’m mostly good about that rule, except for not paying attention to the amount of food I would be producing.

So, instead of soup for two, I get soup for twenty; lasagna for 15, pork belly for 10–you see where I’m going with this. Those things are all well and good to have an abundance of because they, somewhat, keep for a few days or can be frozen for a future dinner. Polenta fries, however, do not translate so well.

I had been eying the recipe for the fries on Find.Eat.Drink when they were posted some time ago and, having fallen in love with them at Caiola’s, I thought I’d give it a go at home. They were wonderful, I must say. Crispy and creamy, with the nuttiness of the added imported Parmesan– they were wonderful and I quickly gobbled up three before the oil had a chance to cool.

They were, in fact, better than I thought they would be–which is to say that they reached beyond my hope that they ‘not suck’ and made for a hearty and filling side with some braised and pulled short ribs.

So, yes, all was well and good. Until you realize that I made over 5lbs of fries.

See? This is an army of polenta soldiers waiting to turn into rocks an hour after they’re consumed. A half pan would have been more than suffice. In fact, we could have done with less than a dozen fries–not the 32 I ended up with, most of which died a quiet, greasy death in the refrigerator before they were tossed.

So please, learn from my mistakes and when you read the recipes–actually friggin’ read them or have the shame that I did at seeing so many go to waste.

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braising, lamb shanks, polenta

Braised Lamb Shanks with Mascarpone Polenta


Icelandic Lamb shanks–I treat myself once or twice a year when it’s available.


Rubbed down and marinated for 14 hours in toasted cumin, garlic, coriander, aleppo pepper, salt and olive oil


After browning the shanks, sliced fennel, shallot, garlic was sauteed. Then Royal Trumpet mushies were added and browned, then diced celery and carrot and tomato paste.


Deglazed with a 1/2 bottle of Ravenswood Petite Syrah–any red will do. Added Beef stock, two rosemary branches, brought up to a boil, covered and removed from heat and placed in a 300 degree oven and cooked for 10 hours.


Removed shanks from liquid and reduced down until sauce was thick enough to start coating a spoon and served on top of Polenta mixed with mascarpone cheese.


Best braise ever

Lamb Shank on Foodista

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