December 26, 2008

Anticipation Is The Key

I have come to the realization that Christmas dinner in and of itself is enjoyable, but it's the preparation and anticipation of it that brings me the most pleasure.

This year we spent the GNP of a small third world country on a succulent cut of beef loin (filet mignon). Five and one half succulent pounds. It was daunting to say the least. I would be responsible for creating a masterpiece of culinary delight. I have cooked many a tasty steak on the barbie. I've flipped a darn good burger over an open flame, but never have I baked a loin in the oven. Certainly not five and one half pounds of anything!

I sifted through a plethora of recipes in countless cookbooks and Food Network links. I followed links of links to sites like Cooking Light , and I came to the conclusion that all recipes for cooking a beef loin have at least two ingredients in common;
1. Olive Oil
2. Spices

After you get past that epiphany, it's all downhill from there.

The only information I needed after my conversion on the road to Damascus was cooking times and temperatures. That was easy enough to find. All told I must have wasted two days fretting over "the recipe". They all had variations of the same ingredients. Some had butter, others had mustard, one had teriyaki. You get the picture. Pick your herbs and spices, load 'em on top and throw it in the fridge overnight. Iron Chef here I come! My choice of seasoning was a prepacked grilling/roasting "bouquet". It contained fresh sprigs of Thyme, Sage and Rosemary. Seemingly cliche, these herbs are truly a miraculous combination. Chop several cloves of garlic, which you can never have too much of, some salt and pepper and olive oil and you're off to the races.

Mrs. Farfromgruvin was intimidated with my choice of meat. Neither she nor I had ever attempted anything so brash, so outlandish a Christmas dinner. The usual ham or turkey was tossed out the window (figuratively of course). This pathway into the abyss was enough to have her hand the reigns of meat control over to me. She did not want to take the fall for a possible leathery, skunkweed smothered, disaster. Feeling rather emboldened I accepted the coronation, grabbed my sceptre and dove headlong into the task.

Our house was built in 1963. I believe only circus midgets and Amazonian pygmies dwelled in the United States at that time. The fabulous design and architecture of our kitchen allows nearly two people to be in the kitchen at the same time. Heaven knows there's only supposed to be one pregnant woman in there, in a pair of slippers if she's lucky. The close proximity of the confined quarters makes choreographing meal preparation a necessity. It goes something like this; I'll be doing task "A" on countertop "B" while Mrs. F uses countertop "D" to perform task "C". She will move stovetop item 1A to the sink for draining while I switch fresh chopped bowl of items 3D to pot on burner 4G. This frees up burner 5F for the incoming pan of sauteed items 6A and 7B. Once burners 4G and and 5F are vacant, tray 2C from the oven can occupy, temporarily of course, those burners during the turning and basting. Alerting one another to our next movements, we flawlessly (hmm) perform our ballet-like meal preparation throughout the day.

Christmas music played in the living room. The smooth and silky voices of Bing Crosby, Dean Martin, and other classic crooners hung in the air. The dog and cat lay patiently near the kitchen waiting for stray morsels to tumble onto the floor. The aroma from the stove and the oven infused the entire house. Fresh coffee, hot apple cider, herbs, scented candles. It was all so idyllic. We anticipated the arrival of family as we cooked. We talked, we laughed, we lived.

Dinner was grand. The meat turned out wonderful. The company was special.

Just as I anticipated

1 comment:

  1. I think the biggest key to doing a piece of beef in the oven is to lower the cooking temp and extend the time. You almost need to make love to the meat to get it to come out not tasting like shoe leather. Its the same with a turkey, the last time I cooked one I didn't have the oven over 300 degrees. It takes longer but more of the juice stays in the meat and not in the pan. Way to take on a daunting task.


Always glad to have some form of reaction/response to my posts. Caustic or otherwise.