Thursday Night Smackdown: The Slowest Hurry Ever

So there’s this BlogHer Food thing this weekend in San Francisco you may have heard about. And I’m going, flying out after a half-day’s work tomorrow. Here is a partial list of things I have not yet done: (1) laundry, for the clean clothes I will need to ; (2) pack; (3) shower and wash my hair; (4) figure out how to get from the airport at 7pm to dinner in the city at 8pm; (5) check the weather; (6) check in for my flight; (7) everything else in the entire universe.

So I needed a Smackdown that would provide a lot of bang for the buck without sucking up too much of my Thursday night, because it’s also vitally important that I watch Fringe. (So expect more pictures and fewer words tonight.)

I recently got a review copy of Forking Fantastic!, the new dinner-party oriented cookbook from the bloggers behind Sunday Night Dinners and Roving Gastronome and Sunday Night Dinner in Astoria. I don’t really do reviews here, but food bloggers gotta have each others’ backs and besides, I haven’t gotten a new cookbook in a while. Ergo: a Smackdown from the book, and a giveaway for you.

I decided to go with the overnight-braised chuck roast with salt-boiled potatoes and anchovy-spiked greens. This was partly because the weather’s been getting chillier and I thought something hearty would be a nice way to usher in autumn, and mostly because I got to chuck a bunch of shit in a pot, go to bed, and have dinner the next day.

Not that it involved no work on my part: I did have to saute a shit-ton of mushrooms, and carve out little garlic-holding pouches in the meat which I’m not going to lie, creeped me out unnecessarily. I also had to squish canned tomatoes through my fingers, which also creeps me out unnecessarily.

Then I dumped in some olives and most of a bottle of wine left over from my sister-in-law’s wedding two years ago, stuck it in the oven and went to bed. Note the time:

I’m a little surprised Brian let me do this; he is very caution-oriented and I wasn’t sure he’d go for the whole leaving-the-oven-on-all-night thing. I think the prospect of a weekend’s worth of pot roast was enough to do it.

On the other hand, I am completely willing to risk burning the house down for a nice roast

This is what you wake up to along with, as promised, the best-smelling apartment on the block.

Then you stick it in the fridge while you go to work, and you come home to this:


FYI, it’s a quarter after 10, and I’ve still done NOTHING.

Anyway, the grotesque congealed beef fat goes away as you re-heat the roast, obviously, melting back into the meaty juices to enrich them. Because the fat? She makes things delicious.

It takes about 45 minutes to re-heat this puppy (which re-invigorates the luscious smell in your home), so I made the side dishes so’s everything’d be done at the same time. I am notoriously awful at being able to coordinate like that, but this seemed fail-safe. I put a pot of salty, salty, salty water on for the potatoes; the water is supposed to be salty enough that the potatoes float, but I didn’t have enough salt in the pantry, so mine were more “treading water.”

Crap, now Project Runway is on.

While the potatoes were bobbing away I started the greens, which were supposed to be escarole but ended up being chard (they told me I could!) because I have horrible, haunting memories of childhood weeping at my refusal to eat escarole soup. They’re wilted down in a mixture of olive oil, anchovies and red pepper flakes.

Which could be fantastic, or could be a hot tranny mess. Only time will tell. And yes, I know that descriptor is very mid-2008.

I stuck a fork into a potato to test it; the potato was done, and the fork came out of water looking less like a fork and more like Lot’s Wife.  I fished them out of the pot, crushed them roughly with a fork and added a few pats of butter on top. I think I was supposed to add a few knobs, but I still don’t have the whole dab-knob-dollop thing worked out; I’m really only comfortable with the pat.

I heaped the wilted chard into a serving bowl, fished the hunk of meat out of the pot to cut a few slices, and dinner was served. And thankfully, the temperature shot up to the mid-80s today, so we ate this sitting at the kitchen table with the air conditioner going full blast.

At the end of the day, you end up with some pot roast on crack. And some really, really fucking good potatoes. And some chard that I’m not entirely sure about but it might just be me because Brian dug ’em.

Although I gave Brian all my olives (I love the taste, hate the texture), the beef had a rich beefy flavors that was augmented by the 17 pounds of mushrooms and cut by the briny olives and brash rosemary and was perfectly cooked. The potatoes: you show me the person who can resist a farm-fresh baby yukon gold crusted with salt and kissed by good butter, and I will shut this blog right down. The chard I’m still not sure about; I love chard, but something about the flavor combo was not up my alley. I think I got the idea, it just wasn’t a good idea for me. I think.

Tell me your favorite cold-weather comfy food and win your own copy of Forking Fantastic! Giveaway open until September 10th, winner chosen by random-number-picker Brian.

And now, I’m finally going to pack my fricking bag. As soon as the dryer is done. And I take a shower. And pack my various electronic gadgets. And Project Runway is over.

77 thoughts on “Thursday Night Smackdown: The Slowest Hurry Ever

  1. Favorite cold-weather comfort food has to be vegetable beef soup, made from the leftovers of pot roast and its accompanying roasted veggies. Saute some onion and garlic, throw in the diced beef, potatos, carrot, onion, whatever else was in your pot roast, add some frozen corn, peas, green beans, or whatever leftover veggies you have in the fridge. Add two or three cans of diced tomatos, one or two cans of tomato paste (dependent upon the amount of solids you’re using and how thick you like your soup). Season it with Worcestershire, some PickAPeppa sauce, a little rosemary, a little thyme, a little smoked paprika. Simmer it all day, or cook it in a slow cooker on low. If you REALLY need comforting, have a grilled cheese sandwich with it. Preferably grated Gruyere on sourdough. It’ll change your outlook on life.

  2. That looks yummy. My favorite cold weather food has to be chicken (or turkey) andouille gumbo with smashed potato salad. It requires a trip across the river to get the andouille and my husband making the most glorious dark chocolate roux (no, he doesn’t stir for hours – he puts it in black cast iron pot, mixes the oil and flour, turns up the heat and walks away. He’ll return to the pot every once in a while and stir it. Comes out perfect every time. I start my roux the same way, constantly hover over it because I’m deadly certain it’s going to explode all over the stove and burn my house down and I manage burn the fucking roux every time. I have been known to re-do a roux three times before I get it right. Now it’s his job and I drink wine to let the panic of hot oil on my stove being ignored for a long time go away. This works well in our dysfunctional family.) Anyway, have the husband make the roux, add onions, tons of garlic, celery and saute the veggies, throw the andouille in there and saute it a little, too, add chicken stock, the bite sized chicken pieces and any spices you like and simmer away. I top it with green onions before I serve it over rice and yum.

    I make this any time of year why? Because I live in the south and my A/C runs ninety to nothing most of the year so it really doesn’t matter when you heat up your kitchen cause it’s always hot anyway and last winter I think I was wearing shorts at New Years and had to turn the A/C on because it was so hot.

    However, my husbands seafood gumbo is to die for (and I don’t especially LIKE seafood gumbo) and that’s our Christmas dinner. THAT I only get once a year.

    I think I’ve rattled on enough. I love your blog.

  3. One of my favorite cold weather meals is quite similar to this one – a chunk o beef cooked for a long time in red wine, onions, garlic, herbs, you know, whatever is in the fridge. Serve it with something creamy and buttery like polenta, risotto, or just good potatoes. Yum.

  4. My favorite cold weather food? Well, I’m 36 weeks pregnant and want whatever I’m reading about RIGHT NOW, as my NEW FAVORITE. So I just called my husband and told him we are making this — can it be my favorite?

  5. I was Julia Childs’ Beef Bourguingon before everyone saw “Julie & Julia” and made it cool again. It is still my best, slow, fragrant, comforting cold-weather meal, and it’s definitely not nursery/comfort food, so I can feed it to guests.

  6. Nach Waxman’s Brisket from the Joy of Cooking. It is so effing good. It’s got a “frosting” of tomato paste on the top that cooks into a crust that is unbelievable.

  7. I love hearty soups when the weather turns colder. Chili or beef stew. Or an Italian Chicken soup I make. Come on cold weather! It’s still 90 degrees in Alabama!

  8. Showing my roots when I say stuffed tofu stew. This is basically overstuffed, chinese tortellini or something. Tofu puff shells, stuffed with seasoned ground pork and green onion, in a beef and soy based stew, served with rice (which becomes heavily flavoured with stew). Ugh, now I want to eat it RIGHT NOW.

  9. I love making and eating soup in the autumn/winter. Something about curling up in a big chair with a warm bowl between your hands that makes everything right with the world. Favorites are butternut squash and split pea (but not together, that’s gross!).

    Safe travels, and have a great trip!

  10. A nice big bowl of creamy polenta, with something braised or stewed sitting on top. The second bit could be almost anything as far as I’m concerned. On good nights, it’s a lamb shank or cross-cut beef shin, but I’m nearly as happy with a simple mix of braised vegetables. The polenta, with plenty of cheese, is the important part.

  11. My FAV thing in winter is Pho, but I don’t make it, it’s not worth the hassel. My favorite thing to make is a close call between Texas Chili with roast instead of gr, beef or Shepard’s Pie. Mmm!

  12. Hot tranny mess is ageless–you can keep saying it for always, or at least until I stop laughing every time I see/hear it. I associate it with catty gay men, whom I adore.

  13. “Less like a fork and more like Lot’s wife.” Heh.

    Thanks for the smack, lady! (I’m pretty sure the only time I will say/type those words in my life.)

    Sorry about the chard. The anchovies…they are a divider, not a uniter. When you described weeping over escarole, though, I had an immediate flashback to my own childhood, maybe about cilantro. I’d kind of forgotten how deeply aggrieved one could get about unpleasant tastes.

    And sorry you had to eat that on an 80-degree day! Thank the good lord for the ay-cee!

  14. Gimme something free!!!!!

    Fettucine carbonara. Important to have fresh thich-sliced bacon from the friendly pig farmers who come to the farmer’s market. Also important to have a metric ton of pecorino romano, butter, delish eggs from my friend deborah’s whorish chickens, who she cannot keep from the neighbor’s rooster [rooster is probably the whore, now that I think about it] and drink chianti while the pasta water boils.

    Orgasmically delicious!

  15. I think my favorite cold weather food has to be brussels sprout risotto with homemade chicken stock and lots of parm. Other winter time cravings include: sauerkraut soup (oh, Slovak heritage) and the Pennsylvania Dutch version of pot pie, which is really like chicken noodle soup but the pot pie noodles are so. very. good. and make it better than chicken noodle soup could ever be.

  16. My all time favorite cold-weather food is butternut squash risotto. I follow Ina Garten’s recipe for the most part but minus the saffron and sometimes the pancetta(since I don’t just have that laying around all the time, although I should).

    Butternut squash is the sex. I roast it in little cubes and throw them into the delectable risotto at the very end with a shit ton of parmesan.

    What’s also great is the leftover butternut squash. I throw those cubed/roasted puppies in the blender with some chicken or vegtable stock, some sweated shallots, nutmeg, s&p and you have a ridiculously easy butternut squash soup in 5 minutes. Add a splash of cream if you’re feeling sexy.

  17. A big-ass bowl of pasta with butter and cheese for when I am lazy and starving. Maybe a bit of lemon added at the end to fight the scurvy.

  18. OK – braised beef short ribs with veggies, red wine, etc.


    and also this crazy rutabaga/carrot/onion/shallot/chicken stock soup (pureed) with smoked sausage, thyme, and a bit of cream. No one else likes it – more for me!!! haven’t commented in a while, still love yur blog, read it all the time!

  19. For days when I need warm, gooey delights: Roasted butternut squash, avocado, black bean, salsa verde, vella dry jack cheese quesadillas.

    For days when I need fancy-ass warm, gooey delights, and the seafood guy at the farmers market is feeling feisty and will trade me oysters for cheese: Oysters, crushed saltines, heavy cream and butter all up in a casserole and baked till it looks like hot snot and tastes like a dream.

  20. Hot chocolate. Does that count? It’s one of the only things I’ll actually make a point of having based on the weather. But it’s comforting and delicious, so, y’know.

  21. “…the fork came out of water looking less like a fork and more like Lot’s Wife.” bwahahahaha!

    Funny you should ask. Butternut bisque made with creme fraiche and maple syrup – we had it tonight. I like to roll in it.

  22. Oh my god this looks delicious. My favorite wintry dish is oxtail stew with turnips and potatoes and carrots and beautiful fatty oxtails, ummmm. Unfortunately, my mom and I are the only people in my family who will actually willingly eat stewed meat so I don’t get to have it as often as I would like, which is every day.

  23. Wow that looks great, I’ll have to bookmark it for later since it was about 96 today. Check back in February. What salt crusts the potatoes? just the cooking in super salty water? Hmmm cool.
    Once it gets “wintry” here (ie I might wear socks), I like to make short ribs cooked with bacon & Guinness over mashed potatoes, from I think Gordon Hamersley’s book. It is pretty spectacular.

  24. Any baked pasta dish, preferably one with lots and lots of cheese! Hot melty cheese is the ultimate comfort food in my book!

    Also, I did notice that September 10th is long gone and am hoping that’s supposed to be October :)

  25. favorite cold weather food has definitely got to be some hearty beef brisket chili… and some football. even though you can’t eat the football, or the tv set that it’s on, the chili makes a good accompaniment

  26. I absolutely love Julia Child’s “Roast Chicken Steeped with Port Wine, Cream and Mushrooms” from the Art of French Cooking when it’s cold outside. Between the oven, the stove top, the cognac-flamed chicken and the large pot of risotto I make with it…it’s all the perfect cold food weather.

  27. I love braises and soups and most dishes that take all day to cook. I make them happily during the summer but they really feel right when it starts to get chilly and we’re housebound anyway.

  28. Hard to think about winter food when we are rocking 108 degrees – again. But, gooey lasagna with lots of cheese and sweet Italian sausage. And, don’t bother serving it unless you’ve got garlic bread to go with it. I can hardly wait til the temp drops!

  29. Pingback: thursday night smackdown » Suck on that, hotel people.

  30. Comfort for me is a nice rare roast beef marinated in garlic, beer and soy sauce, served with baked cauliflower tossed with olive oil and parmigiano regianno.

  31. The giveaway says it’s only open ’til September 10th, right? Ah, fuck it, I’ll try anyway. My favorite food when it gets chilly is chili. Not just ordinary chili, though. I make mine with pinto, black, and kidney beans, cinnamon, bitter chocolate, two full bottles of dark beer (New Belgium 1554 works best, but I’m a Colorado girl and we love us some local microbrews), ground chuck and cubed slab bacon. Then I take the bacon grease and heat it in my cast iron pan, stir in an equal amount of maple syrup, then pour in a cornbread batter and bake until the maple/bacon caramelizes on the bottom to form a crust. I turn it out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve with honey butter.

    I’m so hungry right now…

  32. Everything listed here sounds amazing! I would have to say my favorite cold day comfort food is Shepards Pie. The gravy is so creamy and I love when the buttery mashed potatoes crisp up in top. Carbolicious!

  33. Chicken peanut butter vegetable soup with a side of crusty bread. Sounds vaguely gross, but it’s delicious and comforting, especially when it’s March in Portland and it’s been raining for 5 straight months.

  34. That’s a slam dunk for me. French Onion soup in all it’s cheesy, oniony..glory. One of the things I like about FO soup is the work it takes to get it just right. It’s a labor of love.

  35. roasted winter veg – lots of onions, celery root, pasnip, various squash. very simple olive oil, s&p. i could eat plate after plate of this in the winter

  36. Pho, as others have said — and also I agree with the insightful comment that it’s not worth the hassle at home but definitely worth the trip across the street (for me, until Thursday when I move). I like it straight up with rare beef and lots of that rooster sauce (o how I want to say ‘cock sauce’ every time..).

    As for homemade, red lentil soup with various veggies, or a French lentil-spicy chorizo meal with something dark green, some red wine and lemon, lots of garlic, and served over something hearty and toothsome like red rice. Mmm.

    Or roasted root veg, yes, but I’m all about balsamic vinegar & rosemary as my flavourings of choice.

  37. When it’s really cold, I like to make a thick beef-barley soup with lots of chunky veggies and serve it up with spicy cheese biscuits, hot from the oven.

    And I know from cold. In my hometown, we’ve been known to spend weeks in temperatures from -30C to -40C (or -22F to -40F – weird how they converge at -40, isn’t it?) before windchill.

    When you have to plug your car in, and avoid freezing your eyelashes shut with your own breath, you need something hearty for dinner!

  38. Tonight we had homemade pierogies, saute’d with bacon, cabbage and onions. I can’t imagine a more perfect dinner for the cold!

  39. “Then I take the bacon grease and heat it in my cast iron pan, stir in an equal amount of maple syrup, then pour in a cornbread batter and bake until the maple/bacon caramelizes on the bottom to form a crust. I turn it out of the pan and cut into wedges and serve with honey butter.”

    Dear sweet baby Jesus. I am making this tonight, with homemade tomato soup. I almost had an orgasm from reading it.

  40. Grilled cheese (one slice provolone, a couple hunks something soft and goaty) with grilled onions and mushrooms, consumed with hot chocolate (made with cocoa powder, vanilla, rum, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg) and a cube of mozzarella cheese thrown into it for deliciousness and texture.

  41. Homemade baked potato soup– tons of potatoes, onions, garlic, milk and a flour/button roux, then mix in a large dollop of sour cream, grated cheddar cheese and little chunks of bacon at the end.

  42. Homemade tomato sauce with marble-sized meatballs made from half ground beef and half ground lamb, served over linguine with some chunks of fresh mozzarella tossed on top.

  43. My mom’s lentil soup. I’m much heavier on the snark than the nostalgia, but this is one very clear exception. I make it every year. I even call mom when I do and see if it’s cold enough where she is for a batch too. Now that she’s retired up in the mountains, I may have to take a mid-fall trip to visit because I know she’ll have a batch before I do.

    Now make me the winner!

  44. Mmmmmmmmmm….comfort food. The bestest comfort food for cool-ish type weather – which we are currently experiencing in the mid-west- is homemade cheesy potato soup made extra thick and delicious with extra cheese and copious amounts of cream, topped with crispy shallots and bacon, and a glorious blob of sour cream, served with warm-from-the-oven cheddar chive biscuits, which encourages the large pat/dab/nob of butter to slowly melt into a drippy puddle, followed by also warm-from-the-oven chocolatey fudgy nutty brownies topped with hot fudge sauce. *sigh*

  45. Potatoes–either sweet or regular–baked on top of the woodstove, where they get a lovely crust on the bottom. (Of course, I haven’t lived in a house with a woodstove for years, but where there’s life there’s hope!)

  46. Pingback: thursday night smackdown » Not Liveblogging Top Chef: Chowder Time

  47. It’s hard to choose, but a hearty vegetable beef with barley is great, or three bean beef chili. Both are easy, compared to other food that I love but takes more effort to prepare. Thanks for the giveaway!

  48. Roast chicken (with lots of salt and pepper and at 500 degrees) with mashed sweet potatoes with hot sauce and lime juice and quickly sauteed spinach with garlic. That’s it…favorite I’m tired and it’s cold outside food!

  49. Nothing has quite the healing power that pho does. But in terms of what I would make at home…

    First, I want a big, steaming bowl of either velvety pumpkin curry soup or chicken rice (sometimes rice and barley when I’m feeling adventurous) soup made with lots of fresh veggies like carrots, zucchini, potatoes and broccoli, stewed tomatoes. For the main course, open faced tuna melts on a really good everything bagel. The tuna is mixed with both mayonnaise for creaminess and mustard for the bite, capers and a blend of spices. Tomato, onion and avocado all sit between the tuna and melty cheddar cheese. On the side are oven roasted sweet potato fries, cut about 1/2″ square and tossed in crushed garlic, rosemary, salt and olive oil before going in the oven and served with a creamy horseradish curry sauce. I’m not much of a dessert person, so would take more fries. But, if there were a nice, warm apple crumb pie topped by a scoop of vanilla ice cream, I wouldn’t complain.

  50. My absolute favorite cold weather comfort food used to be lentil soup. Then I met my father-in-law. My favorite is now a Depression Era recipe of his – Pork and Sauerkraut. It has six ingredients, including the salt and water, and it’s Tasty Food For The Lazy. Now I understand – sauerkraut is iffy for some people, but I promise there’s no sour left in this ‘kraut. It’s served over boiled potatoes or macaroni (I use rotini… I’m fancy apparently), and it’s just plain tasty.

  51. OK, no laughing at this one:

    Ultimate cold-weather comfort food

    Fry 1 lb. hamburger with chopped onion. Add 1 large can tomato juice, bring to a boil. Throw in a bunch of salt, macaroni and basil (oh, and some black pepper). Cook until macaroni is done and serve with cheese on top and bread on the side. Call it goulash (my mom does). Do not add a bunch of other spices or veggies: what you get might be delicious, but it’s not Mom’s goulash.

  52. Pingback: thursday night smackdown » Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

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