Jamie Oliver: A man on a mission, a mission to single-handedly piss off every elementary school lunch lady in the United States.
He also wants to make me a better cook, and I am all for letting him, especially when making me a better cook involves bacon. I can easily become a better cook where bacon is at issue. Frankly, I can think of very few people who do not become better cooks when encouraged to wrap things in bacon.
Jamie Oliver also wants to be very up front about what you’re getting when you delve into one of his recipes. This one, for example, is called “Delicious white fish in smoked bacon with asparagus and lemony mayo.” So: teach me to be a better cook, yes. Teach me to be terse, no. Otherwise, he could easily have written a very short book called “Just Wrap That Shit All Up In Some Bacon.”
Maybe I’ll write that book. It might be short, but you know it would be a bestseller. Because, you know, bacon.
In this case, the fish in question is a hunk of monkfish, which is meaty enough to stand up to being wrapped in bacon. Monkfish that Brian practically had to wrestle from the hands of the so-called fishmonger at Whole Foods, and I think he’s still a little bitter about the experience.
“My boss told me not to” is not an excuse to not fulfill a customer’s request that you cut an even filet from the giant side of fish you have rather than make up his requested weight in scraps. Also, it’s totally a bad lie. You kind of suck.
But whatever, we got fish in the end and there’s still bacon to mitigate the bitterness. I zested a lemon, mixed it with some chopped fresh rosemary and gave my monkfish a patdown before wrapping it in the bacon. It got a quick dip in a medium-hot pan before the whole pan went into the oven to roast the fish and crisp the bacon.
Once the timer started on the oven, it was Mission: Mayonnaise.
Jamie did tell me that if I wanted to have an extra glass of wine, I could use store-bought mayo and whisk in some lemon juice to flavor and thin it, which makes me laugh and makes me wonder if he had had a few glasses too many when he wrote the recipe up. “Sure, use the processed crap. Waiter, a refill please!”
I would have taken pictures of the mayo-making process, but I was too busy trying to keep my right arm from falling off at the shoulder from all the whisking, the incessant whisking. Because you know I didn’t take the easy way out and make it in the FoPro, because I am an idiot. It’s actually a shame that there is no photographic evidence, because this was the strangest mayo I’ve ever made: it thickened up instantly, and by the time half the oil was whisked it almost resembled a pate a choux (aka creampuff dough). It took much aggressive whisking – aided by Brian – and a not-inconsiderable amount of lemon juice to get it to loosen up.
Luckily, Jamie directs that the mayo be on the extra-tangy side, so all the lemon juice was a good thing.
Simultaneous with Mission: Mayonnaise, we cooked up the asparagus; Jamie suggested steamed or boiled, but I like to saute it in a hot pan and get a little color on it. In the meantime, I forgot about the fish (see above, re: me = idiot) and thank god that monkfish is somewhat forgiving and was wrapped in bacon.
I scatted some asparagus in artful disarray on the plate, drizzled some mayo over it and carefully transferred a piece of fish to the plate. “Artful disarray” is going to be the new “rustic” when I make something that doesn’t look all perfect-like.
I was a little apprehensive about the asparagus mayo, because I’m not ordinarily a big mayo fan; I think Brian shared my apprehension. I should have more trust in Jamie Oliver, because roasted asparagus with very lemony mayo is really good, almost like asparagus with hollandaise but lemony-er. It doesn’t take much mayo, and it’s damn good. I have no idea what I’m going to do with the tub of exceptionally tart mayo that’s now sitting in the fridge – how long does homemade mayo last? – because you sure as hell wouldn’t want to put that shit on a sandwich.
The fish was solid. I mean, it was really good, but then you’d expect good fish wrapped in bacon to be solid. Brian had high expectations and found that while it “was near the hizzy” it was not “all up in the hizzy”; I assumed it would simply be solid, so I was content. I was a little sad that Brian wasn’t thrilled with the dish after his unfortunate experience with the fishmonger, but I think we were both pretty happy in the end.
Has the food revolution come to my kitchen? I like to think it was already here, but I’ll let Jamie and his pinchable cheeks revolutionize my dinner any day.