I am so ready to be on vacation. So painfully ready.
Unfortunately, there’s currently a category 4 hurricane bearing down on my vacationing grounds, the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Listen up, Earl: I take a vacation once a year. If you fuck this up for me, I will come for you. I’ll bust you right back down to Tropical Disturbance. Try me.
On this vacation, which WILL HAPPEN unless the entire Outer Banks washes into the sea, I will take many satisfying naps on the beach and will consume copious amounts of barbeque, hush puppies and coconut cream milkshakes. In the evenings, I will sit on the porch with successive vodka tonics until I am fully soused and enter Total Beach Relaxation Mode. Also, did I mention the barbeque?
You can see why I’m so excited.
Alas, none of that happens until this weekend at the earliest, so the grind continues until then.
Tonight, the grind consisted of lamb meatballs with potato puree from David Leite’s The New Portuguese Table. I first picked up the book and was lured into buying it by a recipe for beef turnovers, but I knew I’d be in lazy ass pre-vacation mode tonight and would not want to fool with dough, so meatballs it was.
These particular meatballs had an interesting flavor profile; on one hand, the warmth of cinnamon and cumin and on the other, the brightness of orange and cilantro. Tied all together with a mess of garlic, ginger and some paprika, it made for a pretty little green-flecked meatball.
I fried them up in some olive oil, then built the pan sauce: onions, garlic, some more cumin and cinnamon, flour for Thickening Power, a splash of white wine and some beef stock. I let it cook down until it coated the back of a spoon, then returned the meatballs to the pan to heat through.
Did I mention that I’m also going to read many, many books? An important part of any vacation is going to the bookstore and spending more money than you ought on books that will be summarily devoured. Any recommendations? I will read the holy hell out of them. In between naps.
With the meatballs done, I turned to the potato puree. There’s nothing especially significant about it, nor did it seem especially Portuguese; it’s only calling card was the lavish, somewhat excessive amount of butter – one stick per pound of potatoes. I riced the cooked potatoes and whisked all the butter in, followed by whole milk, until the puree “flowed like lava.”
Which does nothing but remind me of making macarons. Rather, failing to make macarons, since my batter typically fails to “flow like magma” as directed.
I propose a moratorium on volcano-related cooking instructions. Unless someone comes up with a precise set of measurements for determining lava and magma-level viscosity, I’m ignoring that part of a given recipe’s directions. I suggest you all do the same; it’s the only way to put an end to this.
Anyway, with the potato puree and meatball finally complete and all magically warm at the same time (thank you, warming drawer; like I could have made that happen by myself), it was dinnertime.
Dinner? She was underwhelming.
First, the positive: who doesn’t like a meatball? And potatoes with that quantity of fat whisked in are bound to taste good.
Then, the negative: these meatballs just didn’t make sense to me. The flavor profile just felt off; the spices clashed and the orange was out of place. The meatball / potato puree combo was also somewhat perplexing. The livelier flavors in the meat seemed at odds with the richness of the potato; they fought rather than enhanced one another.
I’ll still be making the beef turnovers, because they sound damn good, but I’ll pass on these meatballs in the future.
And with that, I am one meal closer to vacation.