Well, it wasn’t so bad really. But it was definitely a meal gone awry. Let’s start at the beginning.
Jonah spent Christmas in Minnesota with his family, and I spent it in Seattle with mine. Yet another extended period of not seeing each other (I can’t tell if it gets easier or harder every time…). So when I got back on Saturday, and I told Jonah that I needed to do some blogging but didn’t really have any material at this moment, we decided that, on Sunday, we’d make a big blog worthy meal together. We pulled out cookbooks, and decided on some drunken pork from the Toro Bravo book (the recipe called for juniper berries, which I had received for Christmas), and a kale and white bean crostini from another book we have called Street Food. We went shopping Sunday morning, did a bunch of prep work, and then headed off to the gym.
Fast forward a few hours, we’ve started the cooking. Pork tenderloin has been marinated, wrapped in bacon, skewered, and is ready to grill. Crostini with anchovy butter are in the oven. And then, things start to go awry. We had decided to double the bean recipe from Street Food (one of the three elements of the kale crostini) so that we had beans for both the crostini and to eat with the pork, and possibly even some leftovers. The single recipe, which called for one 14 oz can of white beans, said to cook the onion and jalapeño in a pot, then add the beans, then add 2 cups of water. 2 cups. Let simmer for 10 minutes or so, and then blend with an immersion blender. We were doubling it. Before I added the water, I looked at the pot, looked at 2 cups, and thought, hmm… this seems like a lot of water. And that was only half of what I was supposed to add! I asked Jonah if I should really add so much, and we decided to follow the recipe.
At this point, Jonah goes out to the back deck to grill the pork. And then the grill runs out of gas. I’m sure there were more tanks in the garage, but we were about to be ready for dinner, so we didn’t really want to deal with setting it all up and then having the food be cold. So Jonah came inside and started cooking them on the stove, which was fine, except for the fact that they were skewered, and so the bacon wasn’t getting as cooked all the way around the pork.
Back to the beans. After over 20 minutes of simmering, there was still a crazy amount of water. But we blended it up anyway, and, of course, it ended up being more like bean soup. Shit. At this point we’ve got undercooked bacon, bean soup, and no beans for the crostini or the pork.
After all that effort and work and prep and being prepared! I felt so defeated. I didn’t even want to eat anything. After a few bites (and a few sips of wine), we finally started to laugh at all of it. The pork was perfectly cooked and really good, but the bacon thing was so disappointing – you really wanted the crispiness in there. I think next time I’d try it with something even thinner – maybe a prosciutto or pancetta? As for the beans, here’s what I learned: I need to listen to my instincts. Just because a recipe says to do something doesn’t mean it’s right. I’ve been cooking long enough to know my way around the kitchen, and when something sticks out as not making sense, I should have just adjusted. I felt disappointed in myself for that.
This post seemed appropriate as my first one in the new year. Lessons learned in the kitchen. Listen to your gut. Don’t let your expectations get out of control. Roll with the punches. We’re going to make that bean soup into something stellar. Add a cheese rind and some kale, ribollita style. Always recovering.
(Photos in the post are of the meal before I gave up on it becoming a post.)