It’s Red Meat Week in the Hook/Garky household.
What is “Red Meat Week,” you ask? Doi! It’s a week during which we have dinners featuring red meat! To be fair, RMW isn’t going to last a full week — it may last three days — but “Red Meat Three Days” didn’t have the same ring as the title Hook came up with.
A disclaimer: Hook and I have predominantly vegetarian diets. In fact, with the exception of the cheese topping off my lunchtime salads, I’m pretty much vegan until 6:00 (in the manner of Bittman). Breakfasts are typically cold cereal and fruit (or oatmeal, if I’m lucky). Lunches include a salad and bread. I no longer drink milk (just almond milk), and on occasion I’ll have a midday yogurt. But overall, my diet is plant-based. I haven’t made a conscious decision to eat a vegetarian diet — my ill-fated fling with vegetarianism resulted in mild anemia and over-consumption of grilled cheese sandwiches — but rather, I simply prefer eating meatless meals.
Most of the time.
On occasion, I really, really enjoy eating meat. Properly prepared, a steak provides me more gustatory satisfaction than an equivalent serving of tempeh (as tasty as tempeh is). H. and I have made an effort to buy primarily hormone-free, grass-fed beef (from the hippie mart; probably soon to be bought at Whole Foods); the difference in quality between this and traditionally produced meats is notable.
Tuesday, I stayed home sick. Struck down by the Cold O’ Death that is sweeping my office, I did little else besides guzzle diet Canada Dry, internet (VERB), and watch 1,000 hours of E! (It is tough for me to admit to watching E!, but in the name of accuracy, I had to include this detail. Damn my illness-weakened self-respect!) I hope I don’t get sick in the near future; E!’s daytime lineup is enough to make anyone self-loathe for a few hours.
Thoughtful boyfriend that he is, Hook cooked our dinner on Tuesday: sautéed lamb with jalapenos and onions, served over cinnamon- and cardamom-infused rice. If you need a meal to bring you out of a funk, look no further. The delicate sweetness of the rice (and the gently caramelized onions) balanced well with the heat of the jalapenos; the lamb was so tender. Hook’s motivation for cooking lamb is to replicate Burma Superstar’s Chili Lamb, and while this version didn’t have as much heat as its inspiration, it was freaking delicious. I ate it with chopsticks and sipped some Caladoc as I ate.
Last night’s red meat was good old-fashioned steak: sirloin, to be precise. (Note: our eating and drinking patterns have been influenced by Mad Men to a greater degree than we’d thought.) Marinated in a Worcester sauce/pepper blend, the steaks were cooked* on our new cast-iron skillet. Thank god for this skillet: it has made steak prep/massive steak consumption so much easier.
As a side, we had oven fries, made from a few potatoes kicking around the pantry. Slowly, gradually, I am coming to love potatoes. I’ve always loved fries [because I am a human being], but now I’m cultivating an appreciation for their healthier cousins. This batch of fries turned out much better than previous incarnations; the frites were slender, golden, and just crisp enough. Next time, I’ll add more salt before cooking — just a pinch.
What’s on the menu for the rest of the week? Yesterday, Hook improvised a recipe for pepper pasta, which we ate with meatballs (K) and Pecorino Romano (H). This evening, we’ll be heading to Walzwerk, noted for its East German cuisine, in celebration of our 18-month anniversary(!) For those of you unacquainted with the convention, the 18-month anniversary is the Cabbage and Sausage Anniversary, not to be confused with the two-year anniversary (often commemorated with a gift of bone marrow).
*In butter and olive oil, naturally! How else would we cook steak?
Hook’s Jalapeno Lamb with Cardamom-Infused Rice
Here’s a very loose recipe for the dish Hook prepared on Tuesday. He prepares permutations of this dish on occasions when he’s craving Burma Superstar’s lamb and we don’t have time for an hour-long wait for a table at B.S. Modify this to suit your preferences: we like our lamb spicy, but you can cut down on any of the seasonings if you’d like a milder version.
- 1/2 cup Basmati (or other) rice
- 5 – 8 cardamom pods
- Cinnamon (to taste)
- 1/2 to 3/4 pounds lamb (stew meat is best)
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and veins removed
- Cilantro and Thai basil to taste
- 1 teaspoon chili paste
- Decent pour (1 to 2 tablespoons) of sesame oil OR half sesame, half olive oil
- Prepare your rice according to typical rice-making conventions. If you use a rice cooker, that’s cool. If you make your rice the old-fashioned way, as we do, measure the proper amount of water, wait for that water to boil, stir in your rice, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Before reducing the heat, stir in your cinnamon and cardamom pods. (You’ll remove the pods once the rice is finished.)
- Trim the fat from your lamb. Slice the lamb into thin squares, about 1 inch by 1 inch. That measurement is a total estimate — you can slice the lamb however you please, so long as the slices are thin and fairly uniform.
- On a separate cutting board, cut your jalapeno into rounds. Chop the cilantro and Thai basil into coarse strips.
- Heat a skillet — a 10-inch or 13-inch will do. Add a good pour of sesame oil (or half sesame, half olive). Add the onions and cook until onions are soft and almost translucent.
- Add your lamb and chili paste. Stir lamb and onions frequently. Once the lamb appears mostly cooked, add your jalapenos, cilantro, and basil.
- Serve the lamb over rice. Enjoy with wine — the Caladoc we had was nice — or with a frosty glass of Flying Horse lager.