Archive for the ‘Meats’ Category


Sunday, September 30th, 2007

        For a “letting down the hair” meal, good in the city but maybe better by the fire in a mountain cabin.

        Matter of fact, it would have been just right the evening of my U.S. Army career when a group of us headquarters company nerds, pressed momentarily into driving elephantine trucks through the French countryside on some comic opera maneuvers, ended up taking dinner at the boondocks social club of a Polish auxiliary corps, displaced persons, I believe, serving as night watchmen as a first step on their road to American citizenship.

        Saarland beer flowed, a Beethoven quartet came over the radio, and here we were, Americans in romantic-looking field jackets out of Hemingway breaking bread among Poles smack in the middle of Touraine. Unfortunately I’ve forgotten what we ate, but I do know this was the first, and last, time in my life I felt I was inhabiting a remote paragraph in some exotic novel of war and peace.

        Next day we were off again, lumbering through the garden of France, the naughtier drivers among us perversely allowing their two-and-a-half-tonners to backfire, scaring the livestock out of their Courbet calm.

        A month later we were on the road again, but with all romanticism withheld: this time we slaves in drab fatigues had to camp like strewn baggage in our trucks for several days near the tiniest of Sologne hamlets, a place named Ennordes, I think, an identification as mournful as that attached to Mr. Milne’s ever-drooping Eeyore; and there was nothing to eat but C rations (hence my aversion to tinned pineapple to this day) along with the French bread, very good actually, which the more imaginative of us found by knocking on the unmarked village door out of which local babushkas, living in the Middle Ages not many kilometers east of Route Nationale Numero 20, were exiting with warm loaves under their arms.


In a large skillet fry thinly sliced red potatoes in bacon fat, turning them often, and don’t be afraid to add more fat if it’s needed.

In another pan fry some link sausages without added fat and drain on paper towels. And a few minutes before supper time fry 1 or 2 eggs per serving in a non-stick pan without fat.

Serve the potatoes topped with egg or eggs and bordered by the links, dare one say it, “links und rechts.” And pass a pot of mustard.

OR:   If you happen to have doggy-bagged some smoked ham from a first-class Hunan restaurant, substitute this lively item for the links, depositing pieces of ham over your eggs.


Sunday, September 30th, 2007

        Oxtail stew reminds me of Roman trattorie like Galeassi with its attractive terrace opening onto the slightly scruffy piazza of Santa Maria in Trastevere. The grissini in a glass or sweet-dough rolls carefully positioned by your napkin, the pitchers of tangy, grassy Frascati, the warmth in the air even in March: it all rushes back to the front of one’s consciousness thirty years on.

        And how can I talk about Rome without mentioning Piperno and its roast kid, the fritto misto of zucchini, mozzarella and risotto, the famous oil-fried artichokes served with their stems in the air, like proud menhirs looming in a miniature Monument Valley.


In a large pot brown 2 pounds of oxtails without fat over moderately high heat, then lower the heat some, push them aside and soften a chopped onion in a little olive oil, adding 1 pressed garlic clove after the onion colors — this won’t take long; now drain off the accumulated fat.

Cover your oxtails-and-onions with 14 ounces of beef broth and some water, add a little oregano and rosemary and a fistful of fennel sliced into rings, and simmer all for 2 hours with the top on. You will doubtless need more water along the way, several cups in fact.

Then stir in a cup of peeled and diced turnips along with a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste and continue the simmering for another 20 minutes, cover partly off. Finally, just before serving, garnish the stew with minced parsley. Mashed potatoes would make an appropriate sponge for its aromatic sauce.


Sunday, September 30th, 2007

        Baked kale, our alternative green, is a strange one: it emerges from the oven its leaves like miniature trees pressed flat by some exuberant aggressor in a canine cartoon. It even rustles like foliage in a breeze when you pick it up to eat.  By the way, try a hamburger topped with baked kale and yogurt: this is creamy crunchiness extraordinaire.


Boil sausages of your choice and serve them with warm boiled sliced potatoes and salad greens in a mustard vinaigrette. Or substitute for those greens baked kale, prepared as follows:

Wash, dry and trim 1 bunch of kale and toss the leaves in a mixing bowl with 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil and up to 3 or 4 (!) pressed garlic cloves.

Spread the leaves flat on a cookie sheet and bake them at 400° for 10 minutes, then turn them and bake another 10 minutes. Serve immediately thereafter.