Monday, July 23, 2018

4 out of 6 ain't bad

Of my six list items, I managed to do four (in red):

1. Hot dogs, and by "prep," all I mean is "buy"; true prep will be super-simple.
2. Shack Sauce: this will be from a recipe by Kenji López-Alt.
3. Chili: pretty much self-explanatory. Con carne, with beans.
4. Corn salad: a medley of corn, bell peppers, chili peppers, and onion.
5. Baked beans: beans, bacon, hot dogs, BBQ sauce, brown sugar, and a bit of mustard.
6. Corn bread + butter: to go with the chili.

I'm not too worried about the hot dogs; I can buy them at any time up to Thursday. I am, however, worried that I bought the hot-dog buns too early. If they're mold-spotted by Thursday, I'll have no choice but to buy more on Thursday night or Friday morning, bright and early (on weekdays, Costco opens at 8 a.m. locally). That would be a waste.* I'm hoping that the "milk buns" will be available to order next week: they had been on display for two or three days last week, but by last Thursday, they had disappeared.

I haven't baked the corn bread, but I look forward to doing so Monday night. I've made cornbread from scratch before; it's about the only bread-like thing I've ever baked, unless you count cakes from pre-packaged cake mixes.

Around Wednesday, I'll buy the fresh vegetables needed for the hamburger's trimmings: lettuce and tomatoes. I've got some onions that can be quickly cut up and packaged, and I've got a bottle of sliced pickles that I'll be toting to work, probably tomorrow, as a way to lighten my load come Friday morning.

A few words about the things I did make:

1. The corn salad—think of it as a sort of slaw—may be among the best corn salads I've ever made. I added some chili flakes to it to give it some kick, and all the ingredients work wonderfully together. As I've said before, ever since I realized that the slaw's dressing doesn't need to be overthought, I haven't overthought it. The base is simply a fusion of mayonnaise and pickle juice, which sounds gross, but which tastes quite delicious. Add some black pepper and toss with the main ingredients: corn, minced green bell peppers, minced red bell peppers, minced chili peppers, and dried-onion flakes. No salt: the vinegar in the mayo is enough to initiate a slight pickling process; salt would accelerate that, and by Friday, I'd be looking at a Ziploc bag full of limp vegetables and foul, whitish liquid. (I had wanted to end this paragraph on a positive, appetizing note. I don't know what happened.)

2. Shack Sauce: God bless Kenji López-Alt for that recipe! I've never been to a Shake Shack, and I can't say how close KLA's reverse-engineered Shack Sauce recipe is to the real thing, but I don't fucking care—it's an amazing sauce, and I can already tell it's meant to be slapped on a burger. One hitch, in making the sauce, was that the recipe called for dill pickles, which are hard to find in Korea. I ended up using sweet cornichons, but I added a few shakes of dried dill before blitzing all the ingredients together. That made a world of difference; I could taste the dill after everything had been mixed, and it was glorious. I think this sauce is going to be a hit, but just in case, I'm hedging my bets with some extra leftover barbecue sauce from when I did the pulled-pork sliders.

3. Baked beans: I must say, I've learned a lot about Canadian Great Northern beans over the course of the past 24 hours. First, they drink up water like crazy. Second, contrary to what some recipes recommend, they don't need anything near a full hour's boil after an overnight soak: 40 minutes ought to be plenty. My beans, after nearly an hour of boiling, were getting on the soft side, but they still held their shape. I noticed, too, that they tasted good with only salt (in the water) as a seasoning. Duly noted. I had planned to add those beans to my chili this evening; instead, they all went into the baked-beans side dish, along with a few cans of pre-made baked beans. The canned beans were pintos, so the resulting combination of beans provided a bit of variety in size, texture, color, and maybe even taste. I made a sauce that began with a base of ketchup and brown sugar, then I built upward from there with some dried-onion flakes, powdered garlic, a glop of BBQ sauce, a blot of mustard... and I think that's about it. No Worcestershire sauce; no whiskey. Wasn't necessary. The beans tasted incredible, especially after I added the crispy remains of a one-pound package of bacon (probably reduced by more than half as it sizzled away). I had wanted to add chopped-up hot dogs to the side dish, but I think I might leave it as it is. The beans are on the sweet side—I have a sweet tooth, but if you eat them along with the corn salad, you can't go wrong.

4. Chili: as I did when I served chili dawgs to my friends last year, I relied on my variation of YouTuber Chef John's chili recipe. It came out well—in fact, it's cooling off right as I'm typing this, and it'll be containerized soon. There must be a couple gallons of chili in my new, huge, stainless-steel pot; luckily, I've got plastic containers big enough to handle such a load. The catering service continues to grow.

While I'm frustrated not to have accomplished all six of my to-do items, I don't consider myself behind schedule. The hot dogs and corn bread can both be taken care of by the time I go to bed Monday night (or, more likely, sometime around dawn on Tuesday morning!). The rest of my to-dos can all be done on the original schedule. As I mentioned before, my biggest concern is how to handle the burgers, but I think I've got a strategy for that. The only other worrisome variable is the milk buns: if I don't get them by Wednesday, that means another trip to Costco to get their hamburger buns, which are okay, but nothing to write home about.

Things are good. Much accomplished. No stress thus far.

*To forestall rotting, I normally refrigerate or freeze my bread, but I currently have no room in my fridge, and the office fridge is similarly full. I'm keeping the buns in a closet right now, but I don't know if that's the best solution for them.


Charles said...

Rule of thumb: Freezing bread is fine; refrigerating it, not so much. Refrigerated bread will go stale much faster than at room temperature (although, granted, it will not go moldy). Technically speaking, you can reverse the "staling" process (starch retrogradation) by heating up the bread, so if you are planning on toasting the hot dog buns, a fridge would probably be better than nothing. But if neither the fridge or the freezer are available, the closet is probably the next best place--keeping bread out of the light will slow staling (won't do anything about mold, though).

Kevin Kim said...

Good points, and boy, I'm learning some new terms, here. "Retrogradation" is immediately understandable, but I've never actually heard that word before. My own vocabulary doesn't get much more specialized than "denaturing," which I think is more closely associated with pure chemistry.

It occurred to me that, at the office, I've got the use of both (1) my own team's fridge in the R&D room and (2) the communal fridge in our office's faux-kitchenette ("faux" because it looks mostly like a kitchenette, with a counter and cabinets and a microwave, but it lacks a sink).

I just stuffed almost everything into the communal fridge: the beans, the chili, the corn salad, the Shack Sauce, the BBQ sauce, and the bread (which barely fit inside the freezer). Coworkers are gonna be pissed at the amount of rude rearranging that was necessary to fit everything inside. I should probably write an apologetic note.

Charles said...

Perhaps they will be forgiving after you've cooked them all that delicious food?

Kevin Kim said...

Here's hoping, but it's only the "ipshi" team that will be eating with us R&Ders this time, so I might still have to weather the wrath of the SIS team and the IT team. However, one nice guy in the IT department said I could use the empty space in his department's midget fridge if I needed to. That was a kind gesture.