Tuesday, April 14, 2020

tomorrow, the prep begins

I just got home, so I'll be doing a yeast test in a few minutes with the yeast from my 2017-era, vacuum-sealed, as-yet-unopened package. My buddy Charles advises me to store my fresh yeast in the freezer (I couldn't find any yeast in my building's grocery tonight), where it can apparently keep for years. That's excellent advice—very good to know, and another step in the slow development of my retard-level bread-making skills. Pies and pasta—that's one thing. I can handle pies and pasta. But bread? That's a whole different animal.

As noted earlier, the menu this Friday is as follows:

• brisket sandwiches with homemade bread, barbecue sauce, and chimichurri
• baked beans with bacon and franks
• cole slaw
• corn slaw

The two slaws and the baked beans won't actually require much prep work. There's a lot of chopping and julienning, plus some mixing, but three out of four menu items are simple and straightforward. I'm going to take care of all of those things tomorrow, along with one final attempt at making rolls, now that I have a recipe from Charles. If the rolls fail, I'll buy some from a local store on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, I'll take my currently thawing brisket and dunk it in a brine. Thursday night, the brisket will come out of the brine and undergo the ritual low-and-slow bake that makes it into a tender, kick-ass piece of meat. I've already concocted an awesome barbecue sauce that is—I kid you not—the best BBQ sauce I've ever tasted. The only thing that saddens me is that, when I made the sauce, I riffed off a recipe, going way beyond the original and improvising my way to awesomeness. I don't know whether I can replicate this recipe ever again. The sauce does have one very strange property, though: it started off as a heavily ketchup-based formula, and because of that, I did what I could to add smokiness and umami. The end result is a bit of a paradox: the sauce tastes amazing, but when you get your first whiff of it, it smells like ketchup. That may be the one disappointing aspect of this sauce, but it really does creep me out that the sauce can smell one way and taste another: normally, smell and taste are tightly linked, and when we smell something, those olfactory data give us a clear idea of how something is going to taste. I guess the closest analogy I can give you, regarding the olfactory/gustatory contrast in my sauce, would be the difference between the smell and taste of fresh rose petals. Or of a bar of soap.

So that's the plan: do the slaws, the beans, and the bread tomorrow, then brine the brisket for most of Thursday before coming home and cooking the meat to hoped-for perfection Thursday night, painting it regularly with my homemade barbecue sauce.*

*I haven't cooked the barbecue sauce yet. The original recipe calls for cooking the sauce as a way to get the flavors to marry. The flavors seem pretty commingled already, after two nights in the fridge, but maybe heat is the missing ingredient, here.


John Mac said...

Honestly, I'm impressed. That's REAL cooking. I need another word for what I do which is basically mixing store-bought ingredients and applying heat.

Charles said...

Yeah, the sauce definitely might need some heat to get the flavors to truly marry. If there's one thing a good marriage needs, it's some heat.

Kevin Kim said...


You're too modest. I've seen your grilled meats and your slow-cooked meals. All great-looking food. You've got more culinary sense than you're letting on.


I'll double-double-toil-and-trouble the sauce tomorrow (Thursday night).