Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Preparing a Meal

When preparing a meal it is essential that all preparation be mindless. I do not mean to imply that the chef shouldn't think about it; only that the preparation should not require constant intervention. The meal should be preparing itself. Less stress!

So, to begin. Unless you are preparing fish, marinating is the way to go. The choices for marinades are endless, but might I suggest that whenever possible, only the freshest herbs and spices should be used. Oils always have there place. Dry rubs are OK when your really pressed for time, but then you're just cooking, not preparing a meal. Generously coat the main course with oil, preferably extra virgin olive, but infused oils are also acceptable. Use your hands and rub the oil all over. This accomplishes two things. First, it softens and allows the absorption of whatever herbs and spices you have chosen. Second, it lets you get good and greasy, and, let's face it, it's always better when you're greasy. Lets you slide and glide all the way to the end.

Before allowing the meal to marinate, it's time to season. Your choice of herbs and spices depends on what you're cooking, but fresh is the way to go. It is critical that fresh herbs and spices be handled gently, retaining their own natural oils and flavors. Garlic, for instance, should never be smashed and minced. No, take each clove between your thumb and forefingers and roll it gently until the peel is removed.

A brief aside is required here in regard to the main course. Butterflying and/or deboning are strictly forbidden. Remember, the meal is gifting itself to you. The flesh should never be cut or pierced. When inserting garlic, say into a rump roast, you should gently explore the roast until you find a seam that will accept the clove in its entirety. This process can be time consuming, but is well worth the effort.

Some people, at this stage will choose to tie the meal, be it meat or poultry, but I assure you, this is strictly a matter of personal preference. Prepare the meal properly and I assure you, be it bound or unbound, it will give itself to you, juicy and yummy.

At this stage, the main course should be allowed to marinate for as long as it wants to. It is perfectly acceptable to reapply and/or massage the spices several additional times. When the time comes, preheat the oven. Some find that initial cooking at higher temperatures, will help retain the natural juices. Again, a matter of choice. Nevertheless, the remainder of the cooking process should be long and slow, a natural approach when trying to maximize texture and flavor.

While the main course is slow roasting, preparation of side dishes should ensue. Mash or au gratin your potatoes. Trim your string beans. But only start cooking them when the main course is nearly ready to come out of the oven, and allow the main course to stand a bit as well.

The last preparation is the gravy. Gravy should be prepared over an intense flame, constantly stirred and whipped until it thickens and realizes its full potential.

Preparing a meal, like all truly enjoyable things, is not a science. This advice is offered only as a guide. You need to adapt it, nurture it, experiment with it and make it your own. The results will be delightful and savory. Bon Appetit! I'll leave dessert up to you.


Gail said...

some days it is just not worth gnawing through the leather straps


Gail said...

that being said - let me take a moment to finally comment on your writing. WOW!

This sensual expression disguised in a meal preparation is pure genius. Really, pure genius. The 'art' of removing the skin from the garlic clove and finding a seam to accept it in its entirety took me over the top. The "rubs" were stimulating, as well. I can't be the only reader who experienced this, this way. I agree that food and its preparation can be very sensual.

Still - Who are you?



Gail said...

Hey F A

How about a new post? Enough already with the sensual sex scene disguised as meal prep.

Time to inspire or piss people off - whatever. I am ready and waiting.

o Gail