If Yan Could Cook. . .

This Pedestrian Life: Hip Steak Wraps, Beef-Lentil Soup, Roasted Vegetables, Pulled Pork

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While processing an insane amount of vegetables, alone at home, I listened to Led Zeppelin’s “Physical Graffiti” for the first (and second and third) time. On the one hand, it irked me to be so cliché. How many teenagers and college students, decades worth, dead and alive, had sat around and had their minds blown by this album? And then it irked me to be having that thought, that pathetic, moronically young, pseudo-nonconformist desire to not be like everyone else, not like what they like, so that what you like can define you. But then it just washed over me: first a smile, a movement, a creeping joy, then a stillness inside. Yes. The music: mind-blowing.

Somebody asked me what I eat on any given weekday, and I’m going to pretend all of you care. I don’t change my Facebook status or use Twitter, so allow me this “hey world, look at the mundane workings of my life!” narcissism.

This month orange juice and peach yogurt have been a permanent fixture in my fridge, along with frozen mangoes, strawberries, grapes, and raspberries. Any combination of the above, with ice, in the blender, sends a cool, flickering sensation through the limbs.

Last week I made a bunch of hip steak wraps to take with me each day. In second year I thought this was a stroke of genius; now I regard anything that has only three major ingredients to be a quick-and-dirty affair. Foodie snobbery infects without warning, and the prognosis is swift and grim. Strips of onion (1/2 inch half-rings) are left to caramelize until inarguably sweet, then stir-fried with strips of hip steak, strips of green pepper, minced garlic, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, and black pepper. Because of all the sitting-in-ambient-heat time, it’s better to leave the beef considerably rarer than you actually want it. Then roll appropriate portions up in tortillas, let cool, wrap in foil, and then eat them with aggressive messiness in class, dripping onion juices in your lap.

This week’s second-year classic: beef-lentil soup. Half a large yellow onion, chopped small, sweated with minced garlic, one beef bullion cube, one chicken bullion cube, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and pepper; cubes of stewing beef are seared with the mixture. Five medium-small carrots and three large stalks celery, sliced, white-flesh potatoes in large cubes, a can of tomatoes, loads of green lentils (3/4 pound), and enough water that it isn’t stew get tossed in. Even loaded with red chili flakes at the end (which is essential!), it’s a comforting, straightforward soup. Portioned out and frozen for the grab-and-go.

Man, that is an unpalatable brown.

At the same time I was making this soup, last night, I chopped extra celery, onion, carrots, and potatoes, as well as some zucchini in large cubes, tossed it all with oil and coarse Montreal steak spice, and then popped it in the oven in two roasting pans covered in foil. After an hour and a half of being ignored, at 350 degrees F, a weeks’ worth of easy veggie snacks!

This morning, I rubbed a pork shoulder with a dry rub of brown sugar, celery seed, dried cilantro, paprika, cayenne, and oregano. It went into the oven at 200-225 degrees F (my oven is kind of imprecise at such low temperatures) for four hours: one hour uncovered, three hours under foil.

Finely chopped celery, green pepper, and onion were cooked in a few spoonfuls of broth and fat from the roast. To this I added dijon, balsamic vinegar, orange juice, honey, tomato paste, and pepper. Dismayed at how much it tasted like pasta sauce, I also added some pureed chipotle (which I cannot seem to get rid of) at the end. Then it tasted…well, kind of like a meatball sub, but still closer to pulled pork.

roast1 roast22

roast3 roast4

When the pork came out, I tore it apart with tongs and my hands, and drenched in the sauce. So far I’ve eaten it on hallah bread; I imagine it would be good on rice, too.


Written by skimfu

November 9, 2008 at 6:40 pm

Posted in Beef, Pork, Soup

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