When you don’t know what to make…

Make it up 😉

Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds.

If you don’t know what to do with what’s in front of you, think of where it comes from (and when), and make believe that’s where you are. Ask yourself, “what are the ingredients I’m likely to have at my disposal? What technology and economics exist here?”

Then use the answers to these questions to sculpt the dish you are about to create for yourself.  For example, when trying to figure out how to correctly cure an Iberico Ham leg, find out how it first came to be and then try to recreate the exact climatic and technological conditions of 16th Century Spain.

Allow me to share the situation I found myself in recently.

Exhibit A: goat

Let me admit at this point that I’ve worked with goat once — maybe twice in my life.  But by following the principals I’ve outlined, I am confident good things will happen!

This is a bone-in loin. This is a cut of meat you’re probably used to seeing on a different animal, in the form of a “rack of lamb”.  In most of these cases, the “cap” has been taken off, and the meat between the bones has been cleaned out — in which case the rack has been “Frenched”.  It looks quite different “fully clothed”, no?

Regardless of how the cut is or has been butchered, I’m not fully familiar with how to care for goat.  So I turn to my model, outlined above.

A quick Internet search will impart upon inquiring minds that goat is among the top three most consumed animals (by weight/per capita) in the world.  This actually helped me figure out what to do with it, as the main area of its consumption happens to fall in the heart of the most populated regions of the world: India, North Africa, and the Middle East.  It is my knowledge of the commonalities of these cuisines that will allow me to “wing it” with a good deal of confidence.

Looking in my refrigerator for things I have and cross referencing it with what those cultures’ cuisines would use, I found ginger, garlic and mustard. So that’s what I’m starting with as a base.  And I know all these ingredients will work together because very rarely are they found in a natural environment without the others being close-by.

Fun fact: mustard is the second-most consumed spice in the world – Black Pepper staking claim to #1.

Garlic prep tip: I’m smashing the garlic to be able to rub it on the meat as a rub.  What this means is, don’t just crush a clove of garlic, smash the shit out of it.  Rock your knife back and forth, and slide it front to back, making sure to squeeze the oils out.  You’ll recognize the difference by how it looks, feels and smells.  A simply crushed clove of garlic looks sexy on a TV show.  A smashed clove of garlic smells like sexy fucking garlic.

First rub the meat with the aforementioned sexy fucking garlic, then follow with whole grain mustard, mixed with minced ginger.

In this instance, apply the salt last.  Otherwise, the smearing of the garlic and mustard may dislodge the salt and interfere with all of its benefits.

I’m putting it in the oven at 450 degrees. I’m setting the temperature so high because the first thing I want to do is to get a hard crust on the outside.

If possible, spray the rubbed meat with olive oil before putting it in oven. This is to keep the ingredients in the rub from burning on the outside of the meat. Spray bottles can be used for anything liquid (including oils), just make sure to never put food products in a container that at any point in time contained chemicals!

Cooking Starches

Continuing with the theme of this post, we thought we’d bought a sweet potato. Turns out it was a white sweet potato, which I’d never even heard of until this little glimpse behind the curtain, but I just fell back on what I knew about food:

I peeled and diced it.

Medium diced a red onion.

I sautéed the starch in olive oil.

Fun fact: The definition of sautéing is pan-cooking with as little oil as possible.

Add: diced onion and salt. Stir.

Then place it in the oven. It would seem that about 15 min for the veg. and 22-25 min for the meat makes things perfect. I’m treating this goat like lamb (closest animal that I’m quite familiar with), so I’m taking it out once the internal probe thermometer reads between 110 and 115 degrees F, it’ll be a reliable medium-rare.

Awww yeah.

Tip: make sure to stir or flip the sweet potato occasionally.

Pull both dishes out. We’re done with that.

Oh, I’m sorry! I seemed to have dropped my mic.😎

Cooking Vegetables

To round out the plate, pair this with any type of seasonal vegetable you like.  Most likely, when appropriately seasoned with olive oil and salt, and roasted for a similar amount of time as everything else in this meal, just about any veg would do splendidly.

Final plating

Add lemon zest, salt, pepper (and minced shallot if you have it) to the vegetable.

Not too bad for a little improv and a root vegetable curve ball!

Food for thought after you’re done eating

This was hopefully an example of how you don’t need to know recipes to cook good food.  In fact, I just walked you through cooking an animal I had little-to-no experience working with — I just figured it out by thinking about how our world and its natural state may have suggested I handle it.  Cooking is easy.  Eating is even easier, but, these days, a lot of people seem to want to complicate it.  I say, eat and cook the way it seems the food should be prepared, as naturally as you’re able to make it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s