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I was lucky enough to cook with my mom yesterday. We made pot roast, polenta, and a stew that she makes with cucuzza, which we grow in the vegetable garden.
My mother is a fanastic cook (minus the fact that she prefers her proteins medium well). She uses no recipes, typical old school Italian American cooking, although she was born here.
She has her way of doing things but is also open to hearing about the food science stuff I am into, at least in a broad sense.
One thing that we got to talking about, which i have been thinking about since, is that a lot of what she makes is based on the idea of making something delicious out of a frugal ingredients.
It made me wonder... is something fundamentally lost by taking these recipes and using expensive ingredients? For example, for the pot roast i got a nice piece of prime brisket. Not super fancy, but fancy enough, and certainly not what she would have used.
The end result was delicious, but is this cheating? Am I watering down the skill involved with doing this well? Is something lost in the process? Have I lost something along the way?
I think it's more about the cut of meat than the quality.
Though I'd be interested to try actual coq au vin rather than the modern poulet au vin. (I'm imagining myself saying this in Fraiser's voice.) The rooster can stand up to (and needs) a longer cooking time.
There's technique and there's quality of ingredients. There are also humble ingredients that, while affordable, are still of fine quality. We used to have an East European nanny for our kids and she was a remarkable cook who made all kinds of seemingly simple "country" type dishes that were astonishingly good. Now, it took me a while, but I finally realized she was going through olive oil and butter like a madwoman. Which helped explain why everything was so good - although she is an excellent cook as well. So. The end result was delicious but was it cheating?
I agree quality and cut of meat shouldn't be conflated. Brisket historically was not as "prized" a cut as it is today and seems appropriate for the application. Either way, you can get brisket of more or less quality, with quality having more to do with the provenience of the produce or animal.
Damn, miss food guy. Good to see that he is living in a beautiful country in what sounds like a beautiful situation. Nice article too but it sounds like he is eating a lot of potatoes and fish and convincing himself that it’s amazing.
One of the (many) things that pisses me off about the whole "foodie" thing is stuff I used to buy really cheap is now far more expensive. Brisket was traditionally a very inexpensive cut. Same with short ribs, flap steak, skirt, etc. Fuck, even beef shanks are not exactly cheap anymore.
Also, I've always felt filet mignon is way overrated and just social signaling for a lot of people. Yes, it's very tender if cooked properly (which is not a given,) but it so lacks flavour it's traditionally sauces to hell an back.