March 2, 2011

The Stove is a Cruel Taskmaster

Category: Cooking — Cranky @

Some time the best laid plans go swiftly awry. Sometimes the plan is substantially flawed, and perhaps deserved to go off the rails. And sometimes the plan was half-assed or non-existant, and, well, clearly that’s not going to fly.

So it was with my attempt at Shrimp Lemon Pepper Linguini.

Everything that could go wrong, did. It started with the fact that I didn’t create my Mise en Place, nor did I reduce the ingredient amounts on paper before starting. Mistakes abounded, and none of them were the fault of some mystical, antagonistic force. I sucked.

The recipe calls for reducing a mix of chicken broth, wine, lemon juice and lemon zest by half. If you don’t read it closely, you might miss “in a sauce pan”, and use a frying pan, like I did. Guess what? Stuff reduces almost immediately when you spread it thin enough. I poured it in, turned my back, and when I looked again, all the fluids were gone. I coaxed it back to life – a sort of Frankenstein-ish pseudo-life – but I started to think perhaps this wasn’t going to turn out well.

I mixed in the butter and looked for parsley and basil – and discovered it needed chopping. Of course my mix is further evaporating, so I chopped my herbs poorly and quickly, and tossed them in. Naturally I didn’t cut it to match my reduced recipe, as that would have been a positive step.

Then came the shrimp, but they weren’t fully thawed and needed extra cooking time. I reduced the heat to try to compensate, but the brackish sauce was starting to look less and less like food, and more like what you might scrape off the axle of a work truck.

At that point I mentally threw in the towel. In went the linguini, and several minutes later dinner was served. One bite of pasta was enough. I ate the shrimp because, well, it’s shrimp, and the rest went unceremoniously down the garburator.

Mise en place. Learn it, live it, love it.