06
May
10

How come I cook so little Tex-Mex?

The world gets in the way sometimes. Today there were two ingredients lurking in the fridge, incompatible with Tex-Mex but threatening to go bad: broccoli and an open tin of sardines, just one used in a salad dressing yesterday.

Even though I’d told John-Paul I’d come up with something, my thoughts kept straying. We had sweet potatoes: I could make my grandmother’s chicken with sweet potato dressing. Just sweet potatoes, potatoes, butter, piloncillo, cinnamon, cumin, onions, pecans, raisins, and a little salt. Okay, we don’t have pecans, but wouldn’t the hazelnuts left over from yesterday’s salad be delicious in it?

Yes, they would. But you have broccoli and sardines.

All right… How about thawing some ground meat and making chili mac? That sounds yummy.

Yes, it does. But you work tomorrow, and chili mac will be super easy to make when you get home. You should save it, and right now while you can still manage some creativity, focus on the broccoli and sardines in your fridge.

Okay, sure, broccoli and sardines… I’ll just go get some chicken, and we’ll have arroz con pollo.

No! Focus, would you?! Broccoli and sardines! Broccoli and sardines!

I used the sardines in a Piedmontese sauce called bagna cauda (hot bath), which I got from one of the egg cookbooks I’ve been reading. Melt three tablespoons butter and soften three cloves minced garlic in it. Add most of a can of sardines and 2/3 of a cup of extra virgin olive oil. Pull from the heat. Add salt and pepper; taste and decide it’s somehow even richer than you’d imagined, so add the juice of half a lime and a handful of chopped parsley. This makes an obscene amount for two people, but I plan on scrambling eggs and toasting bread in the leftovers.

Tonight, the bagna cauda topped broccoli and plain risotto. Since I had a batch of black beans (for weekend work lunches) simmering in the pot that fits the steamer basket, I blanched the broccoli in a smaller pot. I drained that into a bowl so that I could use the broccoli water as the broth for the risotto. I browned the rice in a little of the bagna cauda but otherwise added nothing but salt, pepper, parmesan, and a pinch of dry yellow mustard.

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