Archive | March, 2009

Chew on This: What dish would you like to make, but never have?

16 Mar


Opinion # 1 By Chris Garbutt

One of my favourite things to do is to hunt down really difficult recipes with unusual ingredients and try to make them work. The dish that makes me most proud is from Charlie Trotter’s Kitchen Sessions book – layered scallop and Portobello mushrooms wrapped in phyllo. So yummy, so tricky, so satisfying to finish and eat! I don’t do this kind of thing as often as I’d like, but when I do, I learn more about cooking (and myself as a cook) than I have from any class, tv show or cookbook.

So the answer to this question is: Many many things! I’d like to cook more Asian food, whether it’s Chinese, Thai, Indian or Malay. I’d like to try to make a perfect burger – I think I’ve made some good ones, but this is something I haven’t yet put the effort into. I’d like to have a vegetarian feast for friends.

But the thing I’ve always wanted to try is an authentic cassoulet, that beany, meaty peasant casserole originating from the south of France. And, to my surprise, briefly made world-famous on election night in the U.S. last November.

My favourite food is comfort food, whether that be an Irish Stew or miso soup. And cassoulet has been on my radar for years now. I’ve made versions of it with chicken, versions of it with lamb, but I’ve never really taken on the true challenge of cassoulet, a multi-step process that really requires some kind of water fowl such as duck or goose in confit, some kind of sausage, and often a meat such as pork or even mutton.

I’m not a big fan of the word authenticity, because I find that what we consider authentic usually just means “old” or “not how we do it”.

But I do think that dishes do need a measure of authenticity, and with cassoulet, I think using chicken instead of duck or goose, while sometimes delicious, is really cheating. (I think they would agree with me here)

So, my dream is to one day take a couple of days, and make the most delicious cassoulet. If it ever happens, you’re all invited.

Saveur’s cassoulet recipe

A comment on the recipe

Slate takes on the cassoulet

Opinion # 2 By Stephanie Dickison

Despite having cooked since the age of 12 or so (so a long, long time ago), I am still intimidated to cook certain dishes.

I have given it a lot of thought and think that it must be dishes that you don’t grow up with.  Things that you come to as an adult are harder to figure out, I think.  I made my first pot roast last month.  I had never had that at home, only at friend’s houses or events held in banquet halls or family restaurants.  I made my first lamb shank this past fall and have recently discovered how amazing my steaks and chicken wings are – I always thought I could never duplicate a restaurant’s quality at home.  Not so!

This said, fish, for example, I find it hard to cook right – I either under or overcook it.

There are certain dishes that either aren’t part of my usual repertoire – such as stuffed pork chops, rolled veal or lasagna, which I perceive to be very labourious despite what people tell me – or things that I’m intimidated to make – like aranici (Italian rice balls), soufflé and anything in the baking realm.  I am just not cut out for dough, I have learned from the homemade pizza incident of 2008.

I have never cooked a rabbit or boiled a lobster or even steamed an artichoke for that matter.  Not because it’s hard, but it’s just never happened.

It seems there is just so much to make and so little time.  There is much on my list that I want to make for my fella, friends, family and neighbours – cassoulet, osso bucco, beef bulgogi, pozole rojo, goulash.  It’s making me hungry just writing about this…

I find that it just takes the first time to try to make a dish and then I’m ready to do it again and again.  It’s just making that first move.

God, it’s like dating all over again.