The culinary misadventures of P and C (part 1 of many).
We have deeply missed eating steak after our move to India. Expensive is one thing. Access is another. Very few restaurants serve good steak. Especially when one lives in Hyderabad. However, what is available in plenty are people willing to help. And we had identified just the right person to help us procure some steak. For this person was friends with a butcher! The idea was to have the pleasure of a steak at home. Truth be told, this post was inspired by a New York Times article, Eat: The Pleasure of a Steak at Home. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/magazine/the-pleasure-of-a-steak-at-home.html?_r=0) The idea however, was completely independent, and the events I am to describe took place quite some time before this article was published. Ahem…so here goes…The Pleasure of a Steak at Home…in India.
Steak-man had been identified. However, there was a small problem. Steak-man had no idea what a steak was. While steak-man was a good butcher, he did not know what steak cuts were. But we are not the kind to be easily deterred. So we found the next best solution to the problem. We decided to teach him what steak is, and in the process help him achieve his true destiny, which was that of becoming Steak-man.
There was another small problem. We did not know Steak-man ourselves. As I said, we knew his friend. And we were too lazy to drag ourselves to his store, which was not very conveniently located. So we would explain to the friend, who would in turn explain to Steak-man, who would in turn give us this awesome steak cut, which we would cook and have the pleasure of eating at home…in India!! The idea was completely foolproof!
Of course, Mother Google can always be counted upon for help. This time, she provided an excellent diagram of the relevant bovine animal detailing various steak cuts.
Then we explained to Steak-man’s friend what a steak is, showed him pictures online, even explained how the cuts are made, and gave him several, relevant, printed pictures. We asked for a ribeye steak. Then we waited.
A few days later, the steak was delivered. The black plastic wrapper that it came in did not look very appealing. Our mouths watered nevertheless. Eagerly we opened it. It did not look like ribeye. It looked like something vaguely resembling a piece of steak. There had been a communication gap somewhere. Our foolproof plan had presented its first hole. But the steak was at stake! I was going to stick with the plan.
I must confess at this point that I had never actually cooked steak before. I am a great lover of good food. In my opinion, there are two ways of having good food all the time. You learn how to cook good food. Or, you surround yourself with people who cook good food. I have always chosen the latter. It is more energy efficient. And you can have more variety by not having to depend on the culinary prowess of just one person. However, while this strategy has worked quite well for a long time, I have over the last few years been finding myself, physically, in places where I do not have frequent access to these good and generous cooks. So there I was…a steak I had to cook, and a steak I would cook.
On that particular day, the husband merrily stepped out to play basketball dreaming of the amazing meal that awaited him upon his return. I was home with a son (who was in desperate need of a shower after having played in the mud), a daughter (whom we were trying to potty train at that point), and a puppy (who was not only being potty trained, but also going crazy with the smell of this steak).
So how does one deal with the chaos? One opens a bottle of good red wine, plays A. R. Rahman on the music system, and lets the chaos ensue.
Somewhere in the middle of this, the bell rang. It was our neighbor with a bowl of mutton curry, which I gladly collected from her. Such blessings were rare. Good food is good. More good food is even better. Then I went about prepping my steak, cutting veggies, and doing everything else that a good, multi-tasking person does.
Now I know you are waiting for the debacle, and I will give you one. I won’t bother you with the specifics of the amazing recipe I had picked out for the steak (because I can only imagine what it would have tasted like). What I will tell you is that in the one hour that the husband was working out, our little hot air balloon joyride of steak dreams deflated through multiple holes with much fanfare.
I cleaned three pees, two of which were not human, I showered a very uncooperative 5 year old boy, and when I heard a crash and bang and went to the dining room to investigate the sounds, witnessed our puppy eating the mutton curry. The steak not only burned from the outside, but was completely rare on the inside. On further “cooking,” it became very, very well done, aka inedible! The side dishes…sigh…were lonely and sad (tasting) without their promised star of the evening.
The husband upon his return suggested rather sheepishly that we could just go to our neighbor’s for dinner since they were having mutton curry. Had I been a little more shameless than I already am, I would have taken him seriously. Instead, I chose to tell my neighbor the next day that the curry was delicious. It must have been given the way our puppy had eaten it. It had indeed been a very lucky day for puppy…mutton and steak!!
The result: One happy dog and curd rice for dinner.
The lesson: Wine solves everything.
Ahh, the joys of having steak at home…