That title might be a bit hyperbolic since there were a couple of hiccups. But each meal came out pretty much as planned (though about 3 hours later than anticipated in just about every case). I was a little apprehensive about the 36 hours of insanity. But if you have awesome helpful friends like I do then I suggest you plan your own 36 hour dinner stat. It was a ton of fun and some excellent eating.
The Bob and I took a trip to London recently (more on that in another post). Our flight was delayed and we were shocked to find out that just about all the eating and drinking options at Dulles close around 9:30. All except a little wine bar called Vino Volo. We didn’t eat, although the menu (while somewhat limited) looks great for airport food: http://www.vinovolo.com/downloads/food_menu.pdf.
The service was excellent, the wine choices were sophisticated and although they kept threatening to close they didn’t – at least for the 45 minutes or hour that we were there. There isn’t much to say about this except that if you find yourself with some time to kill at Dulles step into this oasis amidst travel chaos for an uplifting refresher.
After all of the fun was had and all of the guests were gone the Bob and I realized we had enough food leftover from the dinner to eat for a week. Of course we didn’t want to just eat re-heated leftovers so we had to re-purpose a little bit. Not everything we tried came out great, but a couple winners were the smoked salmon spread (made with the leftover smoked salmon of course) and shepherd’s pie (made with the leftover mashed potatoes and lamb).
The salmon spread is really pretty easy. Combine cream cheese, sour cream, lemon juice, and pepper, mix in the salmon and stick blend. I wish we had included some kind of herb (dill perhaps) to cut the richness, but the best I could do was to top with green onions. Plop on toast, open a chilled bottle of white and you have a nice and easy dinner or fancy appetizer.
Shepherd’s pie is a great way to use up leftover meat and potatoes. Just cut the meat and any cooked root vegetables you have sitting around (carrots, parsnips and onions work well) into bite sized pieces and toss in a pan with some stout beer, butter (or a roux if you feel up to it), salt and pepper (you could add garlic and herbs, but that wasn’t necessary since the lamb was stuffed with both before it was originally roasted). Let the mixture thicken a little and warm up. Toss in a handfull of frozen peas, stir until just warm and transfer to a glass baking dish. Top with preheated mashed potatoes and grated cheddar cheese. Toss in the broiler until the cheese is bubbling and starting to crisp. Serve with a simple salad.
For lunch on Saturday of the 36 Hour Dinner we made pizzas. Alex and Lynda had some experience doing this in an oven (http://lapetitebouche.blogspot.com/2010/12/wood-fired-oven-pizza-at-home.html) but none of us had done it over real fire. I made the marinara the day before and we had the dough all ready to go so we just had to make an Eastern Market run to get cheese and all sorts of fresh vegetables.
The meat was the pulled pork that we didn’t get to eat the night before because it took twice as long to cook as anticipated (it came off the BGE past midnight – which also meant I had to bake the Cuban style chicken since the egg was in use but more on that another time). Bryan managed to get every edible piece of meat off the bone and Lynda did some kind of magic doctoring store to bought BBQ sauce.
What we learned: If you put the pans directly on the heat you get burnt pizza. If you use the place setter you get perfect, crispy, flavorful practically restaurant quality wood-fired pizza. So yeah, use the place setter. This meal involved almost no work from me since the meat and the sauce were made ahead of time. So I just sat and ate while everyone else worked really hard. But it was a brilliant idea on Alex’s part and we plan to make many more pizzas on the BGE.
I will post about all of the dishes in more detail, but some pictures of the boneless leg of lamb with persillade are attached here. We roasted some garbanzo beans in the bottom of the roasting pan as the lamb cooked. Garbanzo beans cooked in lamb fat are seriously tasty. The BGE is proving to be worth its weight in ceramic. It did a fantastic job of keeping meat juicy on the inside, creating a nice crust and infusing everything with a nice woody smoky flavor.
The pork has been smoking for about 5.5 hours and the fish has been curing for about 5. I want to post updates throughout the weekend, however, being that time has flown by (still need to make beans, rice and marinara sauce to be on track for today) I'm not sure how successful I will be, especially once the wine starts flowing. Nonetheless, attached are a couple pictures of what's happened so far …
A few months ago I was intrigued by this article in the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/magazine/10dinner-t.html). It involves a goat, one big fire and a series of meals. I don't have a goat, a big fire or a backyard so it wasn't really something I thought I could possibly stage. Nonetheless, I embark on a (VERY) modified version of the 36 hour dinner today. The idea is to try to keep a fire going and use it to cook a series of meals (though none goat sadly) for a group of people over the course of the weekend. The other idea is to spend 36 hours with this group of people cooking, eating and being merry. The dinner parties we generally have with them usually end up running all night anyway so why not?! For full disclosure I'm using a Big Green Egg (not digging a cob oven under my deck).
The plan is to slow cook a pernil (pork butt) all day today at a low temperature. Tonight we will fire up the heat to BBQ some Cuban style chicken. Then we feast on pork and chicken (hopefully). After the BBQ we will use the residual heat to make breakfast cinnamon rolls. Then back to high heat for some lunch time cast iron pizzas, roasted leg of lamb for dinner and to use the last of the heat to smoke salmon for Sunday breakfast. I'm not sure what will happen but stay tuned for pictures and updates!