Good morning. It has been steadily raining in South Florida since last night and we will have more during the day. We woke up ready to write in earnest but we needed some unusually brutish force to kick our muscles into gear.
What should we do? How about preparing the “barbarian meal” that we have not dared to try for months? Presto.
We grilled cut potatoes plus Canadian style bacon and added mozzarella cheese and two fried eggs on top. Voilà!
What do you think? Will it boost our reading and writing capabilities in this so solitary, sombre day? Let us hope so.
A few days ago, we dreamed about one of the most beautiful, pristine, and in certain ways primitive regions of France, which contrary to a widespread belief has many wilderness preserves. The Massif du Vercors is a mountainous area in the Southeastern part of the country that straddles the departments of Isère and Drôme, to the east of Le Dauphiné (site where the famous gratin dauphinois was invented) and in its eastern boundaries arriving at the city of Grenoble; situated in the French Pre-Alps, it is surrounded by dense forests, which are teeming with wild animals like deer and boar, and has few urban settlements. Precisely that roughness of the terrain has seared its mark in the collective imagination of the French citizens who are overwhelmed by city life. Moreover, during World War II, it was one one of the favorite hiding places of the maquisards (members of the French Resistance) who eventually created a “free zone” called La République Libre du Vercors in June 1944. That name derives from the Vertamocorii, the local tribe famous for its ferocity and agility in inhospitable terrain; after the Roman conquest, many of those tribesmen were recruited for the imperial legions that fought in Germania. We believe that this potage with rice,lentils, veggies, chorizo and bacon would have been enjoyed by the Vertamocorii.
First line up all the ingredients and make sure that once you start, you don’t have to pause (even though we confess that we had planned to do it yesterday but we were too tired after reviewing the final proofs of our new book)
The first step is to grill our sausages and bacon in our splendid Nuwave Air Frier, which healthily cooks all meats.
You must be very careful not to overcook you sausages as you want the outside crispy and the inside juicy. Like this.
Then we will proceed to cut the onion and red pepper in small squares; you can also add the ginger at this time.
Whenever you are cooking rice in a broth ( like we normally do in a risotto) we must keep in mind that as we are adding the ingredients, the liquid is being slowly evaporated, which has the effect of slowly densifying the mix. We must consider the risotto, and similar preparations, as a thick soup where the ingredients absorb much of the broth.
In order to get ready for the cooking, we must prepare a thick broth with the ready made cubes or from scratch.
Prepare some extra broth because there is nothing more annoying more than unexpectedly coming short of it.
Don’t panic. We will continue to hold your hand and we will do the cooking together, as if we were family already.
Now we are putting some olive oil and a little bit of butter on the saucepan to slowly melt it. Just like this.
Once the mix melts, start to slowly add approx. 100 grams of Arborio rice (or whichever type you have available) The idea is not to fully cook the ice but to toast it slightly so during cooking it will not stick to the bottom of the pan.
Once the rice is properly toasted, start to slowlyadd the broth from the side, little by little, with a scoop. Be careful!
Warning – One of the silliest major accidents that occur in professional kitchen happens when an overworked chef off–handedly orders one of the assistants to add some broth (or other hot liquid) to a pan cooking with oil. The sudden interaction of those two liquids can produce a temporary combustion that spews hot liquids up in a cloud.
After you submerge the rice completely with 4 or 5 cups of broth, let it simmer for a few minutes (no more than 5)
Next add 100 grams of lentils. which are one of the few kind of beans that do not need a previous hydration step.
Let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Then it is time to add the San Marzano tomatoes and all the veggies. Like this.
Now comes a tricky part. How do we season it? You might already know that, bowing to the realities of our frail human nature, we hardly ever use any salt in our dishes. But this one calls for a little pinch of Sodium Chloride. You might want to add some Granulated Garlic, Oregano and Black Pepper (remember that the latter is aphrodisiac)
Finally it is time for the meats, i.e. chorizo (the kind we eat in Argentina and Uruguay) and the Canadian bacon. sadly, we did not above any boar in our fridge but we promise, O Spirits of the Vertamocorii, to fix that affront.
Super important concept.
The next two steps are crucial for a successful outcome. Fist cook at medium intensity fire for 20 minutes. Like this:
Are you listening? Now, are you really listening? Now comes the crucial final step that most people avoid in the rush to finish. Turn the oven off. The evaporation process is still in full swing and you have to put a lid on the pan.
Let it stand for at least twenty minutes or even half an hour. Then slowly open it and catch the full aroma of this:
Can you see the difference of this picture with the previous one? That dish was soggy and this one is perfectly juicy.
This whole process might take approximately one and a half hours from the beginning to the end. But it is worth it!
Ladies and gentlemen, dinner is served. Please join us at our humble table for a nice dish and a lot of conversation.