… and Other Excuses to Do Things the Hard Way
For the enthusiastic home cook, cooking usually invokes mixed feelings: the craft itself is a pleasure, preparing daily meals can be a chore. Short of some foodie utopia where we all have trust funds and bear no major responsibilities, cooking mid-week is invariably a compromise of time and logistics: meals go through an intricate algorithm of available time, ingredients, and what’s-about-to-go-bad before any thawing or mincing begins.
But Saturdays are different. Saturday is the day I shop for food, and being an indomitable foodie, this usually involves an attack plan on farmers markets and specialty purveyors rivaling that of the D-Day invasion. Saturdays are a fresh start for my meal planning, a day not only of ample time to make my cooking fantasies come true, but a day of limitless culinary possibilities. There will be no reheating on Saturdays, no using the microwave, no mealy-looking produce, and no questionable expiration dates to consider. The meal will be nuanced and consist of multiple courses. I may, if no one watches, experiment. Saturdays rock.
If you’re still roasting, sautéing and grilling on a Saturday, you’re missing out on the awesome opportunities to braise, smoke, slow-roast, sous-vide and confit your food. In a world of 30 minute meals and a mainstream food culture built on shortcuts and colorful packaging, we’ve traded depth and complexity of flavor for expediency. When we strive to make every meal quickly and without hassle, we implicitly surrender a wide range of textures and tastes. This bargain may be necessary mid-week, but Saturdays give us a shot at redemption.
The Saturday Meal allows us to work with premium product. Expensive proteins and exotic produce aren’t feasible for daily cooking, but tiny weekly splurges are good for the soul. Making the expense worth it – meaning that the meal will be better and not simply more expensive – takes skill and patience. Ruining a grass-fed, dry-aged ribeye should be illegal. In direct contrast, there is also the fact that working with the cheapest proteins – the scraps, the odd ends – requires a lot of gentle coaxing to transform the undesirable into the transcendent.
When the season begins, I’ll make it a point to cook an entire Saturday meal using nothing but local product.
Now, let’s go make something complicated that takes a terribly long time and enjoy it.