Friday, April 08, 2005

On Beef and Barolo

Was doing some research recently for a menu and chose a nice Barolo beef for my main course. (See note on fish below and why we won't be having it at my house for a while. Somehow, I didn't feel similarly violated on the price of the Barolo, although I probably should have.) Kinkaide's helped me with a nice lesson in eye-round, sirloin roasts, and, of course, rib roasts (and prime rib). So, armed with a nice cut of meat, and a recipe from Danny Meyer's Union Street Cafe cookbook, I was all set to make my dish. But wait! I was all set until last night when I was shelving the last issue of Cook's Illustrated magazine and was practically warned off by Christopher Kimball! My god, man, if you make experienced cooks paranoid, how must beginner's feel?

In his expose of Barolo beef (glorified pot roast, he calls it), Kimball starts off by lecturing me on how almost no one can get Barolo beef right -- it's a waste of good wine and a roast. It can be *an* *expensive* *mistake*! Gee, thanks for that help. So, after his three page litany about how many times he tried it and all the testers negative opinions ("stringy" "inedible" "like shoe leather"), he gives me *his* infinitely better (he'll make you think) and simpler (not really) and better (who knows) way to make Barolo beef.

Maybe I'm just getting tired of the America's Test Kitchen approach. Or maybe it's the author. Somehow Pam Anderson never made me feel stupid. Or maybe I'm just starting to feel more of a confidence about improvising and not following every recipe to the letter. Either way, I'm going to lay off the CI's for a while. Maybe cooks should drop their subscription once they can identify all of the obscure cooking tools people ask about in the front.

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