Sunday, January 23, 2005

cookin' with gas

I was really intimated in the beginning at the prospect of having to cook on a regular basis for French people. I lived on a staple of microwavable dinners and Hamburger Helper in my single life and the idea of cooking an actual piece of meat without microwaveable directions had me all a flutter. On top of that is the fact that we don't know it as "Paris Cuisine," but as "French Cuisine." It seems everyone here instinctively knows their way around a kitchen.

So yeah, in the beginning, it was a little rough, but now I've grown comfortable with some standards and I'm ready to expand a bit. When we get tired of the same old thing, Steph usually makes a suggestion for a new dish and I do my best to recreate it. We've had some suprising success with this. In fact, he complimented me the other day by telling me that he thinks I may have surpassed him in the actual cooking department, as I seem to have found the delicate balance between food being under/over cooked. (High praise from a Frenchman, indeed!)

For stocking up the freezer, about once every other month or so, we visit the butcher at Ed, which is a discount grocery like Lidl and Aldi, so I don't really like to shop there for everyday stuff, but their butcher is excellent. They have a great package of a variety of fresh cut meat for around 30€. You get a kilo of steaks, a kilo of pork chops, a kilo of sausage (the house sausage and marguez), a generous portion of pate, and this stuff:

That's about half a kilo right there. Looks like bacon, doesn't it? Well, it would be bacon, if it were cured like bacon. But this is plain old pork. Since we cook a lot with lardons we thought we could just chop it up in little pieces and carry on. Oooooooh no you don't. Since I don't think the proprietor of the apartment would appreciate me adding a smokehouse on to the side, we had to come up with another solution of how to eat these things.

The first thing we tried was smothering them in mustard and cooking them in a skillet. This came out tasty, almost like mustard-base BBQ from back home, but awfully fatty.

The next idea was a winner: Steph suggested cutting off all the fat and cooking it up with some onions and serve over rice. I mixed the meat up with a secret sauce and voila! Dijon Stirfry (oops I think I gave away the secret)!

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