Food Fit for a Merry Prankster
Last night I finished off the meatloaf and potatoes au gratin I made last week. I still can’t get over the experience.
When you think of great food, meatloaf does not come to mind immediately. When I was a kid, meatloaf was something I ate because it kept me alive. It was okay, but no sane person begged his mother to make it. That has been the way I’ve seen meatloaf all my life. Cheap, easy to make, and good enough to eat without struggling. It’s probably the most pedestrian food on earth that doesn’t come out of a can with an easy-open top.
The meatloaf I made last week, combined with the potatoes, made an astonishing meal. On top of that, it got better while it sat in the fridge. The seasonings mingled. The pepper in the potatoes worked its way through the potato…meat. By the time I finished it off, it had reached a sensual crescendo.
I could not stop eating this stuff. There are some things I just can’t have in the house, and this combination appears to be one of them. I can’t have fun size Snickers bars or miniature Reese’s cups around. I can’t have Fat Boy ice cream sandwiches around. Now I have to add meatloaf and potatoes to the list.
I ate the last of it, and then for at least two hours, I found myself reliving it and exclaiming aloud that it was fantastic.
Yes. I had meatloaf flashbacks. I have PMSD: Post-Meatloaf Stress Disorder.
I felt like I had ingested drugs. I was borderline euphoric. From food.
There is no restaurant on earth that does that for me, but it happens with my own food all the time. I can’t understand it. Last night I sat on the couch, marveling at the strange gift God had given me.
I would be completely happy being an okay cook. I have no family to feed. Even though I make good food, I’m not that picky about what I eat. As far as I can tell, I don’t really need to be able to produce exceptional food. But it happens time and again.
I made meatloaf and potatoes so well, I can’t make it any more. If I make it again, I’ll eat 5,000 calories a day until it’s gone. I don’t have a church to cook for any more. I quit cooking for my friends because I have no wife to help me shop, cook, or clean up. What am I supposed to do with the recipe?
Even worse, I know I can make it a lot better. I’m going to resist trying.
By the way, one of the keys to making the meatloaf work is baking it at 400 for at least half an hour at the end. This creates a thin black crust around it, on the sides and bottom. The flavor this crust provides puts the icing on the cake, so to speak.
It’s too bad I can’t come here and say, “Wow, God made me an incredible composer/musician/singer/mathematical genius/inventor/whatever.” There are things I wish I could do extremely well, and cooking is not one of them. Mozart got perfect pitch, flawless timing, endless musical creativity, and peerless dexterity. I got potatoes au gratin and strawberry cheesecake.
Which I don’t have the metabolism to tolerate.
There must be a reason for it. It’s not so I can open a restaurant. Forget that. I watch restaurant shows all the time, and I am now sure I would rather be struck by lightning every day than supervise the kind of people who cook on lines and wait tables. It’s not so I can sell things I cook. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for people to sue me because they pretended to choke on things I made. I definitely don’t want to run a commercial kitchen where the government will force me to sit through seminars about my legal obligation to encourage my gay employees to get “married.”
I feel like one of the lame superheroes. You know. Like Storm, the X-Woman. Her big gift: making it rain on bad guys. Whoopee. Impressive. “Oooh, I’m scared. Whatever you do, don’t jack up the humidity and make my hair frizz.”
The superhero who makes great cheesecake and ribs will never save the world or get the girl. You can bank on that. He’ll be back at Justice League headquarters, hosing out filthy smokers and inhaling unhealthy quantities of hickory smoke. “Wonder Woman and I are flying back to her island on her invisible jet for a three-week honeymoon with no cell phones. Can you fix us some to-go plates before we abandon you to clean up the kitchen alone?”
You can always pick Food Boy out in group photos, because he wears his cape in the front.
It’s a nice gift to have, but if you know why I received it, you are way ahead of me.
Speaking of food, I guess everyone knows the KFC recipe is now public domain. Colonel Sanders has a nephew, and the nephew found the recipe, written in the Colonel’s handwriting. KFC swears it’s a fake, but sadly for them, people who try it say it’s the real thing. The only missing item is Accent, i.e. monosodium glutamate.
I’m happy about the news, because KFC quit making the real thing a long time ago. They used to fry chicken in beef fat, but the joy-killers got to them and made them switch to something inferior. Probably canola oil, which is like sunflower seed oil that has had a small fish fried in it. Beef fat is loaded with cow flavor, and it’s satisfying. Now that we have the recipe, we can make real KFC at home, with proper fat.
Some people are saying the leaked recipe has too much paprika in it. Paprika is pretty mild. You can probably vary the amount a great deal without hurting anything. If the real KFC recipe has less paprika than the leaked one, it may simply mean that KFC decided to save money by cutting down on a low-impact ingredient.
Here is the recipe:
KFC CHICKEN INGREDIENTS
2/3 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. basil
1/3 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. celery salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. mustard
4 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. ginger
3 tsp. white pepper
2 cups flour
I haven’t tried it. I don’t fry chicken all that well, and I’ve been busy with other stuff. If you try it, I hope you’ll report back. They say you have to fry right at 350 degrees, and you should be aware that KFC uses pressure fryers, so you probably won’t want to go all-out and use the same type of equipment. I can’t figure pressure fryers out anyway. How do you know the chicken is done if you can’t see it?
If I made that stuff, I think I’d replace some of the paprika with chipotle powder. Maybe I’d have to cut back on the white pepper, though.
I don’t feel bad about passing the recipe around, because it was never patented to begin with. It’s a trade secret, not the subject of a patent. Infringing a patent is a statutory tort and a crummy thing to do. Using a trade secret you received legally is fair play!
Now that I think about it, the KFC spice profile would be great on fish. You could use it in a fish and chips recipe. That would rock.
I made pot roast today. First time ever. It’s merely very good, so I think I’m safe.
I’m going to go have some now. If I start to freak, talk me down.
Predictably, the pot roast was really good. It would go great with hoe cakes or cornbread.
Might as well post the recipe.
3 lb. chuck roast
3 large (large) red potatoes
2 large yellow onions
1 pound grape tomatoes
1 packet beef flavor onion soup mix
1 lb. carrots (peeled baby carrots are fine)
10 oz. Carlo Rossi Paisano or similar red wine
1 qt. water
1 teaspoon starch
Salt and pepper the meat. Use lots of salt. Fry it in a little oil to brown the outsides. You may have to use high heat with a piece of meat this big.
Pour the wine into a big casserole dish or something similar; it will have to hold the meat and all the vegetables. Add the starch and a teaspoon of salt to the wine. Make sure the starch is stirred in. Put the meat in the wine and sprinkle the soup mix on it.
You could probably double the starch and get a better result than I did.
Bake the meat at 300 degrees for three hours. Slice the onions. Cut the potatoes in big chunks. Add the vegetables to the meat along with the water. Salt the vegetables heavily and then season them with pepper. Cover and bake for another 90 minutes.
You may want to turn the broiler on at the end, uncover the food, and brown it on top.
Check the sauce to make sure it has enough salt in it. If not, add salt and swirl it around to dissolve it. Test again and get it right.
You might want to use 1 1/2 packets of soup mix. It’s very good with one packet, but it might be nice to make it more intense.
Also a possibility: 1 bay leaf in the sauce.