Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vision Quest v. Dream Haters

Zola: Every once in a while my brain actually cooperates with me. And every once in a very great while, it actually does something nice for me--like give me an awesome, completely escapist fantasy dream. Last week, said brain delivered the goods. Now I know that there are a lot of people in the world who really hate it when people launch into their dreams. Fair enough. But I think all you dream-haters out there will even appreciate this one. Plus it was (mercifully for you, sadly for me) short. Here's what the old brain kicked out: I'm sitting in a cafe, drinking coffee with Anthony Bourdain, AKA: my new boss. See? So great already, right? We're in this cool old late '50's cafe--very Canter's-eque--and he starts to explain what my job is. It's something to do with project managing things on location/researching restaurants, food histories, etc. Anthony is like, "so... I'm really excited to have you join our team." And of course--because it's a dream--I'm super casual and say, "yeah, let's talk a little more about what exactly you're imagining will be involved." but the subtext is obviously: "yeah dude, of course you are. I'm about to manage the shit out of these programs." Now let's be absolutely clear about this: I am never cool like this; not even in my dreams. This dream is very quickly moving further up on the greatest-dream-ever-o-meter.  So my new boss, Anthony, says, "Let's go get some food and we can talk more about it." We hit the road and just begin to start talking more about what he needs me to do when he abruptly pulls the car over as he says, "this place has an amazing dish." We walk in and, because I'm with Bourdain, the dish is served to us immediately. It is a small, deep gordita/masa patty with a poached egg and two slices of perfectly cooked steak on the top. A vision.

When I went to cook this, I realized the hardest part of this dish would be the timing. Nothing in it takes very long to do, and everything is actually rather time sensitive. I decided to add some collard greens with bacon because a) it seemed like the dish needed something green, b) it seemed to suit the flavor of the dish and c) our neighbor just gave us a ton of bacon for watching her cat (maybe she's seen the bacon bumper stickers? cats like bacon? I'm not sure I get the connection but I'm not complaining). So here's what I did and in the order I did it, to make this dream a reality.

Start by cleaning the greens. Or in my case, get Guy to clean and cut the kale before you get home from work. I chopped some bacon and peeled some garlic, and set that on a low heat to start cooking. While that was going, I started on my masa dough.
Here's the recipe I followed for gorditas:
1 3/4 c. masa flour
1/4 c. flour
pinch salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 c. + 2T water
2T vegetable shortening
They say to mix masa and water and add other ingredients. Next time I make gorditas, I'll mix my dry ingredients, LARD (what was I thinking? vegetable shortening. puh-lease.) and then the water. I would also add more salt than a pinch, maybe some sugar and definitely some pepper.
Knead, knead knead. Shape into little happy gordita shapes (ovals about 1/4" thick) and start cooking one up on a griddle. FYI the first time you do this recipe, be sure to make a little test buddy so you see how it cooks, if it's falling apart, etc.

As soon as you've got your gorditas going, put your frying pan on with butter for your steak; put your greens in your bacon & garlic on a medium heat with a little water and cover; and get a pot of water with 2 T of white vinegar coming up to a boil.

Get your steak pan hot and start frying that puppy up. Once it's cooked with a nice dark sear and pink inside, wrap it up in foil, pour extra butter/meat drippings on it and let it rest.

Don't forget to flip your gorditas! And check your greens. Don't let them get brown. Add a little vinegar to greens for some brightness because you've got a motherload of rich, salty goodness coming your way.

Once your gorditas are done, take the lid off your boiling water and let the water come back down to a simmer. Carefully drop your eggs in the water. Slice your steak. Plate gordita, pull out egg, and place sliced steak. Toss and plate greens.

Voila! I would serve this again, but maybe for a hangover breakfast. Which would explain why my new boss Anthony liked it so much.

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