Sunday, July 26, 2009

A Midsummer's Dream

Every once in awhile, there's a meal that you're going to remember for a long, long time. Some are at posh restaurants, ridiculously expensive, but outrageously good. Then there are those that are the home-cooked meals, whose sum is much, much greater than the constituent parts.

I had one of those tonight, with my family, on our deck in unseasonably pleasant late-July weather. We made some cheddar bratwurst sausage, our third attempt at homemade sausage. They've all been good -- first the garlic sausage, second the sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage -- and the kids and I have (for the most part) really enjoyed the time-consuming process of cubing, grinding, and stuffing the sausage into their casings. In fact, it reminds me of times with my dad and brother, back 30 years ago, of making pasta on a lazy weekend. Buying a box of fettuccine is easier, for sure... but somewhere in my DNA, I kind of like doing things the hard way. Just ask my wife and my parents.

Tonight, that hard work paid off. We based our recipe on the brilliant guidelines of Charcuterie, the oft-cited tome of Hank Shaw. The brats, which were an unmitigated bitch to stuff, were worth the suffering. They were the perfect texture, and had a good sharp cheddar twang. They were slightly -- just slightly -- salty for my taste, but otherwise without peer, if I do say so myself. They were paired with a fresh-from-the-garden basil pesto farfalle pasta and a tasty salad with homegrown 'maters and okra.
But the piece de resistance was dessert. Those who know me understand that sweets don't turn me on that much (must be the Son of at Dentist thing). But tonight's grilled carmelized peaches with toasted pecans, honey, mint, and Landeria Farm artisan goat cheese was ambrosia... and ridiculously easy to do. Serve this at my funeral, and wash it down with a nice glass of 12-year-old Macallan scotch, neat. Neat, indeed.

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