I'm a decent cook. I can take most things and do something with it. And sometimes I even has small flashes of inspiration that even I love. Tonight however, was not one of those nights.
Ever since I watched last season's masterchef, I've noticed myself constantly turning every meal into a "how can this be better? Would that bald bloke on the show say 'yes this is fabulous' or just rip it apart with his fingers, touch everything, thus ruining it from other scavangers, and say 'yeah, can see what you're doing, but it's still crap'" I've recently started to think that constantly wanting to make food that's just outside my comfort zone is fine. It's good. It's positively healthy in it's growth of knowledge. BUT when it's a Tuesday night, and I decide that roasted ducks legs, on a bed of roast new potatoes, pancetta and fresh thyme, accompanied by sauteéd savoy cabbage, with carraway seeds and pancetta, is a good idea, people should just stop me and say "NO. A takeaway will do".
Anyway, here's what I made for dinner tonight. I was exhausted even before I started it (and being the only one in the kitchen cooking and washing and prepping and cleaning whilst everyone else sat in the lounge room watching the tele, is a sure fire way to piss me off real quick): (I've put ingredients in bold, as I seem to be ranting a bit)
Duck quaters - preferably legs
Potatoes - ones for roasting (I'd love to be able to say "ooh only Charolettes darling" or "freshly roasted new potatoes are fabulous" however tonight I got whatever they had at Tesco's. In one of those (gasp) tesco's value bag. Yes, all you proper foodies can get over yourself. Don't even get me started on the whole "oh I only buy organic vegetables and meat, over the internet, or from that farmer in Yorkshire, who I go to visit every 3 months, and who delivers me £90 pork chops from an animal he named and whom his kids loved". I just can't afford it, and yes, there is a reason why 1 in every 4 pounds in Britain is spent in Tesco's. Cause it's there and it's affordable, so shut up. We don't all live in Chelsea)
onion - 1 or two or however many you like.
fresh thyme (only cause they had those really cute little pots of herbs in the veg aisle that I KNOW I'll only kill from me either ignoring it and drying it out, or giving it too much attention and overwatering it. Either way, it'll be dead in a matter of minutes of reaching house. They all do. I am no green thumb. Dried thyme will do. If you don't have thyme, don't worry about it.
Salt, pepper, oil etc
1. Par boil the pototoes, and shake them in the pan to get them to all break up. This I always thought was crap and rubbish, but it lessens the roasting time (quicker food!) and means you get really nice crispy bits around it.
2. Season duck with salt and pepper and oil
3. Fry the duck (with no oil in the pan) to brown it. (I tried this tonight to see if i could make the skin go crispy (there seems to be a theme about me and crispy skin...) but I'm not sure if this is necessary. )
4. Put potatoes, pancetta, onions, thyme, a bit of olive oil and black pepper in a roasting tin, so they coat the spuds. Lay the duck legs on top. Bung it in the oven for 40 mins, on about 180 degrees ( I have no idea what gas mark that is).
5. Serve to the people who've been watching TV the WHOLE time you've been in the kithen cooking, who will promptly wolf it down, and yet, still manage to look disapointed with your food.
Problems I had:
1) slighly over done duck : not sure if it's cause I seared it first, or I just cooked it too long. Problem is that we had someone have dinner with us, and I always get a little nervous making dinner for someone who is fussy, and in an attempt to make it perfect, end up dissapointing myself.
2) After all of that, I couldn't be bothered to make a sauce. I know. I KNOW. WRONG. BAD. BA-BAAAAWWWW. I should stop cooking cause I knew the spuds needed a sauce, and it would have help the duck. But the bottom of the roasting tin was full of duck fat (yes yes it's good yes yes blah blah blah, it's still duck FAT), and I just couldn't get myself to be bothered moving all the spuds out of the pirex roasting tray and testing if pirex doesn't go BANG when put on a stove.
3) It was a bit much for a Tuesday
4) I thought it would have been nicer. Not sure what I was hoping for, but it needed. Something.
Moral of the story. Part of me thinks I should just give up. I mean the people I cook for don't really seem to show any real appreciation (other than wolfing food down as quick as you like), or maybe I am just so needy I constantly need to be told "that was good. that was good". Or what if it wasn't any good? And all this time these same people are wolfing it down because it's actually rubbish, but they are the best of mates and will never tell me it's crap for fear that I'll cry, cause I've deluded myself into thinking that I am good at something when really I'm just stuck in middle town mediocraty, and I'll never get any better.
And another part of me thinks that I should just keep trying. If I enjoy eating my food, and everyone else doesn't then, at least I'm keeping myself happy. What's the point of always sticking to the safe side and cooking the same thing you know you can do with your eyes closed, if you don't try the stuff you don't know you can do sometimes. Even if you are exhausted and it is only a Tuesday night.