Commanding Attention

Written by Mary Ann Fitzmorris June 04, 2020 08:13 in Dining Diary

After the show yesterday, our pick-up driver called offering to pick up food. It was only 4:30 and she was Uptown. I pitched Carrollton Market, but she didn’t want to wait. We called Commander’s Palace, and they took an order for pick-up at 5.

The pick-up menu changes daily, featuring a family-style meal for four that is $99. I immediately looked away from that offer before I was ensnared. What we have learned from all these pick-up orders is that we get too much. It‘s hard to resist these great menus.

We almost got Tom some turtle soup because Tom loves it, but they only had a family-style portion for $32. We passed. Oddly, there was a Creole Tostada on the menu, and it wasn’t even gourmet. It was a regular tostada that was loaded with pulled pork. It was really good for this dish, but aside from being peppered with slices of okra, there wasn’t any fancy twist a la Commander’s Palace on this. A strange thing to see on this menu. 

Then after passing through a few fish dishes, my eyes landed on short ribs. The other short ribs fanatic here, (also the pick-up driver ML) surveyed the short ribs and was immediately disappointed in them. I have noticed this particular problem with short ribs lately in restaurants.They are not cooked enough. Short ribs, to us anyway, are braised till the point that they become almost debris. They have been braised in garlic and onion and carrots with or without potatoes. (Preferably with.)

Despite the cache of a sous vide machine, I find the texture of meat cooked with this as a first step to be unappealing. It is soft yes, but also undercooked. Short ribs are fatty, and when the meat is properly braised the fat breaks down to make just moist and tender meat. If it has not been cooked long enough it’s just a block of fat.

There is no better way to cook meat than long-braising. The chunk of beef was flanked by roasted potatoes with some small pearl onions and rosemary.

These potatoes were cooked perfectly and had a great flavor. The pearl onions were soft and sweet and the whole dish had a richness to it that was achieved by simmering wine. I wondered as I savored it why restaurant food just tastes so much more complex and polished. Is it the wine, or a compilation of a lot of little techniques? Or both?

That’s the point of our Ask The Chef series, and I hope that some of these tips rub off on me, and one day I taste something like that out of my own kitchen. A kitchen that will never include a sous vide machine.