Solomon Grundy's Guide to Sunday Roasts

Соломон Гранди поможет вам в том, что совершенный и сочные воскресенье событие: жаркое.

Vladimir Nabokov

The following piece, while being a takeoff of the writing style of cookery writers of yesteryear, in no way wants to belittle them: it is an affectionate and chuckling ribbing, I hope you will share the amusement with me.

If there is a Noble Tradition to mark the Sabbath Day in the main parts of Christendom, that must surely be the Sunday Roast—whether it be a brace of golden crispy chickens, a joint of beef, a saddle or haunch of venison, a plump duck glazed with honey, a loin of pork with deliciously crunchy crackling or, in harder times, even a well-spiced and carefully concocted Kreatobala which, by any other name is better yet than any other roast!

The secret, above all others, is to procure the very finest meat. It be better for an honorable result to choose a better quality of a lesser viand, than to invest your efforts in trying to make silk purses out of an old sow's ear—to mix a fine metaphor.

Even the allegedly humble Kreatobala may be turned into a dish fit for a king out of cheaper cuts of chicken and pork, minced very finely—possibly emboldened with a little beef. When it comes to the Kreatobala, you will find that a variety of meats will inevitably yield a tastier and more succulent product than limiting yourself to one meat alone.

The crafty and well-doing cook will also appreciate the humble Kreatobala's ability to transmogrify all manner of meaty leftovers into a succulent and fragrant creation. I will let you in to a great secret: whatever meat you use—be it even the lowliest cuts and the sulkiest of leftovers—do not, on any account omit the grated parmesan cheese—and let it be plentiful and freshly grated, at that.

Use fresh sage sparingly—very sparingly—to be sure. A light grating of nutmeg, abundant white pepper, fresh or even dry tarragon, plentiful finely chopped parsley, garlic cloves pounded up with salt till you have a fine pulp, some decent olive oil—and don't be stingy with the white wine. When it comes to the wine, you will find that the sourest, harshest plonk will magically be superior to a refined but gutless vintage: the wine's mission here, is that of providing enough acidity to bring out the other flavors. A generous dash of sherry, malmsey, port, marsala, or even whiskey or brandy will considerably enrich the result—but it may be safely omitted by the more inveterate skinflint or empaupered rapscallion.

You will need a decent quantity of good bread—indifferently fresh or dry—which you will soften in some milk, or better still in light cream. A great secret, for a perfect result, is to incorporate a good handful of porridge oats: watch them suck up the wine and retain all that essential moisture—essential because a Kreatobala, after a good browning in olive oil and butter both, needs to cook slowly and for a goodly time, to allow the fragrant aromas to mingle within its savoury center.

You will, of course, not forget to include a couple or three of good hen's eggs in the mix—failing which turkey, duck or goose eggs will be every bit as good—and, some will swear, better still. While on the topic of eggs, you may profitably incorporate several hard-boiled eggs within the center of the Kreatobala, running along its length, when once you come to fashion it. The eggs will serve a dual purpose: that of thrift and also of visual appeal. Did I not mention earlier that the trusty Kreatobala is the canny and thrifty cook's mainstay—and with good reason!

So mix your ingredients—which you will have taken care to mince up finely—in a large stoneware bowl, or in whatever crock you fancy or have to hand, but let it be of ample size. I must impress on you, canny and capable cook, that the very best results are surely obtained with long and energetic mixing—nay beating—of all your sundry components and condiments, with a large wooden spoon or cudgel, as you see fit. As you beat, and pound, and mix your impasto, trickle-in your white plonk a little at a time, so that you may incorporate as much as will still allow you to form your Kreatobala without it falling apart—should you have made too wet a mix, simply add some more oats and beat them in well. You will be amazed at how much wine those nutritious oats will sop up—and each and every drop will repay you with succulence when your labor of love and thrift has cooked it's goose—to mix a further metaphor.

Talking of which cooking, roast your Kreatobala, as said earlier, in good sweet butter and olive oil, until it is evenly browned all over. You will, of course, have dredged it well in flour before lowering it gently into the foaming fat in your dutch oven or cast-iron pot. I beseech you to use no other vessel, save in dire straits, when a very heavy aluminum pot may be used... if you have no fear of Altzheimer's malaise. My word to you is to eschew the lighter metal, for we shall be pouring several draughts of your white plonk into the pot during the cooking—and the copious acid will leach the poison metal. When once your meat is browned, you may advantageously surround it with button mushrooms aplenty and a dozen or so of shallots—failing which you will have to fall back on the common white or yellow onion, which you will quarter. If you have them to hand, a couple of good leeks, finely sliced, will do an admirable job of substituting for the shallots.

Be sure to throw in a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, a handful of juniper berries, and several bashed cloves of garlic, still nestling in their skins. Cook very gently for a couple of hours, moistening from time to time with wine and chicken stock.

The Kreatobala must be taken out of the pot when you deem it done, and placed on a platter, where you will allow it to cool considerably and to firm-up, before attempting to slice it. Talking of which operation, you must use a serrated knife with a long thin, flexible blade, if you do not want to spoil the result of so much of your loving care—most particularly so, if you have incorporated eggs within the core of your Kreatobala. The handle may be of bone or rosewood—I favour the former, but the latter will, I dare say, perform just as well, from a purely technical perspective. The slices you cut must not be thinner than a good half inch or so, to avoid them falling apart. If you are cunning at all, you will slice your meat on the very service platter, taking care to arrange the slices in a staggered fashion, thus showing off the pretty rings of the eggs in their full and sunny splendor.

Garnish around the sliced meat with the plentiful mushroom ragout in which company the meat was cooked—handing the juices separately in a sauceboat—and make sure they are warm. Your dish will be well-accompanied by creamy mashed potatoes perfumed with chopped chives and by glistening glazed carrots cooked with butter and a little Demerara sugar. You may, alternatively, wish to offer slices of polenta fried in butter and petits pois prepared "à l'Ancienne", with cos lettuce, shallots and lardons. When once you try this canny dish—prepared strictly in accordance with my instructions—you will forever eschew the far pricier viands of the dull-witted but wealthycackling all the way to the piggy-bank with the considerable savings afforded by the exercise of your canny thrift.

I shall not wish you Bon Appétit for two reasons: the first is that, by the time your work is done, you will be ravenous; the second is that this dish is of such aromatic and succulent excellence, that you could eat it even on a full stomach—and let me assure you, with no hyperboles, that I have done just that. So, rather than waste my good wishes on the unnecessary, I shall instead say: "Bon Travail!".

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