I blame the Kardashians.When I was in junior high, cosmetics were a pretty simple affair. I had a couple bottles of nail polish, one lip gloss in strawberry, one in bubblegum, and one very highly prized cake of purple eye shadow. And my collection was not unlike those of most pubescent girls.
Then Kim, her mom Kalamity, and sisters Klondike, Keester, Ketchup, and Kandy Korn, with their professionally contoured, surgically enhanced mugs exploded out of their yoga pants and into our living rooms. Now twelve-year-olds have their own You Tube channels where they offer makeup tutorials. These children, using stuff like primers, BB and CC creams, highlighting and lowlighting, sculpt their faces to look like glowing alabaster Erté statues.
But nothing like themselves. They become imposters inside their own skin.
Which brings me to this week’s topic. It’s a delicious meal that looks like something you might order at a trendy restaurant. But in actuality, it’s insanely easy, and can be completely prepped out hours before dining. And once that’s done, finishing is literally just the application of heat.On the menu is tender, unctuous pork belly, rice pilaf with mushrooms, and spectacularly garlicky haricot verts (that’s green beans, y’all)
The rice took the most time, but was still a breeze.
Bob’s brown and wild rice pilaf with ‘shrooms
1 cup Bob’s Red Mill brown and wild rice
2 ½ cups broth:
2 ½ cups chicken stock
2 teaspoons umami or tomato paste
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Big splash Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Put all stock ingredients into saucepan and bring to simmer. Take off heat and refrigerate until it’s time to make the riceMushrooms:
16 ounces button or cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 shallots, sliced into half moons
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon dry thyme
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon umami or tomato paste
¼ cup dry sherry
Melt butter in small skillet. Add mushrooms, shallots, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until water has been released from veg. Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has all cooked in, and ‘shrooms and shallots have caramelized. Stir in paste, and cook until the color of paste has deepened. Pour in sherry, stir everything together, and continue to cook until sherry’s cooked off.
At this point, everything can sit and wait for you. An hour before dinner, finish rice and cook pork belly and beans.
To finish: Stir together rice mix, stock, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil, cover, lower heat to medium-low and cook for 45-55 minutes or until liquid is gone and rice is cooked through. Let sit 10-15 minutes, covered. For the past few visits to Trader Joe’s, The Kid and I have been ogling their pork belly. It’s fully cooked, which is great because cooking belly from Jump Street takes a long time. And it’s only about 6 bucks or so for a piece large enough for two. I finally succumbed and picked up one.
The cooking of it was ridiculously simple. I sliced it into six ¼-inch slices, lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, then threw it into my hot cast iron skillet. I browned one side, flipped and brown the other.On the same trip I grabbed a bag of their fresh haricot vert. They come ready to cook (BTW-they’re pretty tasty raw, as well). I laid them into a non-stick frying pan with a couple tablespoons of water, a tablespoon of butter, ½ teaspoon of chicken base, 4 minced cloves of garlic, salt and pepper.
When the rice was resting and I’d started the belly, I covered the skillet and turned it to medium for about 5-7 minutes. I then removed the cover, turned the burner to medium-high. When the liquid had mostly evaporated and had made a light sauce, the beans were done.
So, even though my makeup routine consists of attempting to lube away the ravages of time, and 4 or 5 coats of mascara, I’m all about imposters.As long as it’s camouflaging a quick weeknight meal so that it looks like a fancy labor-intensive dinner, that is.
Thanks for your time.