Monday, January 01, 2007

Pahr-tay

Last night hubbie and I made a full, formal, sit-down dinner for 22 people. The menu was as follows:

First course / pre-dinner munchies

goat cheese marinated with olive oil, basil and red pepper flakes
tallegio
brie
homemade bread

Main course

filet mignon
roasted chicken
lamb chops marinated with rosemary and thyme
green beans with carmelized onions
roasted potatoes with garlic, dill and chives
spinach salad with warm red onion, olive oil and garlic dressing

Dessert

turtle cheesecake (made by my otherwise very manly friend, Rob)

It was amazing. People seemed to really like the food. Hubbie and I did enough prep work before the guests arrived that when they did, we could largely sit back and enjoy ourselves. We made the decision that we would have everyone sit down and we would serve them, instead of letting people choose their portions themselves.

This was a good plan.

Since we hadn't ever cooked for so many people before, we underestimated the amount of food needed. So portioning was very very important. Even with careful portioning, we still pretty much ran out of food. No seconds on most things; if hubbie hadn't had the idea to make four roast chickens 'just in case' we would have been sunk. Note to self: seven pounds of potatoes, two pounds of green beans with about a pound of onion, six pounds of filet mignon (more on that later), one pound of lamb and three chickens just barely feed 22 people. Yikes. Only the last chicken remained standing, as it were.

Back to the filet - we could afford that hunka hunka burning meat because of how and where we bought it. The cut we actually bought was the PSMO, which, according to the USDA, is defined as:

PSMO ("Pismo") - A beef tenderloin from which practically all surface fat has been removed and the side muscle (psoas minor) has been left attached.

The PSMO comes in a large vaccusealed container and can't be bought at the supermarket. To get one, ya gotta go to Costco. It looks much more like something that actually came from a cow than almost anything foud in a grocery store. There are actually rib notches on one side. Once out of its hermetically sealed wrapping, I had to butcher it myself. This poses a problem because, well, I'm not actually a butcher. Luckily, Alton Brown and his show Good Eats rode to my rescue. He did a show called Tender is the Loin and he broke down a PSMO - so I had a general idea what I was doing. After about a half hour of work, I had a nicely butchered loin. The whole reason I could afford to make filet was because I was willing to put in that half hour of work.

Holy crap, it was worth it! Yummy yummy yummy. And I just felt classy serving filet mignon to our guests.

There's something vaguely masturbatory about cooking for others. I do enjoy cooking for its own sake. Hubbie looked over once yesterday as I was wrist deep in raw chicken carcasses (more on that later), olive oil and lemons and grinned. When I asked why, he said, "Because you're having fun. If you know anything by now, you should know that I like watching you having fun, no matter what the cause." But even beyond that, I really like making something that others appreciate. It makes me feel good. But then I feel kinda bad because part of why I cook is to get praise, which seems like cheating. Or something. I'm not supposed to walk up to my friends and say, "Hey, compliment me!" I frequently feel like that is exactly what I'm doing when I cook for anyone other than my husband. On the flip side, one of my goals in life is to be half of 'that couple'. You probably know a couple like the one I mean - when you get the invite to come over for dinner, one of the initial reactions is 'hell yeah, the food's always so good.' I want that reaction. But when the praise comes in, I get embarrassed and feel vaguely guilty. Yeah, I know, I'm conflicted.

Anyway, about the chickens. Like the rest of the meat, we bought them at Costco. They were sold in two-packs labeled 'Young Chicken.' The remarkable thing about these chickens was the sheer quantity of innards that came with each chicken. Usually whole chickens come with the liver and the neck, right? These came with the heart, liver, lung, thymus, kidneys, spleen, neck... pretty much everything except the head, brain, feet and feathers. Anyone have any good recipes for organ meat? Bueller? Bueller?

Overall, the party was a success. I went to bed at about 2am, and hubbie finally found his bed at about 5am. Yeah, I know, the hostess shouldn't go to bed before everyone leaves. But by that time, the only people left were hardcore drinkers and friends. They didn't give a rat's ass. The night wasn't completely free of drama, however. One of my friend's cars got towed. In Boston, I could have relied on the SIGNS to tell me when towing would be enforced. Here in Houston, no such luck. So now she owes us the $200 she used to get her car out of hock. Oh well.

Happy New Year, everyone. Stay safe, stay as sane as necessary and have fun. Love well and often, but use condoms during sex. Vaccinate your children. Be a good person.

May 2007 be better than 2006.

4 comments:

Eileen the Jellomonster said...

Mike and I had a fabulous time last night, THANK YOU!!!!!

And, duh, y'all are already "that couple" when it comes to invites. Even when you're not doing a full blown-out meal. I mean, shit, even your mushroom-barley soup. Drooooool!

Stop blushing and feeling guilty. You're Da Shit in the kitchen.

Was it Deena's car that was towed?

May your 2007 be a helluva lot better than your 2004-2006. 'Cause you deserve it and you are a good person.

Happy New Year, my friend!

Love you.

doctawife said...

No, Amanda's. Deena was smart enough to catch a ride.

Thanks.

Kathy said...

I agree with Eileen. You guys are already "that couple". You did an amazing job on the food and are wonderful hosts. Chuck & I had an awesome time. Happy New Year!

Kathy

Mike Eye said...

Hey... I just wanted to say thanks for the great party... the food was fantastic, and it is easy to see that you are top-notch friends... :) Sorry if I seemed a little quiet; I am just nervous around new people; a condition that is only temporary, I assure you. Well, thanks again for the hospitality, and I hope to see you again!

Michael