A New Year’s Eve Menu

As many of you can attest, this evening is amateur night. Don’t get me wrong; I am a big fan of pub crawls, blowout restaurant meals with too many bottles of wine, and of course the obligatory cocktails before dinner, hopefully at a bar that has a real bartender. I love that stuff, but there are a few nights of the year that I much prefer to stay out of the bars and off the streets. St. Patrick’s Day is one, and tonight is another. Sloppy drunks chugging overpriced drinks while they cram steam table appetizers down their throats so they can climb into their cars to drive to the next joint is not my idea of entertaining evening companions. And let us not forget the always entertaining prospect of being on the roads with these morons as they careen from curb to curb, hopefully not killing someone in the process. And that ridiculous pressure to get blotto irritates me beyond measure. I will decide when to get drunk; I don’t need an arbitrary marking on the calendar to give me permission.

That is not to say that I will be in sweats, sitting on the couch eating leftovers. My lovely wife and I will be eating a sumptuous but simple meal; and that’s the way I like to eat on New Year’s Eve. But what to eat? Because my wife has a psychotic component to her otherwise lovely personality that only emerges during wine selection, we must have a dry white wine. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to close out the year without having a great Pinot Noir to go with my meal. The obvious — really the only — answer is crab cakes and porterhouse. I have a great recipe for crab cakes that is about 99% crab. And what’s the point of eating crab cakes if all you are really eating is breadcrumbs and other filler. As for the porterhouse? I have an incredibly complicated recipe that requires salt and pepper and…that is it. And about ten minutes on the grill. I wimped out last week and didn’t grill in the snow, but this time I won’t let the elements beat me. And the snow is only a few inches deep on the patio, so I probably won’t be lost in an avalanche. The great thing about this menu is that it’s very simple to prepare, and I have an excuse to open something special for my wife because we will both be drinking white wine and we won’t have to worry about some great bottle of wine languishing in the refrigerator overnight and becoming somewhat less great.

The moral of the story is: stay off the roads, eat great food, open your best wine, and enjoy the evening. In other words; be a professional!

12 Replies to “A New Year’s Eve Menu”

  1. sounds like a good plan and great menu.

    with regard to crab cakes, what’s the point of eating crab cakes that are 99% crab. just eat a crab instead.

    “filler” isn’t a bad word when it comes to foods like crab cakes. they provide flavor and texture, two things that separate a crab cake from crab meat. so there.

    tell us from where you sourced your porterhouse. I would like to have the same meal tonight.

    somewhat related, I think I’m going to be moving toward the t-bone, away from the porterhouse. the strip on the porterhouse too often has that horrible nerve running through it, whereas up the loin a bit toward the t-bone you won’t find that.

  2. I could ask the same question about hamburger.

    Seriously, I put in just enough filler to enhance the flavor of the crab and to keep it stable enough to cook. I think crab is a fairly delicate flavor that is easily overwhelmed by the typical fillers.

    Our Porterhouse came from The Market Basket. I had them cut it a bit thicker than usual, about 1.75 inches thick. That will help keep the fillet side from drying out.

    I won’t argue about your journey to the T-Bone. While I’m not sure that the nerve is a deal breaker, the fillet side is often an afterthought. I just like the way it looks, and with the bone in fillet you at least have a chance at a nice chunk of steak. The T-Bone might be the perfect cut for the grill, because it is usually the most uniform cut

  3. points taken.

    i actually really like the filet side of a dry-aged porterhouse. it’s tender, and unlike un-aged tenderloin, it’s flavorful. you’re right about it over cooking. i’m not sure how the steakhouses do it. perhaps it cooks so quickly it doesn’t have time to overcook. i put the filet side on the cold part of the grill, and the strip over the hot stuff. that helps.

    taking your advice and not going out at all tonight, even to shop. a great night for a pantry meal. tonight’s is pizza. if you always have some dough in fridge, developing flavor, even pizza can be a pantry dish!

  4. The middle of the fillet is usually pretty good, but I don’t like the dried out edge. Even when it’s bloody rare it seems to dry out a bit. I’m a pretty good griller, so I don’t think that it’s my technique.

    I did all my shopping (except the crab meat) early in the week. It’s not just amateur night in the bars and on the roads; even shopping for food is ridiculous.

    I have been almost entirely unsuccessful with making pizza dough. It comes out…okay. Nothing special. Any suggestions?

  5. After we canceled our plans to drive to Chengdu 23, we had to figure out what to eat. The prospect of going to Whole Foods pretty much drove us to the pantry meal concept. My God, can you imagine what the stores are like right about now? Thank goodness I went to shoppers vineyard last week and picked up several liters of rye. I think there’s even some left.

    I’ve been attempting to make pizza for about 6 years, and pizza dough for 2 years. I’m still trying to figure it out. However, the last few have been highly successful, and I’ll be blogging about them soon. I find that a long, cold rise (in the fridge) helps to develop flavor. If tonight’s works out I’ll be confident that I’ve figured it out, at least on some level. If it doesn’t work out then I can chalk up the last few good ones as flukes, and it’s back to the drawing board.

  6. Interesting. I have three baguettes in their final rise, next to the boiler. I’m tempted to try a cold rise next. That’s half the fun of making dough; if you screw it up completely, you’re out about $1.

    I hope you are going to blog the entire process, not just the dough.

  7. And I hope you blog about the baguettes, because i’ve never made bread and would like to learn (other than the pizza dough, which is really just bread).

  8. I think you should hit up some of the new “gastropubs” in NYC and regale us. And/or a thread devoted to Superbowl fare.

  9. Since the Superbowl is such torture to those of us who hate football (yes, last year was the exception) the focus should be on food that lasts the entire day and evening.

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