Cooking is a lot of work. It’s exhausting. It’s not even so much the cooking part that’s exhausting, it’s all the damn prep work: devise a menu, put together a shopping list, gather the ingredients, and peel, chop, mince, and dice until you’re about to pass out. And then, start cooking. Of course, this begs the question: is it worth it?
This is the thought that plagued me as I contemplated Michael Symon’s recipes for corn crepes and barbecue sauce. Dainty corn-based crepes stuffed with barbecue-doused chicken seemed like the ideal 4th of July meal, the perfect nod to both American food and my every-meal-has-gourmet-potential ideal. The kind of paean our forefathers deserve.
For a fraction of a second, I contemplated getting a manicure instead. But, as usual, my food-love beat the pants off my pampering-love, and I got started on my shopping and chopping. These two recipes aren’t hugely complicated, but they can be time consuming, especially since you can only make one crepe at a time and I was doubling the recipe for a crowd (I suppose technically you can do more than one at a time, but my crepe skills have only been honed so far.) They both have long ingredient lists that require some up-front prep. Add that to the appetizer, side, and dessert I was also planning and it was one long, exhausting day.
As I was nearing the end of the cooking, around the time the guests were due to arrive, I was zonked. Why do I do this to myself? Maybe they can eat, and I can just go to bed. I hope they clean up and lock the door behind them.
But the food, ah, the food. Thin, slightly sweet, honey colored crepes held the shredded meat of a store-bought rotisserie chicken (my one concession to biting off more than I can chew), both dressed with spoonfuls of perfectly tangy barbecue sauce. The kind of meal that John Hancock and the boys could have really used, after a tough day of independence declaring.
And when my guests were cheerfully tucking into platefuls, when I scooped up the first fantastic bite myself, I was just bursting with accomplishment. I love cooking and I love feeding people. It gives me the warm fuzzies. So yes, it is worth it. But it’ll be even more worth it when I can hire a staff of prep cooks to do the peeling, chopping, and mincing for me.
(NOTE: Both recipes by Michael Symon courtesy of The Soul of a Chef)
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup flour
4 oz. milk
1 tsp. corn oil
1/4 tsp. salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup scallion, chopped
1. Puree all ingredients in food processor until combined.
2. Pour a tsp. of oil onto a small hot saute pan. Ladle in 2oz. of batter and let cook until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes. Flip crepe, cooking for another minute. Cool on rack. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
1 Tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 Tbsp. minced jalapeno
1/2 cup espresso beans, mashed with the flat side of a knife (I put them in a Ziploc bag and gave them a good whack with a mallet.)
4 oz. Worcestershire
4 oz. tomato paste
1 oz. apple cider vinegar
1 oz. balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 oz. apple cider
4 oz. veal stock
1 Tbsp. chile powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1. Melt butter in saucepan and sweat onion, garlic, and jalapeno.
2. Add remaining ingredients and cook on very low heat for an hour. Push sauce through strainer to remove solids.
To Serve: wrap two ounces of shredded chicken and a tablespoon of sauce in each crepe. Heat for 10 minutes in a 400-degree oven, or until heated through. Garnish with more barbecue sauce and sour cream.