Friday, December 26, 2008

I Get By with a Little Help from My Friends

Sometimes, things just happen at exactly the right time. Serendipity. First, my butcher explained that ham shank would be better than ham hock with my beans - she said her Irish family always used the shank and who am I to argue with a fellow Irishwoman? Especially when she is wielding a large knife.

Then, while I was simmering a big pot of Rancho Gordo cranberry beans with said ham shank, water, tomato sauce and some chopped, softened onions, I happened to read Peter's post about the penitential meal he was making for his little family, having pigged out on Za-zagna (I love Milo's name for it!) the day before.

As always, Peter was tossing in a dash of this and a dollop of that (he likes layered flavors) to his beans so I decided to follow suit with mine. Having no idea what shichimi is and being too lazy to look it up, I only added balsamic vinegar and a little maple syrup to mine. I left out his soy sauce suggestion as my ham shank was already adding plenty of salt.

More simmering and tasting as they got softer and softer, and finally they were ready. The ham had fallen completely off the bones in chunks and the marrow had dissolved into the sauce. The color was a rich browny-red and the flavors wafting up were literally mouth-watering. While perhaps not as complex as Peter's beans, they were deeply satisfying and homey with a little kick in the pants from the vinegar to keep them from being boring.

I'll be back to thank the butcher this week and herewith go my thanks to Peter - I got high on these beans - with a little help from my friends.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Greg said...

Rancho Gordo beans are yummy to begin with. With the addition of pork they reach new levels.Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger dancingmorganmouse said...

True comfort food, pork & beans.

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger peter said...

Shichimi is Japanese 7-spice; Shichimi Togarashi is the full name. It's a blend of red chili, Szechuan peppercorns, nori, dried citrus peel, and sesame, poppy, and hemp seeds. It's crazy good with fish, rice, or anything else. You will have no trouble finding it (it's probably at the Berkeley Bowl.)

And do you write 5 posts a day? Jeez. Welcome back. Désolé pour la votre belle mère.

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

St. Peter. How the heck does he know all this stuff? (He's also stalking you. He knows where you live.)

Zoomie, your beans sound divine.

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger Heather said...

Peter, Peter, Peter!

He beat me to the chance to tell you about shichimi togarashi (I know what it is, too!). It comes in that tiny little bottle, and it's found on the table at some sushi joints to dump into your udon.

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Heather: If you like udon. Eek. It's like eating Medusa's wig. I'll eat natto first. (But not ika.)

Friday, December 26, 2008  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, thanks - and to you, too!

Morgan, yes, it was comforting - and killer delicious!

Peter, I lied. I did look it up, but it made for funnier writing to say I didn't. I never let the truth get in the way of a good story...

I'm afraid of the Berkeley Bowl - crazy-busy, gigundous shopping carts and super-earnest shoppers - eek!

And, yes, when my muse strikes frequently I write five a day and save them to be posted later - I love that feature on Blogger.

Thanks for the kind words about Belle-Mere; she was da bomb!

Cookiecrumb, St. Peter, ha-ha! Good one. He really is amazing. I am in awe. And the beans were improved by his input.

Heather, you sound like Cary Grant - Judy, Judy, Judy!

Friday, December 26, 2008  

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