meal thirty-four: braised pork ribs and italian sausage, pork-oulet, grilled polenta, caesar aioli

[Allie: This week, we forced our friend Matt to cook garbage with us. We are monsters and history will not be kind to us.]

Matt: I will admit my bias coming into this experience. Even by the most conservative of estimates, I have watched over 500 hours worth of Guy Fieri’s Triple D. Chris and I once had a roommate that would leave the show on constantly. The Food Network would air 6-hour blocks of the show - pushing the boundaries of the terms “Food” and “Network” - and we would leave it on as white noise. And while I would not consider myself to be a fan, I did want his food to be better than it ultimately was. I wanted the food to be good. But after cooking some recipes, it was clear that neither Guy nor his editor shared my sentiment. They didn’t care, and that feeling was contagious.  

The recipes were nonsensical and hostile. Similar meals could be made in an hour, but these versions took six. The vision of these dishes themselves made no sense. They were so disjointed, needlessly complicated and made up of components that had nothing in common, like that Garry Marshall movie, “Mother’s Day*.” So while it would easy to nitpick and claim that the food sucked because we forgot the bacon garnish** or bought the wrong type of beans, it ultimately sucked because nobody cared.

I imagine an intern somewhere is just spinning a wheel to see what to do with this food. Or like he used some kind of food Mad Libs. “Take the (Italian food) and (verb) it in (fatty noun) and then (verb) it.” Actually, that Mad Lib I just made up could be used for every dish we made.
Take the Italian sausage and pour it in ribs and then bake it.
Take the polenta and cover it in oil and then grill it.
Take the pork and cover it in bacon and beans and then saute it. 

Also, in case none of you are aware, Chris and Allie are in a race where they must finish the book before someone commits murder. (I would totally watch that movie.) So they were most concerned about just being done with the evening. Chris in particular spent 7 hours preparing one of the dishes that ultimately tasted as if you could have bought it frozen at the store and heated it up for 5 minutes in the microwave while you played Candy Crush on your phone. So his soul seemed particularly crushed.  

IMG_2176.JPG

Matt: Since I don’t have the cookbook in front of me, I will try to figure out their names based on my memory. 
#1 “Pardon me, sir, can you Spare (Ribs) some Pasta” [Braised pork ribs and Italian sausage]
This was pasta and Italian sausage but poured over ribs. At one point in the evening this dish looked like it would be delicious. It smelled great and looked like something your Italian grandmother would make, albeit when she was older and slowing down around the kitchen. Everyone was looking forward to eating it. But then we poured it on some ribs and cooked it for another 2 hours. And I mean, it was not bad, but the extra 2 hours didn’t make the food any better. Matt's rating: 3.5 out of 5 spaghetti uh-ohs

Allie: This meal had more PORK than A GOVERNMENT BILL WITH A LOT OF WASTEFUL SPENDING IN IT!!!! Am I using that term right?? I have to refine my comedic sensibilities so I can play with the Capitol Steps!!!! But truly what I mean is that it felt wasteful and unnecessary to use both Italian sausage AND ribs in this dish. Like sometimes I will just eat a bowl of black beans mixed with some hot sauce for dinner so eating a dish with two different kinds of pork in it made me feel rich, like a Disney princess or a brutal dictator. However: this dish was DELICIOUS. I was VERY into it and not just because I am always hungry, like a robot dog that has been programmed to always be hungry. The sauce was well-caramelized (re: we burnt it a little) and that gave it a really good depth of flavor. However, it was needlessly complex - it definitely didn't need to cook for 7 hours. That's seven hours I could've spent working on my version of "Putin on the Ritz" or "Let it Bern" SO I CAN PLAY WITH THE GODDAMN CAPITOL STEPS, GUY FIERI. Allie's rating: 4.5 out of 5 unnecessary references to the Capitol Steps

Chris: I would like to take this opportunity to say that I think my parents heard that I watched Triple D all the time and that's why they bought me this cookbook. So I can blame my old roommate for this. Also one time he owed me $50 and instead of paying me back he bought a tie fighter Lego set! (true story). I don't know which is worse. No wait I do. It's the one that is currently ruining my life.

I love having other people come cook because I like to see other people as sad as us. I think the Germans have a word for that. It's called Schadenfieri: pleasure in the misfortune of others having to eat Guy Fieri food with you. This pasta thing was fine, but it shouldn't have taken like 6 hours to make. I did an entire trial recently that only took 45 minutes. The guy went to jail. I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm a very bad lawyer. Another thing that was weird about this is that most of it you could eat with a fork, but you had to reach into the bowl and pick up the rib and eat that with your hands. It's like if you were eating cereal with a spoon and then you had to reach into the middle and eat bbq ribs. Chris's rating: 4 out of 5 million hours of DDD watched

IMG_2189.JPG

Matt: #2: Pork Goulet [Pork-oulet]
(I think I’m pretty close to the name here because we kept doing that Will Ferrell bit “Robert Goulet.”)
This dish wins the award for the night for containing the most different types of meat. It also wins the award for “Most Gray.” It was a color, consistency and flavor that would make children ask “Mom, are we poor?” But yet I discovered it was extremely expensive to make because Chris made me Venmo him at the end of the meal for my share. Matt's rating: 2 out of 5 Beauty and the Beast lies (try the gray stuff it's delicious? Shut up you talking candle!)

Allie: I went to Paris last winter to celebrate finishing grad school and I did a lot of great French things: I read alone in cemeteries, I read alone in bars, and I ate so much bread I scared a mime. On one particularly cold day, I wandered into a cute little restaurant and ordered something at random that turned out to be cassoulet. (Also, it's important to me that when you picture this, I look very timeless and chic and French and NOT like a lady Greedo!!! STOP PICTURING ME AS LADY GREEDO!!!) Anyway that cassoulet was super hearty and delicious and it made me feel comforted, like little Napoleon himself was giving me a big French hug. Guy Fieri's version of cassoulet was very heavy and bland and it was mostly pork but there was also a big fucking piece of chicken in the middle of it for some reason, which really did nothing for me. Instead, it made me wish I was back in Paris, ordering red wine in charming cafes and practicing my flawless French with the local pigeons and glaring at little babies and eating butter with a spoon, WHAT A MOVEABLE FEAST PARIS IS!!!! Allie's rating: 2.5 out of 5 revelations that I am this generation's less pretty, more depressed Hemingway

Chris: Despite having bacon, pork butt, and chicken thighs, the dominant flavor in this little number could best be described as "mushed beans." Also, Allie needs to stop comparing food we make for this blog with other delicious food she's had in other countries. OK, scratch that. Allie has to stop comparing these dishes to other food. It's best not to think of it as food. It's just a fine paste that occasionally has chunks of meat in it. Just put it in your mouth, move your jaw a few times, and swallow. We need to lower the bar way down to what constitutes success. Did I get sick from this? No. Did I have plenty of time to just lie on the floor after making this? Yes! Did I cry in the shower this week? Only twice. Chris's rating: 2 out of 5 spoonfuls of paste

IMG_2179.JPG

Matt: #3 Grilled Polenta
This was polenta that was made and then grilled. I think this recipe bothered me the most because it was clearly a just a polenta recipe. And then someone realized most boxes of polenta have the same recipe on the side of the box. And they were like OK that won’t do... what else can you do with polenta? And the intern spun the wheel and it landed on “grilled.” You know how most polenta tastes like almost nothing? This was kind of like that. Matt's rating: 2.5 out of 5 recipes on the side of the box

Allie: For months, Chris and I would scan the cookbook and see this recipe for grilled polenta and think hey, it's in the sides section, and it's polenta, so it must be a quick weeknight side, right? WRONG. The polenta must be prepared, poured in a springform pan, chilled for two hours, and then grilled. I haven't seen any of the SAW movies but isn't there one where a guy has a bear trap on his head and has to remove it? Cooking this grilled polenta was only slightly more complex than that. This polenta was very bland and greasy and it had a texture like chewing on a kitchen sponge. I'm not saying I'd rather have a bear trap clamped on my face than have to eat this polenta again but here we are, I'm saying it, I'd rather have a bear trap clamped on my face than have to eat this polenta again. Allie's rating: 2 out of 5 revelations that I am this generation's less pretty, more depressed spiral-cheeked murder puppet

Chris: Now this is what I'm talking about! This was basically Styrofoam! My dream that all the food in this blog basically becomes unflavored toothpaste is upon us. Now all I have to do is pretend I'm doing something else while I'm actually slaving in a kitchen for five hours to make this paste. Maybe I'll imagine what I'll do with the dozens of hours that I'll suddenly have free after this blog is over. Or think about how dumb quidditch is. Why is the snitch worth so many points compared to scoring with the quaffle?? It makes the rest of the game essentially pointless. It's like if baseball had the rules it has now, but also two players have to play a game of pinball that's worth 1 million runs. Chris's rating: 2.5 out of 5 wait if there are TIME TURNERS why couldn't you just see where the snitch was then go back in time and be there

IMG_2171.JPG

Matt: #4 Bonus: Better than Mayo Aioli [Caesar aioli]
And this was the recipe where I felt for Chris and Allie the worst. We made a cup of aioli. Even though nobody wanted a cup of aioli. From another perspective, consider the chicken kept in captivity, abused and force-fed hormones to poop out eggs at an alarming rate. Unable to breathe or see the sun, she produces eggs day in and day out. And every day the chicken feels the strain on her life but refuses to give up. As each egg rolls down the conveyor belt, she finds solace in imagining where that egg will go. “Perhaps my egg will be eaten by a king”, she thinks, “baked into a grand souffle at a state dinner. Or perhaps a loving mother will lovingly prepare it for her children. Or maybe two lovers will split an omelette on a lazy Sunday morning.” She smiles. But it is not to be. Instead, this egg was put in a carton and shipped to Chicago, where Chris broke the yolk in his hands trying to separate the egg white and then dumped in a ton of other shit and blended it and put it in a jar and put it in a fridge. It will sit until someone goes “How long has this aioli been here?” And then they will throw it out. All this to say that you made a recipe with the term “food lube.” Matt's rating: 1 out of 5 shrugs

Allie: Well, this is a terrible recipe, or somewhere along the way we messed something up. Either way, we ended up with a soupy mess of sour olive oil, and it turns out that the only thing worse than Guy Fieri describing mayonnaise as "food lube" is staring down a blender full of something that doesn't even closely resemble "food lube", as there is nothing this material can adequately lubricate, except for maybe a boat engine (???). I did not like it. Thinking about it just made me so sad that I had to Google "when will Paddington 2 be on Netflix". No one knows. That made me sad too so I had to Google "Mamma Mia 2 release date" but it comes out in July, which is far away. That made me a little more sad so I googled "snake island" and I read about a snake island. Now I feel better but I would still like you to know that this aioli is bad, please do not make it. Also don't fuck around with snake islands because they are full of poisonous inbred snakes. Allie's rating: 1 out of 5 islands full of snakes islands islands full of snakes

Chris: I think this was the best recipe. It look like 30 seconds to make. We all had a spoonful of it, hated it, and then I stopped thinking about it for the rest of my life. I wrote this great parody of that Eve 6 song: I wanna put my tender/ egg in a blender/ watch it spin around/ to a food lube aioli. One spoonful then I'm through with you. One spoonfullllll. Chris's rating: 1 out of EVE SIX

IMG_2186.JPG

Final Summary

Total dishes made: 108/157

Matt's footnotes:

*This footnote is only for my wife: That’s a joke because Garry Marshall also directed a movie called “Nothing in Common.”

**We did forget the bacon garnish, but it was OK because the very next recipe also had a bacon garnish so we were able to use it. Either there is a lot of bacon garnishing going on or Chris and Allie lovingly curated a theme for the evening.

Worst sentence in one of these recipes: "if it's sunny out, get ready to put on sunscreen. And if it's cloudy in Norcal, get out the pork-outlet ingredients." 

Chris: Recently, a facebook fan, Tom, reached out to tell us we had actually forgotten to update the meal count. That means two things: 1. we are actually further along than we thought. 2. at least one dude reads our blog. And if we can get through to just one person, it'll all be worth it. Just kidding, this is definitely not worth it.

Allie: Chris texted me to tell me that I should clarify WHAT GREEDO I was referencing in my part of the post, so let me be VERY CLEAR: I was making a humorous reference to Dr. Greedo Rosenstein, my childhood doctor

Like us on Facebook and Instagram