Monday, March 3, 2008
The Mission Statement: Radis Avec du Beurre
Okay, fine. Radishes with Butter. There. Are you happy? I was just trying to be fancy for you.
Anyway, the language is irrelevant here. This is a damn fine dish; that's all that matters.
Your roast chicken went into the oven forty-five minutes late, the potatoes are still hard as a rock, your hollandaise sauce just broke -- and your guests are getting hungry. Now, perhaps you've passed around some delicious cocktails, and that satiated the crowds for a little while. But if they just keep drinking and drinking, they'll pickle their taste buds, make for terrible conversation at dinner, and lose their competitive edge during the Hearts game later in the evening (I realize this last point may not be a bad thing in your eyes, but still).
You need to keep the natives satisfied with some appetizers. A few choices have always been popular -- crudités, grape tomatoes with mozzarella and basil leaf pierced by a toothpick (a.k.a. "Salad Caprese on a stick"), a thousand different varieties of home-glazed nuts.
But might I suggest a humble, classic, French starter? Behold, the humble radish.
This is a five minute recipe -- less, even. Better yet, it can be prepared by one of your (preferably) lesser intoxicated guests while you worry with getting the rest of dinner onto the table. Hell, it can be prepared by any guest that you trust not to lob off their own finger. People are getting hungry! Let's get to it!
A large handful (nine or ten) radishes, raw
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Unsalted Sweet Cream Butter (Unsalted Plugra is a nice choice here).
Step One: Half (or, if they're big, quarter) the radishes.
Step Two: Place the radishes in a bowl, sprinkle the salt over them, and mix by hand.
(Note: Some people believe in serving the salt separately, and letting the guests sprinkle it on by hand. Pish posh. Coat the radishes, and let the salt leech some of the juice out of the veggie. It brings out the natural sweetness, and unifies the flavor of the dish.)
Step Three: Serve alongside a cubed pile of soft, sweet, unsalted butter. Tell guests to go nuts. By the way, some toasted slices of French bread to go alongside might be a nice touch here.
Excelsior! You've just bought yourself an extra 15 minutes in the kitchen, and people's appetites will be whetted. Good work.
For the record, this is comfort food in my house. While it goes fantastic with cocktails, or a tall glass of beer, radishes with butter show up on my table, in all likelihood, more than any other dish. A solid lunch in the summer, the perfect studying snack, an eternal classic, a food that means home. I didn't make this my first real "food" post by mistake. More than anything else, radishes with butter encapsulates what food is, and what food should be, to me.
Music: Jackson Browne: The Birds of St. Marks
(No relation to the post, this time. Just a good song, that's all.)