at least the wine was good

Have you ever had one of THOSE days in the kitchen? You know the ones I’m talking about, the ones where EVERYTHING you cook is a failure. The days where no matter how closely you follow the recipe, it inexplicable refuses to come together. Well, that was my experience with this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Coconut Lemongrass Braised Pork.

Let me preface this by saying that I was really looking forward to this recipe. I love a good curry and this one looked delicious. Granted, it didn’t really strike me as a summer recipe per se (anything which requires that much time in the kitchen with the oven turned on just doesn’t strike me as something I’d like to spend time with in the middle of July). But we have been having a relatively mild summer here in Germany, I had a new lemon rice recipe which I had been wanting to try, and we had recently made a trip to one of our favorite wineries to stock up on some nice crisp Riesling, so it really seemed like perfect timing.

Things seemed to be going well at first, all the pork got a nice searing on the stovetop and my spice mixture was smelling absolutely delicious! Not only that but I was very excited to be using up ingredients which I had previously purchased for earlier FFwD recipes, namely cardamom pods and white pepper. Am I the only one who gets geekily excited about using up those random specialty ingredients in my cupboards? I really hope not.

But moving on, after 30 minutes in the oven my pork was cooked through but none of the liquid had evaporated and my sauce looked more like a broth, so I put it back in for another 10 minutes. This may have been my fatal error, though I’m not entirely sure. 10 minutes later I took it out and tasted it. The pork was now overcooked and dry and my sauce looked and tasted like a watery broth. I know that Dorie states in her recipe that the sauce should not be too thick, but mine was so thin that, when ladled over the pork and veggies, it simply splashed into a pool at the bottom of the bowl, leaving the pork looking dry and unappetising (see the above picture of my first attempt at plating compared to Dorie’s beautiful picture).

In a last-ditch effort to save the dish I strained all the meat and vegetables out and boiled the heck out of the broth for about 5 minutes until it turned into a reasonable looking sauce. While thus distracted my rice burnt and the broccoli which I had planned to serve as a side got over-steamed. It really seemed that I just couldn’t win.

In the end the sauce & veggies were saved, the pork was dry and overcooked, the broccoli was mushy, and the rice was bitter… but at least the wine was good!

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15 Responses to at least the wine was good

  1. Krissy says:

    Yes, some days are like that. Sorry! But you have a good attitude about the whole thing. This recipe did not click for me…maybe it would in January…so I “fixed” it and it turned out really good, but a heavy meal at this time of year is not exciting. Sometimes meats give off lots of juices. And I know what you mean about using things that we have purchased for past recipes…I was cleaning today, just decided to quit…it is 1:30 am…and I am amazed at all the stuff I’ve collected over the past year with all this cooking. I think I counted 13 different types of salt. Crazy. The more I read lots of cooking blogs the more ideas I get and the more things I seem to need. Last year at this time I had only 1 kind of salt and it seemed to work just fine. Oh well, I’ve learned some things. Better luck next time.

  2. Cher says:

    I think we ALL have days like that. It just doesn’t seem fair, does it?
    Oh, I am such a geek for using my “odd ball” spices. What ever happened to the days of being content with salt, pepper & a jar of dried oregano 🙂

  3. Susan says:

    I totally feel for you! Cooking disasters are bad enough, but amplified when you were really looking forward to making something in the first place! My sauce was very thin, too, so I added some cornstarch to it, and it turned out fine. But, I love Riesling! I am also a special ingredient geek! I love to just peruse the aisles of speciatly stores & usually bring spices and teas back from places we visit. I’m sure you find some great ones living in Europe! Enjoy your weekend!

  4. pachecopatty says:

    Sounds like you were doing battle with this braised pork dish- trying to get it to turn out right!
    My sauce was thin but I just ignored that, it still tasted good. I worried that the pork might be dry because I never make pork so I wasn’t sure but it came out moist- must have been all that worrying;-) This was a good recipe to use special ingredients in, sorry you weren’t happy with your results;-(

  5. I’m sorry to hear that it didn’t quite work out for you in the kitchen this week. You know what, my broth was runny too, but I cheated and added cornstarch at the end to thicken it up. It looked just like the photo in Dorie’s book! And btw, I’m a total geek with my spices too, so you’re not alone in this :-).

  6. I think good wine will forgive a lot of food sins. I’d just keep drinking the wine!

  7. Elaine says:

    I feel your pain. I have had many a day like that in the kitchen. I am so sorry the dish didn’t work out for you, but wine always makes everything better. 🙂 I hope you have a good weekend!

  8. Teresa says:

    My partner had a day like that in the kitchen yesterday. I’ve sprained my ankle, so can’t help out in the kitchen much yet. He came home with ingredients, set to work in the kitchen and was disappointed with everything – the bok choy was soggy, the potatoes dry and the salmon cakes…well, best not to mention them. He’s a good cook, but it just wasn’t his day. Sounds similar to your experience. I hope you try this stew again and that you have better luck with it – we quite enjoyed it.

  9. Tricia S. says:

    Thank goodness you had the Riesling ! That is one of my favorites. Nana is a big fan of it as well, I think it is in her genes (ok, then mine too 🙂 since she is from the Alsace region. And I am with you on the ingredient thing – I actually got excited when I saw cardamom were called for since I had paid so much for them and only use them for “Dorie food”. I also noticed on your comments on another blog that you hail from Vermont. We have a vacation place up there near Dorset- are you familiar with that area ? Enjoy the rest of the Riesling ~

    • We LOVE Alsace! The area is so beautiful and the wine is just wonderful. I certainly hope you and Nana have had a chance to visit.

      And I grew up in central Vermont, you are so lucky to have a place there since (in my not entirely unbiased opinion) it is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

  10. Liz says:

    I giggled at the name of this post! Hubby was not a fan at all…but I knew that would probably be the case! There’s always next week 🙂

  11. Like you, I geek out at the thought of using ingredients outside my regular cooking realm and it’s really heartbreaking when things don’t go our way. I let the sauce simmer for a bit extra before serving it but my gut feeling was that if the recipe called for water instead of extra coconut milk it probably wasn’t meant to thicken up too much. Hang in there Rosa!

  12. frolickingnightowl says:


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