It’s a bit of a dirty little secret that I’ve become addicted to food and cooking apps, and I have the Epicurious, Jamie’s 20 Minute Meals, and Nat Decants apps to prove it, and now Ratio as well.
Now, I may have a fair amount of respect for the Charcuterie book (moreso for its co-author than for Ruhlman himself) but the more I see him on TV (typically on No Reservations) and with that whole “are we too stupid to cook” thing he blundered last week, the more I’ve started to view him as a pompous, self-aggrandizing ass.
But, I had bought the app for the inherent practicality of it, so I still intended to test it out.
The first thing I wanted to make was pasta, because it’s simple, tasty and elemental. For my run through I chose to use the suggested variation and made a yolk only pasta instead, with some doppio zero flour. Once I had the disk of dough chilling in the fridge, the question became one of what to serve with it.
After a brief interlude during which I sat in front of the fire wracking my brain, I recalled the bags of oxtails I had loafing around in the freezer.
In a brief moment of inspiration, I decided to braise them in red wine and mirepoix for 5 hours, until all of the tail vertebrae fell right out.
Once I had them braised, I retired for the evening to contemplate the best companions for such a gelatinous cut.
The next day I began hunting through the fridge for vegetable cohorts. Cauliflower and oxtail just didn’t have a great ring to it, and I wanted something vibrant that would visually pop in the dish.
Once I dug into the veggie drawer, the kale jumped out as the ideal compliment. Sautéed with a bit of olive oil and chili flakes, it reduced down to nothing. After cooling it a little, I roughly chopped the greens and tossed them back into the pan.
Next, it came time to settle on a pasta shape. Initially I’d wanted to make ravioli with my brand spankin’ new cutter (I caved and bought a plain one rather than that Jamie Oliver branded set because I didn’t need to spend an extra $35 just for his “name’). But, once I realized exactly how small the cutter actually was and how long it would take me to make all of them, cutting the dough into coins seemed a much better idea.
After I rolled out the dough with my (also) new stainless rolling pin, I cut 50-odd fluted rounds from the dough, then flitted back to preparing the sauce.
Fishing a few chunks of oxtail out of the jellied tupperware block it had formed overnight, I roughly chopped it too, then added the shreds to the waiting kale pan. Once the heat hit the oxtail, the meat loosened up into a silky, sticky mess. A few spoons of creme fraiche and some white wine mustard were all it took to coerce the ingredients into a rich sauce.
5 minutes later when the water was at a rolling boil, I flipped the coins in as quickly as I could, and a little under 3 minutes after that, they were precisely al dente. Tossed in the waiting sauce, the dish formed a simple but elegant weeknight meal.
As we enjoyed the soft and juicy decadence of the oxtail against the crisp bites of the kale, the Everyman asked me where I’d bought the pasta dough. Being as clued out as he is to what’s going on in the kitchen, he’d never realized that I’d made it all from scratch. I’m not sure if that makes it a compliment or insult to Michael Ruhlman’s pasta ratio, but overall the dish was pretty damn good, if I do say so myself.
Until next time…