Saturday, April 2, 2011
THE CHEF AND THE PLUMBER
My husband happily relinquished his cooking duties, a year or two after we got together. Until that time, he did all the meal preparation… breakfast, lunch and dinner. It wasn’t that I couldn’t cook, he just thought his culinary skills were superior to mine. But more importantly, when he was in the kitchen, he controlled WHAT we ate. And that meant all his favorites and none of mine. When I was finally handed the reins… I knew what he liked and what he didn’t. And slowly I incorporated my own menu items, so we both were happy. However, in all the time I’ve ruled the roost, I have never made his mother’s beef brisket. Mainly because I don’t have her recipe for it. And if I was going to make it, it had to be JUST like hers. PERFECT! I couldn’t live up to the hype. But my husband has never complained about it because I always substituted it with my pot roast, instead. So when I was in the supermarket, thinking pot roast, I happened to see a lone beef brisket, sitting there. I called my husband and told him we were going to try something different. I’m going to buy this cut of meat. Could he remember anything about his mother’s beef brisket? He racked his brain, then said he was going online to search for a recipe. A little later, he called me back and said he was confident he had found one that was authentic Irene. My job was to gather and assemble the ingredients. Once they were accumulated, I was being replaced in the kitchen. His role was to prepare the dish. I was shocked. This was a momentous occasion, marking the first time in thirty years, he would cook a meal, except chili. I was so READY for this. He was noticeably nervous, barking out platitudes when I got home. He started by chopping up 3 lbs of onions, discarding the skins in the garbage disposer as he continued on. Carrots, potatoes, celery, garlic, bay leaves, bouillon and a litany of other TOP SECRET ingredients were added to the mix, along with lots and lots of love, and of course, the beef brisket itself. Soon it was put in the oven at 325 for three and a half hours. My husband was in charge, blissfully happy with his accomplishment, thus far. I was impressed. He had even begun to clean up. That’s when trouble reared it’s ugly head. The kitchen sink was suddenly clogged up. He tried this and that to remedy the situation, but to no avail. Water continued to back up. He couldn’t understand it. A plumber finally had to be called. It was early Saturday afternoon. Dollar signs just got added to the cost of the beef brisket. Remember the onion skins? PRICELESS. Well, actually $200 worth, if you do the plumber's math. You don’t put ‘em down a garbage disposer, ever. But the smell of the brisket wafted up our nostrils. We forgot about the hit to our checkbook. The only consolation was how delicious that brisket tasted, when we took our first bite. It melted in our mouths. My husband proclaimed, “Just like mom made.” He had accomplished the impossible. Amazing.