Last weekend it was finally just warm enough, and dry enough, to get out the grill. I did some chicken; not bad for an inaugural run for the year, but steak awaited. This weekend was much nicer. Saturday was in the mid-60s and mostly sunny, and today had a chance of rain but it never materialized, so we ended up with a day that was even warmer and sunnier. Hey, I’ll take it.
On Saturday’s menu: garlic teriyaki rib-eye, honey mustard chicken (for my wife), salt potatoes, and mushrooms in butter. This took some logistical planning. I started out by giving a 1½ lb. bag of baby white potatoes a good scrub under water, and then popped them into a pot. I used, oh, about 4 cups of water and just over 1 cup of kosher salt. Probably should have been more, but they came out okay. Around the time they came to a boil and were turned down to simmer, I turned on the grill to start it heating up. But before that, the 6 oz. package of baby bella mushrooms went into a foil boat with a stick of butter, which I crimped shut along the top as best I could. Finally, the meat and mushrooms went on. The steak had been marinating overnight, and the chicken breasts were already marinated. The mushroom boat went up on the warming rack. The potatoes were done before the meat was ready, which gave me time to deal with them before finishing everything up.
Everything came out wonderfully. I will confess that I think I prefer straight teriyaki on steak, vs. garlic teriyaki that I think works a bit better on chicken wings, and I do like to add Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and pepper to the mushrooms but wanted to share them with my wife. No regrets of course, just things I might be inclined to do differently another time.
Later that night, I had to decide on what to make for dinner and chose to fry up my leftover salt potatoes as epic home fries. I’ve tried this before and it was relatively successful, but this time I knocked it out of the park. Taking about half of the batch of salt potatoes (that’s what was left), I cut them up into small pieces: roughly sixteenths. Into my big 12″ frying pan went a couple pats of butter, and I kept the heat on high to medium high. Once the butter melted, I put in the potatoes. Those got stirred around for a while, until I was ready to bring on the herbs. For flavor, I sprinkled on some thyme, crushed rosemary, and a few grinds of black pepper. After that cooked a little more I decided more butter was called for, and added about three more pats. Once it had all browned to my satisfaction, I put it in a bowl and topped it with some shredded cheddar, which melted all on its own. Good gads, it was glorious.
As for the rest of the weekend, well, tonight I kind of blew it. I took a stab at making proper macaroni and cheese, which meant a proper sauce, which usually means a roux. I’d never made a roux before, and this one I feel I may have botched. I started out with ¼ cup butter, the same amount of flour, and 1 cup of milk. I don’t think I gave it long enough before adding the milk. Once I did add the milk, it got way, way too thick, like runny mashed potatoes. I added 1 cup of shredded cheddar, and then it was both too thick and not cheesy enough. I added a little more milk and a little more cheddar, and fixed the thickness but not the inadequate cheesiness. This was all mixed with half a pound of elbow macaroni.
What I did notice about this sauce though was that it had a bit of a baked taste because of the flour. Since backed macaroni and cheese is basically just all this, baked, I’m wondering if I should just let the leftovers—which are in a Pyrex dish—come back up to room temperature, stir in a crapload more cheese, and chuck it in the oven for a while. It’s a dicey proposition but if it works I get awesome macaroni and cheese. I don’t think I could make it any worse, unless the Pyrex held the chill from the fridge too well and cracked from thermal shock. That might be reason enough to transfer to another dish first.
Also, next time I’m deviating from roux tradition. Equal parts butter and flour is too darn much flour for me. It obviously thickened plenty well, so half that would be fine.