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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

For Christmas a friend gave me a jar of goose schmaltz rendered from the Christmas goose she cooked. My mother used to keep a can of bacon fat under the kitchen sink to cook with* and my friend’s Irish grandparents saved their fat too: the grandmother for cooking and the grandfather for repairing farm equipment. I’ve never had goose schmaltz at my disposal before and in the absence of a tractor, I roasted the potatoes in it. They tasted wonderful but I set the oven too low (400° instead of my usual 450°) and so the potatoes wouldn’t brown.

I had it all planned out nicely so that while the potatoes were roasting I would cook the ingredients for the frittata, make the salad dressing and have dinner on the table by 6:00. Didn’t work out that way; dinner showed up an hour late. I got so flustered I came perilously close to burning the bottom of the frittata because I wasn’t paying attention to the heat on the stove. In the end, I only burnt a small piece and a kind person would call it “well done.” I still am not sure why sometimes my potatoes come out dark and crispy and sometimes they don’t. They always stick to the pan terribly. Advice anyone?

Not all meals can look beautiful and I guess tonight’s lesson was that simple dishes can go as wrong as complicated ones. The frittata recipe is usually a no-brainer. It’s basically 8 eggs, 1/4 cup heavy cream and whatever fillings you want. The cooking technique is simple: 5 minutes on the stove, 2 minutes under the broiler. I always use a cast iron pan and I never have trouble getting the frittata out clean. It’s a good way to use up leftovers and assuming you know your way around a potato, it should make for a quick and easy dinner!

*CORRECTION: My sister has since informed me that as she recalls it, my mother never once cooked with the bacon fat. She kept it under her sink because she was afraid to pour it down the drain, thinking it would clog the pipes. I think she’s right and it would explain my own fear of pouring fat down the sink. I ask my husband if it’s really okay every damn time….

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