Somewhere around 2 years ago NewWifey(tm) made the wise decision to befriend a girl who’s family back in Spain owns a saffron farm. Within a week of befriendment, the girl gave us this:
I think I’ve posted that pic before, but who cares. Unless you own a saffron farm you’re probably never going to see 2 cups of saffron sitting on your kitchen counter, ever, ever. Ever. You’d be posting pics of it every chance you got too, if that ever happened.
Do you know how much saffron that is? It’s more saffron than I’ve ever used in my life, cumulative, by like a factor of HOLY FUCK. It’s so much saffron that I’ve even used it as garnish:
Seriously, have YOU ever sprinkled a fistful of saffron over a platter of saffron braised chicken just for the visual effect? I hadn’t either, up until little Miss Chiquita Bonita came into our lives. I’d have had to sell my car, my watch, and three nights with my wife to even afford it. ¡Viva España!
So it is with heavy heart that I announce that after two years I’ve finally reached the bottom of the saffron barrel. There was only maybe a quarter cup left (*gasp*) when I opened it yesterday morning to use some as cologne.
Oh well. All good stigma must come to an end, I guess. Rather than despair, I decided to blow it all out on one final extravagant dish.
I was first going to use it to make Camarones al Ajillo. But then I decided I didn’t want the garlic to overpower all that ridiculously expensive floral elixir, so….
I took all the remaining saffron, toasted it lightly, then steeped it all day yesterday in warm oil. Then today I slowly poached a pound of shrimp (which I brined first) in that oil, in a bain-marie, to really get the flavors infused. While that was going I used the shells to make a shrimp stock:
The stock was then used to make a separate brown rice risotto, with shallots and baby spinach. I have a ton of thyme growing on my back porch, so I used that as the finishing accent. Then I just plated the two together, drizzling extra saffron oil around the perimeter:
WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!! IT WAS SOOOOO GOOOOOOOOOD!!!
One note for anyone considering chiming in here with, “My god, this guy is an idiot. Doesn’t he know shrimp shouldn’t cook for more than a minute or two? Those things probably had the texture, and taste, of a Shell No-Pest Strip after simmering that long!”
Well, ok, that first sentence is correct. But the rest?
HA! Fool! Remember your basic Phood Physics? Heat and temperature are not the same, and oil contains less heat than water of the same temperature.* You can poach things in oil for a lot longer than you can in water before they become over cooked, shrimp included. It’s like sous vide a bit, but without the annoying millennial cache.
*Try this: heat a pot of water to 130-degrees (f), and a pot of oil to the same temp. Dunk one hand in each. See which hand starts writhing in agony first. Or better yet: boil a pot of water. That’s 212-degrees (f) give or take, depending on altitude. Now heat your oven up to 212 degrees. Stick your hand in the boiling water. You lasted, what, a quarter second before needing the local Burn Unit? Now open the oven door and stick your hand in. You could practically binge watch every episode of “Car 54, Where Are You?” (with Fred Gwynne AND Al Lewis!) on Netflix before feeling even slightly tanned. The temperatures are exactly the same, but the amount of heat contained in water is more than the amount contained in air. By a lot.
Of course, with NewWifey(tm) still away it was sadly up to me to make sure there were no leftovers. But sometimes I wish I could develop an app I’d call “Eat Me!“, which would pair hungry people with people who are looking to share their meal. Eating that entire platter, redolent of floral joy and goodness, was fantastic. But it would have been nice to brag about how I made it to someone sitting across from me. I mean, I’m in the media, so I’m an egomaniac.
On the other hand: MORE FOR ME! Woo hoo!
(Er…sorry I haven’t been having more actual adventures to regale you with. Between the excruciatingly slow elbow recovery that’s limiting what I can do, and NewWifey(tm) not being here to instigate things, pretty much all I have in my life at the moment is foodstuffs. And Homestuck. But you probably don’t want to hear about that.)
Later. Gotta go make dessert.