As I was packing up to leave home after a relaxing Easter break, I realized there was nothing left in the house to eat.
By nothing, I mean, there was lots of leftover ham.
Hungry, and inspired by an almost hidden recipe in Gourmet, I decided to give in and eat ham again, but this time as miniature ham croquettes. Only a little bit daunted by the recipe’s injunction to “deep fry” the croquettes in a stomach-churning amount of vegetable oil, I dutifully followed the recipe, mashing white rice, ham, parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and egg together into sticky balls and rolling them in bread crumbs. Maybe I didn’t let the rice cool long enough, or maybe my egg just wasn’t enough like cement, but my croquettes looked more like misshapen footballs than the cute, symmetrical spheres in the magazine’s pages. Armed with the longest spoon I could find, I plopped those tentative blobs into the hot oil and hoped they wouldn’t disintegrate too much. And then, as I noticed the thick smoke billowing through the kitchen, I mercilessly abandoned them as I frantically opened all the windows and doors within a fifteen foot radius.
Miraculously, the croquettes were only mostly burnt.
The good deed done, the leftover ham used up, I took my benighted croquettes to the table and took a bite.
Bland. Bland, bland, bland.
Why, you may ask, am I telling you this? Let me tell you.
I am telling you this because it teaches some valuable lessons about cooking. One, that not everything you make will be good. Two, that some things will be bad. And three, that the recipe is never sacred.
Taste copiously while you cook to make sure that it’ll turn out all right, and if it doesn’t taste good, add something new, like horseradish or cumin or caraway seeds. » Continue reading this post…