Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dinner Club Kicked My A**

Every quarter or so, the 500Jerk family has dinner club with four other couples. The food is good--we plan the menu in advance and each bring a dish--and there's always a lot of wine, middle-aged merriment, and general carrying on. Our turn to host came up a few weeks ago, and AS I AM WONT TO DO, I set overly ambitious goals. I wanted the dinner to be outside, to include children, and to be something I'd never cooked before. Something distinctive that would impress the foodies in our group. I settled on . . . lamb shanks.

Now. I'm not a bad cook, but shanks are not part of my repertoire. I've never eaten osso bucco. Frankly, the thought of eating marrow makes me queasy. And shanks sound a lot like an inedible part of the beast. But I quelled my misgivings, special-ordered the shanks from our local organic grocer, and sent the menu out to our friends.

Starter: Phyllo Triangles with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Entree: Lamb Shanks with Lemon Risotto

Salad: Wild Arugula

Side: Broccoli-Pecorino Gratinata

Dessert: Crack Pie

After a long week of travel and hard work, I swooped by the organic grocer to pick up my shanks at 8:50PM Friday night before my Saturday dinner. But. But. They hadn't ordered them. Or bothered to call me. They could have them for the next Saturday, would that be a help?

It would definitely not.

Saturday morning I awoke shank-less and desperate. I called groceries near and far. Finally, after learning way more about grocery delivery truck schedules than I ever wanted to know, I located my shanks. I then purchased wine, flowers, risotto, and olives. Also, food for the children's meal. Then the preparation and four-hour cooking process began in earnest.

Have you ever seen a dog chasing its tail? After dosing up on way too much caffeine? Neither have I, but I think you get the picture. In a frenzy of preparation, I set up tables, seared scary hoof-like objects, chopped vegetables, and pulled out the good china. I found candles, cloth napkins, and glasses. I poured broth, stirred risotto, and repeatedly poked my braising shanks. After thoroughly terrorizing my family, performing each task at least one more time than necessary, and putting all of my guests to work, we were able to come up with this:

TA-DAH! Fun was had by all. We drank red wine and enjoyed the food. The shanks were pretty good. We lit a bonfire. The kids ran around in the crisp fall air. Overall, it was a success, if I do say so myself.

But the next day, I was totally spent. I lay my worthless self down on the couch mid-afternoon and didn't get up until dinner. I couldn't even sleep I was so tired. Because dinner club and those shanks?

They totally kicked my a**.

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