It is always an irresistible food photo that pulls me in and makes me do what I do. This time, it was the cover shot of Bon Appetit March, 2008 the Corned Beef and Fontina Sandwich. I could have gone to the store and bought some thinly sliced corned beef, the fruit of someone else's patience. I could have gone over to the Early Bird in Ridgefield where their chef has an exacting sandwich standard ( I mean it, you have never had a pastrami on toasted rye with swiss like this, Superman, but you won't worry your silly little self over kryptonite anymore). But no, I had to make the corned beef myself.
It began, as so many things around here do, with a preposterous hunt for an ingredient which is apparently "optional" but keeps the meat pink throughout the brining process, the elusive Instacure No. 1. And so, I was referred to sausagemaker.com... who will sell me 1.5 pounds or 5 pounds, but I need 1 1/2 tablespoons. Have I mentioned I hate being set up for waste? Anyhow, I decided to see how bad it could really be, because I am a little Irish and my Grandmother never stood me on a chair next to her and said, "Now, baby girl, pass me the Instacure No. 1". So, now, clearly already off the beaten path, anything can happen....
I placed it into the brine yesterday. Yes, Josh, I used Guiness. And there it sits, weighted down in my fridge, where it will sit for four days until I can turn it, and weigh it down for another four days. Then, eventually,you cook this mighty six pound side of American flesh for, well, for nearly forever. And, since I have so much time on my hands with this now, I may as well figure out how to make the Fontina, and I have some Rye Flour around here somewhere... nothing but time, now, nothing but waiting. And hunger.
It leaves me wonder how I will get the meat sliced as thinly as I will want it when it is finally, finally done.
I am mulling over wandering down to Kingsley's Deli here in our fair North Salem, invoking ol' Ward's name and begging John to slice it up for me. I have some time to formulate a scheme where that is concerned now, though, don't I?
I wish this were the last time a food photo would lead me down this snarly, hungry path to a sandwich so photogenic but lengthy in process, but I am a sucker every time for the food magazine's talents. Except Gourmet, sadly, their pictures have begun to look so dark, gloomy, and forboding, I sometimes associate the food in question with a last meal. I don't want it to be my last, I love food, and food photos.