The Wednesday Chef: Bison with Smoky Wild Rice
On her popular blog the Wednesday Chef, Luisa tests recipes from the New York Times and Los Angeles Times food sections. It’s an idea I’ve loved since the moment I first became a loyal reader of her elegant, playful prose. When I asked Luisa to be a Guest Cook on Pink of Perfection, I had no idea I would become so enamored of her cozy kitchen in Chelsea, her wonderfully warmhearted nature, or that gorgeous face of hers. I also didn’t know I would be eating bison.
Despite the sun-faded poster for buffalo burgers in the window of the all-night diner I used to frequent in college (it was Minnesota, after all), I had never had bison. These bison strip steaks were exotically glamorous (and huge!) and eating them with pomegranate molasses-spiked wild rice rendered our meal both elegant and rustic. The New York Times’ almighty Florence Fabricant (the recipe’s author) was on to something here. Like an airy, modern gem of a house plunked down in the mountains of Montana, it was a perfect juxtaposition.
So we ran into a few problems while cooking, so what? In this kitchen, two heads were better than one as we successfully troubleshot the recipe’s failings together. What to do when your wild rice still isn’t cooked after an hour and a half? Oh, just dump some jasmine rice in there and see what comes out in 20 minutes. How to deal with a red wine reduction that just tastes like an unidentified baked good? Add that bacon Florence Fabricant wasn’t even going to have us use. On both accounts, pure brilliance.
Bloggers and boyfriends sat down to a meal at midnight that none of us were much prepared to like: too much had gone wrong, too much was improvised and our spirits were dashed. We were fools to not believe in the power of Florence Fabricant – or the Wednesday Chef herself – because dinner was absolutely delicious. The bison was a carnivore’s dream – rare and meaty with bacon on top – and the smoky rice added a lovely sweetness. The chocolate pudding cake Luisa threw together while we were setting up the lights was a surprise knock out, but certainly the best part of the evening was being welcomed into a kitchen and finding new friends there.