According to the Joy of Cooking, one must never, EVER, try a new dish out on guests. A respectable cook will make the dish several times to ensure that they are able to achieve the desired outcome (flavour, appearance). Then, and only then, should they attempt the dish at a dinner party.
I sure hope this evening's dinner guest has not read the Joy of Cooking.
She's arriving armed with a bottle of white wine and some naan bread. And tonight's completely untested recipe? African-style chicken curry with squash from the LCBO's Food and Drink magazine.
As a lapsed (or recovering depending on your point of view) vegetarian of 18 years, I missed some key learning opportunities growing up. An important one being how to prepare meat of any kind. When I went back to eating meat a few years ago - I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. During the learning process, I have burned several t-bone steaks, unknowingly served half cooked salmon (mine was fine!) and had to ask for assistance to figure out how to eat a chicken. I'm getting better but have still never attempted a roast of any kind, prepared meat on a barbecue or figured out the subtleties of meat preparation.
Last night's dinner was clam chowder and biscuits. Neither Doug nor I had ever made clam chowder but the recipe looked pretty yummy. Biscuits were recommended so we figured we might as well learn how to make those too. The soup was a hit with the only hitch being that we both read '1 baked potato' instead of '1 baking potato'. That unecessary step added an extra 40 minutes to the prep time and, once we realized, all we could do was laugh. I also learned that less is more when kneading biscuit dough so the final product tasted right but was a wee bit more puck-like than I would have liked. Lesson learned.
As I type this blog, there are 10 skin on, bone in, chicken thighs in the fridge. Rule one of Joy of Cooking will soon be broken as I discover on the fly how to prepare them. My friend will most likely be sitting at the counter sipping wine and laughing at my questions.
Sharing food with friends and loved ones is one of life's great pleasures. So the hell with not serving an untried dish to friends. We're making chicken curry with squash tonight and, if it's delicious, we'll have a new recipe to add to the repertoire. If it's a bomb, we'll order sushi from down the street and laugh. Either way, it's going to be a lovely evening.