Monday, February 22, 2010

Meat: The New Dough

This one's for you, mom. Mom asked me to do the Olympic rings and torch.

Shaping the rings: I started by rolling my meat, piece by piece. It rolled just like dough--in fact, the five rings looked like doughnuts.

As I worked, I couldn't help but wonder if I was a meat-rolling pioneer. Other than shaping meatballs, this seemed to be unexplored territory. What would an Iron Chef do if he knew about the possibilities offered by ground meat? The nature of the competition would be changed. Forever.

It's not just a matter of taking a chunk of meat in your hands and swishing it back and forth with your palms to create a cylindrical shape. To create smooth, elongated rolled strips, place the meat on your board and gently place your palms on the ends and roll forward in a swift motion. Bring your hands back to starting position and repeat this process. You should feel the meat stretching as it rolls--as you would dough. Man, this is exciting stuff.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, I was talking about putting the rings together. My original plan was to interlock them using the raw meat, but that was surprisingly difficult. I eventually gave up and realized I could handle the meat better when it was cooked. Besides, I knew I'd be covering any mishaps with other food toppings.

When I thought about the colors, I wasn't into the idea of making purees. I decided to play with texture. For the flame of the torch I wanted two shades of orange, so I layered cheese with shaved cooked carrot (which gives off a richer orange hue than raw). I experimented with more textures for the rings: yellow melted cheese, red chopped peppers, lovely fresh green spinach, ye olde black bean paste that keeps popping up on my meatloaf...and purple cabbage. I like that this blog has me trying new foods--don't think I ever would have bought purple cabbage otherwise. It's good for my kids to see me modeling this, especially when I've always been a picky eater.

Steaming the spinach and cabbage very slightly allowed me to wrap the leaves onto the meat. The deeper colors were a plus as well.

I didn't think to look up the origins of the Olympics emblem until after I made the meatloaf. Turns out there are lots of rules on how you may or may not use the symbol. Well, after today, they're going to have to amend the rules to read "The interlocking version may be produced in any of the aforementioned colours, or in full colour. Or in meatloaf."

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