This is my attempt at explaining the lack of fresh produce in my final dinner of 2012. Only the pre-frozen bison meat was bought well in advance for its purpose. All the other foods that went into this meal were things we had preserving around the house on December 31. Quite as a result, I didn't use any salt in our food, as everything else was well-seasoned. Seth accidentally overestimated ingredients in the mulled wine he made for Christmas, which produced the wonderful spice wine liquer I used as the base for our meatball sauce. The lemon balm was the stuff I accidentally grew all year in my EarthBoxes instead of the herbs I wanted, which became a nice end-of-year pesto. The soft, densely-flavoured kimchee has been steeping away in my fridge for at least six months. The mentaiko was a fish roe pickling experiment that insufficiently dried, even though it was salted enough to keep. The cinnamon sugar was sugar left over from rolling around spice cookies, kept with a couple of cinnamon quills in a jar that did not make it into the pot of mulled wine. Really, everything that ended up in these dishes was a splendid accident. For that reason, anything that can or could be replaced by something wonderful and local to your household should be!
The only other exception was the salted egg I used in this recipe, which ripened right on New Year's Eve in its jar (in the basement). This was entirely the first time I ever tried salting eggs, chicken eggs n this case. I was absolutely terrified something would go wrong and the eggs would spoil over 21 days. Instead, when I peeked into the salting jar, the brine smelled sweet, simply of a thumb of fresh ginger, star anise and cloves I'd added for extra flavour. The first egg I cracked had a perfectly lovely orange yolk, solid from salting, and a rich, cohesive white. It barely spread out, sitting at the bottom of the bowl like a fried egg with still-translucent whites. I seriously can't wait to use this stuff in other foods around the house.
Bison Balls in Mulled Wine Sauce
1½ cup ground bison (cold)
½ cup instant oatmeal flakes (soaked overnight in cold milk; don't drain off milk)
1 tsp lemon balm pesto
1 raw salted egg (whites only; reserve yolk)
1 tsp cinnamon sugar
Enough oil or butter for panfrying
½ cup mulled wine (or red wine with ¼ tsp garam masala)
1 knob butter
1½ cinnamon sugar
1. With moist hands or a mixing spoon, stir ground bison until the fibres of the meat break and everything resembles a smooth, workable paste.
2. Add the rest of A, except the frying fat. Stir until well combined. Form meat paste into teaspoon-sized balls.
3. Fry meatballs until suitably cooked. Set aside. Reserve pan drippings.
4. Add B to pan drippings. Bring to low boil on medium low heat.
5. Serve meatballs with sauce.
Spaghetti in Mentaiko-Horseradish Cream with Kimchee
2 serves spaghetti
2 sacs mentaiko
1 tbsp horseradish cream
2 tbsp half & half or cream
1 tbsp butter
½ cup kimchee (chopped fine)
2 stalks spring onion (sliced fine)
1 raw salted egg yolk (halved)
1. Cook spaghetti according to manufacturer's instructions.
2. On medium-low heat, bring everything except mentaiko and egg yolk to low simmer. Turn off heat.
3. Slice mentaiko and integrate thoroughly into cream sauce.
4. Mix in still-hot pasta until well combined.
5. Serve, topped with half a salted egg yolk on each pile of pasta.