Monday, January 19, 2009

Broken: Beef

     Big Dave has had a rough start to his 2009. So as part of our January Special Promotion, we are going to offer a look at a few of the things that have broken under his hand or gone wrong on his watch. Today we are going to look at the time he tried to make hot sandwiches.

     One of the craziest but most wonderful things about the place I work is that it is tradition to celebrate one's birthday by putting on a lunch for the rest of the office. I know, that sort of sounds backward. It's MY birthday but I have to cook for everyone. It just doesn't make sense. But that's okay. Because everyone has to do it. Well, some time ago, long before I came around, they began the tradition of joining forces to put on bigger and better birthday lunches. So it was in that spirit that Sue Too, M&M, and I decided to team up and do a birthday lunch, since our birthdays are all near each other in December. "'s January. You are not only in the wrong month but the wrong year." No, I understand. But here is the deal. There are tons of holiday potlucks in December, and we get tons of days off for the holidays. And by the time the New Year comes around everyone is sick of eating. So we waited until last Thursday (because we knew everyone would be there on Thursday) and we decided to put on small-town diner-style hot sandwiches.
      Oh yeah, you know the kind I am talking about. Start with a piece of white bread, maybe a nice Southern biscuit, and then plop some mashed potatoes on top. Then on top of that turkey or beef in turkey gravy or beef gravy, respectively. Serve it with some green beans with slivered and toasted almonds and cranberry sauce for a side with a big glass of milk and you have a stick-to-the-ribs, old fashioned, comfort food lunch. And that' before we get to the super dark chocolate cake and fruit salad M&M made for dessert. Oh man. So good. The weather even cooperated. It was the coldest day of the year. Well of course, the year is not even a month old. It was also the coldest day of the winter. Of the last several winters in fact. There, happy?
What they were thinking, with my record of luck for 2009, I do not know. But they put me in charge of the turkey and the beef. 
      Bad decision. First of all, I have to walk to the store. And it's colder than your mama's bed out there.  Second of all, I have to carry a beef roast (no big deal), a half dozen cans of broth for the gravy, and like a 10 lb turkey breast.  Which leads me to the next problem.  I have no idea what I am doing in terms of the turkey.  I have never made hot turkey for sandwiches.  I've done beef a dozen times, so I know what I am doing there, or so one would think.  I go home and put the stuff away and get ready to get ready for the big event.
     The day before the feast I go to make the stuff.  It should be easy enough, I am thinking to myself.  So I get home from work and bust out the crock pots.  I throw the beef in one with a couple cans of beef broth and set it on low and let it go.  Remember that part, that is going to be important later.  Then I turn my attention to the turkey, which as we all remember I have never made before.  And I find a bunch of things I did not expect to find.  Skin.  Bones, a gravy packet.  Oh, and it's all frozen still.  Great.  So I stick it in the crock pot, turn it on high, and dump a can of broth in there.  Bad mistake.  As I start to remove the skin and attempt to extricate the gravy packet the heat of the crock pot begins to thaw the turkey.  And every time I turn it over to get more skin off it's covered in broth.  Ugh.  But eventually I get most of the nasty skin off and decide to just let it cook.
       After a few hours in the crock pot the turkey is thawed and cooking nicely.  There is just enough collagen leaking out of the bones to get that sort of greasy, finger lickin' good look about the gravy, and I decide it's time for a dissection.  So I go at it, pulling off the white breast meat like I am pulling pork or something.  I throw all the meat back in the gravy in the crock pot and let it keep cooking.  Then I turn my attention to the beef, which I come to find is still red.  It's barely cooking.
     Great.  So I ramp the heat up to high and let it go.  And go.  And go some more.  Finally by 3 am it is done enough for me to pull it apart, barely.  So I call it good and stick it in the fridge, figuring that it can cook for four more hours tomorrow before lunchtime.  So we should be all set.  They both have something resembling gravy, and they are both cooked to the point where no one should get ill from them.  And really, that's all that I ask.
      Fast forward to the next morning.  M&M loans me the Subaru to go get the meats from the Worldwide Headquarters.  So I do, and I bring down the treasure-laden crock pots and set them in the passenger-side front foot well.  As I set off back towards the office, I tell myself to take it easy so I do not spill any of the meaty goodness.  So what happens on the second corner?  Yep, there goes the beef.  The rear end of the car fishtails out and the beef goes with it.  About a quarter of the beef ended up on the floor and the floor mat, and about a quarter ended up in the upturned lid of the crock pot.  For those of you math majors, you know that we have half of the beef still unaccounted for.  Luckily, that part remained in the crock pot.  So I quickly saved what I could and stormed into the office just pissed off.  And wouldn't you be?  I mean, the beef that I stayed up until 3 am the night before making is now soaking into a rubber backed floor mat.  You know what?  I bet the beef gave everyone some awful internal intestinal parasite and we just haven't discovered it.  Or maybe a wolf came into town because he smelled the little bit I spilled in the parking lot and then he mauled someone coming to the courthouse to visit the Commission on Aging to get their Meals on Wheels coupon or whatever.  "Area resident mauled by wolf lured into city by clumsy man's spill.  Pictures at eleven."  Great, I am a celebrity.  Yeah, I bet that's how it all ended.  That's my luck in 2009.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to hear you're having a bad 2009 thus far. Don't worry though, I happen to know things will get better. The gremlin that lives in my closet told me so....

Anonymous said...

That previous comment was posted by Adrianne.

Yours Truly,
The Gremlin