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If you've already decided that foie gras isn't for you, then Michael Ruhlman's recent post on megnut probably isn't going to change your mind. If, however, you're undecided about the stuff, or (gasp) a fan, then by all means this is worth reading. Even with phrases like "pluck out any large dark veins," or "spread out the lobes," Ruhlman makes the fatted liver sound damn tasty, especially with scrambled eggs or soaked in milk and then poached. He also makes the point that, unlike most other high-end products, the foie gras available to the average consumer is likely of the same grade as the stuff available to most chefs because there are only a few suppliers in the U.S. Note that Tony Bourdain gives Ruhlman the atta-boy in the lengthy and worth-reading series of comments that follow the post.
Actually, according to The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, nutria is a red meat, but it supposedly tastes like rabbit or dark meat turkey. More than a little confusing, I know. What is clear is that Louisiana has a surplus of these 20 pound South American swamp rodents, which the LDWF kindly dubs "fur bearing herbivores." As some of you may know, Louisiana has, for several years, had a campaign going to try to cut down on the population (the nutria population, that is) by convincing people to eat to eat these critters, which were originally brought in for their fur, but then escaped and wreaked havoc on the local greenery. Also known as coypu, the nutria is apparently also a host for a type of nematode that can infect human skin and cause 'nutria itch,' according to Wikipedia. Nevertheless, the LDWF has plenty of recipes for the little guys, the names of which are too good not to mention: there's Heart Healthy 'Crock-Pot' Nutria, nutria sausage, nutria chili, "Stuffed Nutria Hindquarters," and "Enola's Smothered Nutria." The site also has over 20 photos of how to butcher a nutria, but we don't need to get into that right now.
I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who already have your shopping lists made up for that romantic meal at home with that special someone. This post is not for you. This is for the novice cook, the one who knows deep down that making a special meal for their sweetheart is the most romantic thing they could possibly do. They also know that it'll be worlds cheaper than going out to eat. So, here are a few suggestions:
- First of all, keep it simple. Sure, I know that the tendency is to go for something extravagant, but really, it's the act and effort of cooking that's important. Without getting too sentimental, let me just say that making a meal for someone else is one of the most basic acts of affection. Ten courses or two, it doesn't matter.
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