Twice Bittman

Mark Bittman, I have this to say to you: when a famous food writer publishes a book called “How To Cook Everything” there will be people, such as myself — naive people, perhaps — who will assume that such a title implies cooking “everything” well. After all, if I wanted to know how to cook “everything” in a way so frustratingly wrongheaded, unnecessarily difficult, and ultimately disastrous that my own mother would laugh herself into convulsions at the results, why, I could just ask myself. But I don’t want that. Neither does anyone I live with. Not even my dog. Who happily eats wood chips.

You were supposed to help me. You have not. You have betrayed me, Mark Bittman. And not just once.

First there was your roast chicken recipe. I tried it about a year ago. It took four hours to cook, broke my meat thermometer, and resulted in a half-incinerated-half-raw carcass that brought me — and probably my husband — to tears. I didn’t cook a bird again for six months. I would’ve gone vegan, but I’m already too sallow.

Last month, I gave you another chance. I made your beef chili recipe. We all know how that turned out. Thanks for the visuals. They’ll haunt me ’til my dying day.

Finally, last night’s debacle. The white bean soup with greens. Ask me why I was making soup on one of the hottest days of the year. I don’t know. I’ve always said I was contrary. Anyway. You promised it would be done in ninety minutes. I started it at 3:30, thinking it’d be a cinch for dinner. Fast forward to 8:45. The beans finally became soft enough to not crack a tooth on. I mean, come on. Hunger does make the best sauce, but is vastly underestimating the cooking time for every one of your recipes really the secret to your success? I cry foul! Or fowl. Or both.

Cooking time aside, the soup came out, once again, looking repugnant. Identical to the chili, really. Let me tell you something: beige, flaccid, and slightly scummy are not words you want applied to your meals. Or certainly not all of them, anyway.

At least this time I left my mom out of it.

Next time, though, Mark? It’s going to be you.

8 thoughts on “Twice Bittman

  1. Bonnie Chapin

    Dear Jess, Try soaking the beans before you cook them! Remember your garbanzo bean dish at the ranch? Or else, use the canned ones!

  2. Anna

    Perfect roast chicken: clean bird inside and out; pat dry, rub inside with salt, put whatever you have in fridge veggie/fruit drawer inside bird, such as half an onion, half a lemon, whatever really. Rub outside with oil, sprinkle generously a nice dry rub on the bird all over. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 350 for 15 minutes per pound. Baste once or twice. (The juices, after removing much of the fat, will make a nice gravy as you put that stuff in the bird to flavor them and the bird).

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