When the shining star of a meal is the side-dish. :)
The other night we decided to try out some pre-packaged potato gnocchi we found at the store. I figured we would take a regular jar of sauce, add some personal flair, throw in some lamb meat and a side of asparagus just for some color.
It sounds like a great meal. But it wasn't.
The problem started with the lamb meat. We accidentally bought neck meat, and didn't realize it until dinner time rolled around. That would have been wonderful of I had an extra couple hours on my hands to slowly braise the collagen. It would have been tender and voluptuous. But I didn't have that much time, and the meat suffered for it. I spent a good 15 minutes slicing my way around bone and connective tissue, then I seared it and threw the marinara (with mushrooms, and plenty of other seasonings) over it and cooked it on med-low for as long as I could... but it wasn't long enough. The meat was tough, and not nearly as flavorful as it should have been.
Then there was the gnocchi. Yet another failure. They cooked up just fine, and the texture was far superior to anything I have managed with home-made gnocchi yet. No, it wasn't the texture that killed the gnocchi, it was the flavor. Or lack thereof. It was kind of like eating hearty lumps of nothing. Disappointment. Looks like I will be making my own next time I get a gnocchi craving.
But man, that asparagus was AWESOME! Just a quick boil resulted in sweet and tender bits of lovely greenness that stole the show from all the other ingredients.
At least it wasn't a total bust.