Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Old Faithful In The Kitchen

In 1870, the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition to northwest Wyoming, named Old Faithful, now one of the most famous features in North American natural history.  Erupting in 91 minute intervals, it is the name sake for the Old Faithful Historic District in what is now Yellowstone National Park.  

Millions of visitors enjoy watching the eruptions Old Faithful (and others) each year.  

But they don't need to go to Wyoming to see that. They can come to my house.

A few nights ago, I was making dinner for Natalie and I.  The recipe?  Pan-seared Pilsener Sirloin Tips with Herbed Pecan Orzo and Shiitake-Blue Cheese Sauce.  The recipe suggests serving it with a Nut Brown Ale.  (Really. I did not make that up.  Say it again with me - Pan-seared Pilsener Sirloin Tips with Herbed Pecan Orzo and Shiitake-Blue Cheese Sauce.)

The recipe came from "The Best of American Beer and Food" by Lucy Sanders.   Get the book. It is so worth it.

Anyhow, after the tips had finished marinating in the pilsener, (specifically, one from the Frankenmuth Brewery) they were removed from the marinade and placed in a bowl while the olive oil was brought up to temperature in a frying pan.  Per the recipe, the tips were to be pan-seared in the oil, removed and then later slow cooked with mushrooms and broth.

Not wanting to add the tips to the pan one at a time with tongs, I simply dumped the bowl in the pan when the oil was ready.

Holy crap.

In seconds, the pan erupted into a tower of spraying oil and beer. As best as I could tell, the juices had settled into the bottom of the bowl. When I dumped it, all hell broke loose.

While Old Faithful throws water and steam almost 200 feet in the air to the amazement of vacationers, the sight of oil flying 14 inches out of the frying pan was quite horrifying.  While a 4-minute eruption of the geyser might seem kind of short at the park, the 5-second fountain in my kitchen seemed about 5 seconds too long. A quick removal of the pan ended the eruption and I was left with splattered oil on just about everything within 3 feet of the pan. 

I wonder if I could market a geyser in my kitchen and invite local park patrons? Afterall, I could argue I have some things in common with Yellowstone....

(For the record, the meal was outstanding! It was served with the Indian Brown Ale from Dogfish Head Brewing Company. What a fantastic dinner!)

(I also find it interesting that I had another cooking mishap when I tried a different recipe from the same book.  Wow.  I still remember that "mustard gas" like it was yesterday...)

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