Baking for Bookworms: Holiday Ham Sauce from Kate Christensen’s The Epicure’s Lament

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So I don’t exactly have a recipe or a normal post for you.

Because I made this sauce.

And it was just. so. gross.

So I will not be sharing the recipe with you. Because you will hate me if I do. I mean, I will share vaguely. But don’t make it.

So the Hugo, the narrator, claims to be a bit of a cook, and he wrangles up plenty of meals that actually don’t sound half bad. He says that cooking is one of his only pleasures in life, and the food in the book is simple, yet gourmet. The pleasures that the narrator take in food seem to belie his intention to kill himself when his (totally reversible by quitting smoking) chronic disease becomes too much to bear. As much as he wants to claim that he’s happy being alone and ready to end his existence, the pleasure he takes in the experience of human seems to contradict this. However, he continues his relentless journey towards his end with a perverse kind of dedication and wish for solitude that  he applies to cooking. And even he notices there is some kind of irony in taking pleasure from cooking huge meals that others (who he’s alienated himself from) won’t eat. He talks about the holiday sauce in his journal as something he’ll never make or eat again.

The sauce is no exception. But I don’t know where the author found it because–yuck! I’m not sharing the exact quote with you because it contains the recipe, and I want to protect you from this sauce.

So in a nutshell: shallots sautéed in butter, stout beer, dried cherries, and brown sugar.

I thought it might be just weird enough to work, but it was just bad. It might be okay (ish) if you make it with wine. Maybe. But the stout impacted this incredibly bitter taste that was not jiving with the sweet things.

I call this one a big failure, but it just goes to show you you shouldn’t believe everything you read about is going to taste good.

On a happier note though,  I had great success with the ham that Paul brought home. It was delicious. I roasted it on a low temperature, just in its own juices with no added sugar or anything, and it turned out great!

What’s the last thing you made that epically failed?

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