Since Shawn and I are homebodies and he is anything but romantic (yeah, I dont know how this worked out--all through high school he gave all of his girlfriends flowers all the time, then we start dating in college, and I can count on one hand how many times he's given me flowers, gah), we decided that instead of going out on Valentines, we'd cook a nice meal at home.
Now then, I'm no slouch in the kitchen, oh sure, I can be lazy, but when the occasion calls for it, I can prove that I know my way around ingredients. Back in the day, my dad, sister and I would create a 4 or 5 course meal for my mom once a year. It required planning, team work and preparation. And we only had one day to do it since the whole goal was to surprise my mom on when we were doing it (by the time we were in college though, it was pretty obvious that it would be done sometime after New Year's but before we went back to school since that was the only time that we'd all be home together with nothing to do). Usually my dad would choose the Appetizer and Soup course, I'd choose the salad, and my sister and dad would choose dessert and we'd all throw in our ideas for the main course and what sides. The only rule seemed to be that everything had to be made by us, and other than dessert it had to come from some cook book, and we couldn't repeat recipes year to year. Except for the soup. Because it was the Colorado Cache French Onion Soup. After I started dating Shawn, I was invited to dinner with his parents one night but I couldn't make it because it conflicted with our 5 course meal night. When I told my now Mom-in-law about this, she sighed and said that her kids would never do that for her (which, well duh, Christina had already moved out and Shawn is somewhat hopeless in the kitchen especially when it comes to making more than a main dish with sides). So that year, I did a 5-course meal for Shawn's parents too. Of course, because there was really only Shawn and me and I felt bad about making him do work since he didn't really care, I did tone it down--slow cooker main course, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream for dessert, French Onion Soup for the soup course, my go-to salad, and the Texas Razzpotle dip for the app.
Anyhoo, since moving to Texas, I have tried to continue doing some nice meal thing every year. So far, it has normally ended up being on Veteran's Day since I had that day off and Shawn didn't. This year I had already pre-decided not to do a nice meal (which was a good thing since I ended up babysitting Ma-belle while her baby brother was born). Instead I figured I'd once again, make Shawn help and we'd do a nice meal on MLK day or President's day.
So I was somewhat surprised when Shawn said we should do the fancy meal on Valentine's day. He had a special request--Oso Bucco. I mean it WAS the reason I got a dutch oven for christmas 2 years ago and we still haven't made it. So Oso Bucco it was.
I used the recipe from America's Test Kitchen Restaurant Favorites cook book. I typed in the shopping list on my phone, we went to the store, and i tried to pull up the list while there. It didn't work because somehow I had been signed out of my gmail account while I was filling out the shopping list so it didn't save it. Yay! buying ingredients I never use from memory! somehow I managed to remember everything. $50 later we come home and put everything away. At 3pm I start dicing. Shawn starts dishes. Just as I'm finishing dicing, Shawn's finished enough dishes so I can start cooking. For the most part, everything goes okay. The only thing i screwed up was the peeling the potato part...as in, I didn't. I don't know why this is the step I always forget. So whatever. non-peeled potato. it isn't like it will end up in the final product anyway (you fish out all the solids at the end of the cooking time and only keep the liquids and meat). The meat and vegetable filled dutch oven goes in the regular oven for 1.5 hours. During which I read my book (Catching Fire), instead of doing something useful, such as prepping the next batch of mirepoix . So the timer goes off and then I have to chop and dice like a madwoman to get everything back on schedule, and CRAP I haven't even thought of when to start the risotto! So Shawn is called in to help (which he was supposed to be doing anyhow). And is set to work smashing all the vegetables through a strainer while I make the stuffing for the Bucco and start the risotto. Ultimately Shawn starts telling me that he can't set the table because everything on it is mine (which is true), so i tell him he has to watch the risotto while I clean the table. Somehow everything manages to actually get done and finished at about the same time (other than I wanted to have some salad with the meal, which we didn't. psh, who needs green vegetables anyway?).
So, we sit down to eat and the risotto is kinda bland and then we bite into the Oso Bucco, and it's one of those things where the first couple bites are delicious...and then the next couple bites are kinda blah...and then by the end you're hoping that you can just finish because it doesn't taste good any more.
Final verdict: I think the whole going from great to 'just get this over with' was just something that was my issue since I think Shawn liked it the whole way through...maybe I had too much sugar, or something just wasn't right for me. But, we both felt that it was way too much work for the pay off. Only funny because Shawn did mashing, and stirring, while I was the one that did all the measuring and dicing and mixing and timing. Shawn even mentioned that the Oso Bucco at Trattoria Lisina was much better (which, at $50 for ingredients, it would have been cheaper to go to Trattoria Lisina), and if we ever tried this again, we would need to add more tomatoes and make the starch mashed potatoes instead of risotto. I think instead we'll go back to the chicken pot pie in the America's Test Kitchen Best Skillet Recipes, or with the Shepherd's pie in the Restaurant book. Both of those recipes also took some time, but it didn't seem to be as much time as this one took (two batches of mirepoix while the shepherd's pie only required one), and we like the flavor of those better.