Quick! It’s almost Thursday, but if you act fast, you can still have a Week to Remember:
Step 1: On your day off, clean the apartment you just moved out of. Don’t forget to grab that last load of laundry from the dryer, the way I almost did. And when you sweep the basement, be sure to accidentally dump the entire contents of the dust pan into the bag of clean laundry from the dryer, the way Brandon did.
Step 2: Go back to your new home. Feel both triumphant and defeated. Take a shower. Apply a bathrobe. Drink two glasses of cheap prosecco with Campari and a squeeze of orange. Now: try to make it to the dinner table without falling down. Not because of the prosecco, but because you put Pledge on the dining room table the other day, and when you did, there was apparently a substantial amount of fallout, leaving the floor with the traction properties of black ice. Feel your way along the wall until you reach the bedroom. Sleep.
Step 3: Unpack boxes. While you do so, have an idea: you can remove those cobwebs from the ceiling by Swiffering it! Begin immediately. Stop after three minutes, put away the Swiffer, get a chair to stand on, and begin removing cottony Swiffer bits from your ceiling. Unpack more boxes.
Step 4: Repeat the unpacking boxes part of Step 3. Continue for two days – or more, as needed.
Step 5: Avoid unpacking, Swiffering, Pledging, or doing anything else you are supposed to be doing. Stare into the middle distance. Steam an artichoke and eat it with an unconscionable amount of mayonnaise. Come to around three in the afternoon, and notice that life has provided you with a large north-facing window and yet another cloudy Seattle afternoon – in other words, your favorite situation for picture-taking. Get out some radishes, and have your way with them.
And when you’ve gotten that out of your system, make Molly Stevens’s butter-glazed radishes for dinner. And roast a chicken to go with it, if you have one. (I didn’t, but I would have, if I did.) And there’s your Week to Remember, especially if you skip Steps 1 through 4.
This radish recipe comes from the book All About Braising, which I love. I’ve written about it at least a couple of times, if not a few. I’ve had this particular recipe bookmarked since the first time I flipped through the book, years ago now. Until I saw it, I had never thought to eat radishes cooked – and to be honest, I couldn’t really imagine it, since they feel so right in their raw state, so peppery and crisp. But Molly Stevens has never led me astray, and I don’t see how the union of butter and radishes could ever be bad, so when the first spring radishes started cropping up at the market, I decided it was time to give it a try.
As braises go, this one is very quick. You’re not dealing with short ribs or brisket here. The radishes spend almost as much time soaking in a bowl of water beforehand – to loosen any trapped dirt – as they do cooking. They get only a brief simmer in butter and stock, and then you reduce the liquid to a glaze that coats them. You can use any kind or color of radish you want, but if you use red ones, there’s a nice side effect: they give some of their color to the cooking liquid, which goes rosy, and they themselves wind up the color of cotton candy. Very handsome, dignified cotton candy.
At first bite, I wasn’t entirely sold. The flavor of cooked radishes doesn’t announce itself with trumpets and cannons. It’s sweet, almost, and very delicate. It’s quiet. It sort of reminded me of a Sunday lunch I had to go to once with my parents, as a kid. We were at the home of some family friends, and they made blanquette de veau. It was supposed to be very chic and fancy, but I’d never eaten anything like it, and to me, it looked and tasted approximately like paste. I remember leaning on my mother’s shoulder, whispering in her ear, moaning about the “old-people food.” Of course, that’s not fair – to the veal or the radishes. But the first impressions were similar. It’s not that cooked radishes are old-people food, but on first taste, you could mistake them for bland. But! If you hang out a little longer, if you taste a second one and a third, you’ll find a lot of flavor there, low and earthy and resonant. It’ll surprise you. The butter is there, too, giving them some heft, and then there’s the texture, creamy and dense, like well-cooked cauliflower. Does that sound off-putting? I like well-cooked cauliflower. Maybe think in the direction of a potato instead? A particularly light, smooth-textured potato? Only more interesting, because it’s a radish. A butter-glazed radish. Happy spring, finally.
I think these radishes would make an ideal side dish for roasted chicken, but you could serve them with almost anything: fish, pork, probably even a fried egg.
Trim the roots from the radishes, and pare off the greens, leaving ¼ to ½ inch of the stems. (This is mostly for looks, and for the slight flavor the stems bring, but if you want, you can completely trim away the greens.) Soak the radishes in cold water for about 15 minutes to loosen any dirt trapped in the stems. Drain and scrub the radishes. If any are more than 1 inch in diameter, halve them.
Put the radishes in a medium (10-inch) skillet. The skillet should hold them in a single layer. Add the butter, stock or water, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer over medium heat; then cover, reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook until the radishes are tender, 18 to 25 minutes. You should be able to easily pierce them with a small knife.
Remove the lid, shake the pan to roll the radishes around, and continue to simmer until the liquid reduces to a glaze and coats the radishes, another 5 to 10 minutes. (You may need to increase the heat under the pan.) Taste for seasoning. Serve warm.
Yield: 4 servings