Me Vs. The Mystery Meat


Now Hiring: Kitchen Mischief Photographer.

Why would anyone in his right mind take a perfectly good filet mignon and put it in the food processor? Before I answer that, let me frame my answer thus:  (1) I have never once claimed to be in my “right mind” and (2) the “meat” featured above was most certainly NOT a perfectly good filet mignon.  Au contraire: it was a repellant Faux Filet that barely deserved a ride in my Cuisinart. For the love of Mischief, how did this happen? Let me explain.

A month or two back, my folks signed up for a “restaurant-quality” food distribution service. They thought, “Restaurant quality…sounds nice.” However, upon receiving their first box of food, they discovered that “restaurant quality” is a relative term. Applebee’s is a restaurant. McDonald’s is technically a restaurant. Similarly, these filet mignons were “technically” filet mignons. They looked like filets…but somewhere, some dark culinary alchemy had been performed that rendered the meat…odd. Tender but tough, flavorful yet repugnant, light but spongy. An enigma, wrapped in a riddle, pickled in MSG. Simply odd. The evil Food Warlock who created these things should be boiled in his own cauldron.

But wait…you may be thinking, “Josh, if your parents gave them such scathing reviews, what are you doing anywhere near those steaks?” Answer: They were free. The threat of impending poverty has introduced my typical mischief into new areas. Before, creativity and inspiration drove my culinary bus.  But now that my bank account is more Strategic Oil Reserve than corner Chevron station, I look at life a little differently. I clip coupons. I buy meat and cat litter in bulk (but store them separately). And I…gasp! …eat leftovers. When Mom was recounting her unpleasant Faux Filet experience, I had two thoughts: (1) Surely I can do something with them, and (2) They can’t be that bad.

Turns out they were indeed that bad.  The first round was a TOTAL loss. They were hands-down the worst things that have EVER come off my grill. Dense, funky, springy…odd…like a beef-flavored Styrofoam-tofu hybrid. Food Warlock: 1, Josh: 0. But not for long.

Wednesday night I had a craving: Spaghetti. Nothing fancy, just spaghetti with meat sauce. But there was one problem: I had no ground beef. That’s when I remembered the frozen Faux Filets. I figured if anything could break asunder the Dark Magic of the Food Warlock, it was the razor sharp devil blades of my food processor. So I cubed the “steaks”, added some salt, pepper, and olive oil, and made this lovely concoction.

Would anyone care for some Meat Paste? Anyone?

I’ll be honest, I threw up a little in my mouth when I took the top off the food processor. It’s one of those moments where I’m glad I did it before David got home, cause he would have taken one look and made a beeline for V. Richard’s. It looked nasty. But I figured I’d come this far, so why not plunge bravely forward? I got out the skillet, starting browning the meat paste, and went on like it was normal ground beef.

Take that, Food Warlock!

After adding onions and garlic and some marinara sauce, it actually turned out great. It tasted like normal spaghetti with meat sauce…I suppose because that’s exactly what it was. Nothing fancy, but infinitely more edible than the Mystery Meat in its original evil form. Once again, the powers of good have triumphed over evil. Or at least, my attempts at thriftiness have won out over my desire to flee the evil meat.

More Culinary Dark Magic on the Horizon
The battle between good and evil is far from over. Along with the “gift” of free steaks came a box of frozen “restaurant quality” Royal Red shrimp…the big suckers with their heads on. Who knows what Evil Culinary Mutant will emerge from that frosty slumber?

To Be Continued...

5 Responses to “Me Vs. The Mystery Meat”

  1. Matthew Says:

    Wow, what an adventure! So are these filets so bad that you actually pronounce the “t” in the name?

    Hey, Ray would love to try your shrimp idea!

  2. Ray Says:

    I’ve seen that shrimp movie — the one where it comes back to life and attacks a city – that’s why I stay away from them!

  3. judith Says:

    I applaud your creative perseverance! Maybe we could have that for dinner on christmas eve???

  4. David Says:

    I love Josh and all but “great” is not the word I would have used. And it definitely wasn’t “normal” spaghetti. Edible? Yes. Enjoyable? Not so much. Spaghetti is meant for ground beef. Steak, even “restaurant quality” steak, is a little too chewy for spaghetti sauce. I say try cubing it into a beef stew.

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