King Seamus

My friend Paul lovingly calls me “Seamus.” But I know a real Seamus — how many people outside of Ireland can say that? (Do you know a Seamus??)

Our friend Seamus is a man with a lust for life. Once at a party at our home, I had grilled a Herculean pork shoulder. I was busy tending to guests, wine and so forth, and when I came out to the large table on our deck, Seamus was standing at the head in his flowing white cotton shirt, his long flowing dark hair and thick English accent — holding court, quaffing wine and gesturing grandly as he carved the pork shoulder, a scene that might’ve been pulled from the pages of Shakespeare.

“Seamus looks like a king!” my wife said.

“He’s Henry VIII!!” I added, thinking more of the caricature of resplendent robes, a goblet of wine and a leg of mutton than of the unfortunate fates of his six wives (“annulled, beheaded, died, annulled, beheaded, survived”).

Seamus and his lovely wife, Tara, invited us recently to go picnic and watch polo on a fine Saturday afternoon to celebrate his birthday. The best gift I can give someone is to cook them a meal. It’s something I do well, it’s not a present they didn’t want and don’t know what to do with now that they’ve got it. It’s there and then it’s gone, and you are left with nothing but good memories. So we invited them and their kids back to our house for dinner afterward.

I keep special things hidden in the depths of my freezer for just such occasions. I’m never quite sure what’s down there. Burrowing far beneath the potstickers, chicken nuggets and frozen blueberries that clutter the surface, I discovered what it was I was searching for: a 2-and-a-half-inch-thick dry-aged rib eye steak on the bone. More special for Seamus, I’d say, than a carrot soup or chicken breast picatta.

It was a fine warm autumn evening, another majestic Topanga sunset over the mountains in the west. Onto the crackling grill went six half artichokes, pre-steamed and then basted in olive oil, salt and a garlicky, lemony aioli. Next, the rib eye, grilled to a caramelized char while still meltingly red and tender, rested on a cutting board dressed with a fruity extra virgin olive oil, grated garlic, chopped parsley and Maldon salt.

To the guest of honor went the ceremonial bone. He repaired to a quiet corner and gnawed reverently, pausing only to generously share a single bite with daughter Dylan. Then the meat was sliced and served with a parsley asiago risotto, which I generously share with you below. There’s no need to repeat the rib eye recipe, you know what to do. Just remember as you prepare to gnaw the bone, to stop for a moment and raise a glass to King Seamus. Long live the king!

*   *   *

Parsley asiago risotto
serves 4

1 cup arborio rice (or other short-grained rice)
1 white onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup cream
1 cup chopped parsley
1 cup grated asiago cheese (or about 1/2 lb.)
salt & freshly ground pepper

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until golden. Add rice and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes until all grains are translucent. Add two cups hot water and a teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 minutes until water is cooked away (note: contrary to popular mythology, you do not need to stir a risotto constantly while it is cooking). Continue in this manner, adding warm water and cooking down, until risotto is tender yet still al dente in the center (about 15-18 minutes). Add cream, bring to a simmer, and turn off heat.

Stir in the parsley and asiago until thoroughly combined. Let sit for 5 minutes then serve.

Wine suggestion: a crisp Northern Italian white such as a bubbly Proseco or dry Soave or verduzzo.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. paul
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 16:56:08

    You are now and always will be Seamus to me my friend.


  2. Lisa Gaskin
    Oct 11, 2011 @ 02:52:35

    Seamus as in (SHA-MUS)…I know a dog named Seamus….


  3. jules
    Oct 12, 2011 @ 01:21:00

    We know two Seamuses here in LA…they are both 5 years old :).


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