Posted on March 16th, 2012
Since becoming verbal at, may I say, a precociously early age, my daughter has thrown down an amazing amount of information as she’s explored her varied and sometimes offbeat interests in life. I’ve routinely served as a sounding board, sometimes an eager participant, and, on rare occasion, a victim. Looking back, I realize that while her interests have seemed to diverge, there is the common thread of experimentation in all of them. The gathered and infused herbs that consumed her in childhood and were often tested on me, regardless of actual need, evolved into the spun sugar tents and perfect crepes I and my dinner guests got to consume as she grew older. These passions have been neither fleeting nor in any way superficial, and have slowly and methodically grown to include the designing, making and tweaking of crafted libations. So yesterday’s phone call was not, at first, out of the ordinary
I learned yesterday from my daughter that there is such a thing as a Bone Luge. I jumped all over this news. It was the two words together, really, that piqued my interest, especially since I was, right then while on the phone, staring at a giant pork shank bone I’d brought home from a friend’s restaurant the previous evening with another meal still left on it. Bone. Luge. One has to admit that these two words, in such close proximity, can foment some conjuring, but what I then learned after firing off a few questions is that we are simply talking about a vessel – a way to get the booze from there to here. Some people think, she tells me, that if the liquid gets to pass by some marrow, it will enhance the whole experience.
The phone call ended and I warmed up my leftover shank for lunch. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the Bone Luge out of my mind and there I was, hefting this vaguely medieval, Flintstone-sized specimen, thinking Come on, build a luge and they will come. Truth is, my daughter and son-in-law ARE coming next weekend anyway, so my mantra should have been Out of sorts? Trying to avoid the laundry?? Bored??? Build a bone luge!
Several hours later, I was simmering the bone in a pot to get all those little cartilaginous bits off the socket end and checking the other end to see if it could take a beating. It looked sturdy. As I set it out on the cutting board to chill I went looking for my cordless drill. Then there was the bit selection. I’m not familiar with the actual sizes of bits, or, for that matter, much of anything to do with the drilling experience. I usually pick the bit based on my goal. Hanging a picture? Tiny bit. Trying to unscrew a rusted 150-year-old nail out of the baseboard? Bigger bit, and don’t forget to use the Reverse Feature. Making a Bone Luge? Well….I pondered briefly, then chose the most significant bit in my collection – the Big One.
I am presently 5.5 inches into this shank and have paused for further contemplation. For the record, I have unearthed and displaced some matter that is the color of a fine pâté, but crumblier. I’m assuming it is simmered, drying marrow. When you put your nose right up to the hole it smells good in there. Meaty. Earthy. Interesting. Here’s the dilemma…well, one of them. The shank is, like most things, not a straight line from here to there. There’s an attractive but pesky swerve about 5 inches up. If I keep drilling or start somewhere on the other end hoping to join up in the middle, there could be failure. There’s also this nagging thought that what smells pleasant now might take on the scent of a charnel house by next weekend.
While I still have a viable vessel, I’ve decided, for the time being, to change course. Shank as Infuser. I’m pouring a small amount of Woodford Reserve bourbon into the hole. I’ll cork it (somehow) and refrigerate it. If this doesn’t enhance the liquor, it should at least survive as an offbeat soup bone.
Addendum(b) – Oh dear. It leaks. I’ve isolated the breach to a section of non-bone located on the spherical end. It is a Ligament Leak. I cap my bourbon and slink away from the carnage. Days later there is a fur coat on the bone. I leave it and await the guffaws of my offspring.