Three is a significant number in our culture. Gold, silver, bronze (beyond that, apparent irrelevance), The Three Wisemen (maybe the fourth wanted to bring tins of Spam), The Three Stooges (Does anyone remember Shemp?)
Simply put, three has an innate attractiveness and exclusivity. If we can get any list or grouping or collection down to just three, this seems like a manageable number. And any concoction with just three ingredients implies that it’s simple, easy and quick. Thus, my initial and ultimately misguided attraction to Hugh’s Three Good Things . . . on a plate by Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall– a collection of recipes involving only three ingredients (sort of).
Last night, I made his “Peppers, sourdough, goat cheese” dish– technically, a “Triple Quick Snack & Side” dish. (I am inherently inefficient in the kitchen, so “quick” is a relative term in my case. It means anything that takes less than two hours.)
What I have learned through making this recipe is that any notion I had of “simple, easy and quick” must be quickly forgotten. The “three” equates to the tips of three proverbial icebergs. Dive down beneath the surface, and you’ll discover much more than “simple, easy and quick.” You’ll also discover that this is, ultimately, a very good thing.
For the sourdough (unless you want to completely cop out and buy sourdough bread), I raised my own culture and made the bread (which included a twenty hour rise). I must say, making the bread into croutons with pepper and garlic-infused oil was extremely gratifying.
Next, the peppers. I skipped the growing part and went to the grocery store. I did, however, grill them on the barbecue (another first for me), cooled them is a sealed-with-wrap bowl, gutted and skinned them, then soaked them in the above-mentioned infused oil. Messy, but satisfying. (Plus, we all know that great things come out of messiness.)
Finally, the goat cheese. As much as I wanted to raise and milk my own herd of goats and make the cheese, I took the shortest and easiest possible route and headed to the grocery store. So, at least the cheese was simple, easy and quick.
This three-ingredient dish defied my assumptions about simplicity, ease and quickness of the number “three.”
But I have to say, this shattering of assumptions is far from a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. This recipe demonstrates how “only three” ingredients can be transformed into a complex dish that passes the ultimate test. Yeah, it was delicious.
The recipe, Peppers, sourdough, goat’s cheese can be found in Hugh’s Three Good Things . . . on a plate (ISBN 9781408828588) on page 118.
By the way . . . This book made the top three of my cookbook collection.