Cooking a Badass Feast the Shannen Doherty Way
Last weekend, some friends and I embarked on a one-of-a-kind culinary journey. It was an evening of food and feasting the likes of which we'll probably never encounter again, mainly because my friends don't want to go through it ever again.
That Saturday evening, we cooked recipes from Shannen Doherty's quasi-autobiography Badass: A Hard-Earned Guide to Living Life with Style and (the Right) Attitude.
Yes, friends, Brenda Walsh has an autobiography in stores and, yes, there are recipes in it. "Contrary to popular belief, cooking is a totally badass thing to do," Doherty writes in the chapter "My Favorite Recipes." Ever since I skimmed through the book and saw this section devoted to Doherty's badass recipes, I thought to myself, "Oh, I must see if I can make a meal out of these!"
For this journey, I called on two of my dearest friends, married couple Dan and Jill, to help me. And when I say "help me," I really mean, "cook the whole damn thing at their place." Actually, I offered to buy food and help in the food-preparing. But Jill took it upon herself to buy the food (she says she is a more experienced shopper, which she is) and cook the dinner. Bottom line: Don't come between a cook and her kitchen.
Now, back to the recipes. Doherty features an interesting assortment of recipes, including three main courses, three side items and a dessert recipe for "Grannie Wright's Sweet Potato Pie." When I came over to Dan and Jill's place that night, Jill was already in the kitchen, sleeves rolled up, attempting to make Doherty's recipes a reality.
For the first course, "Perfect Roast Chicken," she already had a whole, three-pound chicken seasoned with salt and sealed in a Ziploc bag, ready to be browned in a caste-iron pan and eventually roasted. For the next course, "My Dad's Chilean Sea Bass," Jill couldn't find the four six-ounce fillets of Chilean sea bass Doherty said was needed. Instead, she got four six-ounce grouper fillets. (Hey, Doherty does urge those who read the recipes to "put your own stamp on these dishes.")
It as "Shannen's Filet Mignon Roast," that gave Jill the most cause for complaint. For one, Jill said the three-and-a-half pounds of filet mignon roast would've cost her $70. Instead, she went over to Costco and got five half-pounds for $50. Another problem she had was with Doherty's opening line about cooking the roast: "With a cut of meat this good, you really can't go wrong." According to Jill, yes you can. "You can overcook it and totally fuck it up," she said, as she tied two pieces of filet mignon together and marinated them with rosemary. "I just think it's pretentious."
Moving on to the side items, Jill only cooked two of the three, deciding to skip the stuffed tomatoes. All that was left were the mashed potatoes and the green beans. Jill had a slight hiccup while making the potatoes; the recipe called for four ounces of cream cheese, which she unfortunately didn't have. Nevertheless, she improvised, throwing in half-and-half and some of those soft, Laughing Cow cheeses. She did follow the green beans recipe to the letter, since she had all the ingredients for them.
First up on our plates was the roast chicken, which I immediately cut into. As I expected, it was properly salty, but it was also properly juicy and succulent. While Dan and I were gorging on the chicken, Jill was busy making the sweet potato pie, which also proved to be a problem. Apparently, she needed to throw in some more sweet potatoes, since the pie filling turned out to be too liquidy. (At this point, Jill began wondering out loud if these recipes were even tested by people before they ended up in the book.)
Next up was the grouper, which was covered in a red sauce consisting of onion, garlic and tomatoes. There was no seasoning in the sauce, which made it taste a bit bland, but the grouper was still delicious. After we were done with the fish, then came everything else: the potatoes, the green beans and the filet mignon. The potatoes ended up as my favorite dish of the night. It turns out that half-and-half and those little cheeses gave it an extra creamy, flavorful kick. I began dumping that stuff on my plate in piles. The green beans, on the other hand, had an odd taste. They were covered in a brown sauce consisting of butter, brown sugar and pecans. I usually expect green beans to be slightly salty and buttery, not sweet and nutty. I ate them anyway.
As for the filet mignon, it was juicy as hell, but not quite that flavorful. I was beginning to wonder if Doherty has a problem with seasoning on her dishes. I mean, I know celebrities have to stay fit and healthy. But, gotdammit, this was ridiculous!
We had to wait quite a while for the pie, since it was still quite liquidy. We were halfway into a Michelangelo Antonioni film on DVD until Jill took it out. It was sweet and tasty, but it was still weak in the consistency department.
All in all, thanks to the "favorite" dishes of one TV actress, this turned out to be a memorable evening. While Jill felt like the recipes were mediocre and quite simplistic, it was still interesting.
Get the Food & Drink Newsletter
Our weekly guide to Houston dining includes food news and reviews, as well as dining events and interviews with chefs and restaurant owners.