I’ve been in jail… a few times. I’ve mentioned it, I’m sure, but if you haven’t heard the story about the time I got put in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs for having an unpaid “Dog off his leash” ticket in Fort Collins, this is your opportunity to find out!
I’m turning into one of those old people who forgets what the hell story they’ve told to each person, so just endlessly repeats themselves until you start condescendingly nodding and saying “tell me about the war” or “and then Coke was a nickel??”
Gird your loins, brethren, so I can tell you about my first time on the inside.
It was a beautiful, calm Friday evening, and I was just putting the finishing touches on a pot roast dinner for several of my friends (this is a true detail) when I heard a knock at my front door. I opened the front door to see a Friendly Neighborhood Police Officer. Having grown up in Stepford, my experience with police officers was pretty limited to the times I missed my bus and refused to walk four miles to receive an education, and my mom would call them to come escort me in the back of their Crown Victorias to Ponderosa High School. She thought this was a serious punishment indeed, but the reality was that without the help of the local sheriff, I would have missed my ride to leave the high school in order to smoke marijuana cigarettes at the lake with other privileged hooligans.
In short, I thought police officers were a pretty friendly bunch, and I was certain that this pudgy, cheerful looking man with a badge was at my door to raise money for a ball or to tell me I’d left my lights on in my car or something else helpful. Nay. I was incorrect. He was ACTUALLY at my house to arrest me. When I asked him why, he informed me that I had a warrant out. When I furrowed my forehead and asked what I could possibly have a warrant for, he told me it was for not paying a $25 ticket for having my dog off his leash at the park.
At this point, I thought it was a practical joke and we would either all LOL or he would press play on a hidden boombox and start taking off his clothes. Again, I was incorrect.
I remained calm and amused as he explained that I couldn’t just “pay the fine,” nor could I “follow behind him and go to the jail to pay the fine.” Nope. He absolutely HAD to arrest me, and he absolutely HAD to put me in handcuffs. Abercrombie polo shirt, pot roast, and handcuffs. My life as an enigma.
Once I’d gotten to the jail, still kind of flabbergasted by the whole ordeal, they started to take away my stuff. Earrings. Shoes. Purse. All put in little baggies behind a barred window. The “waitstaff” were not particularly friendly, except for one notable exception named “Officer Van Dyken.” She was a BEAST of a woman, and I feel accurate and not at all bigoted when I tell you that she was not at all interested in penises. Ever.
She enthusiastically patted me down, humming to herself (I’m guessing Barry White), and was so thorough in her bodily investigations that she noticed my belly button ring and insisted that I take it out and hand it over. So I did. And then she made me put on an orange jumpsuit because my POLO SHIRT was indecent.
Excuse my heaving bosom, but sometimes polo shirts are sexaaaay instead of just covered in embroidered alligators and used for golf.
Then I got stuck into a room with MALE INMATES.
My understanding of jail was that you’re typically not shoved into coed dormitory-like situations, but here is yet another instance in which I was incorrect.
Think fast, Kristie. Think fast. Okay, street cred. What can I do to establish street cred?
One important prison skill is the ability to craft a shiv so you can shank other inmates and make sure you’re not their bitch. It’s a real thing. I was trying to explain this to the prison guards and other inmates (I read a lot of Grisham as a college kid), and the waitstaff were Officially Not Amused. The other inmates were EXTREMELY amused, though. And my life as the child of a librarian came in very handy, as I had been exposed to quite a lot of story hour growing up, and was prepared to pimp my raconteur skills to the nth degree to avoid penetration or having someone take my fruit cup.
Eventually, they tired of my tales and allowed me access to a little phone booth with a glass wall. On the other side of that glass wall were all of my friends. They had followed me from my house, to the jail, and were waiting patiently with both bail money (which I didn’t need–that time) and cell phone cameras to document my sweet-ass outfit.
We talked for a while, and then my time was up so I had to go back and wait my turn for outprocessing. This took almost 6 more hours. And the guards were DICKS the entire time. No sense of humor whatsoever, and I could smell the history of being bullied all over their smug little faces.
When I was finally allowed to sign my name on the paper promising to show up in court, it was morning. I put my shoes back on and left the jail a little wiser, and really hoping someone had the good sense to put a tupperware of pot roast in the fridge for me.
The point is this: Shanks.
I had some in the freezer, and wanted to make stock, but some of these were so meaty and beautiful that I threw them in the crockpot and made some fantastic pasta sauce with them. You should give it a shot.
- 4 large shank bones with meat attached (see pic)
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 C malbec (or other rich red wine)
- 2 bay leaves
- ½ t dried thyme
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 bag frozen peas
- 1 pint mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- Egg noodles, cooked per instructions to al dente
- Season the shanks on both sides aggressively with salt and pepper
- In a large, heavy bottom (NOT NONSTICK)skillet, sear each side until brown and crusty, and place in the crockpot
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the brown bits
- Pour the wine/drippings/crusty bits into the crock pot as well
- Add half the onions, the bay leaves, the thyme, and another cup of water to the crockpot
- Cook on low heat for 8-10 hours, until fork tender
- Let the meat cool in the liquid for about an hour, then remove
- Shred the meat into little bits, removing any gristle or fat
- Take out the bay leaves and discard
- Poke the marrow out of the bones into the cooking liquid, and place cooking liquid in a blender
- Carefully blend until liquified and strain through a fine mesh strainer
- Discard the solid goop, and keep the cooking liquid (should be about 3-4 cups at most)
- Preheat a large (NOT NONSTICK) skillet, and dump in mushrooms to get brown and golden*
- When the mushrooms are starting to get brown, add the onions and continue to saute until the onions get soft and brown in spots, and the mushrooms are cooked through.
- The pan will still be very hot, so dump in the cooking liquid and watch it bubble down and reduce to a slightly viscous liquid. It will have an amazing mouthfeel, so go ahead and give it a taste! It’s like velvet.
- Reduce heat to low, to keep the sauce warm, and toss in the meat bits.
- Meanwhile, cook your egg noodles and peas**
- When the noodles are al dente, toss them and the peas in with the sauce/meat/veggies until everything is coated.
- Taste again for salt and pepper and adjust
- Serve with fresh grated parmesan for some extra oomph, or just eat as is
This is so obviously cooler weather food, but sometimes I just can’t help myself toward the end of summer. Any dip in temperature means I start playing with autumn/winter food. Feel free to wait until you’ve got frost in the mornings.
The best part about crock pots is that you can start them and then leave them to cook. I’d recommend dishes like this for days where you might have to go to jail for a bunch of hours and want something hearty and comforting to remind you that the man can’t keep you down for long.