31 dishes, 31 days – I’m cooking my way through Melissa Clark‘s “No-Sweat Cooking” from the August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. And to those of you who made your way over here via rachaelraymag.com, welcome!
I love remixing leftovers, so when planning out my first week of No-Sweat Recipes, I decided to schedule this Vietnamese Chicken Salad to take advantage of the leftover roast chicken from Tuesday night’s Chicken Tonnato.
This is exactly the kind of recipe I love – fairly free-form, easily adaptable to individual taste, and far, far more than the sum of its parts. This salad was a real celebration of the bounty of our farmers’ markets, as everything but the lime juice and fish sauce came from either the Hope Street market at Lippitt Park, or from the Boston Public Market in Dewey Square.
I opted to skip the coleslaw mix and shred some locally grown cabbage and carrots I had on hand instead, and I added scallions and slivers of fresh chile pepper to the mix as well. This was easily the most delicious thing we’ve eaten during this project so far, the sassy dressing playing off the crunchy vegetables and bits of moist chicken. I served our salad on a bed of soft butter lettuce leaves which I ended up using to scoop up bites of the salad, and I tossed the leftovers with softened cellophane noodles for a future lunch. Mike said he’d happily eat this once a week for as long as the ingredients are in season, and I’m right there with him. Great stuff, and it couldn’t be easier to put together.
Get the recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Salad
This dinner for one brought to you by the serendipitous discovery of leftover cooked pasta, a conveniently open jar of Poblano Farm pasta sauce, the end of a log of olive butter, and a whisper of freshly grated Pecorino Romano. And then (as a wise woman once said), “we crack an egg on top.”
Fried pasta with egg is one of my favorite things to eat when I’m dining alone, and it was just what I needed to help me feel a little less blue. I promise to try a little harder once I’ve got the fridge and pantry re-stocked this weekend.
This chicken? Make it. Seriously. Do not delay. I’m a sucker for anything with miso in it, so I already had high hopes for this bird, but it was even better than anticipated, and the Shoyu Onion Sauce put it over the top.
This was so good, in fact, that I saved the pan drippings from the chicken, as well as the leftover sauce (we only roasted half a bird, but made the full amount of sauce), and repurposed these flavorful leftovers for Sunday brunch. I tossed a couple of cups of cubed potato with the drippings and a little splash of oil, then roasted them in our iron skillet at 425 until they were cooked through, turning the potatoes about midway through the cooking time. I took some thin slices of steak left over from Friday’s dinner and gently warmed them in the leftover onion sauce, added a generous handful of sliced scallions to the cooked potatoes, and served everything (surprise!) with an egg on top.
What a delicious spin on steak and eggs.
So yeah, make this chicken. And don’t forget to vote.
This week is moving by at a dizzying pace. Between our wedding anniversary, the buzz around Cook & Brown and Mike’s involvement in it, and big changes on the horizon at my own job, I’ve barely had the chance to think. I had another meal entirely planned for Tuesday night’s dinner, but as I’ve been spending so much of my time and energy prepping for tonight’s anniversary feast, I got a little weeded and decided to scrap my previous plan in favor of something simpler: lamb ragu from the freezer, thawed and tossed with hot cooked shells, wilted young spinach leaves, and a good hit of grated pecorino. Nothing fancy, but just what the doctor ordered.
Let’s say you made short ribs recently, browning them and braising them with a copious amount of red wine and aromatic vegetables. You have, of course, saved not just the uneaten meaty bits, but the rich liquid and tender vegetables as well.
So you shred the meat off of the bones (tossing the bones into the freezer for future stock-making) and toss it into a pan with the leftover braising liquid and vegetables. You add half of a big can of San Marzano tomatoes (squished up), with the juice, and a splash of olive oil. And when everything is warm and soft, you pass about 3/4 of it through a food mill. You put it all back in the pan, taste it, adjust the seasoning, add a palmful of fresh herbs (thyme and marjoram leaves, in this case), and let it continue to cook and reduce while you make the pasta.
One cup of flour, a good pinch of salt, one whole egg plus one golden yolk. You stir, then knead, then roll out sheets, then slice into imperfect, rustic ribbons. You toss them with a bit of flour so they don’t stick together, then you boil them ever so briefly in salted water. They’ll cook quickly, because they’re so thin.
Scoop about half of your ragu out of the pot, put it in a container, and freeze it for another meal. Then take your barely cooked pasta ribbons and add them to the pot of sauce, ladling in a bit of the starchy pasta water for good measure. Toss to coat. Turn off the heat. Add a generous amount of freshly grated cheese. No green cans allowed. Add another sprinkle of fresh herbs if you’re feeling sassy.
Plate up some for your sweetheart, and then for yourself. Sit, clink your glasses, sip, taste, smile. Leftovers do not have to be boring.
I know, I know, Mexican again. I’m feeling overwhelmed by life this week, and when that happens inspiration goes out the window and I just want something comforting and familiar.
These are comprised of the other half of a hunk of beef bottom round I bought over the weekend, marinated with lime, seared, and sliced paper thin, then topped with diced tomato, avocado, jack cheese, red cabbage, scallions and lime crema. I had some leftover Rancho Gordo pintos in the fridge, to which I added some of my pickled serranos for a little extra punch. Good enough for a Tuesday.
I love a good, authentic chile relleno as much as anyone, but as Nick over at The Paupered Chef learned, they can be very time- and labor-intensive. But when a craving hits and you just happen to have some chile-braised pork left over, you can bang out a reasonable facsimile pretty easily on a weeknight.
For my simplified version, I charred my peppers over a gas flame and placed them in a plastic bag to steam, then warmed up my shreddy pork in a small sauté pan. For the sauce, I roasted some halved plum tomatoes and peeled garlic cloves, sprinkled with salt and drizzled with a little olive oil, in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, plucking the shriveled tomato skins off when they were cool enough to touch. In the same pan which I used to re-heat the pork (don’t wipe it out – you want to use the tasty pork fat that remains in the pan), I toasted some cumin, freshly grated canela and dried Mexican oregano, then added the tomatoes and garlic, smashing them against the bottom of the pan.
I whipped up an egg batter like the one Nick used, dipping my pork-stuffed chiles into flour before battering them and frying them in a mixture of rendered fatback and canola (I did a shallow fry in our iron skillet), turning them once and removing them to a paper towel-lined plate as they finished cooking. I pressed my chunky tomato sauce through a fine mesh strainer, spooned some onto our plates, added the chiles, some grated cheese, and served them with a side of creamy black beans.
I’m sure these lacked the complexity and depth of flavor of chiles stuffed with a proper picadillo, but this was a great way to use up leftover pork and satisfy my hunger for this favorite dish.
And then there are weeknights when I come home, tired and achey, but too stubborn to let Mike cook, or help, or do anything more than mix us a round and keep me company while I stand at the stove. And on those nights, I turn to the familiar, the things that, while they may require a few extra pots and pans, I can almost turn out in my sleep. The chicken, mole sauce and beans were all left over from previous dinners, and last night, they got remixed into a meal of enchiladas, refried beans, and Mexican rice, as comfortable and comforting as an old sweater. Sometimes, that’s just what you need.
Here’s another brief catch-up post at the end of a busy week. Wednesday night’s meal was not exactly what I had planned, as I realized yet again that an item I thought I still had was absent from my pantry. So rather than the black rice I had planned to combine with peas from the freezer and Allen Farms pea greens, I used lentils.
I cooked them with shallot and a healthy amount of coriander, and they were tasty but not quite what I was going for. Still, the combination made a nice bed for our sauteed Georges Bank cod filets, and the pea greens were fabulous. Kirby thought so, too.
Thursday’s dinner was another one built on leftovers: the remainder of last weekend’s roast beef from Simmons Farm, cut into chunks, slowly cooked in a bottle of ‘gansett then shredded apart with a couple of forks; plus the rest of my most recent batch of enchilada sauce, thawed and reheated.
I stuffed the meat into softened Piaxtla tortillas and rolled them, nestling them in a baking dish with enchilada sauce on the bottom, then pouring the rest of the sauce over the top, and finally adding slices of Narragansett Creamery mozzarella before chucking them in the oven to bake.
When they came out of the oven, I let them rest briefly before plating them, topping each serving with a bit of crumbled queso fresco (also from Narragansett Creamery), some chile-spiced toasted pepitas, and chunks of avocado, a cooling counterpoint to the spicy chile sauce.