Here’s a quick easy dinner:
Just get a pound of shrimp and cook them in olive oil (about 1/2 a cup) with minced garlic (a few cloves), thyme and red pepper flakes. Saute for just a few minutes–until the shrimp are pink (err on the side of undercooking)–sprinkle with salt and parsley. Serve with bread and salad. And a crisp Pinot Grigio.
I wanted something simple. Specifically, I wanted spaghetti and meatballs. I’d never made spaghetti and meatballs before and last night was going to be the night.
But then I opened Lydia Bastianich’s book, “Lydia’s Family Table,” and after looking up meatballs in the index I found her recipe for “Long-Cooked Sugo and Meatballs.” Lydia explains, “Sugo, or gravy, is a long-cooking sauce that has a big component of meat in it, which releases its flavors as it cooks and transforms the sauce into a more complex and flavorful gravy.”
After doing more research, I discovered that spaghetti and meatballs is not an authentic Italian dish but an American Italian concession to America’s love for meat. So if I wanted to have street cred among Italian chefs I’d have to swap spaghetti for sugo. And that’s just what I did.
You are about to read a record-setting post. This is the shortest amount of time that’s ever passed between a meal consumed and a post written. I just made this for dinner:
And everyone loved it so much they said, “You HAVE to post this on your website.”
It’s from Molly Stevens’ new book, “All About Braising,” which I finally broke down and bought the other day. I vacillated between this and Daniel Boulud’s new braising book and it took days to pick the winner. I chose this because I already have a Daniel book and I wanted to give Molly Stevens a chance. Thank God I did! This dinner is one for the ages: I’m going to make it again and again.
Now some might say, “Chicken breast? Blech. What am I, on a diet?” Fair enough, but somehow it works in this dish because of all the other components: the bacon, the rosemary, the cider. They all come together and work a miracle.
Don’t forget to brown the chicken ’til it’s truly golden brown. That’s key. And try to get the best chicken you can (organic, free-range is best. At least the foodies say so.)
Now, then, I’m going to treat you all and type out the recipe after the jump. I hope you make this over the weekend–let me know how it turns out! (Craig wants your leftover parsnips. “Those parsnips were amazing,” he reiterates.)
Here’s something I made last week after watching Mario make it on Molto Mario. Chop a tomato or two, add minced garlic, add parsley (not basil–that’s what makes it different), drizzle a generous helping of olive oil on top, then salt, pepper, red pepper flakes. Cook your spaghetti al dente, you can stop the cooking in ice water (but I skipped that step) then add to the tomato mixture. A fresh, summery bowl of goodness.
Take a good long look at that picture. Study it, embrace it. What you are about to see, when you click ahead, are all the steps that went into making this dish–the crusty, golden exterior, the deep resonant sauce below: the braised leeks, the browned chicken, the herbed crumbs. This dish was an undertaking but an undertaking well worth it. Are you ready to proceed? Welcome to the world of extreme effort and extreme payoff. Welcome to the world of Lucques. [Cue dramatic music.]
The title of this post is deceitful. Roasting a chicken is indeed a simple pleasure, but making a balsamic glazed chicken is slightly more complicated. Not much more complicated–it may still qualify as simple–but this simple guy had an issue. See the beautiful chicken with the crisped skin, browning in the oven?
I wish I could tell you this was the end–this was the chicken ready to be served. But it was not: it was only half done cooking and the skin was beginning to turn black. What could a simple person do? What did this simple person do? You must await the answer because I want to show you the simple cake that came later. Look at this simple cake!
When I tell you how simple this was, you won’t believe me. It’s the least effort I’ve ever expended for a fully baked dessert and the rewards were plentiful.
The day after the Oscars the questions were pretty standard: “What did you think of Jon Stewart?” “Were you disappointed Brokeback didn’t win?” “What did you think of Charlize’s dress?” Sadly, no one asked the one question I wanted to answer: “What did you have for dinner?”
The dinner, you see, was the best part of the whole night! Observe:
Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic
Apple Cobbler with Vanilla Ice Cream
You’ve got nothing on me, Wolfgang Puck! Well: you have a restaurant fortune and a QVC Empire, but do you have my joie de vivre? Just count my exclamation marks and I’ll put you to shame!!!
Careful readers of this site will attest to the fact that in the two years I’ve been running it I’ve very rarely, if at all, sauteed anything for dinner. My primary method of food production is the oven: I like to roast. I like to bake. I like that you put something in looking one way and that it comes out looking another way. Sauteeing requires careful attention, masterful heat control and–perhaps most importantly–quality pans to do the job right. Quality pans don’t necessarily mean fancy pans (Mark Bittman argues for the cast iron skillet) but since I received fancy pans for my birthday, I figured I’d put them to work. And look, mama, what I made using them these past two nights:
Spicy Sea Bass with Olive-Crushed Potatoes [from “Daniel’s Dish”]
Sauteed Scallops with Wild Mushrooms and Frisee [from “Simple Italian Food”]
I can’t help but look at those pictures and feel like they rival pictures I’ve taken of dishes at some of New York’s finest restaurants. That’s not to say they rival them in quality–(the fish was undercooked, the scallops slightly–ever so slightly–burnt)–but they rival them in beauty. Or am I deluding myself? Am I just pan-happy? What exactly went down when I put my pans to work? Proceed: all the answers lie within.