There are days you walk home without a clue as to where to even begin for dinner, and days when you run home on a mission, smoke billowing from your heels in excitement as you barrel into the kitchen. Last night - not one of those nights, kids. All I knew was that I wanted to eat…something… good. Not a good starting point. I am sure that everyone can relate to this feeling. When this happens to me I have a trusty method that is completely elementary, which when I am in a kitchen funk, is exactly what I need. I go to the freezer, thaw the first piece of meat I see, and build around it. HA! (Gee, thanks, asshole! Great advice!) No, seriously. I thaw a piece of meat, which 99% of the time is chicken because A)it’s a blank canvas, and B) it buys me time while the bird is thawing on coming up with something that actually resembles dinner.
Step two is to open the fridge. (Wow, she wasn’t kidding when she said elementary..) and hope like hell something bites you in the face! BAHA you didn’t really think I had a way of talking myself into a good dinner did you? Well I will be honest with you, some days something bites me in the face, and some days, I just end up ordering pizza. Luckily I was able to think and function as a real person yesterday and pull it together. This is why I try my hardest to plan 75% of the meals I plan making during the week. After a long day at work, you just want someone to tell you what to do! It doesn’t mean you don’t want to make the effort to cook, it just means that you are tired and you are running low on your creative juices. If I write my meals out ahead of time, I know that I have options ready for me when I walk in the door, so all I have to do is throw on an apron and hit the pans.
This may not be helpful to you at all, but when I don’t know what I want, I seriously either stare at the fridge until I do, or I pick up trusty Martha’s New Classics, and flip until I find something that I have all but one ingredient. Then I make Brian go and get it. You can just look in the index for an ingredient that you want to use and find the correlating recipes to save time from leisurely flipping through a cook book.
But as I said before, last night I managed to be a functioning human. Let me just tell you, and you can be the judge. Stuffed chicken with fennel, leek, onion - roasted fingerling and russian blue potatoes, carrots and onions – and fennel fritters. It was fantastic.
Stuffed Chicken with Fennel, Leek, and Onion
2 large chicken breasts, butterflied
1 leek, diced
1 fennel, diced
2 small yellow onions, diced
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
¼ cup chardonnay or other dry white wine
¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
S & P
Cook the fennel, leek and onion on medium low heat for around 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft and slightly translucent. Then add the garlic and thyme and cook for 3 minutes, until the garlic releases its scent. Add the white wine and cook until the liquid is mostly gone. Pull from the stove and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the bread crumbs, salt and pepper and mix well. Take your butterflied chicken breast and spread out flat. Season with salt and pepper and then firmly pack the stuffing mixture onto the breast. Roll from one end to the other, season the outside of the breast and cook at 400 for 30 minutes in the oven.
Roasted fingerling and Russian blue potatoes, carrots and onions
3 purple carrots
2 regular carrots
½ pound Russian blue potatoes
½ fingerling potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
Coarse Sea Salt
You can roast these whole or cut up, I think the potatoes are better whole, but I like to cut up my carrots. Cut up your onion in large chunks, lightly coat in olive oil, salt and pepper, and bake in the oven at 400 for 1 hour. Amazing.
1 large fennel
1 cup flour
1 large egg
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 cup canola or vegetable oil for frying
S & P
Slice the fennel lengthwise for nice thin long pieces. Dredge in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs. Let oil come to the correct temperature ( test by throwing a few bread crumbs into the oil, it should immediately sizzle when ready) and fry fennel, 30 seconds – 1 minute per side, avoiding to crowd the pan. Do more than one batch if need be. Season with salt and pepper and let drain on a paper towel before serving.
This was the most simple, yet classic and amazing dinner. It is incredible what you can do with what is in your fridge! I encourage you to think outside of the box and make simple ingredients extraordinary dinners. Stay tuned for pasta night with the fraternity brothers!