Sometimes, when all the pieces fit together in just the right way, taste lingers in your memory. That’s when you know your meal was really good.
The night before we left for Barnes, Ernie used the last of our summer zucchini with some pasta. Ok, now we’ve made zucchini pasta a lot this year, but this was the best one yet, no question. Three small zucchini sliced thinly sautéed in a bit of olive oil and a bit of butter until caramelized. A good squirt of anchovy paste (don’t worry, you won’t know it’s in there except that it will taste great), a pinch of red pepper flakes and some salt and pepper. A good sprinkle of grated pecorino romano. So good I couldn’t stop talking about it, thinking about it. Oh, it was 6 oz of gluten free spaghetti (we just use Barilla).
As I mentioned in the last post, we ordered Greek food in St. Louis. While eggplant parmesan isn’t particularly Greek, eggplant certainly is. This wasn’t the mmm, somewhat sloppy saucy, cheesy eggplant parmesan sometimes found. It had less sauce and mostly parmesan and herbs on top. The custardy eggplant was the star and yeah, it was probably breaded in flour. Desperate times, folks. Desperate times. Although the dolmades won the plate, that eggplant stayed with me.
One of our favorite comfort meals is a whole roast chicken, roasted in a very hot oven for an hour, with cut up sweet potatoes scattered in the pan. A side of greens, either sautéed or just used as a bed for the chicken and potatoes with a bit of the pan drippings as dressing. We’ve been making this since before we had the boys. Late Wednesday afternoon, when we got home from St. Louis, we put a chicken in a big plastic bag with the brine from the peppadew peppers that we had saved from the Talabration. It would have been better if it had sat overnight but frankly I think it’s a miracle we ate a home cooked meal that night. We did it breast side down for the first half hour and then flipped it for the last half hour. Should have added more salt (I thought the brine would be salty enough) as adding salt later isn’t the same, but other than that it was freaking perfect….and oh so comforting.
Leftover roast chicken means arugula and chicken sandwiches. Ernie, the sandwich master, used cut up chicken breast, which was wonderfully juicy. He used the standard mayonnaise and arugula, but also had the brilliant thought to add some of the leftover sweet potatoes to the sandwich. Good God in heaven. Crunchy toast, creamy mayo, peppery arugula, moist chicken, sweet potato that tastes like the way fall leaves look, and the rich chickeniness of the pan drippings. Yep. THAT is the kind of thing that lingers in your mind. Ernie claims that piece of arugula ended up on top by accident. I’m not so sure.
Ok, I’ll admit this isn’t the most beautiful dish. Oh, oh, oh….you know what would have been GREAT? Some pomegranate seeds sprinkled on top. Oh, man, I gotta remember that! At the very least, I should have sprinkled some fresh mint on top. There’s a ton of mint mixed in but I really wanted to eat, and as we all know, I can’t plate for shit, and I’m impatient.
Since we had Greek flavors on the brain, I googled around and came up with a recipe. I should have added greens, or served a salad but eh, it was one of those nights. We made it mostly ahead of time so we only had to heat it up, add some sliced olives and yoghurt on top. I think it’s the sumac and mint that make it.
1 lb ground beef (would be SO much better with lamb)
2 cups uncooked rice
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons ground sumac
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
2 star anise
salt/pepper to taste
Cook it just as you’d think. Brown the meat in oil with a bit of salt, stir in the rice until combined, add sumac, a bit more salt, some pepper, star anise and bring to a boil, turn down to low, cover and cook for 20 minutes, covered. Then take it off the heat, let it sit for 5-10 minutes before stirring. I added the mint after it cooked. I bet it would be better if you used more mint (pulling leaves off stems and chopping them is somewhat tedious) and put half in before cooking and half after. My favorite thing about the original recipe is that is says, “heat oil in a very large, heavy skillet that has an available cover. Heh. Not just a cover but one you can FIND! If I’m not mistaken if was my friend Ginna that gave me these olives. Grilled and pitted green olives from Trader Joe’s. OMG as they say, OMG. Thank you, Ginna.
Could add tomatoes, more vegetables but pretty great as is.
And, on a final note, the perfect candy corn.
I wish this picture captured how beautiful this view from my bed was this morning.
Happy Saturday, all. Onward.