Our Daily Dinner

Our Daily Dinner

June 20, 2011

The Practical Side of Me, Part II

Summer agrees with me. I love the long days; the fact I can go outside without a coat, hat and gloves. I love walking barefoot around the house and, beyond all of this, I love tending to our garden. It helps me function more efficiently, or so it seems. The other day, three dinners popped into my head simultaneously. I bought all ingredients in two stores: chicken breast, pulled pork, and chili at Ottomanelli; the rest (indicated by a*) I had in the house, or bought at Gristede’s.

Dinner # 1

Roasted Chicken with Dijon Sauce
Haricots Verts*
Wine: Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé, 2010
Dessert: Frozen chocolate yogurt*

Recipe: Roasted Chicken with Dijon Sauce

½ chicken breast, pounded flat, cut in half
salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 small shallots, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white wine
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Chopped chives or parsley for garnish

Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a sauté pan. When hot, add chicken, skin side down, and sauté to brown, 5 minutes per side. Depending on the thickness of the chicken breast, you may or may not have to bake it in the oven for additional few minutes.
Meanwhile, add shallots and wine to the pan juices. Raise heat and boil until reduced by half. Add the cream and boil until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in mustard, and adjust seasoning. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the chopped herbs.

This could have been a great meal: the Dijon sauce tasted great; the haricots verts were excellent; the wine was good. Unfortunately, I had overcooked the chicken. Better luck next time.

Recipe Haricots Verts

1/2 pound of haricots verts, trimmed
2 teaspoons butter
1 shallot, sliced
Salt and pepper

Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Parboil haricots verts for 3 minutes. Plunge them into cold water, drain, and pat dry. In a medium sized sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté until translucent. Add the haricots verts and cook to desired doneness. (3 minutes if you like them crisp; longer if you like them lightly browned and soft.) Season with salt and pepper.

Even George, a stickler for etiquette, ate the haricots verts with his fingers.

Dinner # Two

Pulled Pork
Dill pickles*
Left-over sauerkraut*
Wine: Bogle Petit Syrah, 2008
Dessert: Fresh pineapple*

I heated the pulled pork and stuffed the meat into two separate rolls, topped with sliced pickles. The asparagus were a bit too elegant for this trencherman’s meal. I had enough left-over for the following meal.

Dinner # Three

Steakhouse Chili
Asparagus Salad*
Wine: Guigal, Côtes du Rhône, 2007
Dessert: Valhora Chocolate*

For sheer value, you can’t beat Ottomanelli’s steakhouse chili. I used to cook a mean chili on New Year’s Day and invited friends over for a five o’clock “help yourself chili and wine.” It simply doesn’t pay to cook chili for two people. Ottomanelli’s medium-sized container serves two. I like to add a bit of sweetness by cooking it with turnips and carrots. I may also add some red wine and serve the dish with grated cheddar cheese. The asparagus, made into a spicy salad, worked well.

Tomorrow’s dinner? If it’s Monday, it’s going to be Sushi of Gari.

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