Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Roundup of Recipe-free Cooking

Cooking success includes a good repertoire of recipe-free cooking- a few classic, easy to alter dishes that you can whip up with little effort, using ingredients you have on hand, and can switch up based on what you like and what's in the fridge. Especially on busy weeknights, a couple super easy side dishes and a fast chicken saute are just what you need to get food on the table pronto.

Let's start with the chicken. One of my favorite dishes, a Des Moines classic, rarely if ever seen outside Iowa, is Steak De Burgo- tender steak, usually filet, pan seared with garlic and herb butter sauce. Simple, decadent and so delicious. Filet mignon is not in the budget this week, so we're going with chicken- same cooking method, same ingredients, delicious results. 

Start with a package of boneless, skinless chicken breast- either chicken breast halved or tenderloins- both work great in this dish. Add some Italian seasoning (heavy on the basil if you're making your own), butter and a bit of roasted garlic (more on that later) and a touch of olive oil. Super. Easy. Delicious. 

Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and a good sprinkling of the Italian seasoning. I used Graziano Brothers'  hand-blended seasoning which is heavy on the basil, and that's important for a really good De Burgo. 

Melt the butter in a large heavy skillet. Add a couple cloves of roasted garlic, breaking it up and mixing into the butter. Add the chicken and saute until golden, Turn and cook on the second side. Serve with the butter sauce drizzled over.

Now what should we serve with the chicken? Are you a Pinterest follower? Something called a Hasselback Potato is making the recipe rounds on social media, so let's make some. 

Plan on one potato per person. Scrub them well and leave the peel on. The thing that sets the Hasselback potato apart from a plain baked potato is the slicing. You want to carefully cut the potato into slices but DO NOT cut all the way through. You want it to stay together. 

Place the potatoes in a baking dish and season with salt and pepper. Add a pat or two of butter to the top and place in a 400 degree oven. Bake for about 40 minutes, then baste the potatoes with the melted butter in the pan. 

Return to the oven and bake about 20 more minutes until tender and browned. You can sprinkle the finished potatoes with cheese, seasonings, top with sour cream, herbs, whatever you like.

Kalettes are a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. If
you find them in the store try them! Delicious!
We need a veggie to go with all this deliciousness. Might as well roast some since the oven is on, right? Grab what you've got hanging out in the vegetable drawer and cut into bite sized pieces. Toss with some olive oil and a seasoning mixture of your choice- I used Montreal Steak Seasoning with this batch.

I tossed together sliced carrots, green onions cut into one inch chunks, a bag of kalettes, and a bunch of asparagus- trim off the tough ends then halve the spears crosswise. Toss with olive oil and seasoning and spread out onto a sheet pan. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until veggies are crisp tender. 

I mentioned roasted garlic earlier, and I'll tell you, that is one thing you really should keep on hand. It makes delicious pasta sauces, adds kick to salad dressings and is super easy to blend into butter for speedy garlic toast.

I'm weird because I love peeling garlic. Everyone tries to give me secrets to peeling garlic in 30 seconds but I ignore it all- I love sitting in front of the television peeling the cloves of 10 or 15 heads of garlic. It's therapeutic for me I suppose.

To roast a bunch of garlic, peel a bunch of heads of garlic. Place the cloves in a baking pan, like a 9x9 pan and toss with some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Roast, uncovered, at 300 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, checking frequently until the cloves are golden brown and tender. Don't let it burn!! Cool, then pop in the fridge. You can also freeze portions for longer storage.

This is just a TEENY example of easy to whip together meals and shortcuts to make life a lot easier when you're rushed. I'd love to hear some of your shortcuts and easy meal ideas- let's get a convo started!

1 comment:

  1. I cook on the fly, too! Which is why it's so hard to write recipe posts. I love posts like yours that give me some great ideas and methods to try.