Uninspired dinner

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Uninspired dinner

Postby Robert J. » Sun Nov 26, 2006 10:39 pm

Often, because of work and family schedules, we have to throw a quick dinner together. We try and get our son to eat a fairly balanced meal with a protien, starch, and veggie (usually with a cookie bribe :roll: ).

The standard fall-back is roasted chicken thighs or leg quarters, boiled potatoes and green beans. Tonight, as I was prepping, I was thinking how uninspired this meal is. But once it was on the table it just felt good.

I hit the thighs with s&p, chopped fresh thyme, and butter. The boiled new potatoes got tossed with butter, s&p, and chopped parsely. The veggie was leftover roasted green beans with roasted tomatoes and balsamic onions. Dinner was on the table in about 30 minutes.

It was all very easy and, again, was very comforting. Although we didn't have wine tonight :shock: what would y'all recommed pairing with this? I would lean towards an old world chard; possibly a Macon-Lugny.

Also, any suggestions for EASY and QUICK weeknight dinners to add to the repertoire would be more than welcome.

Merci
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Ian Sutton » Mon Nov 27, 2006 4:39 pm

Food /wine match - something safe and reassuring to match with a similar dish :)

Chardonnay sounds like a decent match though.

For other quick food (in prep time), I'd go for a casserole dish filler. Last night we had sausage bean casserole which was put together thus:

Chop the sausages into bite size chunks and chop an onion as fine or course as you fancy it. Fry the sausage and onion in some oil until the sausage is mostly cooked through. Add whatever veg you have to hand, chopped tomatoes (from a can), mixed beans (from a can), chilli to taste (or herbs if you prefer).

Once it's all warmed through, transfer to casserole dish and bake for (say) 30 mins at about 180C, though the time and temperature can be varied according to your time pressures.

Serve with rice, jacket potatoes or crusty bread.

It's not quick, but for most of the time you can be doing something else.

regards

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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Howard » Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:17 am

Robin's broccoli and sausage pasta is a frequent fall back for us. It's got the protein/starch/and veggie all in one. You can use turkey sausage if you need to lower the fat even further. It's also real wine friendly:

Here's the link:

http://www.wineloverspage.com/user_subm ... 97991.html

and the recipe: (We bump up the amounts to serve six)


INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)

1 Italian sausage, sweet or hot as you prefer, about 4 to 6 ounces
1 or 2 medium heads of broccoli
1/4 cup roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic
Water
Salt
4 ounces orecchiette (see below for substitutes and measurement note)
Black pepper
Nutmeg
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

PROCEDURE:

ABOUT THE PASTA: I like using real orecchiette for authenticity, but I think conchiglie (small shell pasta) or even elbow macaroni would work fine, and just about any short pasta would do in a pinch.

ABOUT MEASUREMENTS: A reader asked last week why I often give pasta quantities by weight rather than volume. I\'ve found that one important key to eating well without gaining weight, for me at least, is to be scrupulous about portion control. To that end, a quality digital kitchen scale has proven one of the best investments I ever made. Weigh out 2 ounces of pasta per diner, 4 ounces for two for 200 calories per person. If you don\'t have a precise kitchen scale, estimate 1/2 cup of short pasta for two and you\'ll be close.

Now, on to the recipe:

1. Wash the broccoli and cut it into small florets. Mince the garlic, and cut the red peppers into 1/2-inch squares. Fill a large pot with plenty of water for the pasta, add enough salt \"to make it taste like sea water,\" at least a couple of tablespoons, and bring it to the boil.

2. Remove the casing from the sausage and cook it over medium heat in a sautee pan (nonstick if you prefer), breaking the meat into small bits as it browns. Stir in the garlic and cook with the sausage for a minute or so until it\'s translucent; then add the red pepper squares and the broccoli florets, salt pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Stir to blend, pour in 1/2 cup water, cover and reduce heat to very low.

3. While the broccoli is cooking, put the orecchiette in the boiling water, stir once or twice to keep it from sticking together, and cook until al dente - the brand I chose, De Ceccho, needed about 12 minutes. Keep an eye on the broccoli to judge when it\'s getting done to your taste - there\'s significant variation among individuals who prefer it slightly underdone and crisply tender, and those who would rather err on the side of getting it just a bit soft. As it gets close, remove the lid and increase heat to medium to boil off most of the remaining water.

Drain the pasta, put it back in the pot, and put in the cooked broccoli and sausage mixture. Drizzle in a taste of good olive oil, 1 tablespoon or less, and the cheese; mix and serve.

WINE MATCH: As noted, this dish sings with a fruity-crisp red. We stayed in the Mediterranean but moved from Southern Italy to Central Spain for a match, the affordable, tasty Pergolas 1997 Valdepeñas Tempranillo featured in yesterday\'s Thirty Second Wine Advisor.
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Howie Hart » Tue Nov 28, 2006 11:50 am

Actually, there are many uninspired simple dishes/meals that are quite satisfying.

Brown 1 lb. ground beef with 1 onion, add 1 chopped green pepper (mushrooms optional) cover and allow pepper to cook for afew minutes, then add 1-1 qt. jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce. Allow to heat up and stir mixture into cooked drained pasta (elbows or small shells).

Try cooking breakfast for dinner - eggs, sausage, pancakes, toast, etc.
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:29 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Try cooking breakfast for dinner - eggs, sausage, pancakes, toast, etc.


Burritos (including breakfast burritos) and enchilada casseroles are frequent quick evening meals here. I keep assorted fillings pre-cooked in the fridge and just pop them together when I get home.
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two more

Postby Howard » Tue Nov 28, 2006 12:51 pm

1) Brown the chicken pieces and remove. Saute onions and garlic until soft and fragrant, add whatever herbs you like and cook for another minute or so. Add a half cup of wine to deglaze then add a large can of tomatoes with juice. bring to a boil, add chicken pieces back and simmer for 20 minutes. Good with chianti or barbera or rhone wine.

2) Saute whatever is left in the refrigerator (green beans, onions, garlic, leftover broccoli, scallions, whatever) add beaten eggs, salt and pepper. Cover cook on low until set. Add cheese to the top and put under the broiler for a minute or so to melt the cheese. Good with sparkling wine or rose.
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Gary Barlettano » Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:24 pm

One of my many discoveries during my student time at UT Austin in the 70's was the thick cut pork chop. I had never seen one in New Jersey. These I like to make with sauerkraut.

1. Season, then sear your chops on both sides.
2. Toss some good, barrel-fermented sauerkraut into the pan.
3. Add some liquid, if needed. (Beer, wine, apple juice, water, broth ... whatever).
4. Cover and let braise for about 45 minutes.

Add a few boiled spuds and you're off and running. I usually serve this with a nice dollop of horseradish and mustard.

There are many ways to vary this. You can choose whatever seasonings you like for the chops. I go for salt, pepper, onion powder and sage.

If you want to add five minutes, you can finely chop a small onion, remove the chops, sauté the onion in the leftover fat, add some caraway seed, finely chopped apple, a bay leaf, and a whole clove or two and then toss in the kraut, liquid and the chops.

In lieu of braising, you can also finish this in the oven.

This will leave you singing German folk songs and longing for a good Riesling or a nice beer.
And now what?
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Cynthia Wenslow » Tue Nov 28, 2006 1:31 pm

Robert J. wrote: Also, any suggestions for EASY and QUICK weeknight dinners to add to the repertoire would be more than welcome.


My other suggestion is to go the easy, but not quick, route.

I have a slow cooker which I absolutely love. It has a removable insert, so I can get everything ready the night before, refrigerate overnight, and just pop it into the slow cooker base in the morning on the way out the door.

When I get home dinner is already waiting. I can just throw together a salad, uncork some wine, and voila!
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Robert J. » Tue Nov 28, 2006 6:39 pm

Howie Hart wrote:Try cooking breakfast for dinner - eggs, sausage, pancakes, toast, etc.


Actually, we do this a lot. My kid loves it! He is a notoriously picky eater.

The funny thing is he likes to open the wine. After he opens it he smells the cork and tells me what it smells like. He has said: raspberry, apple, grass, poop, cherries, cows, the garden, heads, flowers, toast, tinkle, and Buddy (our cat). With the obvious nonsense aside, he is astoundingly on the mark with the fruit/vegetal/yeast aromas when we open the corresponding wine. Go figure.

Thanks for the recipes! Keep them coming because I am adding them all to my collection.
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Wed Nov 29, 2006 12:50 am

Tonight's quick dinner was risotto with sausage and peas. If you take some time to make stock out of chicken carcasses on weekends, then it's very easy to throw together a very nice risotto with whatever you have lying around. We keep a box or two of arborio or other suitable rice in the pantry at all times just for this.


Mike

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I have found that if I keep a well stocked freezer, pantry and fresh veggies

Postby Karen/NoCA » Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:48 pm

a quick dinner is not problem. I always have frozen applesauce, meatballs, tomato sauce (which we use for pizzas, pasta, etc.) berries of all kinds. A great quick and wonderful dinner for me might be:
take out thick pork chops in the morning, throw in some marinade
defrost fresh frozen applesauce
roast asparagus, or brussel sprouts
bake a potato
Dinner!
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Re: Uninspired dinner

Postby Robert J. » Thu Nov 30, 2006 5:36 pm

Mike Filigenzi (Sacto) wrote:Tonight's quick dinner was risotto with sausage and peas. If you take some time to make stock out of chicken carcasses on weekends, then it's very easy to throw together a very nice risotto with whatever you have lying around. We keep a box or two of arborio or other suitable rice in the pantry at all times just for this.


Mike


I always seem to have aborio around. I should do this more often.
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