Since I’ve been on break, I’ve bumped Mr. Husband out of the kitchen and made dinner most nights. It’s been generally straightforward stuff: a roast chicken that became stock after the meat was apportioned off for something else that would totally count for this project if I could remember what it was. Freezer-cleaning that turned a bunch of jumbo shrimp into Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli, which I’ve made a million times before. That sort of thing. But there’s also been new stuff, most of it basic.
Bleu cheese dressing, which somehow I’d never made before. I have, at the age of nearly-35, finally discovered buffalo wings, but the dressing that comes with the delivery from the place down the street is awful. Turns out making your own is super-easy. I add worcester sauce, plus quite a bit of freshly ground pepper.
Due to some over-enthusiasm by the procurement department, the kitchen is currently inundated with rice. We like having a variety of types around, but there’s way too much arborio and wild rice, which has resulted in an Initiative: more risotto, more rice soups and porridges. The opening salvo was cauliflower and leek risotto, chosen for the potential to sneak in more vegetables. It was okay, but also pretty boring. Won’t be in the rotation.
I served the risotto with stuffed chicken breasts from Cook’s Illustrated (behind a firewall, sorry.) The procedure is fairly basic, though: cut some chicken breasts in half horizontally and whack ’em until they’re pounded thin. Sautee up some mushrooms, leeks (or shallots), garlic, and thyme until they’re cooked. (The recipe asks you to blend that mixture after it’s done, but I didn’t bother.) Spread it in the center of the breasts, roll them up, and tie them with twine. Saute until brown. Add stock and wine about half way up them, cover, and simmer until done (or a thermometer measures about 160.) Remove the breasts, whisk in a tablespoon of decent dijon, and reduce the stock. When it’s reduced to about a half cup, remove it from the heat, whisk in a small knob of butter, and adjust the seasonings. Pour over chicken and serve.
For New Year’s Eve, I made the meatball recipe from Cook’s Spaghetti & Meatballs (again behind the firewall) and served it with my own spaghetti sauce (made from last year’s tomatoes and frozen.) This is my new default meatball recipe, and I’m planning to make another batch pronto and stash it in the freezer. The nice thing about it is that it scales well; I used 1 lb of hamburger to 1/3 lb of pork; 1 egg; some panko that I neglected to turn into a panade as per the instructions; a slice of proscuitto, chopped; a generous handful of grated asiago; a couple of minced garlic cloves; some chopped parsley; and salt and pepper. (I neglected to include the gelatin that supposedly really contributes to the texture of these meatballs, but thought they were still delicious.) Once formed into 2-inch balls, you place them on a cooking rack, put the rack in a baking pan, and throw it all into a 450 degree oven. Roast until browned on all sides, and then into the sauce they go to finish cooking. Marvelous stuff, and of course it’s better the next day.