Saturday night, my kitchen was a study in the culinary consequences of Imperialism. I started with a recipe out of the same Latin American cook book the empanada pie came from. This recipe was from Brazil, and is described as having been an African dish adapted to local ingredients. Looked good to me. Though I did, of course, start almost immediatly with ignoring the directions, breaking out a package of boneless thighs rather than cutting up a whole chicken.
I let that marinade in lime juice, crushed garlic, salt and pepper for a couple hours. Interesting tid bit about marinading things: many years ago now my Dad explained to me, while prepping a marinade for a steak, that he never put salt in his marinades because salt will make the meat tough. Look at its historical use as a preservative he said by way of further explanation – it dries out the meat. He was right on the historical (and still current, actually) relationship between salt and meat. But he was wrong about not putting salt in your marinade. You need salt to trigger osmosis, so that the liquid from your marinade will get into the meat you’re soaking it in. That’s the whole idea behind brining a turkey. So whatever else you’re doing with your marinade, make sure it has salt. (If you’re using soy sauce, you’re good)
In addition to the chicken thing, I pulled a recipe off our CSA’s site for kale potato pancakes. We have a lot of kale, you see, and I was pretty sure we were going to need something starchy to go with dinner. The recipe claimed it made six servings, and since I was feeding two people I halved the recipe. It also said to finely shred the kale. I was feeling lazy, so I experimented with using the food processor to shred. I suspect the configuration you see is not how it’s meant to work, but my kale wound up shredded, so if I did it wrong, oh well.
Those potatoes are so getting boiled! And then fried!
And then eaten.
The recipe called for chilli peppers. I used what we had instead, which weren’t as spicy as what the recipe called for (as in, weren’t spicy at all) but I was way more interested in racking up points on the “Which veggies did you use” card than in being faithful to the recipe.
Meanwhile, sear the outsides of that chicken you’ve been marinading and get it all brown and tasty on the outside. At this point I had three of four burners going on the stove. And I still managed to unload the dishwasher while cooking dinner. I’m very proud.
That’s the onions, peppers, and paprika. So far, it looks like a standard stir fry. It smelled quite good. This is the part where I started getting really creative with my tinkering. The recipe called for using dried shrimp and peanuts. I did not have dried shrimp or peanuts. Instead, I added fish sauce and…
And then I dumped everything from the cast iron skillet full of chicken into the pan, swapped burners so that this one went on the back of the stove, and left it to simmer while I ignored it in favor of starchy things.
I was skeptical about these pancakes pretty much from the moment that I noticed the recipe called for half an onion, but never actually told you to put the onion in the dish. I’ve been less than impressed across the board with the recipes provided by the CSA. They’re decent for blandish inspiration, but trying to actually follow them is going to lead to tragic disaster. They’re consistently wrong about proportions, timing, miss steps, and forget to season things. But did I mention that we have a lot of kale this week?I’m pleased with the chicken. Next time, I’d vote for more lime juice thrown in at the end, and not forgetting to toss in cilantro and parsley, but as Nick commented over dinner, “It’s hard to go wrong with peanut sauce.” The potato pancakes were bland – really could have used that onion it called for but didn’t include. I wound up throwing some hot sauce on them, which fixed them right up. The kale did cook up nicely in them, though, so as a launching point to further experimentation, it wasn’t a bad start.
Two peppers, half an onion, half a bunch of kale, and half a pound of potatoes. Veggie score: Awesome.