What’s for supper? Vol. 72: Pork spiedies, haunted chicken, and gluey stew

OKAY HERE IS WHAT HAPPENED.

SATURDAY
Hamburgers, chips, salad

On Saturday, our vacation week house guests arrived! One nephew and two nieces, aged 6, 4, and 2, respectively. I knew I would need anywhere from five to seven pounds of hamburger meat, so I got eight. There were no survivors.

***

SUNDAY
Orange garlic chicken; mashed potatoes; salad; biscuits; strawberry shortcake

On Sunday, we went ahead and had my parents over for dinner, too. I had a couple of big chickens I was planning to roast, but at the last minute I stumbled across this recipe, where you slice oranges and poke them up under the chicken skin; then you stuff the cavity with garlic cloves and more oranges.

The effect was, as Benny would say, “TWEEPY.” The voodoo look was enhanced by the splintery skewers I used to truss up the chicken in lieu of twine. I had to go spend some time thinking happy thoughts about puppies and lollipops after that.

The recipe said to put them breast up in a 340-degree oven, which I complained about bitterly. 340 isn’t a real number! And what about the other side??! But I did it anyway, and the chickens turned out very moist indeed, and festive-looking:


The flavor didn’t knock my socks off, but it was good. If I do this recipe again, I’ll definitely flip them chickens over at some point and let the other side brown up. The flabby, pale underskin bursting with hot orange mush was an unwelcome addition to my mental book of Terrible Chickens I Have Known.

When it was time to whip the cream for the strawberry short cake (I just used store-bought pound cake for the cake, because my time on a Sunday afternoon is worth six dollars), we discovered that my beloved Kitchen Aid standing mixer wouldn’t mix. Nothing we tried made it work. I don’t have another electric mixer. I have one of those hand-cranked rotary beaters, but the model I own was designed for an earlier age when people’s hands were smaller and/or they didn’t mind grating their knuckles into a pulp in the service of whipped cream. Also, the handle is broken off, and the stump is really sharp.

So I resigned myself to forty minutes of whisk action, and started singing a sad song in my head about how Kitchen Aids come and Kitchen Aids go, and all flesh is like grass anyway, and to everything there is a season, turn, turn, turn, only sometimes *sob* the Kitchen Aid  . . . won’t . . . turn . . .

Then I heard a loud whirring sound from the kitchen. My husband had hit the mixer really hard, and it started working again. Lesson learned!*

*The lesson being: Here, have some whipped cream.

Oh, and it was early enough in the week that I thought it would be great to have the kids help with the biscuits. I used this basic recipe, except with some butter and some shortening. Butter gives a better flavor, but shortening makes it lighter.

They used the leftover dough to play a three-hour game of Castlemania. It involves a lot of screaming and, apparently, dough. Within the first hour, Benny (5) had gotten Mickey (6) to marry her, and she was waddling proudly around the house with their first babydoll stuffed under her shirt. By noon, I heard her shrieking, “Mitty! Oh, Mitty! Oh, oh, I’m having the baby!” I asked if everything was okay, and she explained that it was just pretend, so that was okay.

By the next day, they had eleven children, and the twelfth was due at midnight. This was exciting enough, but to make tensions even higher, their pretend Castlemania washing machine was broken!!!!!! Would the repairman get there in time??????

***

MONDAY
French toast casserole; sausages

To break up all the rampant childbearing, we went sledding on Monday, so this was a nice cozy supper afterwards. I followed this basic recipe, but just mixed it up and baked it right away, rather than waiting overnight. Very nice with raspberry jam.

When we went sledding, I decided to be Fun Mom and went down the hill myself. First I went on the toboggan with the seven-year-old, and we both fell off, and that hurt, it hurt, but I got up again. Then I took a break for a while, and then I tried one of those snazzy foam sleds.  This time, I fell off much sooner, rolled over once, kept skidding, and did a complete somersault on my head, yat! It was so awful. My belly was flapping in the wind and everything, and there was this fringe of moms watching me with this very familiar mixture of concern, horror, and relief that they were they and not I.

***

TUESDAY
Beef stew; butter and bread

I was running hideously late on Tuesday, which would have made it the perfect time to make Instant Pot beef stew for that instant beef stew experience. But it would be something new, and as my therapist keeps telling me over and over again, new is bad. NEW IS BAD. When I’m already frazzled, I’d rather work ten times as hard and eat at midnight than look up a new recipe.

So I made my regular recipe, and just skipped the “let it stew” part. Perfectly adequate, if a tiny bit gluey.

(My regular recipe: Fry up some crushed garlic in oil. Cube the beef, shake it up with flour, salt, and pepper, and brown it up in the oil. Add wine and beef broth, and then add cubed potatoes, carrots, and string beans. Let it simmer until the carrots and potatoes are soft. I sometimes add sliced mushrooms, diced onions, and/or diced tomatoes.)

***

WEDNESDAY
Chicken nuggets, corn chips, mashed butternut squash

Wanting to reassure the Instant Pot that I still cared, I used it to steam the butternut squash. It turned out so well last time. This time, I must have crowded the squash or something, because only 3/4 of it got cooked. On the other hand, last time I made two squashes and mashed them, and the kids only ate about a third of it. This way, I was able to save time by throwing it away before it even hit the table. That Instant Pot really is a time saver.

***

THURSDAY
Pork spiedies with peppers and onions; salad; chips; pineapple

By far the best meal of the week. I cut up a big pork loin into chunks and started marinating it the morning before, so it got at least 36 hours to soak. I used this NYT recipe for spiedie marinade.

It was warm on Thursday, but not so warm that the BBQ could be extracted from the ice in the back yard, so I put the meat cubes along with wedges of green pepper and red onion in some shallow pans, rather than threading them onto skewers

and slid them under the broiler. The meat turned out a tiny bit dry, but still wonderfully flavorful. We ate it on grinder rolls.

Can you imagine a world without sandwiches? I can’t.

***

FRIDAY
Pizza!

Oh, I forgot. Last week, I said I was thinking of trying to make pita bread to go with the shakshuka. Well, I did it, and it turned out swell! So pillowy soft and nice. I made about twelve 8-inch pockets with a double recipe (see below). They puffed up like magical bread balloons in the oven, and the gently collapsed when they came out.

I baked three at a time. They only bake for three or four minutes, which is enough time to roll out another three pitas. This is not a recipe for when you’re in a rush, but it wasn’t hard, and the recipe really spells out how to handle each step. Labor intensive, but miles better than any store-bought pita I’ve had.

Today it’s raining hard, so I’m working up my nerve to go to the children’s museum with kids ages 11, 9, 7, 6, 5, 4, 2, and almost 2, and the two youngest are guaranteed to spend most of their time trying to murder each other. That seems like a good idea, right? Something I should pay money to make happen? Maybe we can pick up some new germs to go with our old germs while we’re there.

8 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 72: Pork spiedies, haunted chicken, and gluey stew”

  1. Biscuits: all-butter is best, yes. Also, cake flour (real stuff like Swan’s Down — not fake blends –that is low-gluten) — but it’s only a slight win over all-purpose and perhaps not worth the extra cost for the extra fluffiness.

  2. I can’t even begin to fathom how many shots of tequila it would require to recover from having that many kids in a museum.

    “The flabby, pale underskin bursting with hot orange mush was an unwelcome addition to my mental book of Terrible Chickens I Have Known.” !!!!!! 😀 Hahaha, that’s the high point of my day so far.

    flabby pale underskin reminds me of my trip to the dermatologist this week. I’ve been putting it off for years even though my sister had to have a big cancer cut out of her belly, and my Mom had to have the cancer on her face chemically peeled of (which is what I was kind of hoping for myself because my insurance would have to pay for it.)

    So there I was, in the most modest underwear I own on (my husband said , “aw come on, don’t be stingy”), shivering with a hospital gown on. In walks the nurse to accompany the doctor for the examination. Only the nurse is a GUY of about 24 years, with a very nice, close clipped beard. I realize that he has to be there for liability reasons, but I’m still a bit surprised he’s a guy and I’m trying to shrink into the hospital gown. I’m still trying to figure out why a 45 y.o. physician didn’t make me blink, but the young, well built nurse with a nice beard did.

    So I got dressed and got out of there with a little extra adrenaline in my veins. My husband was supposed to pick me up but he was late, and I needed to spill my guts to *someone*. So I texted my daughter at work with a “you won’t believe this”, and the little monster texts me back asking me “was he hot?” I texted back “9.5” with some shame, but to be brief. She texts back “LMAO” which I had to look up to see what it meant. I sent her back a little devil emoji to let her know what I thought of her. By the time my husband arrived I had already expended most of my angst, but I got no sympathy from him either. He just laughed and said something about me being discriminatory and sexist.

    I can barely remember cooking anything last week. We had a very nice Tri tip dinner with brown rice, veggies, and a gravy made from the drippings of the beef, some duck fat, caramelized onion, mushrooms, roasted Pasilla chilli and mozzarella. That was the high point. I made not one but two chicken soups, one with lentils and blended brocoli, and the other, another chicken soup with all of the veggies in my fridge, (asparagus, tri color peppers, onion, garlic, mushrooms, and tomatoes)blended together and a touch of cream. I served that with little folded corn quesadillas, avocado and Chipotle salsa. (We eat avo with almost every meal.)

    1. Thought I was getting a little old Indian doctor to do my colonoscopy. Nope. He was a young, tall, hot, Indian doctor. And he had an equally gorgeous, shiny haired nurse with perfect skin.

      I have the flu, so I have nothing in the recipe department except my husband’s sesame beef with green hollow veggies. They have some Asian name, but I never remember what it is so we always call it “The Hollow” and we saute it with sesame oil and garlic.

    2. Anna Lisa – To me, there being TWO guys would be much worse than just one. Being outnumbered makes it somehow unequal and scary on a really primal level. And younger people of either gender just seem less “professional”, I think. (Clearly I qualify for the “discriminatory and sexist” AND agist clubs.)

      1. Thank you Cordelia.
        I’m still confused about it. It was really weird. The doctor was a dork and the handsome nurse didn’t leer, so I’m only half traumatized. That doesn’t mean I approve, but I can’t accuse anyone of anything either.

        I’ve been known to use the men’s restroom in a big pinch so I hope this doesn’t make me a hypocrite.

  3. Do the spiedies have a strong lemon flavor? I’m very intrigued but lemony meat is not a favorite flavor in our house. I’m always trying to figure out with specific recipes if the lemon juice serves more as an acid component, or as a prominent flavor.
    Our week in food:
    Saturday: Roast pork sandwiches au jus with rosemary. Melted some provolone on the split bolillo bread before layering on the pork. Quite good!
    Sunday: Jalapeno cream cheese chicken, which is normally one of our favorites, but I made a horrible error in not realizing my pepper tin was malfunctioning–I intended to use the shaker side when seasoning the cream cheese mixture, but didn’t realize the pour side lid was broken and doesn’t stay down. Way, way too much pepper went in and it was a wet mixture so I couldn’t really get the pepper out easily. I never realized how spicy black pepper can be in concentrated amounts. It’s a spicy dish as is due to the jalapenos, but the pepper concentration was so bad that whenever I got a bite with a more prominent jalapeno flavor, I was relieved at how mild it tasted comparatively.
    Monday: Pulled a rotisserie chicken carcass I’ve been saving out of the freezer the day before so I could make my own stock for chicken noodle soup. Also pulled a bag of shredded chicken from said carcass from the freezer to use for the soup. Biscuits (but the cheating kind from a tin roll can) to go on the side. Quite tasty!
    Tuesday: I’m always so disappointed in my efforts to make Indian food, but not this day! Tried a new recipe for tikka masala and was so pleased with the results. I just used regular butter instead of ghee, and I cubed the chicken before seasoning and cooking it which seemed the only sensible thing to do, but no other real changes. Served with rice and garlic naan. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/239867/chef-johns-chicken-tikka-masala/?internalSource=recipe%20hub&referringContentType=search%20results&clickId=cardslot%2042
    Wednesday: Homemade mac and cheese with Tony Chachere’s seasoning added in as well as sliced jalapeno cheddar sausage.
    Thursday: Frozen pizza
    Friday: Trying these “crack bean burritos” someone in an online fb group I’m in posted recently. http://heatherlikesfood.com/one-pan-crack-bean-burritos/

  4. A winner of a post! So much fun. Our appliances, too, usually respond to a good sound thump by the Master of the House.

    Re: flabby chicken underskin. Try this. Oven 400 degrees. Place a heavy skillet or casserole or whatever pan inside while preheating. Prep your chicken and oil it all over. (Oranges sound better than limes, which is what I did once and the kids were not impressed.) Once the oven and your pan are both pipin’ hot, pull out the pan, plop the chicken exactly where you want it because it will go TSSSSSST! and immediately cook itself to the pan, and put it back in the oven for, oh, about an hour depending on the size of bird. Nicely browned all over, and moist and tender inside. Let us know how it goes!

    1. UPDATE – Do NOT use a glass or earthenware baking pan. Stick to a heavy skillet; cast iron is great.

      Why? Because today I did an inadvertent science experiment and learned that heating a Pyrex dish to 400 degrees then setting into it a cold oiled chicken causes not just the correct and satisfying TSSSSST! but immediately afterwards the disastrous and mortifying KA-TCHOCK of the Pyrex breaking into sixty-three glass shards all over your countertop and kitchen floor.

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