What’s for supper? Vol. 123: I got the no bo ssam blues.

The thing you need to understand about this week is that, for no good reason, I was up until 1, 2, or even 2:30 a.m. most nights, and got stupider and stupider as the week went on. We had multiple snow days, multiple storms, and my car was in the shop having all its brakes worked on. Then we ran out of sugar. I put it on the list, and then proceeded to visit no fewer then four stores that sold sugar, without buying any, and then two more stores the next day, also stores with sugar, also with me no getting any.

It was downhill from there.

SATURDAY
Grilled ham and cheese sandwiches, chips

You can picture this, surely. It looked like sandwiches.

SUNDAY
Chicken and chickpeas with tzatziki; grapes; cheesecake with fudge sauce and strawberries

It was supposed to be bo ssam Sunday. Bo ssam Sunday! I’ve been led to believe that bo ssam is one of those miraculous recipes where you spend mere pocket change on ingredients and make some casual nodding gestures toward the kitchen while putting your feet up. Then, just a short time later, you pass around chopsticks and wasabi, and the local news is pounding at your door, wanting an exclusive interview with you, the greatest cook of the century.

But when I opened up the recipe in the early afternoon, it started out all “So, having marinated the meat overnight, you will then cook it for three days in a low, low oven” deals.

So fine, we can have bo ssam later. Instead, we had the chicken and chickpea thing, which is a very fine Sunday meal.

The recipe is a simplified version of this recipe from the NYT), and serves 10- 12 people.

Make the marinade early in the day or the night before. Take half a large tub of full fat Greek yogurt and mix it with four tablespoons of lemon juice, four tablespoons of water, and two tablespoons of cumin, and mix this marinade up with chicken parts, thighs or wings. I had about eight pounds of chicken, and started marinating it about five hours before dinner.

About an hour before dinner, preheat the oven to 425.

Drain and rinse four or five 15-oz cans of chickpeas and mix them up with a few glugs of olive oil, a few more spoonfuls of cumin, salt and pepper, and two large red onions sliced thin.

Spread the seasoned chickpeas in a single layer on two large sheet pans, then make room among the chickpeas for the marinated chicken (shake or scrape the extra marinade off the chicken if it’s too gloppy). Then it goes in the oven for almost an hour. That’s it for the main part.

The chickpeas and the onions may start to blacken a bit, and this is a-ok. You want the chickpeas to be crunchy, and the skin of the chicken to be a deep golden brown, and crisp. The top pan was done first, and then I moved the other one up to finish browning as we started to eat. Sometimes when I make this, I put the chickpeas back in the oven after we start eating, so some of them get crunchy and nutty all the way through.

While the chicken is cooking, you prepare your three garnishes:
-Chop up some cilantro.
-Slice another two red onions nice and thin, and mix them in a dish with a few glugs of lemon juice and salt and pepper.
-Then take the rest of the tub of Greek yogurt and mix it up in another bowl with lemon juice, a generous amount of minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
I just set these three dishes out and let people use them as they liked.

I like serving this meal with pomegranates, but I guess the season is over, so we had red grapes, which was almost as good. I completely lose my mind over that chicken skin. It’s just stupidly good.

***

And now dessert! The child whose shopping turn it was decided she wanted cheese cake in a graham cracker crust with fresh strawberries and chocolate sauce. It being still the weekend and me being not dead yet, I agreed.

I bought readymade graham cracker pie crusts, and so should you. I used this recipe from My Cultured Palate, which is What’s For Supper? for the Upside Down. Good cheesecake, though, and not too sweet. I made a double recipe, which was enough to fill three pie shells plus some batter left over, which we certainly didn’t eat, as it is full of raw eggs. We certainly did not.

Nice simple recipe, and they came out pretty, but you do have to bake them, then leave them in the oven for an hour, and then refrigerate overnight. I must have made these Saturday night, come to think of it.

On Sunday, we sliced up about three pounds of strawberries and put them in a bowl with some sugar. I cautioned everyone to give that fruit some privacy, as it would be macerating. And that’s my cultured kitchen!

And that was the frickin’ last of the sugar, and I had already run out to the store sixty-three more times that day, each time returning triumphantly without sugar. Why? Because I am stupid! So I found a chocolate sauce recipe that’s just condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter. Melt a stick of butter, stir in 6 Tbs cocoa powder, add a can of condensed milk, stir it up. It’s the consistency of hot fudge sauce, and if you let it harden in the fridge, you can soften it again by heating it up.

MONDAY
Ham, mashed potatoes

One of my ham lovers has been campaigning hard for ham and mashed potatoes. And let me tell you, this pig lived a life of leisure. The damn thing was 3/4 fat. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was fluffy. You don’t want your ham to be fluffy.

The mashed potatoes, though, were of sterner stock, and were trim and worthy specimens. I ran out and bought three potato peelers (I don’t want to talk about it) and we got the job done.

I thought for a moment that, since supper was so easy, I could start marinating bo ssam for tomorrow, until I discovered that the same sugar we were still out of that morning, when we wanted it for coffee? Is the same sugar we were out of for making bo ssam marinade. So.

TUESDAY
Beef stew

Kinda mad about this. Beef stew is one of the things you should be able to make in the Instant Pot very easily, but I always screw it up.

Here’s how I did:
Cube the beef, sprinkle it with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, dust it heavily with flour.
Heat oil in the pot, add the floured beef, and brown it slightly.
Add a bunch of beef broth, some red wine, and some baby carrots, a few diced onions, several cubed potatoes, some sliced mushrooms, a can of tomato paste, and some thyme. I think it was thyme. I think I added some brown sugar and soy sauce. Look, I was following a recipe.
Then I closed the lid and set it for something or other, I forget.  I was following several recipes by this point, to be honest.
So the damn thing cooks forever, and then it starts screaming that it’s burning, oh, mother, mother, it’s burning! I vent it, which takes forever, and open the lid. It’s nowhere near burning, and the carrots are still raw. There’s tons of liquid.
So I stir it a bit to placate it, then close the lid and reset it. Same thing happens. What burning? What? Vent forever, open the lid, and it’s cooked.

It tasted pretty good, but I was mad. You really take the edge off convenience when you don’t know what the hell is going on. I’ll show you burning!

We also had rolls. And I bought some sugar.

WEDNESDAY
Chicken nuggets, fries, leftover stew, leftover ham

So remember how I gave up sleeping for Lent? We also got eleven feet of snow in twelve hours, and my husband had to be gone for three days and two overnights in a row and I’m not making that last part up. I really missed him. I wanted to be kept awake by him snoring,* instead of being kept awake by him not being there. Humph. Finally having sugar in the house just did not make up for that.

THURSDAY
Pork carnitas, rice

So I had to face that enormous pork butt. In the fridge! I was still telling myself that, now that there was sugar in the house, I could easily whip up a sherry ginger sauce, and maybe a peanut lime slaw for sides, and bo ssam would happen. This is what I told myself, up until about 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

Then I interiorly took myself firmly by the shoulders, administered a few bracing shakes and maybe a remedial smeck or two, and said, “You are not making bo ssam this week. Nobody is making bo ssam this week!”

So sulked a little, then trimmed the fat, cut the pork into hunks, and put it in the slow cooker with a can of UFO beer, a tablespoon or more of adobe adobo powder [yes, that is the whitest typo I’ve ever made], and about 3/4 cup of pickled jalapeno slices with the juice. I let it cook for about six hours, took the meat out of the juice, and shredded it.

Then I spread it in a thin layer in a flat, greased pan and put it under a hot broiler until it was a little browned up.

I served the meat with some of the ten thousand tortillas I’ve diligently collected over the last few months, plus sour cream, chopped cilantro, salsa, and fresh limes. And rice.

It was no bo ssam, but it was good.

FRIDAY
Sleepover! Make your own pizza!

I have tons of dough, cheese, sauce, and toppings, and disposable foil pans, and those boys can just make their own pizzas.

The boy is making his own chocolate birthday cake, which he would like to be frosted with chocolate frosting, and then covered with Oreos. I think I can manage this. Especially since we now have sugar in the house. And three potato peelers.

*I also snore.

11 thoughts on “What’s for supper? Vol. 123: I got the no bo ssam blues.”

  1. When I read this: “And let me tell you, this pig lived a life of leisure.” I definitely thought you were describing the child who had been campaigning for ham eating the the ham he or she had campaigned for. I don’t know exactly what that says about me, or you, but now I want some ham.

  2. I’m going to be critical just because I like to pick on a woman who is sleep-deprived and missing her husband. Beef stew is one of the things you should be able to make WITHOUT an Instant Pot very easily. I mean, come on, I do beef stew on days when I want everyone to love me and I only have a cheap hunk of beef and no imagination. Brown the seasoned and floured beef chunks, then throw in onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, something green like beans or peas, (or a variety of leftovers) broth, and seasoning. Bring to a boil and let it simmer for an unlimited amount of time – or the time it takes to get some real work done – or when you feel good and ready to feed people. Serve with beer bread and lots of butter. Everyone feels happy and comforted. Leftovers for lunch. And you didn’t have to mess with an cranky IP at all. Gold stars all ’round.

    When my husband is gone, we generally have pretty low-effort meals – as in, leftovers or sandwiches. Does this mean I love my husband more than the kids?

    1. Yes, but you see, in the Instant Pot, you can in theory go from zero to stew, with tender meat, in less than an hour; or you can make the stew in the morning and keep it warm all day even if you have to leave the house. I can make stew on the stovetop very easily, but only if I start early enough in the day.

      1. My limited pressure cooker experience tells me if I reduce liquid to 1/3 (or less, since meat has a lot of water of its own) of what I would use in a regular pot, I won’t need an extra half hour to reduce the liquid and go from soup to actual stew.

        Also, Laura Passaglia from Hip Pressure Cooking says if you’re going to use tomato paste, put it as the top layer to avoid the burning beep. Or use passata (tomato puree? The one in a long bottle.) instead of paste and reduce the amount of water.

  3. I was particularly uninspired this week. I think on Monday we had chicken drumsticks, which everyone likes but me, because I can never get the skin as crisp as I like it. I basically want it to be like chicken skin bacon. And that is all I want off a drumstick. I had planned to serve it with instant mashed potatoes, which I thought I had in the pantry, so I didn’t buy any, when I came home, found I didn’t have enough to feed a mouse, so I went with leftover prosfora bread for a side and we learned that we are not a mashed potato family, we are a bread family. So say we all.

    Tuesday I think we had a picnic dinner in front of the TV, and one kid had a hot dog, some other kids had soup, and we watched the last part of Around the World in 80 Days, the version with Pierce Brosnan. Phileas Fogg is my spirit animal.

    Wednesday, spaghetti with meat sauce, or alfredo sauce for those who prefer it. I made myself some cold sesame noodles.

    Thursday I hit my wall for no particular reason at 3 pm, I just wanted to lie on the couch for all eternity and play solitaire on my phone. My husband turned on Stargate Atlantis for me, made dinner for the kids and washed up afterwards. I knew there was a reason I married him.

    Tonight, per genius husband’s request, is quiches and fruit salad. Sunday I’ll be making pulled BBQ pork in the crockpot, with tater tots and cole slaw, and certain teenage members of the family are already salivating.

    1. Truly, try the yogurt marinade for the chicken. It doesn’t come out crisp, exactly but it gives it so much flavor and texture and complexity, it might be what you’re looking for!

      1. I keep reading all your posts with the yogurt marinade and I keep backing away like a timid kitten. I will eventually take the leap. Few things are as nice as full fat Greek yogurt, anyway. I just hate flabby chicken skin, but then I guess everybody does.

  4. Every time I make carnitas, I wonder why more meats are not treated this way. Surely there is no better way to cook meat than cooking it slowly until tender and then frying it (I always fry it, but I bet the oven is good, too) to make it crispy. So incredibly good. I don’t know how I lived in Arizona for so many years without knowing about carnitas. I discovered them independently a few years ago, well after I had moved to the frozen north.

    Also every time I make carnitas, my husband is inspired to a soliloquy on why he’s glad he married me so many years ago. And I’m glad he stuck with me in those sad pre-carnitas years.

    1. “every time I make carnitas, my husband is inspired to a soliloquy on why he’s glad he married me so many years ago. And I’m glad he stuck with me in those sad pre-carnitas years.”

      Hahahahahahahaha Thank you for this. I guess every wife has a pre-carnitas story to tell.

      I used to glower “you shoulda married a Mexican!’
      Now I make tacos like a boss. I can take on any Maria in a taco throw down.

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