What’s For Supper is back! I took a few weeks off — first because two Fridays ago was Good Friday, and then the next Friday was Exhausted Friday. But here we are again, and I have some lovely meals to tell you about.
It was a long time ago, but I feel like I remember Damien made these on the grill in the rain. I like him.
Chicken rice bowls, strawberry short cake
I didn’t have a clear plan for this meal, but it turned out well enough. Needs some tweaks, but we’ll definitely have it again in some form.
I cooked some chicken breasts in the Instant Pot on high pressure for eight minutes with about a cup of Goya Mojo Criollo marinade, and then I shredded it and returned it to the marinade to stay warm. Then I made a big pot of white rice. I set out the rice, the shredded chicken, shredded cheese, chopped scallions, black beans, lime wedges, tomatoes with diced chiles, sour cream, hot sauce, and chili lime powder, and I heated up a can of green enchilada sauce. Everyone made whatever combination they wanted.
I wanted everything.
I deliberately kept things bland so more kids would eat it, though. Damien and I agreed that it needed something crunchy, like corn chips, and maybe the rice and/or beans could have been seasoned. But overall, a quick and easy meal.
For dessert, we got some of those sponge cake shells (I prefer actual shortcake, which is just basically a sweet biscuit, but no one else does) and piled on sugared, lightly mashed strawberries and whipped cream.
Chicken burgers, terrible potato salad
Despite years of evidence, I still firmly believe I can whip up some delicious potato salad without really thinking about it. Some of the kids thought it was great, but it was not. It was weird and bad.
I diced some potatoes and boiled them, then mixed them up with mayo, vinegar, hard boiled eggs, leftover scallions, dried dill, pickle relish, and paprika. These are all potato salad ingredients, but it is two or three recipes merged together in an unholy union which shall be potatonathema. I should have skipped the pickle relish, or the dill, or all that paprika. I should have skipped town.
Salami caprese sandwiches, string beans, cheesy bread sticks
Always a hit, and so simple. Ciabatta rolls, genoa salami, fresh tomato, fresh basil, sliced mozzarella (or provolone works, too), olive oil, vinegar, and freshly-ground pepper and sea salt. Yes, it has to be freshly-ground pepper and sea salt or else you have to pinch yourself viciously the whole time you’re chewing. I don’t make the rules!
We also had some cheesy bread sticks I got at Aldi. There was some dolor and confusion as, according to some, I allegedly announced we were having cheese sticks as a side, leading people to believe I meant cheese sticks; and then some people asked other people if they could eat their cheese sticks, and the other people said they could, because they thought they meant cheese sticks, not cheesy bread sticks. When I mentioned there were also nice, fresh string beans, well, that just made it worse.
Tacos al pastor with pico de gallo
Something I’ve always wanted to try. I made the marinade the day before, and let me tell you, it was a pain in the neck. But it was fantastic. But it was a pain the neck. But it was so good! I think I need to find a simpler recipe that delivers the same flavor.
This is a Mexican-Lebanese fusion dish. The BBC says:
How is al pastor different from carnitas, chorizo, pollo, pescado and other common taco toppings? For starters, by the way it’s cooked: the pork is first marinated with various spices (including achiote, which is native to Mexico) and then roasted by an open flame via the trompo. Next, the pork is carved off, placed inside a corn tortilla and topped with cilantro, onion and pineapple – much like lamb is shaved from a spit and served in some pita bread at a shwarma place.
I guess it’s the paprika, cinnamon, and cumin that give it a middle eastern twist, as well as the way the meat is supposed to be cooked. I did not happen to have a trompo, so I just put the thinly-sliced marinated meat in a shallow pan and shoved it under a hot broiler. For the recipe I used, from the cleverly-named site Carlsbad Cravings, you are supposed to slice the meat, then marinate it, then cook it, then chop it into bits, but I skipped the last step. No regrets.
First I broiled some pineapple spears on a greased pan. I love grilled/broiled pineapple. It amps up the syrupy sweetness, and the juicy pump under singed edges make an exciting texture. To me, okay?
I also made some simple pico de gallo from tomato, jalapeño, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and a little salt
and I had my tacos with sour cream, meat, pineapple, pico de gallo, and that’s it. Magnificent.
The pineapple is also supposed to be cut into chunks, but I left mine in spears – and again, no regrets. I used flour tortillas, which I prefer to corn, and which I warmed in the oven for 20 minutes before serving.
So, that marinade. It’s not tremendously spicy, but instead has a warm, smoky, faintly nutty taste that’s set off gorgeously by the caramelized pineapple. Then the bright, piquant pico de gallo just makes it sing. Gosh, I wish I had some right now.
But as I said: Tremendous pain in the neck. I knew I wouldn’t be able to find dried Guajillo chiles in any local supermarket, so I bought them on Amazon. They came out of the bag flat and glossy, like fruit leather
but when I heated them up in a skillet to give them a singe, they puffed up like balloons, which was hilarious. (I have had kind of shitty week and I guess I was ready to be amused.)
Then you seed them and FOR THE LOVE OF MIGUEL DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES
then you simmer them to soften them up, which is lovely as well
and then you add them to the thirteen other ingredients in the food processor. One of the ingredients is achiote paste, which I also didn’t have, but which you can approximate by mixing together . . . eight other ingredients. So you can see how this was going. It wasn’t difficult, but it was a lot of ingredients! It was so tasty that I will make this recipe again someday; but I also wouldn’t mind if someone could suggest a simpler recipe. Also, you could speed up the process by not gasping and stopping to take pictures every few minutes, but where’s the fun in that?
We had tortilla chips to scoop up the rest of the pico de gallo. I’ll put a recipe card at the end for that.
Damien made the pizzas while I lay down and practiced being tired. I’m getting pretty good at it!
Least that’s what it says here. I think Damien’s going to make Marcella Hazan’s amazing three-ingredient sauce (recipe card below).
And now my story is all told. I think Damien is making some simple syrup so we can celebrate Cinqo de Gringo in style this year. How about you? Anything neat going on in your kitchen?
Pico De Gallo
quick and easy fresh dip or topping for tacos, etc.
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced OR 1/2 serrano pepper
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1/8 cup lime juice
- dash kosher salt
Mix ingredients together and serve with your favorite Mexican food
Marcella Hazan's tomato sauce
We made a quadruple recipe of this for twelve people.
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes, broken up
- 1 onion peeled and cut in half
- salt to taste
- 5 Tbsp butter
Put all ingredients in a heavy pot.
Simmer at least 90 minutes.
Take out the onions.
I'm freaking serious, that's it!