The Neverending Meal

And whoops this newsletter is late 😬

Eek, sending out this newsletter a day late and a dollar short. Turns out having a new (awesome) job and it being summer and the world semi-opening up again means time compresses and before you know it, it’s August. Whoops.

In the mayhem that was July, I found myself, as I often do, winging dinner. Leftover potatoes, some limp but still usable leeks and a few chunks of sausage from my clambake became a weeks worth of bubble and squeak (sorry, John), while a glut of zucchini coupled with a lonely chunk of feta became filling for a springform pie. The never-ending meal is ongoing in our household. Here are a few meals that keep on giving.

Sticky Roasted Chicken, Chourico, Potato and Tomato Oreganata

Okay, the title of this recipe is a bit of a misnomer, but in my defense it does rely on oregano, dried, and fresh if you have it, for its fragrant flavor. Based on a Jamie Oliver recipe that I’ve made over and over again, you toss some cherry tomatoes and par-cooked potatoes in a mixture of olive oil, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, salt and pepper, then bake them with seared and seasoned chicken on top. And since you’ve smashed those potatoes before popping them in the oven, they get all nice and crispy in their nooks and crannies. The vinegar in the marinade/dressing gets everything nice and sticky sweet and sour (think salt and vinegar chips), and the tomatoes become little concentrated flavor bombs that are a wonderful tangy contrast to the creamy-crispy potatoes and roasty chicken. It might be a super simple dish, but it consistently hits the spot. Plus, bang it all up with a few more potatoes and you’ve got an easy and filling bubble and squeak at the ready.

Ingredients

1 pound of new potatoes, quartered (or halved if they are fingerlings)

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp dried oregano

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 pint cherry tomatoes

1 tsp Kosher salt (a large pinch will do), plus more for seasoning the chicken

1/2 tsp black pepper, plus more for seasoning the chicken

3 to 4 chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch wide strips

1 link Portuguese or Spanish chourico, cut into 1/4 inch slices (optional)

Fresh oregano for serving

Instructions

First…

Preheat the oven to 420 degrees. While the oven heats up, boil the potatoes until you can easily stick a fork in them. Drain and set aside.

Now, make the marinade…

Whisk together the vinegars, olive oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper. Add the potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and chourico and toss with a wooden spoon to coat. Spread on a sheet-tray, then grab a fork and smush down the potatoes as best ya can.

Next, sear the chicken…

Heat up some olive oil in a pan, season the chicken with salt and pepper, and toss the pieces into the pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through, until each side is lightly golden.

Put it all together…

Using tongs, wedge the chicken pieces between the tomatoes, chourico and potatoes on the sheet tray and pop it into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip the potatoes, and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes, until the chicken has reached 165 degrees and the potatoes are nice and crispy.

To serve…

Serve up a portion of the bake, making sure to grab a good amount of tomatoes, and scatter with fresh oregano. Would be nice served with a crunchy veg salad.

Bubble and Squeak a.k.a. the best use of leftovers, imho

After my recent clambake, my fridge became a dumping ground for leftover potatoes, leeks and sausage. Cue my recent fascination with all things British and it was the perfect storm for a bubble and squeak to emerge. And emerge most gloriously it did: smashed up potatoes get mixed with whatever bits and bobs of leftover veg you have languishing in your fridge (roasted carrots? whole-cooked leeks from a clambake? plump kielbasa? check, check, check), mashed into a puck and cooked in your choice of fat (olive oil, grapeseed oil, butter, you decide). Plate up this crispy, golden-crusted pancake of veg with a fried egg and maybe some arugula tossed in lemon and olive oil if you’re feeling healthy, and it’s a bangin’ dinner. As Jamie Oliver says (he’s my new obsession, if you haven’t noticed) “as long as you’ve got 50 percent potato, you’re good.” Those are words to live by.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp grapeseed oil or other neutral oil

1 pound of new potatoes, sliced in rounds and boiled in salted water until tender

2 tsp Kosher salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Whatever else your heart desires!! (broccoli! spinach! roasted carrots! cheese! sausage! leeks! leftover brisket! leftover anything, really!)

A few eggs

First, grab a nonstick pan (I like a small, 8-inch one for easy flipping and cute, 1-2 serving squeaks)

Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat, then add the oil or butter. Meanwhile, roughly mash up your potatoes with the salt and pepper, adding more to taste (it’s okay if the taters are chunky, it adds nice contrast to the final form!). Chop up any other additions to your bubble and squeak and fold them into your taters.

Now, pat it into the pan

Spoon enough potato mixture to fill the skillet then, using a spatula, pat it down and round the edges to form a nice, chunky pancake. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then break it up and mash it with your spatula, patting it back down again. Repeat once more, until your bubble and squeak is looking nice and golden, crispy crusty, then cover the skillet with a large plate, and carefully invert the bubble and squeak onto the it.

Top it off with a few fried eggs

Put your nonstick skillet back on the burner over medium-low heat, crack an egg or two into it, season with salt and pepper, and cook as you like. Slip them onto the bubble and squeak and serve with some good hot sauce.

Baked Bean Chili

(Sorry, no photo, only because the only photo I have looks terrible and this dish is better than that)

After some extensive heirloom bean testing for work, I had a bunch of cooked fancy schmancy beans and no idea what to do with them. Baked beans seemed like a nice idea, but I also wanted the legumes to be the star of the meal (and while baked beans are great, they are always on the sidelines). This recipe is my solution: Baked Bean Chili. It’s got barbecue sauce for that sweet and spicy baked bean flavor, and is amped up by chili powder, garlic, cumin, crushed tomatoes and few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to offset the sweetness. It’s finished off with healthy layer of crushed tortilla chips on top and grated cheddar cheese, then baked until bubbly. Serve it up with sour cream and avocado (and rice if you want another starch to round it out) for a one pot meal that will fit in at any summer, fall or even winter potluck.

Ingredients

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated

2 Tbsp chopped chili in adobo

3 lbs beans, cooked

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp chili powder

1/2 cup barbecue sauce (Stubbs)

1 Tbsp molasses

1 cup crushed tomato

1/4 to 1/2 cup water or vegetable stock

3 Tbsp cider vinegar

a few dashes Tabasco

salt

pepper

A few handful of tortilla chips, for topping

1/2 cup cheddar, shredded, for topping

Instructions

First, pre-heat the oven

Turn that oven on and pre-heat it to 400 degrees.

Then, sauté the aromatics

In a heavy bottom pot (a Dutch oven works great or you can cook everything in a sauté pan then bake in a casserole dish), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.

Now, add the goods (a.k.a. most everything else)

Add the chili in adobo, beans, cumin, chili powder, barbecue sauce, and molasses, giving everything a good stir. Then, pour in the crushed tomato and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, reducing heat as needed to avoid scorching, until cooked through. Add the cider vinegar and a few shakes of Tabasco, stir, and cook for a few minutes more. Remove from burner.

Finally, top it all off with crunchy, cheesy goodness

Crumble on a nice, thick layer of corn tortilla chips followed by the shredded cheddar then pop it in the oven for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and gooey. (If you’re not using a Dutch oven, put your bean mixture in a casserole dish, cover with chips and cheese, and place in the oven on a sheet pan to avoid cheese drips).

Serve with sour cream, avocado, hot sauce, or whatever other toppings you’d like