Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Flavors at Every Turn

We recently watched an old episode of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, which showcased a "joint" in Chicago that makes an oven-roasted lemon chicken. We have a similar recipe for the grill that uses a cast iron skillet. This was worth trying! (After all, grilling outside when it's 90+ and sticky isn't so fun after a long day.) We also had a number of OPO veggies to prepare. It was time for an all-or-nothing, weeknight cook-down.

The Method (Lemon Chicken)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450. (Yes, that hot.)
  2. Add chicken pieces to a roasting pan.
  3. Drizzle with canola oil and olive oil. (Toss about.)
  4. Season with S&P and dried thyme.
  5. Squeeze the juice of four lemons over the chicken.
  6. Roast for 30-35 minutes, turning once. (It was probably done sooner, but we like crispy chicken skin, and this didn't turn out dry at all.)
The Method (Veggie Trio)
  1. Okra' the Top
    • Saute onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil (okay, I forgot to buy garlic and used a hearty dose of garlic powder)
    • Add sliced okra, saute five minutes
    • Add fresh corn cut from the cob and two diced fresh tomatoes
    • Shake of salt and cayenne pepper
    • Add a TBish of brown sugar
    • Simmer until okra is tender
  2. Ankles and Greens
    • I brought to a boil a couple TBs of butter , some leftover chicken stock (maybe a little chicken fat accidentally fell into the pot), and the ham hock from our lima beans
    • Add a big ole' pile of collard greens roughly chopped
    • Cook until the greens are tender
  3. Beans, Oh Beans, How do we love thee?
    • Briefly microwave (leaving crisp) and cut OPO green beans, yellow wax beans into bite-sized lengths
    • Add a package of edamame and a can of kidney beans
    • Toss with a mixture of equal parts sugar, apple cider vinegar, and oil.
    • Refrigerate overnight (or longer)

The Results

This was a meal destined to satisfy every flavor and texture craving one might have. The chicken was tart, crispy, moist, and generally delicious. (La chat and le chien enjoyed some drippings mixed with their food, too.) Okra prepared this way is a family favorite (Thanks Aunt Rose!). I hadn't added brown sugar to the dish before, but that helped to offset the slightly aggressive sprinkling of cayenne pepper. If you think you dislike okra, here's yet another way to try it! Warm, a bit spicy, and comfortably nestled among sweet kernels of fresh corn - all in a fresh tomato sauce. 

Greens. As I've mentioned, while I love greens, they are not a favorite of all members of the household. Until tonight... Maybe it was the homemade chicken broth or the use of a held-over ham hock, which was less intensely smoky; maybe it was deciding to steam not boil...whatever the reason, the greens were a hit with everyone. Slightly salty with a little body remaining to them, they held their own.

The bean salad was terrific, too. Normally, we make this with canned beans. Using the fresh micro-blanched OPO green and yellow beans transformed this dish into crispy, crunchy fun by the fork-full. The kidney beans were soft, the edamame firm and almost chewy. This was a great substitute for a serving of starch.

Four fun and interesting dishes in one meal! (Plus a great way to eat our CSA bounty.)

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Kudya Bwino Bwino (Eating Well) © 2009