Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

flounder piccata, this person took way too many capers - plus menu ideas and recipes for flounder, lemons, zucchini, black sea bass, oysters, asparagus, and broccoli

Menu ideas and recipes for flounder, lemons, zucchini, black sea bass, oysters, asparagus, and broccoli

Flounder piccata

I took advantage of two pounds of flounder in the freezer and made enough flounder piccata for two nights. I gave myself extra points because I had plenty of leftovers for two lunches too. I love piccata sauce—lemon juice, white wine, butter, capers, and parsley. On the side, pearl couscous and zucchini pesto with onion, red bell pepper, slow-roasted tomatoes, poblano pepper, and extra parmesan.

flounder piccata, this person took way too many capers - plus menu ideas and recipes for flounder, lemons, zucchini, black sea bass, oysters, asparagus, and broccoli

Black sea bass and steamed oysters

I went through a lot of lemons this past week. We had baked black sea bass topped with lemon juice, thyme, Aleppo pepper, and butter. Another night, we split some steamed oysters, dipping them in a sauce made of lemon juice, brown butter, and hot sauce.

Lemony roasted vegetables

I rely on roasted vegetables on busy weeknights and, lately, herbes de Provence too. We had roasted asparagus with lemon zest, parmesan, and herbes de Provence one night, and roasted broccoli with the same combo the next night.

I hope you have time (and cooperating weather) to go outside and enjoy the blooming beauty of spring!


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Sardine cans - Menu ideas and recipes for oysters, shrimp, Portuguese sausage, greens, broccoli, carrots, almaco jack, striped mullet, catfish, and sardines

Menu ideas and recipes for oysters, shrimp, Portuguese sausage, greens, broccoli, carrots, almaco jack, striped mullet, catfish, and sardines

Portugal meets Louisiana, thanks to Emeril

Here’s one of those Sunday “don’t-go-back-for-thirds-because-we’re-having-this-again-on-Tuesday” dinners: an oyster, shrimp and chouriço bake inspired by Emeril Lagasse. I adapted it this time by using Portuguese chouriço instead of andouille, steaming the oysters for ease of opening, adding chard and shrimp, and using shrimp broth instead of water.

Broccoli’s triple treat

On the side, a pesto veggie sauté made with carrots and the last of the broccoli stems and florets from our garden. Growing your own broccoli is a triple treat because you get florets, stems, and leaves. Oh my, those leaves are good. The flavor reminds me of spinach and beet greens.

Portuguese fish skillet

Long ago, before I got a weekly seafood share, I made this dish with frozen cod. I based it loosely on dishes I remember having in Portugal or having in Portuguese restaurants up north. This time, I used almaco jack. Any meaty fillet will do.

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pound diced linguiça or chouriço
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 ounces white wine
  • 1/2 cup (or more) shrimp, fish, or chicken broth
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 14-ounce can white beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 to 1-1/2# chunky fish fillets, cut into large pieces
  • Fresh Italian parsley

Add oil to a large pan over medium-low to medium heat, and cook the sausage until it browns. Remove it with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Add the onion and red bell pepper pan and cook until softened. Add the smoked paprika, red pepper flakes, bay leaves, and garlic, and cook until the garlic just starts to golden.

Add the wine to deglaze the pan—scraping anything up and letting it reduce. Add the broth and diced tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer. Cover with the lid. After about 10 minutes, taste and season as needed.

Add the beans and lemon juice, and cook for about 5 minutes with the lid off. Return the sausage to the pan, mixing it in. Place the fish fillet chunks  into the pan so they’re partly under the sauce. Put the lid on and simmer gently for another 8 to 10 minutes, spooning the sauce over it a couple of times as it cooks. Taste for lemon, salt and pepper. When done, scatter with the fresh parsley.

houses on the coast in Costa Nova, outside Aveiro (Portugal) - Menu ideas and recipes for oysters, shrimp, Portuguese sausage, greens, broccoli, carrots, almaco jack, striped mullet, catfish, and sardines

Mummy Lorraine striped mullet

Mummy Lorraine fish, in this case, striped mullet, is a regular in my fish repertoire because it doesn’t take much effort. Top fish fillets with a mix of crushed Ritz crackers, lemon zest, garlic salt, and melted butter, then bake.

Thai-style catfish

Whenever I get catfish in my seafood share, for just a second I start thinking about how I might prepare it. But then I remember this Thai-style catfish recipe and any hope of making something new is dashed. It’s a quick dish to put together. Don’t skip the dipping sauce.

Sardine pasta

I usually rely on leftovers for lunch, but the frig was empty, so I pulled out a can of sardines and made a tasty pasta. This Spanish brand in my pantry is leagues above anything you’ll find in the supermarket, but you can find excellent canned Portuguese sardines too. I followed a quasi-recipe from the late actor (and amazing cook from what I’ve heard) Vincent Schiavelli. The recipe is at the bottom of this article. I know I’ll make this one again and again.

Sardine cans - Menu ideas and recipes for oysters, shrimp, Portuguese sausage, greens, broccoli, carrots, almaco jack, striped mullet, catfish, and sardines

It’s a new moon tonight—one of the best times of the year to set intentions (like eating more seafood!), get clear on your desires, and make a fresh start.


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Creative Commons licensed photos by Héctor Martínez and Chris King

Lasagna ready to serve - inspiration for menu ideas and recipes for lasagna, broccoli, swordfish, butternut squash, and green beans

Menu ideas and recipes for lasagna, broccoli, swordfish, butternut squash, and green beans

Lasagna

The highlight of the week: lasagna. Lasagna never lets you down.* I’ve been tweaking this recipe over the years: ground beef and Italian sausage, basil pesto ricotta mix, marinara, and mozzarella, provolone, and parmesan cheese.

*I changed my mind. Sometimes, if you have high expectations (like in a restaurant), lasagna can let you down, but this lasagna won’t.

  • 12 whole wheat or regular lasagna noodles
  • 1/2 pound ground beef (or you could use a bit more)
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage (ditto)
  • 4 ounces (or more) chopped mushrooms
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon each dried parsley, oregano, and thyme
  • 3 big cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon at least)
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes or marinara sauce*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 15- or 16-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup basil pesto
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 3-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded provolone cheese (if you add more, adjust the mozz)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic salt

Preheat oven to 350. Coat a 9 x 13 baking dish with olive oil.

Drizzle olive oil into a large pan. Add beef, sausage, mushrooms, onion, and dried herbs and cook over medium, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink and the veggies are softened. Add garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes (or marinara) and salt. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook lasagna, stirring occasionally until soft and pliable but not yet al dente, a few minutes short of the time suggested on the box. Drain and rinse with cold water. Separate so they don’t stick together.

Beat egg in a medium bowl. Add ricotta, pesto, and pepper and stir until combined.

Spread a thin layer of meat sauce on the bottom of the baking dish. Throw any large chunks back into the pan of sauce.

Layer three lasagna noodles across the length of baking dish. Cut one noodle so it fits crosswise at the end of the other three. Top the noodles with half the meat sauce. Sprinkle with 1 heaping cup of the mozzarella.

Top with a layer of noodles (same as before), all the ricotta, and 1 heaping cup of mozzarella.

Do one more layer of noodles. Spread the remaining meat sauce over them. Cover with foil. Bake until the lasagna is wicked hot all the way through, about 35 minutes. Remove foil, sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella, Parmesan, and garlic salt (to taste). Bake until the mozzarella on top is just melted but not browned (unless you love it that way), about 15 minutes. Let lasagna cool 10 to 15 minutes before serving.

Lasagna ready to serve - inspiration for menu ideas and recipes for lasagna, broccoli, swordfish, butternut squash, and green beans

*If I remember, I thaw some frozen marinara sauce—a good thing to always have in the freezer. Here’s my recipe. Actually, it’s Mario Batali’s. He may be a pig but he’s an excellent chef. This recipe makes about 4 cups.

Marinara sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, 1/4-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 medium carrot, finely grated or minced, no more than 1/4 cup
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand or puréed with an immersion blender, reserve the juices
  • Kosher salt

In a saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot, and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. When it’s almost there, add the garlic and cook for about a minute.

Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Season with salt and it’s ready to serve or use in a recipe. You can store it for 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

On the side, roasted broccoli (add slices of garlic about 5 minutes before it’s done) tossed with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese when it comes out of the oven.

Swordfish and leftover refreshed veggies

I don’t have much else to share since lately I’ve been making a three-night meal on Sundays. However, I received a big, beautiful piece of swordfish in my seafood share last week. I simply baked and served it with generous squirts of lemon juice. On the side, leftover roasted butternut squash and green beans tossed in gojuchang and thrown back in the oven to crisp up.


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Creative Commons licensed photo by Alleksana via Pexels

Curious lamb - inspiration for menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, eggplant, kale, chard, striped bass, carrots, broccoli stems, almaco jack, arborio rice, green beans, and butternut squash

Menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, eggplant, kale, chard, striped bass, carrots, broccoli stems, almaco jack, arborio rice, green beans, and butternut squash

Shepherd’s pie

One of my favorite flavor combos is lamb and eggplant, so this shepherd’s pie recipe in Bon Appétit caught my eye. I used ground lamb instead of shoulder so it didn’t take nearly as long to make—30 minutes simmering instead of 1-3/4 hours. Add the garlic when the onions are nearly done, not later, as instructed. I used 2% milk and pecorino romano cheese.

On the side, what else, sautéed greens. This time the mix included kale, chard, red cabbage, bacon, onion, orange bell pepper, garlic, and dried cranberries.

Curious lamb - inspiration for menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, eggplant, kale, chard, striped bass, carrots, broccoli stems, almaco jack, arborio rice, green beans, and butternut squash

Fish dinners

One of our fish nights featured striped bass given the Mummy Lorraine treatment—for those not in the know that’s baked fish fillets topped with a mix of crushed Ritz crackers, lemon zest, garlic salt, and melted butter. On the side, broccoli stems and carrots cooked in a small amount of butter/oil with herbes de Provence.

The next night, we had Thai curry risotto with butternut squash and green beans. I used chicken, not vegetable, broth and added bite-sized chunks of baked almaco jack fillets to the risotto when it was done.

Wishing you fun times in the kitchen, chop chop!


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Creative Commons licensed photo by Sam Carter via Unsplash

Ribbonfish head - Menu ideas and recipes for shad roe, chicken thighs, sourdough, kale, greens, red cabbage, ribbonfish, black sea bass, and sweet potatoes

Menu ideas and recipes for shad roe, chicken thighs, sourdough, kale, greens, red cabbage, ribbonfish, black sea bass, and sweet potatoes

An early springtime celebration

In North Carolina, it’s shad roe season for the next week or two. Last year, I waited too long and missed out, so I bought a set last week for Sunday brunch. Hank Shaw is always a good source for game recipes and he comes through here too: shad roe with bacon, onion, and grits.

Another farewell-winter dinner

For Sunday dinner, I made another comfort food dish, coq au vin in the slow cooker. If you make this recipe—it’s excellent, I’ve made it twice—don’t add the garlic with the mushrooms, add it a minute before taking the mushrooms out.

On the side, a sauté of kale and red cabbage with bacon, onion, garlic, and dried cranberries, and sourdough rolls for dipping purposes. I’m enjoying the rest of those rolls as quick snacks (with butter, of course) before my morning walk.

Ribbonfish head - Menu ideas and recipes for shad roe, chicken thighs, sourdough, kale, greens, red cabbage, ribbonfish, black sea bass, and sweet potatoes

Ribbonfish and sea bass

Earlier in the week, we had Asian-style braised ribbonfish—you rarely see this fish, but it’s tasty—with a side of sweet and spicy Szechuan green beans.

The next night, black sea bass with a toping of basil pesto, parmesan cheese, and panko bread crumbs. On the side, kale sautéed with bacon, onion, jalapeno, garlic, and dried cranberries, along with roasted sweet potatoes.

My cheater method for roasted sweet potatoes is to pierce them all over, nuke them for five to six minutes, then finish them in the toaster oven—saves a lot of time.

Wishing you fun times in the kitchen, chop chop!


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Jalapenos - Menu ideas and recipes for ground chorizo, sweet potatoes, greens, striped bass, jalapeño, Brussels sprouts, shrimp, collards, potatoes, and cauliflower

Menu ideas and recipes for ground chorizo, sweet potatoes, greens, striped bass, jalapeño, Brussels sprouts, shrimp, collards, potatoes, and cauliflower

Chorizo, sweet potato and greens skillet

Last Thursday, I made a ground chorizo, sweet potato, and chard skillet—an excellent choice for a weeknight since I only had to focus on one dish and wash one pan.

These amounts are merely suggestions, do what feels right.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound ground chorizo, turkey or other meat
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1/2 red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 4 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 chipotle en adobo, minced
  • 1/2 to 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • Greens: bunch of chard or kale, bag of spinach, whatever and how much you like
  • 3/4 to 1 cup shredded pepper or Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
  • Chopped cilantro

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add ground meat, onion and bell pepper, sprinkle with salt. Stir occasionally and cook for about 10 minutes or until onions are golden. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes.

Add the sweet potato, spices, chipotle, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook until potatoes are tender. Stir occasionally. Add more broth if needed.

When the sweet potato is tender, add black beans, corn and greens. Cook until the greens are wilted. Then add cheese and let it melt. Garnish with cilantro.

Jalapenos - Menu ideas and recipes for ground chorizo, sweet potatoes, greens, striped bass, jalapeño, Brussels sprouts, shrimp, collards, potatoes, and cauliflower

Striped bass with jalapeño sauce

I forgot how much I love this jalapeño sauce. I covered striped bass fillets with it before baking. Yum. On the side, roasted Brussels sprouts with dried cranberries, ham, red onion, and garlic.

Green curry shrimp and collards with aloo gobi

On Sunday, India by way of North Carolina: Vivian Howard’s green curry collards. I added shrimp and jalapeño and served it over basmati rice. On the side, roasted aloo gobi russet potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower. Per the comments, I doubled the spices and added garlic powder.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen and at the table!


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Creative Commons licensed photo by Brett Hondow via Pixabay

 

A cow in a field -- Menu ideas and recipes for beef, sourdough, flounder, bigeye tuna, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and tuna salad

Menu ideas and recipes for beef, sourdough, flounder, bigeye tuna, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and tuna salad

A classic from Anthony Bourdain

As winter heads out, we enjoyed a stellar boeuf bourguignon on Sunday night. I adapted Anthony Bourdain’s recipe from his Les Halles Cookbook—sigh, I miss my old pretend boyfriend—by adding mushrooms and herbes de Provence, increasing the wine, subbing beef broth for water, and baking it at 250° F instead of cooking it on the stovetop. Dare I say it? Julia, step aside. His recipe is a keeper. I served it with mashed potatoes, of course, and roasted broccoli.

All that luscious sauce cries out for dippage, so I baked sourdough focaccia. I made a half-recipe and only let it rise about five hours in the frig, instead of overnight, and it was plenty flavorful.

A cow in a field -- Menu ideas and recipes for beef, sourdough, flounder, bigeye tuna, carrots, Brussels sprouts, and tuna salad

Fish dinners

Earlier in the week, we enjoyed baked flounder topped with a mix of Parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, lemon zest, garlic powder, and melted butter. On the side, carrots roasted with garlic powder, ancho chile powder, thyme, cinnamon, and salt.

The next night, we had huli huli bigeye tuna. I made half the glaze recipe, subbed a little honey for all the sugar, added sambal oelek, and basted the tuna before and during baking. I made tuna salad with the leftover tuna and glaze, adding mayo, celery, and sweet onion. On the side, Brussels sprouts roasted with ham, orange bell pepper, red onion, garlic, thyme, and salt.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen and at the table!


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Creative Commons licensed photo by Jed Owen via Unsplash

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Prep for speckled trout ala Mummy Lorraine plus Menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, eggplant, broccoli rabe, speckled sea trout, green beans, vegetables and pesto

Menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, eggplant, broccoli rabe, speckled sea trout, green beans, vegetables, and pesto

Sunday dinner: moussaka

The dinner highlight of our week was a moussaka recipe from Bon Appétit. In an attempt to save time, I broiled the eggplant slices instead of roasting them, but I’m not sure I saved any time since I had to broil two sheet pans.

I adapted the recipe in additional ways: used ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and allspice instead of a cinnamon stick, jalapeno instead of a Fresno pepper, cottage cheese instead of farmers cheese, and pureed the tomatoes with an immersion blender before adding them. Despite spending a few hours on this—I’m slow on Sundays—the dish was incredibly delicious.

On the side, broccoli rabe sauteed with onions, garlic, red pepper flakes, and tomatoes—I’ve been in a broccoli rabe mood lately.

Prep for speckled trout ala Mummy Lorraine plus Menu ideas and recipes for ground lamb, eggplant, broccoli rabe, speckled sea trout, green beans, vegetables and pesto

Family fish favorite

Another night, we had speckled trout ala mummy Lorraine. For those who aren’t Reids, that’s baked fish with a topping of crushed Ritz crackers, lemon zest, garlic salt, and melted butter. We probably enjoyed this family classic with cod or scrod once a week growing up—we ate a lot of fish—and still enjoy it every time we go home.

Veggie ideas

On the side, a recipe I will make again: green beans with toasted slivered almonds, served with a roasted sweet potato. Ok, nuked for several minutes than finished in the toaster oven.

I didn’t have a green veg one night, so I sauteed broccoli stems, carrots and grape tomatoes from the produce drawer, and tossed them with defrosted basil pesto and Parmesan cheese.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen and at the table!


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Oysters -- Menu ideas for chicken, prosciutto, sage, striped bass, kale, sweet potatoes, shrimp, pizza, and oysters

Menu ideas for chicken, prosciutto, sage, striped bass, kale, sweet potatoes, shrimp, pizza, and oysters

Chicken saltimbocca

I haven’t had chicken saltimbocca in I don’t know how long, so I bought some prosciutto and provolone, picked some sage, and followed a recipe from Leite’s Culinaria. I didn’t have semolina, so I used flour instead, and added dry vermouth instead of white wine. The leftovers made excellent sandwiches.

Striped bass and kale/sweet potato gratin

The next night, a much simpler dish: striped bass (aka rockfish in the DMV) fillets baked with lemon juice, Aleppo pepper flakes, garlic powder, and butter. On the side, kale and sweet potato gratin, a favorite we haven’t had in a long time.

Oysters -- Menu ideas for chicken, prosciutto, sage, striped bass, kale, sweet potatoes, shrimp, pizza, and oysters

Super Bowl decadence

We went all out for our Super Bowl for two. For pre-game, we enjoyed North Carolina shrimp cocktail. I poached the shrimp in a court bouillon made with the shells, took them out when the broth reached 170°F, put them in a sealable bag, and chilled them in an ice bath.

A spicy Hawaiian pizza was ready for kickoff. My sourdough crust rose in the cool kitchen all day, so it was nicely flavored. On the top, tomato sauce, sliced ham, pineapple, red onion, red bell pepper, garlic, lots of hot sauce, jalapeño pepper, and provolone/mozzarella cheese.

I received a quart of shucked oysters in this week’s fish share, so I made Calabash-style fried oysters for halftime—it ended up being enough for two meals because we were pretty full by then. After consulting a few recipes, I came up with a dip of evaporated milk and eggs, and a dredge of 4/1 self-rising flour/cornmeal, salt, paprika, black pepper, and garlic powder. Wow. I’ll make those again.

Wishing you joy in the kitchen and at the table!


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Creative Commons licensed photo by Ben Stern via Unsplash

Menu ideas and recipes for chicken, rice, sea bass, flounder, broccoli, flank steak, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, duck fat and potatoes

Menu ideas and recipes for chicken, rice, sea bass, flounder, broccoli, flank steak, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, duck fat and potatoes

One-pot fish dinner

When I saw this one-pot gingery chicken and rice with peanut sauce recipe, I thought, hmm, I’ll do it with fish instead. I was going to add fillets of black sea bass about 15 minutes before the rice finished cooking but lost track of time, so I baked them before adding them to the pot. I loved the sauce, and the cukes and cilantro as a garnish. Next time, I might make it with brown rice and add some greens to the pot.

Another fish dinner and a new take on broccoli

This spiced and fried haddock (flounder, in my case) recipe from my pretend best friend Nigella was a bit of a disappointment because I could barely detect the flavors of the odd spice mix—ginger and paprika. Next time, I’ll increase the amounts.

On the side, not the broccoli purée recipe she featured as a side for the fish, but thanks for the idea, Nigella, but the New York Times version, which we really loved. It’s fun to have broccoli in a new format.

Sunday dinner

For the big meal of the week, I marinated flank steak, broiled it and then let it sit on chopped rosemary and thyme while it was resting. On the side, balsamic-maple roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon—a preparation that’s becoming a regular in our house. We also had roasted wedges of butternut squash spiced with cayenne, cinnamon, and smoked paprika.

But wait, one more side and it’s a good one… A while back, I roasted a duck—and saved the fat. Finally, I, well, remembered I had it, and found a good reason to use it—crispy duck fat potatoes. Oh my, potatoes never tasted so good. I’m thinking about rendering chicken fat (schmaltz) for a slightly less luxurious version.

Now, go make something good in your kitchen!


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