Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

In an earlier post, I mentioned that my good kitchen juju faded one Tuesday night. It was bound to happen, I was overdue.

On Sunday I had picked up four chicken thighs at the farmers market. Total weight: .80 pound. What itty bitty little thighs! The word “precious” crossed my mind. It’s remarkable how healthy-looking the skin of a fresh farm chicken looks compared to a supermarket chicken. But next time, I’ll go for a bigger bird.

I picked the wrong recipe for my little thighs or, more likely, I should have made more adjustments to the recipe I had — Stovetop Roast Chicken with Lemon Herb Sauce from Cook’s Illustrated. I think I overcooked the chicken. The sauce was fabulous but the meat, what there was of it, wasn’t that great. Tasty but tough.

Unlike my fabulous Smoky, Spicy Collard Greens, the Spaghetti with Collard Pesto and Mushrooms I made as a side for the chicken wasn’t that good either. I was so disappointed. I love pesto and I love greens. I was looking forward to a new world of pestos. It was better the next day doused with hot sauce and some of the chicken’s leftover lemon-herb sauce. Next time I’ll try to find a recipe that has lots of good comments and give collard pesto another try. My other side that night was an old reliable: Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Parmesan.

collard greens

Collard greens
(Photo by Feeb/Flickr CC license)

A few days later I made snapper with fennel, leeks, bell peppers and tomatoes. It’s a Martha Rose Shulman recipe from the New York Times that I often make with cod or mahi mahi. Alongside the fish I served a mix of roasted root vegetables including one I hadn’t heard of before it turned up in our CSA share: Gilfeather turnip – an heirloom rutabaga/turnip cross. I tossed wedges of turnip with sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, red onions, rosemary, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper in olive oil and roasted them at 400 until they were tender.

On Saturday, I made vegetable stock out of a bunch of remains I had in the refrigerator: stems from leeks, greens and fennel, plus onions, carrots, celery, sprigs of thyme, bay leaf, a small bunch of parsley and some peppercorns. It will be used for lentil soup one of these days.

I’m keeping a plastic sealable bag in the freezer for stock ingredients. Whenever I’m chopping, I toss the leftover bits in the bag. If you want to go down the vegetable stock path, this post from The Kitchn has good advice.

I wanted to make an easy meal for Sunday, so I chose Pesto Pasta with Chicken Sausage and Roasted Brussels Sprouts from the Gimme Some Oven blog. An easy meal that still required three pots/pans, grrr, but was worth the extra dishwashing. I used basil pesto and spicy chicken sausage from my freezer and whole-wheat penne.

I’m a little behind in my In the Kitchen posts already, so you’ll hear more cooking tales soon.

Brussels sprouts on the stalk

Brussels sprouts on the stalk
(Photo by Morten Copenhagen/Wikimedia Commons)

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