Dinner in a Blink: Pasta with Caramelized Onion & Yogurt

Genius Pasta with Caramelized Onions and Yogurt

Here’s a genius trick I can take absolutely no credit for — make a big batch of caramelized onions and freeze them to use in all sorts of yummy things like this simple, yet amazing pasta dish. Continue reading

Advertisements

Ian Knauer’s Sticky Balsamic-Glazed Drumettes

There are some recipes that really get you salivating, like this beauty I found in the “Genius Recipes” section of the website Food 52 which comes courtesy of former Gourmet magazine Food Editor, Ian Knauer. Rosemary, balsamic vinegar and brown sugar reduced to a sweet-tangy, syrupy glaze is something I might be halfway tempted to drink all on its own if I thought I could get away with it, but chicken drumettes (or pork ribs as the original recipe calls for) are probably a more civilized vehicle. I don’t see why you couldn’t try using this glaze on vegetables, say a portobello mushroom or a thick slab of zucchini. I could see that being very tasty indeed. Needless to say I was a hero to my family for making this. Husband, preschooler and baby… they all loved it as much as I did.

Click here to check out the original recipe and browse some of Food 52’s other “Genius Recipes” (Brown Butter Tart Crust, Waffles of Insane Greatness or Le Bernadin’s Crispy Skinned Fish, anyone?) But before you click on over there, here are my notes for making this dish weeknight dinner-friendly. You could also use the same marinade-then-roast-then-broil technique and change the flavor profile (think chili, lime and honey), with inspiration from Simran’s “Icky Sticky Chicken Wings” recipe.

Sticky Balsamic Glazed Chicken Drumettes (based on a recipe for ribs from Ian Knauer)

In the morning, the day before: Marinate your drumettes.

  • The marinade is pantry-friendly: equal parts minced rosemary, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar (Tablespoon of each ought to do it) and enough water to loosen things up a little. Salt and pepper, dash of cayenne if you like. I know Simran would spice this up with some dried chiles.
  • Toss the drumettes well in the marinade, place in a baking dish, cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Night before: Roast the drumettes and make the glaze.

  • Ian Knauer uses a hot oven to roast the ribs (425 degrees). I roasted my drumettes at 425 for about 30-35 minutes, then removed them to a plate to cool.
  • Deglaze the roasting pan with more balsamic, water and brown sugar (I used 2 parts vinegar, 2 parts water and 1 part sugar, for about 1 1/4 cups of liquid). Make sure to scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the baking dish. I then transferred the glaze to a sauce pan to reduce and placed the cooled drumettes back into the roasting pan, covered them with foil and returned them to the refrigerator.
  • Reducing the glaze until it’s the consistency of maple syrup is  critical and it does take a while (maybe 20-25 minutes). It’s got to be thick enough to coat and stick to the chicken. Let the glaze bubble away, stirring occasionally until it has thickened. Pour it into a bowl or jar, cover and refrigerate it.

Dinner time: You can get this deliciousness on the table in hurry with minimum of fuss.

  • Preheat your broiler, liberally brush the glaze on the chicken and broil for 5-8 minutes turning a few times and brushing on more glaze until the chicken is heated through and the glaze is caramelized.

Pasta with Broccoli and Breadcrumbs

Here’s a recipe that has saved the day at Casa Stacie on more than a few occasions. Breadcrumbs on pasta may sound kind of weird, but trust me, it’s major yum. The breadcrumbs provide both crunch and a delectable toasty-ness, a nice change of pace from the usual sauced pasta. I also love this recipe because it’s quick and super frugal. You’ll feel like a hero when you throw it together on one of those days when you never managed to make it to the market and there’s nothing but a head of broccoli staring back at you in the refrigerator. The other ingredients are so basic, you’ll probably find them in your pantry: pasta, breadcrumbs, garlic, olive oil, a lemon and some parmegiano reggiano. [PS: here’s a good trick on keeping lemons fresh]

Pasta with Broccoli and Breadcrumbs

DIY Breadcrumbs — Homemade breadcrumbs really do make all the difference so if you can find the time to make them, it’s worth it. Just chuck leftover bread crusts and slightly stale pieces in a freezer bag. When the bag is full, let them thaw and blitz them in food processor until you have coarse crumbs. If you want a little extra nutritional boost, you can throw in some wheat germ or golden flax seed with the bread. Then toast the crumbs on a cookie sheet until they are crisp and dry. Approx 10 minutes at 350. Make a bunch and store them in an air tight container — your pantry will thank you!

  1. Toss breadcrumbs with good olive oil and a few pinches of salt to taste. Use at least 1 cup of crumbs per pound of pasta. I always like to make a little extra because they’re so, so yummy. Toss the olive oil-coated crumbs in a hot pan until they’re nice and toasty.
  2. Wash and trim broccoli into bite-sized pieces. Cook until tender crisp (steam, saute or even microwave with a a few tablespoons of water).
  3. Cook your pasta until al dente in well-salted water.
  4. While the pasta is cooking, mince several cloves of garlic and saute in olive oil until they just begin to turn golden.
  5. Immediately add the cooked pasta and broccoli and toss. Sprinkle with half the breadcrumbs and toss well again. Add a sprinkle of salt, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a generous grating of parmegiano reggiano. Taste and adjust seasoning. You can add a few spoons of pasta water if you want a moister dish.
  6. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs (a little minced parsley would be good too, but it’s totally optional). You can reserve some crumbs for sprinkling at the table if you like along with some parmegiano, good olive oil and lemon wedges.

Happy Lemon Risotto

The crazier life gets, the more I am won over by the versatility and ease of risotto. It’s serious comfort food, endlessly adaptable and an old standby that can be pulled together last minute with ingredients I almost always have in my pantry (arborio rice, chicken stock, an onion, a hunk of parmegiano reggiano) and jazzed up with a few bits of whatever else is around. While stove-side stirring is required, it somehow feels less stressful than recipes that require a lot of chopping or ingredients…. or thinking!

Before I get to some notes on risotto, here are three of our favorite variations:

  • Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice, Peas — Some Diced Roast Chicken or Sauteed Shrimp Would Be Nice!
  • Crumbled Sausage; a Can of Crushed Tomatoes Mixed with Broth for the Cooking Liquid; Fresh Spinach for Garnish (chiffonade)
  • Roasted Garlic; Toasted Sliced Almonds & a Dollop of Mascarpone (gotta give credit to Jamie Oliver for this one. Here’s his recipe)

Stacie’s Risotto Crib Sheet:

  1. Bring your stock to a simmer (you’ll need ~2.5 cups for every cup of uncooked arborio rice). [Since I had some asparagus I wanted to use up, I just trimmed it and blanched it right in the stock for 2-3 minutes until tender crisp, then set it aside.]
  2. Saute some finely diced onion and celery in olive oil until softened. Add the uncooked arborio rice to the pan and saute for several minutes until it starts looking less chalky and more translucent.
  3. If you have some available, add a splash of white wine (1/2 cup or so) and let it completely absorb before starting to add the stock (if you don’t have any, you can skip it without sacrificing too much). Then, start adding the warm stock one ladle at a time, stirring until the liquid is completely absorbed between each addition. My Italian cooking guru Marcella Hazan says to start checking the rice for done-ness after about 20 minutes.
  4. When you’re getting close to your preferred done-ness, add your goodies [in this case the zest of 1 lemon and the juice of 1.5 lemons, a handful of frozen peas which I didn’t bother defrosting].
  5. Off heat stir in a generous amount of grated parmeggiano and a little pat of butter if it strikes your fancy. Taste taste taste and correct your seasonings. [I scattered my blanched asparagus on top. For a little zip, I also garnished with some finely chopped chives, crispy fried sage leaves (nice for texture and takes the intensity way down), a little squeeze of lemon and drizzle of good olive oil.]

Unfortunately, my little one objects to most green foods lately and picked around the peas & asparagus with determination– even after we made happy face bites on our forks — but my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed this dinner of creamy, lemony, comfort food yumminess which we enjoyed with some crispy fish fillets and sauteed asparagus. Yum yum good!