Oh yes oh yes oh yes…it’s that magical time of the year! Fresh, powdery snow. Sunday morning TV shows and hot coffee. Ice skating in Bryant Park and hot soup in Chinatown. Early nights in bed with a good book. Yup…winter is a wonderful thing…for everyone else. Us accountants meanwhile, are enjoying this lovely time of the year grubbin’ on Seamless dinners, making permanent imprints on our none-too-ergonomic chairs, and rebelling against the idea that Saturday is a weekend. Luckily for me, I haven’t had too rough a time (yet) and so to take a quick break from Philippine posts (coz I obviously want to go back), I’ll be putting up a quick series on easy dinners. Let me clarify what I mean by easy. This isn’t easy because it’s heavily processed and/or microwaveable. This isn’t easy because you’ve got a $1,000 sous vide machine or ice cream maker. Hell…this isn’t easy because Rachel Ray is your neighbor. This is Auditor Easy. Ie…this is “come-home-at-8-and-still-manage-to-cook-and-workout-and-sleep-at-a-reasonable-hour” easy.
To start off, I modified a recipe I had found in Tim Ferriss’s book “The 4 Hour Chef” which in turn was influenced by food author Mark Bittman of “How to Cook Everything” fame. It’s basically a steamed chicken dish that uses a simple oil-based sauce to make it taste like confit (typically a French dish describing anything cooked in oil). In our case, we’ll be cheating by adding a dash of oil at the very end (which was scientifically proven to taste as if you actually made confit). Cost per dish? Only $4! Since it’s busy season and I know I right rather lengthily, let’s get right to it:
– Large, wide pot with lid or a wok with lid
– Steamer or wire rack that can sit in the aforementioned (such a good word don’t you think?) pot or wok
– 4 chicken breasts, sliced along the short side in 1″ thick strips
– 1 bok choy, de-stemmed and leave separated
– 1 red bell pepper, sliced
– 1 large knob of ginger, grated
– 1 lemon, juiced
– 2 – 3 tbsps. soy sauce or Tamari (Japanese soy sauce that’s richer and darker
– 1/2 c. plain tasting oil (grapeseed if you’ve got it. I used safflower though I believe normal vegetable oil should be fine)
– 4 stalks scallions, chopped
– 1/2 a red onion, diced
– 1 tsp. peanut oil (opt.)
– 5 – 6 white mushrooms, sliced and sauteed (opt.)
1) Set up your mise (remember this term? For those who don’t: mise en place) and chop up all your vegetables, then your chicken.
2) Place the wire rack in your pot and pour some water in so that it reaches about 1/2 an inch under the rack.
3) Lay your chicken on the rack. Don’t worry if there’s a bit of overlapping or if a bit of chicken falls into the water.
4) Layer the bok choy, then the red bell peppers on top of the chicken.
5) Turn on your heat to medium high and cook for about 15 minutes. Check your chicken to make sure it’s cooked by cutting into the thickest bit. If you see a little pink, put it back in and steam again for another 5 – 10 minutes.
5B) While the chicken is steaming, assemble your “sauce” by mixing the ginger, tamari, oil, onion, scallions, a few teaspoons of lemon juice, and a dash of salt in a small bowl.
6) That’s it! To serve, line up your chicken on a plate, top with the vegetables, and drizzle some of the sauce on top.
Now go stroll into work with this and when the lunchtime call for Chipotle comes, just smile and say: “Non, merci. I made chicken confit“.
Stay tuned for more Busy Season Dinners!