Saturday night – 07/28/2012

Other Saturday events have kept us from hosting our weekly gathering so there hasn’t been a menu to share in at least a month. We hoped back into the grove this week.

Menu
Pressure-cooker pulled pork
Pasta, Pesto and Peas
Roasted Beets with candied tangerine peel
Sliced heirloom tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil
Ted bread

Homemade gingerbread for dessert

Notes under the cut

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Roasted red pepper, potato and chicken frittata

Hot nights call for minimal time in the kitchen and one of the fastest meals I know how to make is a frittata. Think of it as a large omelet without the folding. While we did heat the oven up to finish it off we spent maybe 30 minutes in the kitchen tops before we retreated to the relative coolness of the basement.

You’ll want a non-stick pan that is oven safe to at least 350°F. It is possible to convince a frittata to come out of a regular skillet however it requires the use of more oil and a lot of patient spatula work. We recently bought a T-fal non-stick skillet from their Professional line and have been very happy with it. It was “highly recommended” by the folks at Cook’s Illustrated and fairly inexpensive for a piece of cookware.

Roasted red pepper, potato and chicken frittata
Servings: 4
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 red peppers
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, rough chopped (about 1 cup total)
  • 1 lb. red potatoes
  • 1 cooked chicken breast, rough diced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped mixed fresh herbs (we used a mix of thyme, parsley, lavender and tarragon from the garden)
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. The rack should be in the middle of the oven.
  2. Roast the red peppers. We do this using the burners of our gas cook top. Place the pepper astride the burner, light it and cook each side until it is blackened. When all sides are charred place the peppers in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 10-15 minutes. This will give the peppers time to soften from the steam released by the peppers. When peppers are cool to the touch rinse under running water to remove the charred skin. Remove the top (it should pull off easily) and rinse out the seeds. I finished the prep by slicing these into 1/4″ strips.
  3. While the peppers cool you can prep the potatoes. Give them a scrub and then slice them fairly thin. I think we used a 3/8″ slice on a mandolin. Place them in a microwave safe bowl with 1 Tbsp. water and cook on high for 5 minutes. This will help speed the cooking process in the skillet.
  4. In a bowl combine the eggs, remaining water, the chopped herbs, a large pinch of salt and black pepper. Mix with a fork or whisk to incorporate some air into the mixture.
  5. When all the prep work is complete add the oil to the skillet and heat it over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 3-5 minutes to begin softening them.
  6. Add the potatoes and spread over the surface of the skillet. Cook for a couple of minutes then stir. Repeat the process until the potatoes begin to soften as well. They should get a bit of color during the process.
  7. Add the roasted red pepper strips and diced chicken. Toss to combine and heat for about 1 minute.
  8. Give the eggs a quick stir and add them to the skillet. Give the skillet a quick shake to evenly distribute the contents. Reduce the heat to medium low and let it sit for 5 minutes. When the edges start to appear a bit dry you are ready to move to the oven.
  9. Sprinkle the cheddar cheese over the top of the frittata and transfer the skillet to the oven. Cook for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on skillet. You want the eggs to have a bit of wobble left when you remove it from the oven.
  10. Remove the skillet from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. If you have lived a good and true life the frittata will slide right out of the skillet onto a large plate or cutting board.

Notes:
We ate the frittata as is this go around. In the past we’ve had it with a side salad, served it with a bit of salsa and even wrapped it in a piece of flat bread as a sandwich. I prefer mine hot or room temperature however it is also tasty as leftovers. Frittata “croutons” make an interesting addition to a salad.

In the past I have cooked this outside using the gas grill, closing the grill at the end to mimic the oven. It works rather well though you have to be mindful of the temp the grill gets to.

I used the last of the grilled boneless chicken breast that I cooked up last week in this recipe.

Vegetarian Chili

Week night dinners often end up being some leftover protein from the weekend paired with something on the side. When we don’t host a Saturday night gathering though I have to come up with something. Yesterday I decided I had most of the stuff to make a decent chili for dinner. A quick stop at the store for a red pepper, sour cream and shredded cheese sealed the deal.

Chili, the meated variety, was probably the first thing I sat down and figured out how to make from scratch on my own. Over the years the recipe has changed a bit as I find something new or read another recipe or just want to mix it up. I went for a vegetarian version tonight because were trying to eat a bit healthier and chili is hearty enough to stand alone without meat.

Recipe under the cut

Grilled Boneless Chicken Breast

Boneless chicken breast was on sale last week so I bought some. It is versatile, if bland. During the summer I like to grill up several at a time. A couple become part of that night’s dinner and the rest get bagged & tagged for later use.

Over the years I’ve come up with a way of grilling them on my gas grill that works fairly consistently. So I thought I’d share it with you. Step one is brine the chicken to help produce a moist end product. Step two is temperature control on the grill. Step 3 is patience.

Tonight we enjoyed grilled chicken with yellow rice. Some of the leftovers will become chicken salad sandwiches, maybe grilled with cheddar cheese. The rest I’ll chop up and stow in the freezer for easy use some night when I’m too lazy to go to the store.

Recipe under the cut