Weeknight Meals | Basics with BabishFeb 19, 2020
Hey guys, this week's staple episode isn't just sponsored by Blue Apron, it's itself a love letter to
weeknightfast food. Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service that is a great option for anyone who is trying to cook more, cook healthier, or cook more delicious. The first hundred people to use the link in the description of this video to sign up for the blue apron will get $50 off their first two weeks. We'll get back to that later, for now let's get to the
basics… Well, as far as
weeknights go, a great place to start is the one-pot meal.
I first posted this dish on Reddit about four years ago and it's stuck with me ever since. We'll start by peeling and dicing 2 sweet potatoes, pushing them to the side so we can peel, core, and dice 2 Granny Smith apples. You want to use this or any other good apple for baking because we're going to be fine, baking this apple, so cut it into similar bite-sized pieces and we're going to chop up some fresh sage. So here we go, we have the foundation now we are going to build ourselves a house. In a hot, lightly oiled cast iron or stainless steel skillet, we are placing four chicken thighs skin side down.
We've already seasoned the skin side, now we're going to season the meat with salt and freshly ground pepper and then we're not going to touch them until they're deeply browned and coming off the bottom of the pot freely. Still stuck? Well, it's not over yet! We pace around nervously as we let the other side of the chicken get a little color, but we're not trying to cook them, we're just trying to crisp up the skin and trying to get some of this in the bottom of the pot. Everyone knows what this is: bond. Right now it's swimming in a lot of chicken extra fast, so we're going to drain most of it, reserving about a tablespoon in which we'll deposit our sweet potato and apple.
We are sautéing them over medium heat for about five to seven minutes. Again, don't cook them just to give them a little color and then we're breaking them down with the good stuff: a little bit of bourbon. If you know what you're doing and have a fire extinguisher nearby, you can flame the rest of the liquor, but this is mostly just for show. It doesn't really do much for the flavor of this, we're going to add just enough chicken broth so you can see it pooling under the potatoes and apples, we're not trying to braising this we're trying to eventually create a sauce.
Add the chopped fresh sage and stir so everyone knows each other and then we'll bring the chicken to the party. Making sure the skin isn't submerged in the liquid and then this guy goes into a preheated 375 degree Fahrenheit oven while we toast some nuts. Then once the thickest part of the chicken thighs has reached 175 degrees Fahrenheit, these guys are ready for extradition. I'll give it a bit of lemon, but I hope you can see how you can change it to be your own. You can swap the sweet potatoes and apples for root vegetables, you can swap the bourbon for white wine, or garnish with hazelnuts or almonds instead of walnuts, add onions or shallots in the early stages instead of garnishing with chives.
The basic concept here is to cook some of your chicken making it nice and crispy and sautéing and deglazing any starchy fruits or vegetables underneath, in that sense it all comes down to timing and a great timing exercise is skillet dinners. In this case, we're going to make a starch, a vegetable, and a protein, all on the same pan in the same oven. For the starch, I'm going with halved Yukon Golds that I'm coating in olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper, mixing, and then dumping out onto a preheated tray that I've had waiting in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 20 minutes placing them in. with the cut side down this will help them pick up some extra color and they will go in the oven first as they take longer to cook about 40 minutes total.
That gives us 25 minutes to prepare our vegetables in this case: asparagus. I'm using the old bend to break method, which after a google search I found to be a myth, so just slice them...by mixing with olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Next we are making a quick sauce for our protein in this case: salmon. So I'm going to go with some crushed garlic, the juice of one lemon; which you may notice I pressed and rolled in there... That actually helps the juice come out more easily when squeezed, a good teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a good drizzle of olive oil, some kosher salt and freshly ground pepper .
There are so many different directions you could take this little vinaigrette, but this one responds particularly well to the heat of the oven. Next, we're racing our salmon fillets, which I'm just going to make sure are boneless... Fishmongers don't always get all the bones, so always give the fillets a little squeeze before coating them generously with the vinaigrette. and now we are removing the potatoes from the side which you can see if they have turned a lovely brown color and since the salmon and asparagus have about the same cooking time, about 15 minutes, they are placed side by side on the sheet pan and back in the oven they go until the salmon registers 125 degrees Fahrenheit at its thickest point.
Now, if any of the platter dinner items are undercooked, simply remove the finished items, place them under foil, and keep warm until everyone is ready to go. Decorate with a little parsley as I did if you want; and you have a super easy, super quick and super delicious weeknight dinner. Now, there's another layer of easy weeknight dinners that we haven't discussed yet, and that's pasta. So we're going to try the blue aprons al pesto creamy cavatelli and this is a great exercise in 'mise en place', making sure we have everything in place. Let me read the instructions here… Alright, we start by quartering the zucchini lengthwise and then cutting into manageable mouth-sized pieces.
Similarly, with a box of cocktail tomatoes we're cutting them into quarters, but it's a sliding scale based on what's a reasonable size for your mouth, something we're cutting into mouth-sized pieces is garlic. Three cloves worth, finely chopped and now we're ready to move onto the stovetop. We just have to get everything out of our knife… Here we go, we have a nonstick skillet heating up over medium-high heat that goes in a drizzle of olive oil and we're starting with our zucchini. Tossing it just one layer and then letting it sit to take on some nice brown flavor facets while we negotiate our pasta.
Boiling for, I think he said seven minutes, we've got some color in the zucchini, so we toss it in a little bit, turn the flames up, and then I deviate from protocol here and add the tomatoes because I want them to get a little cooked. Personally, I like tomatoes not totally raw in my pasta. Then we're adding the garlic and some red pepper flakes if you like if you want a little heat, stirring it until fragrant and then draining our pasta reserving a half cup of the pasta water if you haven't already learned. Pasta water is the stuff dreams are made of.
We're adding both the pasta and the pasta water to the pan, adding the included small amount of crème fraiche, and stirring rounds of those flavors so they can get to know each other, and that pasta can soak up all that delicious, flavorful liquid. Now, just before we turn off the heat, we're going to add a cup of baby spinach. We want this to wilt from the heat of the pan, so give it a little stir to turn off the heat and then we'll add the pesto. We want to avoid actively heating the pesto, as that dulls the basil flavor.
So we're just starting to make sure everything is incorporated and more importantly testing for seasoning. Then we're seasoning to taste, stirring to combine, and plating for dinner. As you can see, the blue apron once again saves the day with quick and beautiful
mealswith instructions you can follow and ingredients you can pronounce...and again, the first hundred people to sign up using the link in the description of this video they will get $50 off their first two weeks. I hope you'll try making these
mealsfor yourselves, put your own spin on it, and see how delicious and fresh a meal you can make faster than it takes to order a pizza.
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