wow for someone who was vegetarian for about a decade, i do seem to eat a lot of meat now!! it's not something i'm necessarily happy about. i would be lying if i said i didn't like the taste of certain pieces of meat. but i would be definitely lying if i said it didn't make me feel morally conflicted.
i try to assuage this conflict by at least only buying locally raised meats from the farmer's markets. this past weekend i went to a new farmer market (new for me folks, and that was thankfully light years better than that other one i tried out) and some of the farms even had photo albums of all their happy chickens, sheep, pigs, and bison in real fields and mucking grounds. it certainly convinced me that, indeed, these animals probably lived their lives as naturally as possible. but it made it that much harder for me to look at those photos and then buy a piece of cryovacked loin. but like i read somewhere recently, these chickens had a really good life for several months and then one very bad day.
i don't mean for this to devolve into a manifesto of sorts, although i do believe too little attention is paid to what we put into our bodies. i spend the majority of my disposable income on food. i believe that i should spend an equal amount of thought and conscious effort in making sure i know the provenance of that food. if not because of the animal i am eating, or the inevitable environmental damage, but at least because of the very fact that i am ingesting it!
i might think a lot about food, but when it comes to cooking, simpler is a lot of times better! i was looking for a new lamb chop recipe and came across this unassuming idea. salmoriglio is a strong, pungent lemon-herb sauce, originally form calabria and sicily. i could not believe how delicious it was! if you like lamb, please try this recipe! and then we can go back to debating whether i should be vegetarian again :-)
grilled lamb chops with salmoriglio sauce: serves 4
from gourmet (may 2000, original recipe click here
1 1/2 tb finely chopped fresh oregano
1 1/2 tb finely chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 tb fresh lemon juice
1 tsp coarse salt
salt + pepper to taste
6 tb olive oil
4 shoulder-blade lamb chops
1. grind herbs, zest, lemon juice, and 1 tsp coarse salt to a paste with a mortar and pestle. transfer to bowl and add oil in slow stream, whisking until emulsified. season with salt and pepper to taste.
2. pat lamb dry and season with salt and pepper. heat a lightly oiled well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. then grill lamb, turning once about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
3. spoon sauce over lamb. if this is how the sicilians eat, then i need to move there.
when i lived in new york city i had a favorite quick, cheap mexican place as a go-to for dinner. it wasn't nearly "authentic" mexican, but somewhere between that and the oozy, greasy, cheesy, incarnation that tex-mex often becomes. it had all the usuals, and normally i like fajitas because i'm such a sucker for sizzling platters of food! but i wasn't terribly fond of the fajitas at this particular place because while sizzling in temperature, it never seemed to really dazzle me in flavor.
so when i saw this recipe in martha's magazine a couple months ago i definitely wanted to try it. and fajitas are one of those recipes where one can think, do i really need a recipe? cut up some peppers, onions, meat and toss it in a hot skillet! and true, it doesn't really get (and shouldn't get) much more complicated than that. but i was really curious about this "mojo de ajo," especially since we loved bobby flay's mojo on a grilled pork tenderloin.
evidently mojo is the cure-all because it's definitely what my go-to place was missing in their fajitas! plus the combination of thighs and breasts (gee, that phrase seems awkward, huh?!) made it so much more flavorful. we only served ours with guacamole and pico, no cheese or sour cream (the guacamole is creamy enough!) i think this is a perfect dish for impromptu summer dinner -- quick, easy, and ready to share with friends or family!
chicken fajitas with mojo de ajo: serves 4
adapted from martha stewart living (june 2009, original recipe click here)
mojo de ajo
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tb minced garlic (4-6 cloves)
3 tb fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
1 tsp red-pepper flakes
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 tb olive oil
1/2 large onion, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices (about 1 cup)
1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced 1/2 inch thick
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 2), slicked 1/2 inch thick
8 small 6-inch flour tortillas, warmed
salt + pepper to taste
pico de gallo
1. make the mojo: cook oil and garlic in small saucepan over low heat until garlic is soft and fragrant, about 8 minutes. remove from heat, stir in lime juice, red pepper, and salt.
2. heat large skillet over high heat, add oil and gently coat. add onion and bell pepper, season with salt. cook, stirring frequently, until onion is bornwed in spots and pepper has softened slightly with blistered skins, about 5 minutes.
3. add chicken, salt, and stir and cook until chicken is browned and thoroughly cooked, 5-7 minutes (you can finish in the oven if you chose).
4. add mojo de ajo, and stir to coat. season with salt and pepper. serve immediately with guacamole, pico de gallo, and warm tortillas!
yes, yes i'm still here!! although i have had a lousy track record, these past two weeks were not entirely my fault for not posting. i finally started a new job, yay! but it meant leaving my beloved new york city, sniff sniff.
except i haven't had really any time to mourn the loss of living in the best city in the USA because i received the offer one week, and moved myself down the next weekend (with the faith that i would be lucky enough to find an apartment in a day, and not be camping out on a park bench), and started working last week! i'm still living in a basically empty room -- i'm living on an aerobed and not much else! -- because the rest of my belongings don't come down until next weekend. and hopefully mr. mimi will follow soon thereafter.
so you see my absence was not intentional, and to prove it here's a post about an obviously previously made dinner. why obviously? because folks, it has rhubarb!! and we all know the peak rhubarb season is only in spring. i was a little late to the party because i was in nigeria, but there were still some good bunches left in june.
we didn't have cherries so we used the raisins from the pantry. the compote (as expected) was delicious and could easily be used with a chicken dish as well. in this heat of august you probably won't find any good rhubarb around, but bookmark this for next spring and i'm sure you'll love it!
for the recipe, click here.