chicken

RealEats

by Anne Maxfield on June 4, 2018

Accidental Locavore RealEats SalmonIf “cooking” a meal from Blue Apron is too much work for you, or you’re challenged for good take out or delivery, RealEats might be just what you need.

It’s a weekly meal delivery service, with a rotating menu of about 18 entrée choices. They’re all single portions, which is great if you’ve got a family that has mixed food preferences. You can feed them all something they’ll enjoy at the same time and only have one pot to deal with.

If you can boil water, you can cook everything RealEats has.

All the food is based on a sous-vide technique, or for those of us old enough to remember—boil-in bags.

You plop the vacuum sealed bags in a pot of boiling water for up to 6 minutes. Open the packets, plate them, et voilà, dinner.

All the ingredients are responsibly sourced and non-GMO.

Accidental Locavore RealEats UnpackedThey offered me my choice of 4 meals to try. Since everything on that week’s menu looked pretty good, I left it up to them to pick.

I got a cute box on my doorstep a couple of days later, with a bunch of plastic pouches nestled in an insulated pouch surrounded by ice packs. They’re very conscious about their packaging, keeping it to a minimum and everything is either recycled or recyclable.

RealEats sent us Beef Bourguignon, Honey Soy Salmon, Harissa Chicken Bowl and Farrotto. Each meal consisted of about 3 separate pouches (about a dozen pouches total) all labeled with what they were and how long they needed to cook (if at all).

I was surprised that someone hadn’t thought to color-code all the labels (think Garanimals) so you could put the ingredients for each dish together without having to read the label. And you have to have refrigerator space (which if you don’t cook, you probably would have) for all the packets.

Accidental Locavore RealEats BeefBeef Bourguignon was tasty, flavorful but with no real taste of wine. The beef was nicely cooked and went well with the roasted Cipollini onions. The only disappointing note was the mashed cauliflower and white beans. It was a great accompaniment for soaking up the sauce from the beef and onions, but there was a flavor in there that neither of us were crazy about.

Next up was the Honey Soy Salmon. The ginger carrots that accompanied the fish and brown rice were nicely undercooked, with a little crunch to them and a lot of flavor. The salmon was cooked all the way through, which left it a little dry. I’ve gotten used to salmon being served slightly undercooked so that might just be my personal preference. The brown rice with it was flavorful, but also a bit dry.

Accidental Locavore RealEats FarrottoWe were both surprised by the Farrotto. It was one of the new vegetarian options made with farro cooked in the style of risotto with spring vegetables and topped with a mixture of Parmesan cheese with some red pepper flakes tossed in. It was by far our favorite dish, and one we would definitely order again!

The last dish was the Harissa Chicken Bowl. It was one I was hoping they would send because it sounded great—grilled chicken with harissa is always good by me. The chicken was perfectly cooked—hard with chicken breasts, but there was no spice or hint of harissa. The roasted sweet potatoes were sadly undercooked—okay for carrots but not potatoes, except for one morsel that was nice and tender. The brown rice was dry, but greens were good.

Accidental Locavore RealEats ChickenI’m thrilled to know about RealEats because it’s a great option for when you know you’ve got a tough week coming up and don’t/won’t feel like cooking. It’s also good for families where everyone eats something different, people who for whatever reason can’t cook, anyone looking for portion control, it’s a fun way to add variety and unfamiliar ingredients to your repertoire and maybe the most important? You’ll have an immediate answer to “what’s for dinner?”

 

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10 Reasons to Buy from a Butcher

by Anne Maxfield on April 30, 2018

Accidental Locavore Butcher Case If you bypass a butcher to just grab a couple of steaks or a chicken from the store, you might not be making the most of your meat-buying dollars.

Having a butcher you can depend on is the next best thing to buying a part of an animal from a local farm or meat CSA (and requires a lot less freezer space).

Why would you want to search out and befriend a butcher? Here are 10 reasons I love hanging out with people like Barb at Barb’s Butchery:

  1. If you have a dish at a restaurant with an interesting cut of meat, they can replicate it. Recently, I was reviewing a restaurant for Organic Hudson Valley Magazine and had a pork shank, something I wasn’t familiar with. I mentioned it to Barb and she was intrigued enough to start cutting some shanks from the pig she was breaking down.Accidental Locavore Butcher Pork Shank
  2. You know where your meat is coming from. They have relationships with farmers, so you’ll know how it was raised, finished and butchered.
  3. They can guide you to lesser known cuts (often known as butcher’s cuts) that are often less expensive and more flavorful. While cuts like short ribs and skirt steaks have gained popularity, flat-iron steaks are still flying under the radar and well worth checking out.Accidental Locavore Pig Butcher
  4. They can give you recipes and ideas. This is really useful if you want to try out some of the lesser-know parts of an animal. Often, if you have a recipe in mind, they can give you alternative meat ideas that might save you some money.
  5. They can teach you a lot of stuff. I learned how to test for doneness by just poking the meat. Here’s a link to the video I made; it’s much easier to see it in action.
  6. They can custom cut anything for you (although I always feel guilty about asking to have a chicken cut up—it’s so easy and I should practice my knife skills).
  7. They can grind it for you (important if you’re making something like steak tartare or have a special hamburger or meatloaf mix in mind).Accidental Locavore Butcher Sausage
  8. They can tell you about new stuff they’re working on and save you some. Barb recently made some Saucisse de Toulouse that were terrific!
  9. They may be making great sandwiches. Sometimes they’re posted and sometimes you just have to be in the know, but look for great brisket, Cubans, or Italian combos to be on the menu.
  10. You’re supporting a local business (and probably more than one, if they’re buying local meat).Accidental Locavore Barbs Butcher Bisket Sandwich

Did I miss anything? What do you like about shopping at a butcher?

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Accidental Locavore Sheet Pan ChickenThis sheet pan chicken dinner came about because I was stuck in the house on a snowy day, and come across a recipe (this from the NY Times Cooking) for something that sounds perfect for dinner and…

I had all the ingredients!!

Bonus points because it all got prepped in the time it took to thaw out the chicken thighs and clean off a car.

Sheet Pan Chicken with Potatoes, Arugula and Garlic Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 ½ pounds chicken thighs and drumsticks
  • 1 ¼ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons harissa (or to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 ½ tablespoons olive oil, more as needed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon lemon zest (from 1/2 lemon)
  • ⅓ cup plain yogurt (do not use Greek yogurt)
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 ounces baby arugula
  • Chopped fresh dill, as needed
  • Lemon juice, as needed

Accidental Locavore Chicken Sheet Pan MakingsCombine chicken and potatoes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together harissa, cumin and 3 tablespoons oil. Pour over chicken and potatoes and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes, or up to 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine leeks, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons oil.

Heat oven to 425°. Arrange chicken and potatoes on a large rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Roast 15 minutes. Toss potatoes lightly. Scatter leeks over pan. Roast until chicken and potatoes are cooked through and everything is golden and slightly crisped, 25 to 30 minutes longer.

While chicken cooks, place yogurt in a small bowl. Grate garlic over yogurt and season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon yogurt over chicken and vegetables in the pan. Scatter arugula and dill over mixture. Drizzle with oil and lemon juice, serve and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Sheet Pan ChickenMy verdict: Like I said in the intro, miraculously all the ingredients were in the house! I did all the prep and made the yogurt sauce (adding about ½ teaspoon of lemon juice) while the thighs were thawing. Then, all I needed to do was pop it on a sheet pan (which I’ve taken to lining with parchment to make cleaning up easier) and bake it.

It was delicious! The potatoes were amazing, and the chicken was great! We’ll definitely be having this again.

A few comments from readers who had made it, taught me to keep the potatoes on the outside perimeter to help them crisp and try to put the leeks under the chicken and potatoes so they wouldn’t singe. Both worked well. The next time, I might slice the leeks a little thicker, it wouldn’t hurt the cooking time, and there would be less chance of singeing them.

The third helpful comment was to put the arugula on the plates and then plate the chicken and potatoes on top, so the arugula doesn’t get too warm and wilted. Also, a good idea.

If you’re not a fan of spicy food, you might want to go easy on the harissa. My favorite brand is spicy and flavorful, but not killer.

The dill is probably optional, if you have it great, if not cilantro might even be better. I added lemon juice to the yogurt, so went a little easy with it on the chicken.

You’ve got lots of options here and any of them will make an easy, tasty dinner.

 

 

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Sheet Pan Chicken, Chickpeas and Fennel

by Anne Maxfield on October 30, 2017

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas RoastedChicken sheet pan dinners always look like a great idea.

Can we all agree on a few things?

  1. Sheet pan dinners are trendy.
  2. They look good in photos.
  3. It’s a good way to get food on the table simply and easily.
  4. And you’ll spend the rest of the night trying to scrub all that baked-on stuff off the sheet pan!

I’m as easily conned as the next person and have been crazy busy lately, so this chicken recipe on the NY Times Cooking site, looked like a winner. Give yourself some time to let it marinate. Serves 4.

Chicken, chickpeas and fennel recipe

  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken parts, such as breasts, thighs and legs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½cups full-fat Greek yogurt, divided
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, divided
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 large red onion, thinly sliced, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½cup mint or cilantro leaves, torn

Season chicken parts with salt and pepper.

Combine 3/4 cup yogurt, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon turmeric and 2 tablespoons water in a large bowl. Season well with salt and pepper. (It should be on the salty side, as this is a marinade.) Add chicken and toss to coat evenly. Let sit at least 30 minutes at room temperature, and up to overnight in the refrigerator.

Place oven rack on the top third of the oven and heat to 425°.

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas TossedCombine chickpeas, fennel seed, cumin, remaining teaspoon of turmeric and half the red onion slices on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.

Move chickpeas to the outer edges of the baking sheet. Scrape any excess marinade off the chicken, and place the chicken parts in the center. Place baking sheet in oven and bake, tossing chickpeas occasionally, until the skin of the chicken is evenly browned and the chickpeas are golden and starting to crisp, 45 to 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss remaining onion slices with 2 tablespoons lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Combine remaining yogurt with remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice and season with salt and pepper; set aside.

Once chicken is ready, scatter with lemony onions and mint or cilantro. Serve with seasoned yogurt alongside as a sauce and enjoy!

Accidental Locavore Chicken and Chickpeas PlatedMy verdict: Winner, winner, sheet pan dinner!

Since I didn’t feel like cleaning for days, as you can see by the photos, a simple piece of parchment paper, lining the pan, made the clean-up a snap.

I tossed some fennel with the chickpeas and roasted it—it was wonderful, tender and silky.

The chickpeas were a bit of a disappointment. They were chickpeas I had soaked, cooked and frozen. Rather than get crispy like the original recipe said, they were a little tough. I don’t know if canned chickpeas would work better in this case, but it would be worth a try. What might be even better would be to cube up some potatoes and roast them instead of the chickpeas.

We also really liked the contrast the “lemony onions” gave to the dish. I used up all the Greek yogurt I had on the marinade and forgot to buy more, but a few tablespoons of labne, worked just as well and made a good sauce.

 

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