11 September 2015

a late-summer Sunday dinner

I'm not much of a traditionalist when it comes to how I spend my Sundays, but I do love a good excuse to unwind at the table with comforting food and friends.  In my childhood, that often meant a pot roast or (my favorite) a pork roast with mashed potatoes and rich gravy.  But right now, it means firing up the grill and enjoying what's left of summer produce and bright flavors. Here's a sample menu we put together last weekend at home, and it was glorious (and easy).

Spicy Grilled Chicken (adapted from Food & Wine's September 2015 issue)

Serves 6 with leftovers

1/2 cup kosher salt
6-8 chicken thighs
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

In a large bowl, whisk the salt with 6 cups of cold water until dissolved. Add the chicken and refrigerate for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Wipe out the bowl.

In the same bowl, whisk the olive oil with the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest and crushed red pepper. Add the chicken and turn to coat, rubbing some of the marinade under the skin. Marinate the chicken at room temperature for 45 minutes.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Grill the chicken over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until lightly charred and 
an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of each leg registers 165°, about 25 minutes.

Smacked Up Taters

(I pre-cook these in the microwave to get maximum browning time from the grill, but you could do it all on the grill and take a brief pause for the smacking if you prefer.)

Medium-sized red potatoes (one per person)
Olive oil

Clean (but leave skins on), de-eye, and generously stab potatoes.  Place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave until they are firm but cooked (I just use the “potato” button, turn them over, and do it again).   Remove potatoes from microwave and, one at a time, gently smash them with the bottom of a heavy frying pan or something similar.  You want the potatoes to hold their shape and to resemble very fat hamburger patties.  Then, using your hand, coat each smashed potatoes in olive oil and generously salt on each side. Grill on high heat approx. 8 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy.  

Because sometimes standing around the fire getting smoke in your eyes gets old...

Steam 2 pounds fresh green beans; drain and set aside. Wipe out the pan you used for this and heat a teaspoon of olive oil. Saute 6 oz. mushrooms and one large minced garlic clove until soft and fragrant.  Stir in the juice and zest of one lemon, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, 1/8 cup white wine, and cook to reduce slightly. Add the green beans and a small pat of cold butter, stir to incorporate, and serve hot or at room temperature.

tomato, corn green onions, and cucumber dressed with white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, sugar, and fish sauce

The best entertainment at a dinner party.

And for DESSERT? Don't trouble yourself; whip up this brilliant batch of cold-brew coffee ahead of time and throw out some dark chocolates for everyone.