Thursday, June 17, 2010

End-of-Spring Spontaneity Dinner

One of the first foods that comes to mind when I think of spring is:

What can I say? It's a charmer.
In my continuing effort to cook as season-mindful as possible, I've found that just listening to your gut (every pun intended) is the best resource. We naturally crave lighter meals in warm weather, and tend to prefer heartier, warm dishes in the fall and winter. What a considerate body you have! That's why asparagus is such a great spring-time vegetable; it not only tastes great, but has the fiber that our bodies are missing from the other 'light' spring foods, or the heavier, meatier items we consume in the colder months.

The Dinner:
Panko-crusted Chicken
Sauteed parsnips, asparagus, and garlic stalks
Yellow mashed potatoes

The Recipe(s):

Panko-crusted Chicken

... well, I bought it from Whole Foods, already seasoned and ready to go. I know, I know, I cheated! Unfortunately, I received my just rewards for said cheatery, as the only thing the chicken had going for it was its crispy topping. The bird itself was dry, and the seasoning in the crust was bland. I have learned my lesson.

Sauteed parsnips, asparagus, and garlic stalks
  • 3 large parsnips, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2'' slices
  • 1/2 bushel of asparagus, trimmed at the 'natural point'
  • 1/2 bushel of garlic stalks
  • 1 TS butter
  • 3 TS herb flavored olive oil
  • 2 TS soy sauce
  • 1/4 c. Soyaki Sauce (Trader Joe's... so good)
  • 1/3 c. chicken stock
  • salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, add all of the veggies, and toss them to evenly coat in the oil/butter mixture. Saute for 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce, and saute for another 2 minutes. Add the Soyaki and chicken stock, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
** It may seem like too much chicken stock, but trust me; the veggies absorb most of it,
and the rest is turned into a really nice, thick coating thanks to the sugars in the Soyaki sauce. **

Yellow mashed potatoes
  • 5 large yellow potatoes
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 6 TS butter
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 TS freshly ground salt
  • 3 TS freshly ground garlic pepper
 Peel the potatoes, and chop into 1 - 2'' chunks all roughly the same size. Place in a pot, and cover with chicken stock. Bring to a boil. When the potatoes are tender (stab them with a fork to tell), drain them and put them immediately back in the hot pot. Add the butter and milk, and mash them to your desired consistency. Add salt and pepper.
** Putting the potatoes back in the hot pot helps to evaporate any left-over
moisture that makes the potatoes seem gummy or mushy. **

The Verdict:
Well... everyone ate it - that's usually a good sign. My 18 month-old even picked up the chicken from his father's plate and gnawed on it until it was gone!
In the future, I would, again, make the chicken myself instead of letting Whole Foods do the work for me. It would have been worth the additional 2 - 5 minutes of prep-work for better flavor.