Tuesday, October 19, 2010

TV Dinners Unplugged

TV dinners always have a protein, a starch and something green.  Other than that, the dishes I'm sharing today bear little resemblance to the little cellophane covered trays from back in the day.  Well, at least I am hopeful that they are slightly more exciting.  I grew up, not on TV dinners, but on plates that always had a protein, a starch and something green.  There is something comfy and satisfying about checking all of these boxes with a single plate.  While I did not plan to conform to this structure for two consecutive dinners, it happened to end up that way.  So I'm paying tribute to it in this post. 

Before explaining the preparations, I'll note that these photos seem to depict rather immense piles of food.  Though that's kind of the way we roll in my house, these quantities appear more generous than they were in reality.  It must be the camera angle or something; I just don't want you to think we make an absolute rule of gorging ourselves.  Well not every day, anyway.

Dinner #1:  Mongolian grilled flank steak with grilled potatoes and lemon broccolette. 

Flank steak is an awesome, under appreciated cut of meat.  It drinks up marinades beautifully and grills quickly.  Don't forget to cut it against the grain...no one wants to eat shoe leather (we learned that the hard way in Ryan's early grilling days).  If you don't have the time or interest to fire up the grill, you can use a grill pan on the stove.  Okay, here's the wonderfully flavorful marinade, courtesy of Weber. 

1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp dry sherry
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

For the starch, we simply cubed russet potatoes, tossed them in olive oil, generous shakes of salt and pepper, and grilled them in a grill basket.  They take on an awesome, smoky flavor over charcoal, but since they darken fairly quickly, they'll need to be finished over indirect heat.  Same point on the cooking technique:  If grilling isn't going to happen for you, feel free to do these in the oven instead (400 degrees for about 30 minutes....flip once or twice along the way).  

Broccolette, otherwise known as baby broccoli, is super tasty, fresh, and a nice departure from standard broccoli crowns.  We just steamed it for about 10-15 minutes until tender but not mushy, then gave it a drizzle of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkle of kosher salt.

Dinner #2:  Balsamic roasted chicken with Parmesan polenta and peas. 

The chicken is easily prepped ahead since it marinates in a baking dish that goes straight into the oven at cooking time.  The marinade is boiled down at the end and thickens to a gorgeous sauce for serving. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/roasted-chicken-with-balsamic-vinaigrette-recipe/index.html

Upon reflection, the polenta was a little fussy for a week night... I sort of regretted taking that on, but the end result was pretty yummy.  Speaking of taste, the recipe was just for plain polenta; the Parm part was a spur of the moment addition (about 1/3 cup grated).  I really live on the wild side.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/basic-polenta-recipe/index.html  The image next to the recipe shows it in solid form in a baking dish.  I served it in an organic mound, but then did put the leftovers (lots!) in a square baking dish to set.  For round two - whenever it will occur - I'll slice, bread, and fry/saute the squares (or appetizer-sized rectangles?) and serve them up with some marinara sauce. 

The peas don't warrant discussion. But if you must know, I just microwaved them (frozen) in a covered bowl with a few tablespoons of water and flavored them with an itty pat of butter and shake of salt.


Kate said...

I tried the chicken this weekend and it was delicious, though a little more burnt than I would have liked. Thanks for the inspiration!! I am going to do the thai salmon in the next week. Keep them coming!

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