So I was out trolling for interesting meals to cook for my turn in the cohousing kitchen, when I had the good fortune to stumble on “Eat for Eight Bucks” on Serious Eats, where Michele Humes posts excellent recipes for feeding 4 people for – yes! – $8 or less. Paprika-Braised Chicken with Mashed Chick-Peas and Crispy Shallots? Yes, please!
For the vegetarian version, seitan seemed like the right protein, and I was excited to try this recipe from the always-reliable postpunkkitchen. If you’ve ever been tempted to make your own seitan, I really encourage you to give this one a try. Now that we can easily purchase vital wheat gluten, it’s simple – if just a little time-consuming because of how long it has to cook – but so delicious and will cost you a quarter of what store-bought seitan will.
So we made two batches: the Braised Chicken and Braised Seitan, each with a mild smothering of vegetables. We followed Michele’s recipe with a few exceptions:
- The seitan version used the homemade seitan cut into slices, and used just like the chicken, but not cooked as long.
- In spite of the clear flavor benefit it would provide, I left the salt pork out of the chicken version.
- To add in more flavor, we used strong mushroom broth and smoked paprika.
- We doubled the amount of all vegetables, and substituted more shallots for onion.
- Rather than frozen spinach, we were lucky enough to have fresh greens from the cohousing garden, which meant chard, kale, and mustard greens that we cleaned, blanched, and chopped before adding to the dish.
- We added whole canned chick peas to the seitan braise because we wanted to make sure to give a nice, substantial meal to the veg folks.
- According to fire code, we’re not allowed to deep-fry in the community kitchen because we don’t have the proper ventilation system. Though in my heart I wanted to rebel, we oven-roasted the slivered shallots in olive oil for 20 minutes at 400, just until they were on the verge of burning.
The sleeper star of this meal was the mashed chick peas, which were very simply rinsed, then thoroughly pureed with a generous amount of olive oil and just a little salt. When we tasted to correct seasoning, I was ready to jump in with this or that, but realized that the creamy simplicity was just right as is. What a great side, and I’ll be pulling it out often.
For dessert, I was inspired by Coconut & Lime’s Roasted Pineapple-Five Spice Sorbet. I loved the idea of the crazy flavor combination but since I don’t love cinnamon, I substituted fennel seed (which I lightly crushed) and then placed in a tea ball along with a quarter of a vanilla bean, and brought to a boil in the pineapple juice. My trusty Cuisinart ice cream maker (thanks Dad!) quickly made it into a frozen vegan treat with no added sugar.
And now on to my search for July’s meal. Any ideas?