It’s easy to make good food

No, I’m serious. Look at my dinner:

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This is chicken in a white-wine-rosemary-oregano pan sauce, on risotto, with beet greens on the side. It was also super, super easy. My cousin asked me for the recipe on Facebook, and I can’t give it to her, because there really isn’t one, except sort of for the risotto. All there is here is a collection of techniques – nothing fancy.

See, let’s talk about the risotto. I made it in a rice cooker. Do you know what that means? That means that whenever you make rice in the rice cooker, you could spend about 5 more minutes and have risotto. I mean it’s not always going to go with whatever else you’re making (I wouldn’t put stir fry on risotto, ew) but whenever it sounds good, voilà, risotto!

Here’s how you make risotto in your rice cooker. Take the pan out and put it on your stove burner. Melt a little butter in the bottom and add some diced onion or shallot. (I generally keep some diced onion in my freezer for just such occasions.) Add a little salt and pepper and cook it until it’s translucent. (This is called sweating and you should do it all the time.) Then pour in some white wine if you have it, wait a little bit, and add some chicken broth or vegetable broth. You want your total amount of liquid to be about 3-4x the amount of rice – for just me, I’ll use 1/4 c rice and thus like 1c liquid. Bring it to a boil, add your arborio rice, and stick it in the rice cooker. Maybe stir it once halfway through cooking to minimize bottom stickage. Stir in some parmesan when it’s done. If you have frozen peas, throw some of them in too. That’s all.

Here’s how you make chicken with a pan sauce. Take your chicken breasts and sprinkle them with flour. Cook them in a pan in a little olive oil or butter. When they’re just not quite done, pull them out and put them on a plate. Sweat some diced onions in the pan, with some dried herbs: basil, oregano, rosemary, tarragon, whatever sounds good. Then dump in some white wine and scrape up all the crusty bits at the bottom. (This is called deglazing and you should do it all the time.) Add a little lemon juice if you want, and maybe some butter or cream or even just milk if you want it to be rich. Then put the chicken back in and simmer it for a few minutes until the sauce is saucy. That’s all. You can do the same thing with any kind of beef and either white or red wine. Chuck some sliced mushrooms in there with the onions. Done.

Here’s how you make beet greens. Take some beet greens (i.e. the green things on top of the beets), wash them off, put them (still wet) in a pot, cover it, and turn on medium heat for like five minutes. That’s all. I’m serious. Put some red wine vinegar on them if you want. You can do the same thing with chard or kale or collards or spinach.

This is the big secret of cooking: You can make basic food, and then spend 5 more minutes and make it kind of amazing.

 

 

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