|The Magic Saute
||[Jun. 26th, 2008|11:55 am]
Back when we were married and I was cooking for a living, lot's of people would say to my then-husband, "Married to a chef, oh, you must eat like a king!" |
Which really wasn't true. Sure, I'll admit it, when I did cook, it was damn good. And I did try to purposely overcook for my clients so that I could bring home various leftover components that I could mix and match for dinner, because frankly, after spending the entire day cooking, that last thing I felt like doing was coming home and...cooking. So, if I didn't have leftovers from work, we'd have Hot Dogs n'Beans or Spaghetti using Saucefromajar...just like everyone else.
Sometimes that made me feel that I wasn't, in my soul, a chef. I'm passionate about food -- but really, about eating it. I'm not passionate about making it. I'm good at it. Pretty damn good at it. I make it because I want it a certain way. (And controlling b*tch is not an epithet I dare duck from, if I'm honest.) But if I could deliver my daily order of what I wanted to eat to someone else and they could replicate it...I'd be all for it.
But now that I'm not cooking all day, every day, I do find myself cooking from scratch more at home and relying on That's when you grab random items, "frizzle them up" as my mother used to say and eat. You can put it over rice, pasta, whatever, but I usually try to skip the background carbs and assuage the need to nibble further with raw veg, or berries or a small piece of nice cheese.
Your Basic Magic Saute
1 onion, or the same amount of a member of the allium family (garlic, shallot) or all 3, diced, chopped or minced.
Oil of choice with which to do the frizzling. Or butter, although always mix it with oil to raise the smoke point. (For you non-scientists, adding oil will keep the butter from burning and tasting yucky. If you're sauteing in butter and it's not burning, you probably don't have the heat turned up enough. If you want more butter, swirl it in at the end, it will help thicken it up, too, as well as give you burst o' butter flavor)
Other random vegetables that require cooking. Hint -- cut them small to cook faster on a weeknight. Cut the thick hard ones (carrots) small, and the softer, quicker cooking ones (Zucchini, mushroom) larger so they'll cook at the same rate, or throw the hard ones in first. Or see the cheat under veg that don't need cooking. Use salt if not pepper, as well, here. Ideally, you want to use a little salt throughout the process -- it will flavor better and assist with the cooking better than if you wait until the very end to add a larger amount. Greens you can add here if they're heavy like collards or chard, or post meat if more delicate.
A meat/fish. Sliced sausage. You'll have to judge when to throw it in. Ground, sliced thin, cut in small bites, so that it cooks with the veg. Or, if it's already cooked, or cooks quickly, near the end, when the aforementioned veg are soft.
Season with seasoning of choice. I said you could choose, but see "controlling b*tch" above and get yourself some Penzey's blends. Oh, sure you love to cook and have all sorts of herbs and spices, you can just mix and match....obviously you have way more time on a weeknight than the rest of us or THIS my friend, is why you think cooking takes too long.
Can of beans of choice. Do not tell me you don't like beans. See my hand? I don't want to hear it. Try gandules/pigeon peas, edamame, the gateway beans. THIS beanlover insists that you've just never had beans prepared properly. But rinse them, please, you have no business eating that salty goop they come in. And back away from the Goya -- crap beans. Hanover. Bush's maybe. Progresso if you're talking Cannellini or Chick. I digress.
Veg that do not need to be cooked. Diced canned tomatoes are almost always a good choice. Canned artichoke hearts. Frozen vegetables that you thawed in the micro so that you can drain the extra water. Simmer 5-10 minute while you open the wine. Not that opening the wine takes 5-10 minutes. If so, you need a new corkscrew. Watch while the Captain and I come to blows over the best corkscrew...no, I mean, you'll have to go get the wine, get the glasses, push the cat off the counter before he knocks over the wine glasses...you know.
Other random seasonings and additions. Chopped or halved olives are always good. Pine Nuts. Nuts of any kind - chopped hazelnuts or pecans are my favorite. Dried cherries work well, especially if you want the German or Indian or Moroccan seasoning path. Capers if you're that kind of person. Fresh herbs, but really, only if they're hanging around and you need to use them up. I don't want to hear about your little precious pots of herbs you have growing on your kitchen windowsill. Mine either got eaten by the cats or knocked off the windowsill so many times that they started looking like...if Lon Chaney Jr was an herb...
If it's not liquidy enough, drop in some water, broth, wine.
Final seasoning -- it must have a dash of acid. My personal favorite is balsamic or malt, but any will do. You could use wine, if you haven't already. And Tabasco is my second favorite. You can use lemon or lime, but I prefer to put that in my cocktail. And a Tablespoon of parmesan cheese never hurts any recipe. Seriously, no matter the nationality. It's got similar chemistry to MSG -- it enhances flavors, but so far, no one's bitching about being allergic to it.
Now you can be fancy...saute the veg, remove. Saute the meat and garlic, remove. Deglaze with a liquid - broth, water, wine, beer, bourbon, rum, vinegar, til all the brown bits are scraped up and liquid is reduced by half or more, then toss it all back in...but I gotta tell you, there are plants that need watering, litterboxes that need cleaning, critters that need feeding, plus...it tastes pretty damn good done the lazyass one pan way, lemme tell ya.
We eat a variation on this 2-3 times a week.
Last night: shrimp with black beans, tomatoes, artichoke hearts and Penzey's Salsa seasoning, dash of balsamic. And a dash of rum. Because, well, it was OPEN.