by Charlotte Beal
Today’s dish is all about attempting to save money by using up tired or frozen ingredients. When I went to plan this week’s meals last weekend, here were some of the dying or patiently waiting foods I needed to consume: frozen country-style pork ribs, frozen chicken breasts, bacon, heavy cream, ricotta and green pepper. And here was my thought process:
Bacon and cream: I had been craving pasta, plus I had some local eggs from the farmers’ market. Doesn’t this just scream spaghetti carbonara to you? No new ingredients needed.
Chicken: I wanted to make something that Sadie could enjoy for leftovers the next day. She has a thing for mayo, just like her Southern mom (so proud), so chicken salad jumped into my head. I also had some leftover fennel from the farmers’ market, which provides a nice crunch that’s not clichéd celery. So I poached the breasts in wine, water, soy sauce and thyme, then just riffed to my heart’s content. Josh and I ate it over a bed of arugula with some crusty bread. Didn’t have to buy one thing to round out this meal.
Ribs: I knew I had a great recipe for orange-soy-braised pork ribs in my immense files. That obviously sounds Asian, so I knew all I would have to do is steam some jasmine rice and roast some broccoli sprinkled with Chinese five-spice powder, and dinner would be done. Plus, nothing beats braising at this time of year – simply put the ribs in the oven for a few hours and my only responsibility is to not leave the house with the oven on. The ribs cooked slowly while Sadie and I played (and she ate her nursing-home-hour dinner and had bath time) from 5-7:30. All I had to buy for the recipe was orange juice and broccoli.
Ricotta and bell pepper: I feel an old-school marinara pasta dish coming on! All I had to do is buy Italian sausage. Tonight I’ll boil up some penne, throw in some jarred tomato sauce and bake everything in a casserole dish. Goodfellas, watch out.