The spousal unit has signed up for a seminar on coal mining (continuing education credits since he teaches 6th-8th grade science) that will keep him away from home for an entire week later this month. This will allow me to watch La Belle et La Bête and Gigi over and over again and make myself some dinners that he would not touch with a Bangalore torpedo. I have never bought into the school of thought that says it’s too much trouble to cook just for yourself. Lucullus dines with Lucullus, is my motto.
The first dish is a sort of Couscous with 7 Vegetables crossed with Stephanie’s Crockpot Moroccan Chicken recipe. The missing vegetable is sweet potato. I know, it’s supposed to be served with couscous, but I like rice.
Riz avec Sept Legumes Minus One
One or two onions, chopped
About a cup of baby carrots, sliced on the diagonal
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and as many of the nasty skins removed as possible
4 skinned chicken thigh quarters
½ c. golden raisins
1 can chopped tomatoes (do not drain)
¼ cup dry white wine
2 T. honey
1 t ground cumin
1/2 t cinnamon
½ t red pepper flakes (less if you prefer)
½ t salt
Warm some oil in your Dutch oven and cook the carrots and onions over medium heat until just before the onion is limp. Add the garlic and artichoke hearts and cook about two minutes longer. Season sparingly with salt, scrape it all into your crockpot and stir in the chickpeas. Arrange the chicken thigh quarters over the vegetables.
Heat the raisins and honey with the chopped tomatoes and their juice until the honey dissolves. Add the wine, spices and salt, mix well, and pour it over the chicken. Cover, turn the crockpot to low, and cook for 6 hours or until the chicken is done. Serve over hot cooked rice.
The woman I worked for when I lived in Paris in the mid-70’s used to make this a lot. It’s a very easy, one-pot meal.
Mme Dubois’ Sausage Rice
Slice up a package of sweet Italian sausages and brown them in a Dutch oven. Remove the sausages, pour off all but about two tablespoons of fat, and lower the heat. Sauté a sliced onion and a mashed clove of garlic with a generous pinch of salt. When the onion is quite limp, stir in a can of diced tomatoes with all the juice. Fill the tomato can with water, add to the pot with the browned sausages, and stir in a cup of raw rice (not converted). Bring to a boil, cover, and cook at the lowest possible temperature (I use a flame-tamer) for twenty minutes. Taste for salt and serve with a green salad and country bread.
And finally, my secret shame; chicken nachos. As much snark as I have lavished on the use of canned soups in 50’s and 60’s cooking, I must now hang my head and admit that I am a hypocrite and love this. It is unctuous, cheesy, and a good way to use up that leftover baked chicken breast that’s been hanging around in the fridge since Sunday dinner. N.B. the soup makes this pretty salty so if your tastebuds revolt at being treated like a Midwestern highway during a blizzard look for a lower-sodium alternative.
One cup, more or less, of leftover cooked chicken, shredded
One can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, diluted with ½ cup milk
One cup shredded cheese, preferably Sargento’s Mexican Mix with Monterey jack in it (more meltable), divided
½ cup tomato salsa (use the canned stuff. There is absolutely no point in making this with fresh)
Stir together the soup, salsa and half of the cheese and heat until the cheese melts. Stir in the chicken. Spray a microwave-proof baking dish with cooking spray and cover the bottom with a thick layer of tortilla chips. Spoon the chicken/soup/salsa mixture over the tortilla chips. Cover with a thin layer of the rest of the shredded cheese and microwave for one and a half minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve with even more tortilla chips, lots of beer and a guilty conscience. This will feed two people if one of them is not a greedy piglet.