“Steak dinner” doesn’t begin to say enough. There are endless variations on it, each one as classic as the next.
And the steak itself is open to interpretation. Between the cut, the marinade, the cooking method, the sauces and/or crusts, two steaks could become different animals all together. There’s no formula, no universal constant. The measure of a steak dinner comes from the people eating it.
So a match of steak dinners is anyone’s game, but we here at the Spinning Plate thought our favorite steak could stand up to the toughest challenger: my father. Several years ago he and his friend Larry inaugurated Chuck Wagon dinner—a Friday or Saturday night devoted to steak dinners and male bonding. Initially my mother called the ritual Boy’s Date Night, but my father rechristened it Chuck Wagon to reflect the cowboy spirit. Over the years, Chuck Wagon has expanded to welcome countless guests. It now holds a hallowed position in our socializing, serving as a rite of passage for our circle of friends. Continue reading
Grocery store lists aren’t about helping me remember what I need.
They’re more to remind me what I don’t need—keep me focused, ward off impulse purchases.
So to use a tired cliche, grocery shopping without a list is like eating a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re gonna get. Fortunately, on my last off-the-cuff excursion into Whole Foods, I discovered the shopping riff. You simply choose one ingredient and go from there, sort of like connect-the-dots meal planning. Continue reading
Until I started college, I used to spend every Easter in Florida.
Consequently, I associate the holiday with sunshine, palm trees, and Lily Pulitzer clothing. But in Chicago the late-March-early-April weather is variable—we even had some snow the other day. The trees are still barren. And even if I were to wear a pink and green dress with huge flowers all over it (not likely), I would have to shroud it in some sort of drab overcoat.
So how do I bring the Florida Easters of my youth to Chicago? Citrus. Continue reading
I remember vividly the first time I saw a filled-pancake pan.
It was featured prominently in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue, with a recipe for lemon curd and marscapone filled pancakes. As soon as I saw it, something clicked. Pancakes. Filled with deliciouness. It was a no-brainer, but the possibilities were breathtaking. After doing some research I found out that the concept of a spherical pancake was Danish, and that these pancakes were known as ebelskiver.
pes•ca•tar•i•an (pe-skə-ˈter-ē-ən) n.: a vegetarian whose diet includes fish
That’s me. At least, for the forty days of Lent it is. My yearly ritual is to give up meat, but not fish. There is a label for this diet. Merriam-Webster officially added the word pescatarian last year. It joins the ranks of other not-quite vegetarian labels, including flexitarian ( noun 1. a vegetarian who occasionally eats meat 2. an omnivore).
Even though I’m not what you would consider a raging carnivore, my sacrifice gets harder every year. So Fat Tuesday is when I really go all out on meat eating. My choice of food is usually buffalo chicken, simply because it’s the one thing I need a really good reason to eat. After all, this is an equal-parts butter and Tabasco sauce we’re talking about. And it’s incredibly difficult to eat buffalo sauce with any dignity. In fact, my hot wing eating demeanor is best described as furtive—trying impossibly to hide that fact that I am gnawing on a deep-fried bone slathered in sauce.
But on Fat Tuesday, who cares? I made my own buffalo chicken this year. To give the sauce an extra kick, I added horseradish and Worcestershire sauce, kind of like a Bloody Mary. I also used panko breadcrumbs on the chicken so it would absorb the sauce more, making the chicken less messy. And as for the eternal bleu cheese or ranch question? You decide.
- Catherine M.
Bloody Mary Buffalo Chicken Strips
-4 chicken breasts
-1 cup flour
-2 eggs, beaten
-3 cups panko breadcrumbs
-2 tbsp olive oil
-1 stick butter
-1/2 cup hot sauce
-1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tbsp horseradish
-1 clove minced garlic
-Aalt and pepper
Preheat the oven for 400 degrees. Cut the chicken breasts into 1- to 1 ½ – inch strips. Season them with salt and pepper. Place the flour and breadcrumbs on separate plates. Coat the chicken strips with flour and then dip in beaten eggs. Shake off excess egg before dredging the strips in the panko breadcrumbs. Drizzle the olive oil over a rimmed baking sheet and place the breaded chicken strips on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a saucepan, melt the stick of butter with the hot sauce, Worcestershire, horseradish, and garlic. Pour the sauce over the chicken, using tongs to coat each piece evenly. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
Getting my granola fix is easier said than done.
I have issues with store-bought versions. Sometimes they have too many ingredients, including strange, unidentifiable twig-like pieces. Other times the granola is too soft or too clumped together. But the worst offense is the artificial vanilla or banana or cinnamon flavoring.
When my father told me he was putting a turkey chili up against our chicken one, I became concerned about the legitimacy of our competition.
Some would argue that a recipe without beef can scarcely be labeled as chili. This debate is immaterial to me, but I do have some advice for the poultry-chili-is-chili camp: give it up.
Why would a delicious chicken, turkey, or bean stew want to call itself chili? Chili is the most bastardized stew there is. It is routinely reduced to a mere condiment—spooned in all its greasy ignominy atop fries, hotdogs, nachos, and even pasta. Its near relatives include the sloppy joe and beef macaroni. More often than not, home cooks season it from a pouch.
Don’t get me wrong, beef chili done right is delicious. But sometimes the specter of chili’s various permutations makes even the best bowl hard to handle.
Our chicken concoction is flavorful, healthy and satisfying. It won’t go well with fries or hot dogs, but pair it with a baking soda biscuit and you’ll be sitting pretty.
Holy Mole Chicken Chili
- 2 lbs. chicken breast
- 2 cans great northern beans, drained (not rinsed)
- 1 can black beans, drained (not rinsed)
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 14 oz. mild or medium salsa
- 1 bottle beer
- 1 onion
- 2 poblano peppers
- 1 tbsp. minced garlic (4-8 cloves)
- 1 tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tbsp. dried oregano
- 1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp. ground cumin
- 1 tbsp. cocoa powder
- 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
- Salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil
Poach chicken breasts for 15-20 minutes in salted water. Shred chicken into bite-size pieces, set aside. Sauté onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil until tender. Stir in tomato paste until combined. Add chicken, garlic, oregano, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, cocoa powder, and ground cinnamon. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until flavors are well combined. Add 3 cans beans, diced tomatoes, salsa, and beer. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until chili thickens. Salt and pepper to taste.