French peasant food is perfect for easing minds and bringing families together during troubled times. This was simple to make, since everything baked in one dish, and the aroma coming from the kitchen wafted throughout the house, teasing and tempting us.
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 Tbs Herbs de Provence
¼ cup vinegar and oil dressing (I cheated by using inexpensive, store-bought Italian dressing)
2 large red potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 or 4 carrots, peeled and cut into large pieces
A few rosemary sprigs
One cube of chicken bouillon
Several splashes of olive oil, probably 2 Tbs, total
1 ½ cup broccoli florets with stems
1 white onion, sliced into wedges
1/3 whole lemon (juice only)
¼ cup water
½ loaf French bread
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp garlic salt
In a large mixing bowl, add the vinegar and oil dressing and add the Herbs de Provence. Add the chicken and mix by hand. Marinate the chicken for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
Peel and cut the vegetables. Set aside. Reserve the peels and scraps from the vegetables and use them in a vegetable stock, for use in another dish.
Set the oven to 400°.
Strip the rosemary leaves away from the stems.
Toss the potato and carrot pieces in olive oil and rosemary. Set these aside.
Add the chicken bouillon cube to ¼ cup water. Heat in the microwave for a minute to soften the bouillon. Crush the bouillon with a small fork and mix with the warm water. Set aside.
Pour a little olive oil into a large baking dish and add the chicken. Top with the potatoes and carrots and drizzle the chicken bouillon broth over everything.
Bake the chicken, potatoes and carrots in the oven for about 45 minutes.
Squirt lemon juice over the broccoli and onion and toss with a little olive oil.
Carefully pull the baking dish from the oven and check to see if the potatoes and carrots are nearly baked all the way. If the potatoes or carrots are still hard, and can’t be easily split with a fork, return to the oven and check them again in 10 minutes.
Pull the dish out again and add the broccoli and onion.
Return the dish to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.
Slice a loaf of French bread lengthwise and slather with melted butter and sprinkle it with the garlic salt. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.
I know when I’m over a cold when I start thinking about food
I have been working overtime at work, which means waking up at
4:00 am and getting home around 5:00 pm.
That doesn’t leave much time for dinner preparation and relaxing before going
I was on my way home, enjoying the rush hour traffic, when it
dawned on me that I had not gone to the grocery store recently and I didn’t
know what I would make for dinner. So, I
stopped off at the grocery store and started thinking about what was in my
refrigerator and what I might buy for dinner.
I knew I had some cooked white rice at home. White rice is like a blank canvas. Anything is possible when you have rice.
Since I didn’t have a clue about what I was going to buy at the store I decided to look for good deals on vegetables and meat and let that be my guide. The first low-priced vegetable I found were Brussel sprouts. I’m not a huge fan of Brussel sprouts but I stuck with my plan and picked them up. I found some whole button mushrooms at a really good price and I grabbed those. I still had fresh tomatoes from the garden and I had onions and garlic at home. So, the vegetables were a done deal.
I went to the meat case and found a good deal on center cut pork
chops. They looked good and the price
was very good. I spent less than $8.00 for
everything and it was enough food to make a meal for 4 to 6 people.
For the rest of my trip home I thought about what I would do with
all of this stuff. I started thinking
about pork schnitzel, which got me thinking about paprika. I love a good schnitzel but just thinking
about the work that goes into making schnitzel made me tired. I
wanted the paprika, without the fuss.
I thought about stewing the Brussel sprouts with tomatoes and
onion and mushroom and serving with the rice and I quickly kicked that idea out
of my head. Yuck! Brussel sprouts! What was I thinking?
And then, as I pulled into the driveway, it all came
together. Sauté the Brussel sprouts and put
a char on them to get a nutty flavor.
Add that to cooked pork chops, tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and rice and cook
it all in one pan. Coming home after
working overtime means that I have about one hour to make dinner, one hour to
eat it, and one hour to relax and digest the food before heading off to
bed. Making dinner in one pan means quick
prep and quick clean up. I knew I was
over my cold now. I can’t make those
sort of mental leaps when I am sick.
I dumped all of the groceries on the counter and pulled the rice
out of the refrigerator. I put the cast
iron skillet on the stove and started warming it. My daughter came into the kitchen to welcome
me home and we had a wonderful time sharing stories about our day as I began
prepping the food. She asked me what I
was making and, as I often do when I’m not sure, I said, “I’m making something for dinner.” My daughter has watched me work in the
kitchen long enough to know when I am winging it.
Chops with Vegetable and Rice
4 center cut pork chops
1 quart cooked white rice
2 cups Brussel sprouts, sliced in half
16 oz white button mushrooms
2 medium sized tomatoes
½ yellow onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs flour
2 cups chicken stock
½ cup tomato sauce
Heat an oven to 325°.
Tenderize the pork chops by piercing both sides with a fork. Flatten the pork chops with the broad side of
a meat cleaver or mallet.
Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil to the
pan. Lay the pork chops in the pan and
dust liberally with paprika. Allow the
chops to sear for about one or two minutes and then turn. Dust the other side of the chops with
paprika. Turn once more after a minute
and remove after another 30 seconds. Set
the chops aside.
De-glaze the skillet with a half cup of chicken stock. Add the whole mushrooms, onion and garlic to the skillet and stir. Allow the mushrooms to absorb the flavor from the pork and stock. Remove the mushrooms to a large mixing bowl.
Add the Brussels sprouts to the hot skillet, placing them cut side
down. Don’t mess with them. Let them char for about two minutes. Turn them with a spatula and brown the other
side for a little while. Remove the
Brussel sprouts to the large mixing bowl.
Add the tomatoes and cooked rice to the large mixing bowl.
Turn the heat down to low. Wipe the skillet with a paper towel to remove any charred bits. Melt the butter in the skillet and add the flour and whisk to make a roux. Once the flour has incorporated, add the chicken stock and tomato sauce. Stir to thicken into a sauce.
Mix the items in mixing bowl with a spatula. Add the prepared sauce and mix.
Arrange the seared pork chops on the bottom of skillet. Cover with rice, vegetable and sauce mixture. Cover the skillet and cook in a 325° oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
To serve, pull a pork chop from the bottom of the skillet and lay on a serving dish. Ladle the rice mixture next to the chop.