Two Great Dinners in One Restful Weekend

Chris just finished a graduate class and we had a whole weekend with no plans. Amidst our catching up on our t.v. shows, watching two ‘Netflixed’ movies we’ve had for weeks, and general lazing about, we had sparks of culinary creativity that resulted in two fabulous dinners. Here goes.

Saturday morning I set out a whole chicken breast to defrost and began thinking about what to do with it. Later, while we were weeding out the herb garden, a large stem of the sage plant fell off. I was muttering words like “sage,” “chicken,” and “pancetta,” when Chris suggested butterflying and pounding the chicken breast then rolling it with the sage and pancetta. We were definitely on the same wavelength. I decided to do the side dish and leave the chicken to Chris. My dish would be “Fingerling Potato and Pancetta Hash.” I cut a bunch of fingerling potatoes of different colors (red, white, purple) into a small dice, then did the same with an onion and some pancetta. I tried my best to make all the pieces about the same size. I fried the pancetta down until it let out enough oil in which to cook the potatoes and onions and then let the heat work its magic. I stirred it often and let it cook for about ½ hour. Meanwhile, Chris worked on the chicken until it was nice and thin, then rolled it with sliced pancetta and sage leaves. He tied it so that it would stay together and browned it in a pan with oil. He placed it in a roasting pan with two tablespoons of water with a couple of sage leaves floating in it. Finally, we put it in a 350 oven for 20 minutes so that it would cook through. We sliced the chicken and spooned a bit of the sage water over it, serving it with the hash. It was fantastic. We both agreed that we had overcooked the chicken slightly, and would probably only put it in for 15 minutes next time. Otherwise, it was a really good meal and we had a great time making it. Our finished platter is pictured here.

Another thing I did on Saturday morning was make a marinade for a flank steak I had bought earlier in the week. I wanted the steak to marinate for awhile, so I planned to have the steak for Sunday night’s dinner. I based the marinade on my friend L’s recipe. L is a chef and she teaches cooking classes at the local market. She taught this marinade at a class I took, and I played around with it a bit based on what I had in the house. Basically, I mixed 2 tablespoons each of the following spices in a Ziploc bag: hot paprika, sweet paprika, cumin, chipotle chili powder and garlic powder. I added ¼ cup each of red wine vinegar and olive oil, then a couple of dashes of lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Finally, I threw in ½ cup of demerara sugar. We put the steak in the bag, mixed it up and let it sit in the fridge until Sunday. On Sunday afternoon, Chris heated up the grill. I knew the steak would be spicy, so figured on having it with coconut rice and grilled pineapple. I made the rice (see earlier entry) and Chris got his grill groove on. He seared the meat perfectly and cooked it medium rare. What a great balance of flavors! We had spice from the steak, sweetness from the rice, and acidity in the pineapple. We were so into it that we couldn’t even take a minute to find the camera, so we have no picture, but I’m sure we’ll be making this dinner again.

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