A few friends of mine are as excited about food as I am, and as we all get along and live close to each other we often get together on Friday nights to enjoy a meal and conversation. Since going out all the time can get exceedingly expensive, we thought it would be a good idea to have rotating dinners at home. I additionally came up with the idea that rather than bringing something over, we could each pay the host a few dollars – otherwise we end up eating nothing but snacks and drinking far too much wine, as that’s what people tend to bring. Essentially we’re starting an extremely low-key and limited supper club.
I offered to host the inaugural event of the new system, and since it went pretty well I thought I’d share the menu with you all!
For an appetizer I put on my beloved relish plate some marcona almonds, aged Gouda cheese, and some Devils on Horseback. For those who don’t know, the latter is a classic party appetizer – dates stuffed with blue cheese and an almond, then wrapped in bacon and cooked until the bacon crisps. Essentially the result is the perfect food – sweet, salty, crispy and a little funky from the blue cheese. Unlike Martha in the link I used Danish Blue rather than Stilton. I hope my friends forgive me.
For the main meal I decided to make my infamous “Chicken Breasts Marinated in Something, then Breaded and Fried.” I say infamous because this dish is the one that prompted me to write this post. The Something in which the chicken breasts are marinated in changes depending largely on what is in the house at the time of creation. Truth be told, the post you’re reading now is my attempt to recapture last night’s recipe, because I was rather pleased with the results. Ephemeral recipes be damned!
I decided to make a vaguely Asian marinade for these particular breasts. I’m afraid there are no precise measurements, but it consisted of:
A healthy pour of rice vinegar
Even more soy sauce
A blob of honey
Fresh grated ginger
Fresh grated orange peel
1 clove garlic, also grated
Fennel and pink peppercorns, crushed
A pinch of cardamom
Olive oil (regular, NOT extra virgin)
Whisk everything together until it’s blended, then throw in your chicken breasts. I always butterfly these – who needs to eat a two-inch thick chicken breast? Besides, they’ll cook much more quickly and uniformly if they’re thin. I let them marinate about half an hour, then dredged them first in egg, then in a mix of panko and rice flour. This combo makes the crispiest danged breading you’ve ever eaten in your life, in addition to keeping nicely with my pseudo-Asian theme. Heat some oil in a pan and toss those in for about three minutes per side. Do NOT flip them over until the breading crisps if you have any interest in keeping it on the chicken. The number one key to properly cooking breaded cutlets is to be patient. Keep the heat around medium and don’t play with the food!
We had brown rice and my favorite brussels sprouts for sides. The sprouts weren’t really in keeping with my theme, but we all know I love them and particularly wanted a couple of my friends to try them, since I’ve been talking them up so much. There were also some rolls, but to be honest I just bought those at Foodie’s. Cut me some slack – I worked a full day before all of this.
For dessert I just threw in a few of my chocolate chip cookies – I make dough ahead of time and freeze it so as to have cookies at a whim. Folks had a couple of the Demeter’s Laments, some wine, and some good conversation. For a few dollars each I think it was well worth it! Restaurants can be wonderful, but I’m looking forward to more nights at home.