Photo courtesy Flickr
When my son was small, I made a separate peace with fast food and declared Saturday junk food day: there was sugary cereal for breakfast and crisp grease later on for lunch or dinner.
Now there’s a new burger place on Broadway whose motto is, “Making the best of bad choices. That’s what we do.” The place is hard to resist, even though I learned that it takes roughly sixteen hours of exertion to metabolize a burger, fries, and soda. I can finesse the impact of a take-out order by splitting a burger that’s on a whole-grain bun, skipping the fries and soda, and adding a side salad that comes with the dressing in a separate cup.
I won’t mention the onion rings.
The other day, chicken looked like a good choice to accompany leftover minestrone. I can only take so much bland in one week, and as I gazed at the package of boneless thighs, I realized I could deep-fry them one at a time in the same amount of oil I would use to saute the whole batch at once. This is wok-think in action. I let the meat come to room temperature, dusted it with flour, and cooked it hot and fast in olive oil.
As the pieces came out of the oil, I set them into the small rectangular glass baking dishes that I use to store leftovers, gave them a good grind of black pepper, and parked them in the oven that was set on “Keep Warm”. I did something else for an hour and a half and then sliced and served the chicken alongside the warmed-over soup. It was delicious: long, slow baking generated an especially savory flavor in the meat and amplified the oils in the pepper.
There’s a principle at work here: configure the ingredients for a healthy meal to get a traditionally junky result and lose nothing in the process.