I hate wrestling my ancient slow-cooker out of the cabinet and I hate wrestling it back in just as much. So when the slow-cooker comes out, I like to make more than one recipe with it. And, of course, since I have a phobia of leaving it on when I'm not at home, Sunday was the perfect day to use it.
I decided to use the chicken backs that I picked up at the grocery store (only a dollar!) for Slow-cooker stock (p. 118). I couldn't imagine a stock recipe that would replace my beloved household poultry stock recipe but it was worth a try.
The recipe was easy--dump the chicken, celery, onions, carrots, peppercorn, and bouquet garni into a slow cooker, cover it with water, and cook it for about ten hours.
I then strained the stock and there it was!
Poultry stock. Delicious and probably really easy and a very worthwhile recipe if you regularly use a crockpot. If you are like me, it's much more efficient and considerably faster to make the stock on the stovetop.
I really like to make a big Sunday dinner meal to eat while watching The Amazing Race, especially if it leaves tasty leftovers for Monday's lunch. I found round steak in the clearance bin at the grocery store and thought that Chicken-fried steak (p. 475) would be a great main course.
I cut the steak into three pieces before pounding it, even though TJOC recommends cutting it after--I've found that the meat cuts easier that way, although I would probably get more similar sizes if I waited until after the pounding.
I actually enjoy pounding the steak--it's very cathartic and gets a lot of frustration out.
I combined milk and egg in one shallow container and flour, black pepper, salt, and red pepper in another container. A lot of pepper...delicious!
I coated each steak with the flour mixture, dredged it in the egg mixture, and then it went through the flour mixture again.
I shook off the excess and let the steaks dry on a cookie rack for a half hour. I popped a steak at a time in some vegetable oil (I would have used lard but I didn't feel like dealing with the mess). TJOC mentions that the steak would only take a few minutes but I was worried it wouldn't cook all the way through...
But no, it really only took a few minutes!
All three pieces were done within about ten minutes.
***PSA--The oil got very very very hot though--I wouldn't do this without an apron and be really careful about the bubbling oil***
I removed the steak and started to pour off most of the oil. This was harder than it seemed and I managed to pour hot bubbling oil all over the stove and down the burners, causing me to have to stop, disassemble the burners (it's an electric stove), and wash everything.
When I could finally move on, I added an onion to the hot oil.
The browned bits were more like black bits but I could figure out how to get the burned pieces out and leave the good, savory brown pieces in...
I added a little flour and whisked in some milk:
TJOC says that it should take 3-5 minutes to become thick--mine was thick within a minute, I think by 5 minutes it would have been like concrete.
Absolutely spectacularly delicious! When I told my friend Rachel that I made chicken fried steak, she said "well, you do really like it"--actually, I thought I only liked it when I was hungove. Apparently, I always like it--even sober! It was delicious and homey and I would recommend it to anyone--it was easy, too. I would definitely make it again!
I am so sick of the randomly selected list that I decided that I didn't care how it went with the meal, I was going to make something off of it. I thought Jamaican rice and peas (p. 356) would be as good as anything else.
I'd actually meant to make JRaP for about the last year and had all the ingredients and I just never did it.
I added my black-eyed peas (Fergie-free!), garlic, and water to a boil:
I then added unsweetened coconut milk, scallions, a habanero, some salt, and pepper, and brought it to a boil, and then added two cups of white rice.
It was cooked for about twenty minutes and became this:
I removed the pepper and the scallions and it was done! This recipe makes a TON of rice. And it's really really filling. It has a very light coconut flavor and was really tasty (and not spicy at all). Josh ate it for a couple weeks mixing in various proteins (tuna, spam, etc.).
The grocery store was having a sale on eggplants so I picked a few up and decided to make Fried eggplant II (p. 273). I wasn't very optimistic about this recipe since the baked eggplant slices weren't very impressive. It seemed perfect though, since I was already fully immersed in breading the chicken fried steak.
I combined eggs and olive oil in one bowl, flour in a second, and breadcrumbs in a third. I sliced the eggplant into approximately half inch slices.
The eggplant went from the egg mixture, to the flour mixture, to the breadcrumbs (my hands got extremely messy but it was kind of fun) and then they dried on a cookie rack for a half hour. I then heated some olive oil up in my skillet:
They cooked for a few minutes and then were flipped:
Absolutely delicious! Crisp and buttery on the outside, creamy on the inside--and they reminded me how much I like eggplant. And they were really fast! A great side dish and a really great idea if you have an eggplant (and eggplant plant?) in your garden (I'm talking to you, Rachel!).