Monday, January 1, 2007

a new year's eve menu for you and your roommate

I'm not a big fan of new year's eve as a holiday. I'm like a new year's scrooge. I don't like holidays where everyone gets the I HAVE TO GO OUT AND ACT REALLY DANGEROUSLY AND LIKE I DO NOT NORMALLY ACT idea (see Halloween for adults, and increasingly St. Patrick's Day as well), and everything costs a million dollars. Also, I just don't think January 1st is more different from December 31st than any other day is to the one before it. Need to change something in your life? Decide the next day is a fresh start and just do it. There is nothing special about January 1st in and of itself. Is it your birthday? Then it's special for that reason. Is it the day you decide to quit smoking / eat healthier / exercise / lose weight / whatever - then that's what makes that day special. This "first day of the new year = big special fresh start" ... I'm not buying it. Maybe that makes me a crabby bitch. So be it. New year's eves that I have enjoyed included, but are not limited to: being a kid, when staying up to midnight is exciting, attending a small dinner party where everyone wore pajamas, and last night's - sitting on the couch, eating a fancy dinner with my roommate, teaching her to knit, and watching a CSI marathon.

Our menu consisted of smoky mustard greens with chicken drumsticks, barbecued pork loin, and potato-corn hash. Becki was in charge of the (delicious) pork, so I'll only blog about my contributions. Here's what we did:

1/3 lb. bacon

8 medium-sized red potatoes
1/4 onion, diced
2-3 T butter
2 c. frozen corn, thawed
kosher salt and black pepper

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 lb. mustard greens (really, any hearty coarse green thing will work here. I just wouldn't use spinach. But kale or something like that would be good.)
3 chicken drumsticks (or another kind of dark meat chicken)
1/3 c. dry white wine (or vermouth would be nice)
a few drops liquid smoke
1 T "better than bouillon" (this is a bouillon mix that comes in a jar and many flavors. I used vegetable last night because that's what I have, but any flavor would be great here. I've found it at Dominick's and the (evil, crappy, and over-priced) Hyde Park Co-op. If you can't find better than bouillon some regular old broth would be fine, but maybe add a little less wine so things don't get too sloppy.)
kosher salt and black pepper

Boil the red potatoes until they are about halfway done (so you can stick a fork in, but with difficulty). Strain them, and dump them into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking more. When they are cool enough to touch, chop them (with skins!) into bite-size chunks. Set aside.

Chop the bacon into strips about 1/2" wide and fry them over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When they're done to your liking, take them out of their grease with a slotted spoon and set them aside for later. Pour half the grease (carefully!) into another large skillet.

One of these skillets is for the potatoes, and one is for the greens.

Cook the onions in the bacon grease over medium-high heat until translucent. Add the chopped potatoes and season heartily with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. My potatoes sucked up that bacon grease pretty fast, so I ended up adding a couple tablespoons of butter to help prevent sticking and make the outsides nice and brown and crispy. When the potatoes are nearly done, add the corn, just so it gets heated through. Sprinkle with bacon pieces when done.

Cook the sliced onion over medium-high heat until golden. Add the chicken pieces with the skin side down in the bacon grease and cook until nicely browned. You may turn them to brown other sides as well, but the middle should be remaining uncooked. Add a generous sloshing of white wine, a sprinkling of liquid smoke, the bouillon, and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. When the chicken is browned to your liking but not fully cooked, add your greens and cover the pan to cook them down. No need to dry them after washing - the water will help cook them. When the greens are about half cooked, remove the lid and allow them to cook the rest of the way as some of the remaining liquid evaporates.

Share with roommates, get comfy, and enjoy! Fyi, the left-over potatoes make GREAT hash browns in the morning.