Stephen and I have been listening to each others’ stomachs rumble and roar outrageously for the last few weeks. And this time, it’s not because we’re smelling something delicious roasting in the oven or stewing on the range. It’s because we’ve turned into shameless piggies, grabbing, growling and shoving every edible goody that comes our way into our waiting, gaping maws. In addition to the massive munchfest, we’ve also been guzzling as many bubbling flutes of Champers and sweet, overflowing mugs of Tawny that are passed our way.
Unfortunately, neither of our constitutions are rugged enough to withstand the bacon and whiskey deluge with which we’ve been flooding our gullets. Time for temperance? Yes. With a dose of Underberg. One night several months ago, Stephen and I hit the peerlessly piggie and delicious Prime Meats; the bartender insisted on preparing us for our repast with a shot of Underberg, a German digestif bitter concocted from a secret recipe of herbs and matured for months in barrels made from Slovenian oak. Despite the copious amounts landjager, cervelat, roasted beef bone marrow, surkrut garnie, beef sauerbraten and cheese and herb spatzle we supped on, we felt glorious afterward — as if we’d consumed a prim little salad with grilled chicken, followed by a brisk walk.
As time passed and indigestion (after far less gluttonous meals) flared, we wondered what miracles the Franks wrought in their kitchen that prevented us from feeling the effects. And then we remembered the Underberg. I picked up a three-pack at Kalustyan’s and we experimented. It seems a single draught before a disgusting meal is all one needs to ward off the evil tummy voodoo.
We ordered a case.
We’re also trying to take our culinary hijinks down a notch. To that end, we are attempting to eat more low-fat protein and vegetables. But we don’t like eating prim little salads with grilled chicken and taking brisk walks around the neighborhood. Instead, we’re trying to find a happy medium between deep-fried trotters and steamed broccoli. This week, we ate Creamy (Chicken) Sausage Pasta, Parsnip French Fries and Super Easy Marinated Mixed Meat Kabobs.
Creamy (Chicken) Sausage Pasta
Makes 4-6 servings
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 4 links of chicken sausage with quasi-Italian adulterations along the lines of roasted peppers, garlic, etc. (or real Italian pork sausage)
- 2 shallots, minced
- 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/4 cup cream
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley
- 3 oz. Pecorino Romano, grated
- salt and pepper to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste
- 1o oz. whole wheat pasta, cooked following directions on the package, with tons of salted water
- Cook pasta according to package directions
- Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Throw sausage that has been sliced into coin-sized pieces into the hot oil and fry for about five minutes until golden brown. Add shallots and sun-dried tomatoes and cook until fragrant and warm. Add salt, pepper and red pepper.
- Deglaze with white wine and cook until most of liquid has evaporated. Add zest, cream and parsley. Cook until cream is incorporated.
- Toss sausage mixture with pasta, cheese and more salt and pepper to taste.
Nutritional breakdown for Creamy (Chicken) Sausage Pasta: 400 calories, 16 grams of fat. High in protein, iron, calcium.
Cost breakdown for Creamy (Chicken) Sausage Pasta: About $5, or $0.83 a serving, since I knew I would have almost all of the ingredients at home. (I bought the chicken sausage).
Verdict/In the Future: Stephen started squealing like a stuck, well, you know, when he saw chicken sausages in the fridge. “Pox! Pox on you and your sausages! Chicken sausages? What are you trying to do to me?” he huffed. He went on to mime being choked and poisoned and hopped up and down quite ineffectually a few times, much to the dog’s bemusement. Then he was out of breath, so I could kick him out of the kitchen and get cooking while he recovered from his strenuous bout of exercising on the couch. Non-pork sausages generally have the texture of pudding with half-dissolved pills and the flavor of stewed cardboard — but that’s because people don’t know how to prepare them. They need a bit of good fat (olive oil) and a dash of naughty fat (cream) to really express their full flavor and textural profile. Even Stephen admitted the finished product was delicious — and perfect for leftovers. The best thing about this dish is its simplicity and versatility. I grabbed a bunch of stuff that I already had in the fridge and seemed like it would go together, threw in the dreaded sausage, boiled some whole wheat pasta and voila! Dinner. I could swap the shallots for any other aromatic; use pine nuts, olives or capers instead of sun-dried tomatoes for an extra briny or fatty punch; use ricotta or mascarpone instead of cream and swap out the herbs, cheese and type of pasta. Or remove an ingredient entirely. Chicken stock could work instead of wine. Red instead of white. Etc. The possibilities are endless, and with a few basic techniques and ingredient building blocks in place, you can tweak this recipe ad infinitum to the vagaries of your whims and pantry.
Parsnip French Fries
Makes 4 servings
- 8 peeled parsnips, cut very thin, lengthwise (so they resemble long ribbons)
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- sea salt, to taste
- Ketchup, for serving
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Place the parsnips in a layer or two, spread thin, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Pour the olive oil in a ramekin or other shallow dish. Using a pastry brush, carefully apply a thin layer of oil on all of the parsnips. Salt them generously. Flip them over with tongs and repeat.
- Cover the parsnips with another sheet of parchment paper. Put another baking sheet on top so that the slices are pressed thin.
- Roast for 45 minutes, or until parsnips are golden brown. (I love burnt toast flavors so I make sure some of them are as black, thin and crispy as charred pepper skins).
Nutritional breakdown for Parsnip French Fries: 175 calories and 6 grams of fat. Good source of potassium, Vitamin C, folate, fiber and manganese.
Cost breakdown for Parsnip French Fries: $3 or $0.75 a serving.
Verdict/In the Future: I was more nervous about the Parsnip French Fries than the chicken sausage; Stephen tends to pitch fits whenever I serve him a vegetable that isn’t accompanied by a giant puddle of cheese or a hunk of meat. Shockingly, he loved them — though a few were undercooked and that most certainly did not work. Next time, I’ll use my mandoline to cut them so that each slice is uniform and will therefore cook uniformly.
Super Easy Marinated Mixed Meat Kabobs
Makes 6 servings
- 2 boned chicken breasts, 1 steak and 2 pork chops (or any combination) cut into 1-inch sized chunks
- 4 TBSP minced onion
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, oregano or basil, minced
- 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Mix lemon aromatics, herbs, lemon juice and mustard in large mixing bowl. Whisk in olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Season the meat chunks. Throw in bowl of marinade, stir so that all the meat is covered. Cover with plastic wrap and put in fridge, until ready for use, 45 minutes to 3 hours.
- Soak wooden skewers in cold water so they don’t burn when cooked.
- Preheat broiler.
- Put meat chunks on wooden skewers. Broil for about 10 minutes, or until cooked through. (I leave the steak slightly rare — if you like it very rare, pop it in the oven after you’ve been cooking the chicken and pork for 4 to 6 minutes).
Nutritional breakdown for Super Easy Marinated Mixed Meat Kabobs: 175 calories and 9 grams of fat. Great source of protein, zinc and Vitamin B12.
Cost breakdown for Super Easy Marinated Mixed Meat Kabobs: $13 or $2.16 per serving.
Verdict/In the Future: This is so easy, straight-forward, simple and yummy. And it’s a perfect pre-dinner snack on a Sunday afternoon. I love tossing the leftover meat in salads, stir fries and even on grilled cheese sandwiches later in the week.