Hey guys this week’s episode of basics is not only sponsored by Blue Apron, it is itself a love letter to quick weeknight meals. Blue Apron is a meal kit delivery service that’s a great option for anybody who’s trying to cook more, cook healthier, or cook more deliciously. The first hundred people to use the link in this video’s description to sign up for blue apron will get $50 off their first two weeks. We’ll get back to that later, for now let’s get down to basics….
Okay, so as far as weeknights a great place to start is the one pot meal I first posted this dish to Reddit like four years ago and it’s stuck by my side ever since. We’re starting by peeling and cubing 2 sweet potatoes pushing those aside so we can peel, core, and dice 2 granny smith apples. You want to use this or any other good baking Apple because we’re gonna be well, baking this Apple, so chop that up into similarly bite-sized pieces and we’re gonna mince up some fresh sage. So there we go, we got the foundation now let’s go build us a house. Into a lightly oiled ripping hot stainless steel or cast iron skillet we are placing four chicken thighs skin side down. We’ve already seasoned the skin side now we’re gonna season the meat with salt and freshly ground pepper and then we’re not touching these until they are deeply brown and pull away freely from the bottom of the pot.
Are they still stuck? Well ain’t done yet! Pace around nervously as we let the other side of the chicken get a little bit of color but we’re not trying to cook these through we’re just trying to crisp up the skin and we’re trying to get some of this stuff on the bottom of the pot. Y’all know what this is: bond. Right now it’s swimming in a whole bunch of extra chicken fast so we’re gonna drain off most of it, reserving about a tablespoon into which we are depositing our sweet potato and apple. We’re sauteing these over medium heat for about five to seven minutes. Again, not to cook them through just to give them some color and then we are deglazing with the good stuff: a little bit of bourbon. If you know what you’re doing and you’ve got a fire extinguisher nearby you can go ahead and flambé the rest of the liquor off but this is mostly just for showboating.
Doesn’t really do much for the flavor to this we’re going to add a little whisper of chicken stock just enough so that you can see it pooling underneath the potatoes and apples, we’re not trying to braise this thing we’re just trying to eventually create a sauce. Add the minced fresh sage and toss around let everybody get to know each other and then we’re bringing the chicken back to the party. Making sure that skin is not submerged in the liquid and then this guy’s going in a preheated 375 degree fahrenheit oven while we toast up some pecans. Then once the thickest part of the chicken thighs have reached 175 degrees Fahrenheit these guys are ready for extradition I’m gonna give this a little squeeze of lemon but I hope you can see how you can change this up to make it your own.
You could swap the sweet potatoes and apples for root vegetables you could change out bourbon for white wine, or garnish with hazelnuts or almonds instead of pecans, add onions or shallots in the earlier stages instead of garnishing with chives. The basic concept here is did part cook your chicken by getting it nice and crisp and sautéing and deglazing whatever starches fruits or vegetables you have underneath in that sense it really all comes down to timing and an excellent exercise in timing is sheet pan dinners.
In this case we’re gonna do a starch, a vegetable, and a protein all on the same sheet pan in the same oven. For starch I’m going with halved baby Yukon Golds that I’m coating an olive oil, salt, and freshly ground pepper tossing to combine and then dumping onto a preheated sheet pan that I’ve had waiting in a 400 degree fahrenheit oven for about 20 minutes placing them cut side down this is gonna help them pick up a little bit of extra color and they’re going in the oven first as they take the longest to cook about 40 minutes all told. That gives us 25 minutes to prep our vegetables in this case: asparagus. I’m using the old bend to snap method which after a Google search I discovered is a myth so just cut these… tossing with olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper. Then we’re whipping up a quick sauce for our protein in this case: salmon. So I’m gonna go with some crushed garlic, the juice of one lemon; which you might notice I pressed and rolled there.. That actually helps the juice come out more easily when squeezed, a nice little teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a good glug of olive oil, some kosher salt, and freshly ground pepper.
There are so many different directions that you could take this little vinaigrette but this one responds particularly well to the heat of the oven. Next up, we’re contending with our salmon fillets which I’m just gonna make sure are free of bones… Fish mongers don’t always get all the bones so always give your fillets a little squeeze before generously coating in your vinaigrette and now we’re scooting the potatoes off of the side which you can see if picked up some lovely brown color and since the salmon and asparagus have roughly the same cook time about- 15 minutes they’re getting arranged side by side on the sheet pan and back into the oven they go until the salmon registers 125 degrees Fahrenheit at its thickest point.
Now if any elements of the sheet pan dinner is undercooked just remove the finished elements put them under foil keep them warm until everybody is ready to go. Garnish a little bit of parsley like I did if you want; and you’ve got yourself one super easy super quick super delicious weeknight dinner. Now there is a whole other strata of so the easy weeknight dinners that we haven’t yet discussed and that is: pasta. So we’re gonna try out blue aprons creamy pesto cavatelli and this is an excellent exercise in ‘mise en place,’ making sure that we have everything in its place.
Let me just read the directions here… All right, so we’re starting by taking the zucchini cutting it into quarters lengthwise, and then slicing into manageable mouth sized pieces. Likewise with a carton of cocktail tomatoes we’re cutting these into quarters, but it’s a sliding scale based on what’s a reasonable size for your mouth, something that we’re chopping down to sub mouth sized pieces is garlic. Three cloves worth, finely chopped and now we’re ready to move over to the stove. Just got to get everything off our knife… Here there we go, we’ve got a nonstick skillet heating over medium-high heat into it goes a splash of olive oil and we’re starting with our zucchini. Tossing it just a coat and then letting it sit so it gets some nice brown flavorful facets while we negotiate our pasta. Boiling for I think it said seven minutes we got some color going on the zucchini so we’re getting that a little toss, and firing the flames and then I’m deviating from protocol here and adding the tomatoes because I want them to get a little bit cooked. I personally like not totally raw tomatoes in my pasta. Then, we’re adding the garlic and some red pepper flake if desired- if you want a little bit of heat- tossing that until fragrant and then draining our pasta reserving one-half cup of pasta water if you haven’t learned by now pasta water is the stuff from which dreams are made.
We’re adding both the pasta and the pasta water to the skillet adding the little included pat of creme fraiche and stirring rounds of those flavors so they can get to know each other, and that pasta can soak up all that delicious flavorful liquid. Now just before killing the heat we’re going to add about a cup of baby spinach. We want this to just wilt from the heat of the pan so give it a little toss kill the heat, and then we’re adding the pesto. We want to avoid actively heating pesto as that dulls the flavor of the basil. So we’re just starting that making sure everything is incorporated and most importantly tasting for seasoning.
We are then seasoning to taste, tossing to combine, and plating up for dinner. As you can see blue apron once again saves the day with quick beautiful meals featuring instructions you can follow and ingredients you can pronounce.. and again the first hundred people to sign up using the link in this video’s description will get $50 off their first two weeks. I hope you guys try making these meals for yourselves put your own spin on it and see how lovely and fresh a meal you can make fast than it takes to order a pizza. .