The book: “Dinner: The Playbook: A 30-Day Plan for Mastering the Art of the Family Meal” by Jenny Rosenstrach; 240 pages, $20. Published by Ballantine, 2014.
What you get: Along with 80 recipes, you get a tutorial on how to get out of a dinner rut and into a new routine using fresh ingredients and new flavors that will get your family through the school and work week. There’s advice on how to shop once a week, build meals around key ingredients and a workbook section in which to create your meal plan.
In her own words: “Instead of thinking about dinner as one more task to check off your endless to-do list, you will start thinking of it as your reward for checking the tasks off your endless to-do- list. Instead of thinking of it as a source of anxiety, you will think of it as a form of therapy, as the time of day when you finally get a breather. And instead of resenting the relentlessness of it …. you might even come to cherish dinner’s role as your family’s North Star.” — Jenny Rosenstrach
What we made:
SUMMER STEW WITH CHICKEN, CORN AND SAUSAGE (Page 124)
Time: 60 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
3 links smoked chorizo or andouille sausage, sliced into coins
6 or 7 boneless chicken thighs, salted and peppered
½ medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
2 to 3 cups fresh corn kernels
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
Chopped fresh basil leaves
In a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat, brown the sausage in the olive oil until crispy, about three minutes. Remove the sausage to a large plate and set aside. Raise the heat to medium-high and brown the chicken (in batches if necessary) on both sides until mostly cooked through, about 12 minutes total. Remove the chicken to the plate with the sausage. Turn down the heat to medium-low and add the onions, salt and pepper, red pepper flakes if using, and a little more oil if necessary. Stir until the onions are slightly wilted. Add the corn and tomatoes and stir until the vegetables release their juices.
Nestle the chicken and sausage among the vegetables, cover and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Sprinkle with the basil and serve in bowls or separate into individual components for the kid who doesn’t like things “mixed” and serve on a plate.
Our assessment: Take advantage of late summer’s bounty of fresh tomatoes, basil and corn on the cob, whether from your own garden, a farmers’ market or the grocery store (I bought four ears of corn for $1).
The time it takes to make this dish is well worth it — the taste is fabulous, with the onions and corn slightly caramelized. Plus, the dish makes great leftovers for the next day’s lunch or dinner.
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