Here we are with five more dishes from Mark Bittman’s 25 Favorite Minimaist Recipes. Now that I’ve made 20 of them, I can look back a little. Most of the dishes have been quite good and have come together quickly. And when I make a dish for this project, it often stands out in an otherwise humdrum week of cooking. If I see a watermelon now, I definitely think of the Watermelon and Tomato salad. It’s not just a dessert or snack to me anymore. So a couple of these dishes will probably become standards for me at some point.
Braised Turkey was lovely and yields enough turkey for an army. The mushrooms and italian sausage lend great flavor to this, too. The turkey breasts came out beautifully thanks to the short cooking time, but the thighs had dried out by the end, like the braised duck legs in Carl and Mark part 2. That was frustrating. I still feel like I don’t understand how to slow-braise dark, tough meat so that it falls off the bone, rather than being dry and chewy. I think it needs to stay wetter (maybe be basted?) and probably cook for less time (the above turkey thigh cooked for 2.5 hours).
Spaghetti With Fried Eggs. The yolks and olive oil make this work; what a nice combo. I love the chewy texture of the spaghetti with the silkiness of the sauce. The other pantry sauces in this Minimalist are worth checking out, too.
Fried Chicken With Ketchup was rather Happy Mealish, but in the best way. It hits all of the primal flavor buttons: sweet, tangy, salty, fatty, a little spicy, and lots of umami. The sauce is really ketchup, caramelized a little, with sauteed garlic and oil. We made sushi rice to go with it, but ended up eating the chicken right out of the pan before the rice was finished. Then we ate the leftovers cold right out of the fridge.
Watermelon and Tomato Salad is a keeper. I made it twice, and the first time my guest asked for the recipe on the spot. The second time didn’t work out so well because the tomatoes were not great, the sherry vinegar was weak (5% acidity — not 7-8% as it should be), and I put too much watermelon juice into the dressing. Also, the watermelon in this dish starts to weep immediately, so I think the key is to handle it gently and serve it right away. As with any salad, I suppose.
Red Pepper Puree is in the fridge right now. How can you go wrong with red peppers and olive oil? That was a rhetorical question. You can’t. It’s great, and I have a lot of plans for it: on sandwiches, in salads, on grilled veggies, on pasta, etc. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble gobbling this stuff up over the coming days.