[Update 1/16: Winners have been chosen; their dishes are at the bottom of this post.]
Two and a half years ago, I wrote a post on staple meals because I’m fascinated by what people eat at home when they don’t want to think about what to make, what their go-to, middle-of-the-week meal is, because they are invariably quick, efficient, economical, and well, good enough to eat once a week forever. (I think they also tell us a lot about who we are).
The woman who has been cutting my hair for 12 years, three kids 16 and younger, husband not always at home, an “I don’t have a lot of time” mom. She makes chicken legs on a small rotisserie, and will do lamb or steak, with beans and rice. Soup once a week with what’s in the fridge (lamb or chicken bones for the brown, with leftover, pasta, rice, veg). Fresh vegetables are hardest because of the prep time she told me.
For us, it’s a stir fry, or THE best all purpose meal, roast chicken. Roast chicken, baked potato and baked cauliflower with brown butter, all thrown into the oven at the same time and then, well, what to do? It takes an hour, what on earth to do with all that time? It’s up to you.
Afterward, I pick beans and boil them, though they can be roasted too, with whole cloves of garlic, cumin and red pepper.
I like to hear about those special preparations for holidays or fancy dinner parties—the home-cured ham, the torchon au foie gras, the butter poached lobster with beets and leeks—but how we eat day to day, what we cook for our family in the middle of the week, is what interests me.
In order to learn more about what we eat, I’m asking again, with an incentive. Go try to buy my book Ruhlman’s Twenty on Amazon. Not to be had, alas (sold out, back in stock 2/22). But I’m giving away three copies here to those who describe their best staple meal in comments below. Please be more specific than “roast chicken” or “steak fajitas,” and list the entire menu, details of cooking or seasoning are welcome but not required. If you want to be in the drawing, leave an actual email (it won’t leave my site, promise) so that I can contact you if you’re one of the randomly chosen three. (I must add with my apologies that I can only ship within the US, customs and costs are too much; but feel free to comment anyway, I still want to know what you eat in India or England or Australia!) If you want to enter more than once, you may but it has to be a bonafide staple meal. Also, please note if it fits a special category: vegetarian, gluten-free, or vegan. Winners will be announced here and on Twitter via my account @ruhlman on Monday.
So: what’s for dinner?
Update 1/16: Comments for the giveaway are now closed. Many thanks to all for making this such a fascinating ride through American dinner time.
The following winners have been chosen by Random.org:
Bradley January 16, 2012 at 7:38 am
As for a recipe I… -sweat about half of a yellow onion diced. -add some garlic and chili flake -add 1 cup arborio or carnaroli -stir and toast or risollet the rice -add about 1/3 c wine -reduce wine -cover with stock -cook over med high heat adding stock as needed throughout -When the rice is done I add whatever I want: peas, mushrooms, radicchio, etc. -I finish the rice with a lot of butter 3T or more and whatever cheese I have if any, I
I cook my rice on pretty high heat and I can crank it out in 25 minutes easy. I dont stir the hell out of it because I buy good rice and the starch is released as the rice is self agitated by the bubbling.
Judie B. January 12, 2012 at 11:03 am
Since my husband’s heart by-pass surgery, I try to serve fish twice a week. He loves spicy things,so I make up big batches of artichoke caponata and puttanesca and divide them up into small freezer containers. Depending on the fish purchased at the fish store, one of these sauces will be served with it ( usually halibut, grouper or swordfish) which has been grilled or pan sauteed. First, we always have a mixed green salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, red onion and beans (usually black) tossed with my home-made shallot/garlic vinaigrette. Veggies (whatever looked good at the store) cooked in the microwave are served on the side. The second fish we always have is salmon. My favorite way to prepare that is to coat it with a mixture of equal parts Dijon and maple syrup and then roll it in finely chopped pecans and pan saute. Michael, we love Cleveland; we used to live in Chagrin Falls.
Josh January 11, 2012 at 10:57 am
Our go-to meal: skirt steak tacos with caramelized onions. Only a handful of ingredients (skirt steak, chipotles, garlic, onions, tortillas), most of which we have on hand all the time. We make a marinade by blending the garlic and the chipotles en adobo. Let that sit on the steak for 15-20 minutes. Cook it quickly under a broiler, rest, cut against the grain. Meanwhile, caramelize a couple white onions. Serve it all with warm tortillas, good beer, and, if we’re feeling ambitious, homemade guacamole. It’s an awesome, simple meal.
The other go-to would be lemon pasta. We make a vinaigrette of fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, parm, good olive oil. Cook whatever pasta we have on hand and toss it in the dressing.
If you liked this post on Staple Meals, check out these other links:
- Stay at Stove Dad is a blog about dads who cook for their families written by John Donohue, a New Yorker editor, journalist, and sometime cartoonist.
- Looking for some new recipes and interesting articles, have a look at Jaden’s Steamy Kitchen.
- 2011 food trends shared by Food Tech Connect.
© 2012 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2012 Donna Turner-Ruhlman. All rights reserved