Since the restaurant closed I’ve been cooking a lot at home. A lot. And it’s a very different experience. Instead of a well organized refrigerated walk-in closet filled with a huge choice of proteins, produce, sauces, dressings, and dairy, I now have a (dis)organized refrigerator filled with many fewer animal proteins, more vegetables and an extremely eclectic collection of condiments. Years ago when I first started catering I was surprised by the amount of condiments some of my clients had. They took up most of the room in the refrigerator. Now I am that person. Olives of all kinds? Check. Asian pastes and sauces? Check. Italian pastes and sauces? Check. Pickled Everything? Check. I find that I am now relying on this extensive condiment collection more than ever.
So last night’s dinner was very simple but a big hit. The central punch of flavor was a homemade condiment of thin strips of roasted peppers mixed with thinly sliced red onions then tossed with a bit of red wine vinegar, salt and oregano. The mixture was originally used on a hoagie style sandwich and had sat a few days in the fridge which allowed the flavors to marry and mellow a bit. I had some frozen boneless chicken thighs in the freezer. So I dusted the thighs in rice flour and browned them in olive oil. Then I added some homemade tomato sauce, the pepper-onion mix and as the final touch some stuffed large green Spanish olives I bought at Whole Foods. Some of the olive are stuffed with cheese, others with garlic or almonds.
I allowed the mixture to braise with the addition of a bit of water to loosen it all up. It was a smash hit. The piquant punch of the pepper-onion mix and the meaty sour of the olives brought the chicken to life. The veg on the plate is simply fresh peas sauteed with onion and guanciale browned in olive oil. There you have it. Dinner. I wonder what I’m making tonight?