You'll notice that my CSA posts have only odd numbers. That's because I pick up a large basket of veggies every other week. It's the perfect amount of food for me and Dan, with enough to spare for one or two IYSTD's (Invite Yourself to Dinners). So let's get two topics out of the way before we proceed: storage and supplemental shopping lists.
I'm not going to go into great detail about how to properly store your veggies because it's already been covered extremely well here. I will say that plastic baggies are by far the worst and most wasteful way to keep vegetables; I'm a big fan of eight and 12 ounce mason jars, multi-size deli containers and glass snapware. All three are BPA-free, last for ages, plus they stack and freeze well. I'm looking forward to trying bee's wrap, but of course, you can achieve a similar effect in most circumstances by placing a plate and a jar of pickles on top of a bowl. It's basically a crime to let beautiful produce or a beautiful meal go bad because you don't time or proper storage on hand, but let's get real: it's a crime we all commit every now and then and I ain't about mandatory sentencing. Make a point to forgive yourself on the spot when it happens and pay your penance by giving the spoiled goods back to nature via your compost bin.
Now on to the fun stuff: carbs! That's mostly what I buy at the grocery store to round out the meals I make with CSA produce- brown or white basmati rice, farro, fresh frozen ramen noodles, frozen sprouted corn tortillas, tortilla chips, sourdough bread, lentils, black beans, potatoes and sweet potatoes. I also usually grab milk or buttermilk, eggs, lemons, one type of nut or seed, one type of cheese, shallots, onions, garlic, ginger and a protein such as Short Mountain Cultures black eyed pea tempeh. And don't forget condiments! My kitchen is never without dijon and whole grain mustard, sesame oil, hot sauce, kimchi, miso paste, honey, a couple kinds of vinegar, olive oil and grapeseed oil. Meat is a rarely on my list (read Eating Animals if you haven't already!), but when it is I go for sustainably raised, cheap cuts that can do double duty. Bone-in chicken thighs or leg quarters are a favorite, simply because they have lots of connective tissue and can be used to make stock after the meat is eaten.
I've been planning to do an outdoor IYTD with chicken and cabbage salad since I picked up my CSA share a week and a half ago because cabbage is an extra patient vegetable and as you'll remember, I quick pickled the carrots to extend their patience. I did a truly piss poor job of inviting people and my big, backyard to-do turned out to be just me and my dear friend, my first ever chef friend, Max Clement. He came by and wrote this recipe for buttermilk herb dressing (aka RANCH) and kept our chicken from burning while I ran inside a dozen different times. Max happens to make a great grilled cabbage and pickled peanut salad at the restaurant where he works in Philly, but mine is inspired by Nashville local John Stephenson, who was the first chef I interviewed about a thousand years ago when I was working for an online magazine that was um, maybe a drug front. He's been at the helm of a few very beloved kitchens in town and of all his food I've eaten over the years, maybe my favorite dish of his is a grilled Napa wedge with roasted carrots, walnuts, smoked gouda and buttermilk dressing.
Napa cabbage is the perfect candidate for grilling; it has a mild flavor, nice crunch, and it holds up better than romaine over high heat. The crimped edges of its leaves pick up just the right amount of char and and smokiness from the grill, which taste so, so, so good with creamy buttermilk dressing. And its patient nature does not fade away with the heat of the coals- leftovers will taste just as good for several days after you assemble this salad.
This meal is pictured with grilled sweet potatoes, which you can make by slicing 1/2" rounds, blanching them in boiling water for 2-3 minutes, then throwing them on the grill for 5-7 minutes per side with a little salt and oil.
Basic Grilled Chicken
4 to 6 pounds bone in, skin on chicken
3 cups buttermilk
1T kosher salt
1T raw honey
1T dijon mustard
1T vinegar based hot sauce such as Frank's
1. Whisk together salt, honey, mustard and hot sauce, followed by buttermilk.
2. Pour marinade over chicken in a large casserole dish. Cover and let sit in the fridge for at least eight hours, or up to 48.
3. Light your coals and distribute them so that most of them are on one side of the grill. No need to rinse or pat chicken dry- just place it on the side with little to no coals, skin side down. Close the lid and leave for 15ish minutes, then flip (they will look pale- that's okay!), leaving chicken on the cool side of the grill. Close the lid and leave it another 15ish minutes.
4. Take the chicken's temperature. You're looking for it to be oh, in the 145-150 degree range. Move chicken to the hot side of the grill and keep a close eye on it. You'll want to flip it around a few times, but it should get a really nice golden brown color with a little char after 5 or so minutes.
5. Make sure the middle of the chicken registers at least 160- the temperature will continue to climb as you let it rest another 10 minutes before serving.
Grilled Napa Wedge
-serves eight as a side dish
one large Napa cabbage
one 8oz jar pickled carrots (see Week One)
a small amount of something fatty and salty, such as a couple ounces good blue cheese or 3-4 pieces thick cut bacon (pictured: beef bacon)
buttermilk herb dressing- recipe follows*
1. If you're using bacon, go ahead and cook it to your liking.
2. Cut the cabbage into quarters lengthwise and brush the edges with bacon grease or grapeseed oil. Lift open the leaves a little bit and sprinkle in some kosher salt.
3. Grill cabbage on the cool side of the grill, turning once, for 20 minutes.
4. Transfer wedges to the hot side of the grill and let them sit for a couple minutes until just charred, flipping once.
5. Cut the cores off and chop remaining pieces in half. Cover with crumbled bacon, pickled carrots and dressing.
*If your friends or family are very into sauce, you'll want to double this recipe so that they can put it on the chicken and other sides.
Buttermilk Herb Dressing
-makes about a cup
1/2 cup good buttermilk
1/3 cup full fat greek yogurt
2T grated shallot
1/4 cup finely chopped herbs (think: parsley, basil, dill, tarragon)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix it all together!