We Are Rounding the Corner Toward Spring

This week's 'Gahhhh! What's for Dinner?' is a winter send-off

Thanks for visiting The Bittman Project, a place where food is everything (or pretty close).


It’s inevitable: Some days you haven’t planned anything to cook, the afternoon sneaks up on you, and all you can do is throw your hands up and say, “Gahhhh! What’s for dinner?” For those times when you need something fast, easy, and tasty, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few recipes to help you navigate this week.

One-Pot Stroganoff

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 40 minutes

The best throwbacks to the 1960s family cooking, Mark writes — like the Americanized version of this iconic Russian beef-and-sour-cream stew — should remain simple and hearty. I swapped dill for parsley and used perhaps too much sour cream.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • Salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons paprika

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

  • 12 ounces dried egg noodles

  • 1/2 cup sour cream

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Instructions

1. Put the butter in a large pot over medium heat. When it foams, add the beef, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, and breaking up any large pieces until it’s no longer pink and brown in places, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and jammy, 5 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the flour and cook, stirring frequently, until the flour coats the meat mixture and turns golden, 2 or 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and paprika and stir until fragrant. Pour in 4 cups water, add the Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of salt, and bring to a boil.

3. Add the noodles, and reduce the heat, so the mixture bubbles gently. Cook, stirring occasionally until the noodles are tender but not mushy, 6 to 10 minutes, depending on their thickness. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more Worcestershire if you like. Serve garnished with the dill.

—Recipe from Dinner for Everyone

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Winter Squash, Braised and Glazed

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 45 minutes

The braised-and-glazed collection in How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian allows you to try this technique for a handful of vegetables: turnips, parsnips, carrots, beets, radishes, waxy potatoes. Squash gets a little fuzzy, and if I were to use this technique with squash again, I’d treat squash like meat and reverse the steps, using the hot pan to brown the squash, then braise it. However you decide to cook it, the squash tastes delicious. You can season this simply, with salt and pepper. Or experiment if you’d like, with chopped nuts; or a quarter cup of miso; swapping olive oil with butter, and adding honey. I used hot pepper and mint, my go-to squash seasoning. No matter what kind of squash you have on hand, the recipe will work with any variety.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 1 1/2 pounds of winter squash, any kind, peeled and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch cubes

  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock or water

  • Salt and pepper

  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

  • A dash of hot pepper flakes (optional)

  • A couple sprigs of mint, chopped (optional)

Instructions

1. Put the oil and garlic in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. When the garlic begins to color, add the squash and stock and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Cook, stirring once or twice, until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

2. Uncover the pan and raise the heat to medium-high. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally and stirring less often until all the liquid is evaporated and the squash has begun to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn the heat back down to low and cook until the squash is as browned and crisp as you like. Taste and adjust the seasoning, garnish with the parsley, and serve.

— Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Vegetarian, Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition

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Poached Boneless Chicken With Leeks

Makes: 4 servings
Time: 30 minutes

Here’s a recipe that must be served with good bread or a soup spoon to get every drop of sauce. Poached boneless thighs are the less traditional choice, with results that are richer and pleasantly chewy. Double the quantities, and you’ll have plenty of chicken for sandwiches and salads throughout the week.

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons butter or olive oil

  • 2 leeks, washed well and chopped, including some of the light green part, or 1 onion, chopped

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine or water

  • 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock or water

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken breasts, tenders, or thighs

  • Salt and pepper

  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Instructions

1. Put 2 tablespoons of butter or oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the butter foams or the oil is hot, add the leeks and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, stock, and bay leaves; bring to a boil and cook for a minute or 2.

2. Add the chicken in a single layer and adjust the heat so the liquid bubbles gently. Cover and cook, undisturbed, until the center of the breasts are opaque or only slightly pink, 5 to 6 minutes for breasts, 3 to 4 minutes for tenders, and 7 to 9 minutes for thighs. Remove the chicken from the liquid and keep warm.

3. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until about 3/4 cup remains, 5 to 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-low and add the remaining butter or oil, a bit at a time. If you’re using oil, add it gradually, stirring vigorously with the back of a spoon.

4. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Return the chicken to the sauce to heat through. Remove the bay leaves, garnish with parsley, and serve.

— Recipe from How to Cook Everything: Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition

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