Just so’s you know, I am backing up all my old Diaryland entries. I’m publishing them retroactively, so they shouldn’t show up in your RSS feed reader of choice. If they do, I apologize. But I need to get these off Diaryland before it goes belly-up. I have a feeling that site isn’t long for this world.
So this weekend I made the same bad decision I make every single weekend. In an effort to save money and feed my family home-cooked meals, I tend to make up the week’s menu on Sunday and trek to the commissary.
Therein lies the bad decision.
There is never any chicken on Sundays at the commissary. Sometimes there’s not even ground beef, though I haven’t been buying ground beef lately. I found out why this past Sunday, however. Apparently they can only order for two weeks at a time, and they have yet to figure out exactly how much they can sell in those two weeks. The meat guy says they had to throw away a few thousand dollars of meat after the holidays because it just didn’t sell. Obviously they can’t have that happen on a regular basis, but that’s why they should go with being able to order every week. The problem is, I don’t think they’ll ever be able to predict the quantities they need that far in the future. This base has an amazing turnover with the folks that are stationed here. Most are only here for ten months, and we get a new class at the War College every few months. New students mean new families, which means new needs.
How can you plan when your customers are turning over every few months? You can’t, and that’s why there is never any chicken at the commissary on Sundays. And by “no chicken,” I mean that there are no bone-in parts, like thighs and legs, or even whole chickens. Most of my recipes call for bone-in pieces since they’re so much more flavorful than boneless, skinless breast meat.
But you know, somehow I managed to come home from the commissary with everything I needed for this week’s menu. So the commissary didn’t have any thighs and legs for my Chicken a la cubana. Instead I bought a whole chicken and separated it into ten pieces my own self. And this time I didn’t cut myself on my poultry shears either!
Yes, I am accident-prone where sharp implements are concerned. Last week I had cut up a chicken without bloodshed, but later as I put a dish in the dishwasher, I jammed my thumb down onto my poultry shears, which led to a copious shedding of blood. I also joked with my friend that if I died of salmonella poisoning, she would know how it happened. Oops.
I also picked up some frozen chicken thighs for just $3 for 40 ounces, which came down to about 60¢ per pound, even cheaper than I can buy it fresh. I don’t yet know if they’ll be as delicious as the fresh thighs, but we’ll try them in the recipe for oven-roasted chicken thighs with carrots, potatoes, and parsnips. I know the carrots and parsnips will be delicious; they’re the ones I picked up at the farmers’ market this weekend.
Tonight’s dinner turned out really, really well — and was one of those deals where it’s stupidly easy but incredibly delicious. Both my kids asked for seconds. I’ve had the recipe for a long, long time, but just recently found it again.
Roasted Italian Sausages with Tomatoes and White Beans
2½ pounds sweet Italian sausage links (pork or turkey), cut into 2- or 3-inch pieces
3 pints cherry tomatoes
1 medium-large onion, cut into 1½-inch chunks
4 garlic cloves, sliced
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1½ Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
2 whole bay leaves
Salt and pepper
3 16oz cans white beans, such as cannelini, drained, reserving ½ cup of liquid
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and, five minutes before you are ready to put the food in, turn the oven on to 425 degrees.
Mix everything but the beans and their reserved liquid in a roasting pan. Set pan in oven. Roast until sausages are brown and tomatoes have reduced to a thick sauce, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, stir in beans and reserved liquid, and continue cooking until casserole has heated through, about 10 minutes longer. Remove bay leaves and transfer to a large serving bowl.
See?? Dead easy. I actually just sort of layered everything in the roasting pan and drizzled the oil and vinegar over the sausages and veggies before roasting. Adn I missed the whole part where I was supposed to cut the sausages, so I left them whole. They cooked through, so it didn’t really matter. But it was super, super good — and I will definitely be making this again.
Bonus? The commissary almost always has the ingredients for this any day I choose to stock up.