From Margot’s Table to Yours
Cooking for ONE the Short and Easy Way
I’ve been single (alone most people would say I guess) for most of my life and frankly, I’ve enjoyed that state. I’ve had fabulous guy friends who have popped in and out of my life and that’s been good too. The best companions though I think have been my kitties and doggies. Well, I won’t go into that but I will go into cooking for one. This column is not for a person who doesn’t enjoy food or getting in the kitchen to tend to the food creation activity just a bit. For those poor souls who do not, there is no help that I can offer except to suggest that they get a good mate or hired help who does enjoy cooking creativity and hopefully he/she will enjoy their culinary endeavors or to just forget the kitchen altogether and dine out. That’s OK. Luckily, we truly are not all created equal=boring— in spite of that famous American aspiration that was eventually evolved by our forefathers.
When I shop, I often find meats, poultry or fish on a special pricing so I do try to economize and buy those. I do love lamb particularly the delicious Idaho variety, however usually it can be quite pricey; but hoorah the other day I found two fairly thick shoulder arm chops, bone in, perfectly priced. So, I fixed one chop one way and saved the other chop for the “other” way during the same week. That way, I don’t get bored with left over’s because I’ve made myself two different dishes without having to freeze and possibly loose some taste.
Below are the two ways I prepared them.
Lamb Stew with Peppers and Red Fingerling Potatoes
- 1 half pound thick lamb shoulder arm chop, bone in-cut into one inch pieces and use the bone as well—salted and peppered to your taste
- 1 red pepper or if your wish you could use a yellow one-washed, cored and sliced long ways
- 1/2 Yellow onion—thinly sliced
- 1 or 2 garlic cloves-peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 or 5 fingerling red potatoes sliced thick or even cut in half
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon flour
- 1 Cup hot vegetable bouillon
- 1/4 Cup dry white wine or white vermouth
- 1 or 2 bay leaves
- 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary or half teaspoon dry
- S&P to taste
- In a heavy large frying pan that can be lidded, over medium high heat stove top, warm your oil and then add the lamb pieces. Sauté the lamb until the pieces are nice and brown (about 5 minutes). Set the lamb aside on a plate.
- In the same skillet add the third tablespoon of olive oil and add the onion, garlic, pepper and potatoes; over medium heat, sauté the veggie mixture and stir it often until the veggies are browned and glistening (about 5 minutes). At this point, add the 1 Tablespoon flour and continue stirring until the white of the flour has disappeared.
- Then add the vegetable bouillon. wine/vermouth, bay leaves, rosemary, S&P to taste and the lamb.
- Cover closely and cook over low heat( it should simmer continually) for about 1 hour or until the veggies and meat are done. If you notice that the liquid has reduced too much, add some more water.
- I serve this with a nice salad.
- Variations for this dish could be the following:
- Instead of potatoes, omit the peppers and use white beans. I usually make my own however, you could use well rinsed canned ones. Make sure that the skillet you are using is oven proof because at the end of your one hour stove top, you are to place some bread crumbs on top and Parmesan if you wish, and put it in a 350 oven for 5-10 minutes until golden. Serve with crusty French bread. Voila-instant cassoulet.
- You can omit the peppers and use mushrooms instead. You can even add parsley, celery and carrots.
- You can substitute vegetable broth with chicken broth.
- You can use red wine instead of white.
- You can substitute white rice for the beans or potatoes.
- It’s nice to be versatile and use your imagination. Cooking is so creative.
(The Other Chop) One Half-Pound Lamb Chop Grilled and Garnished with Sautéed Mushrooms
- Either grill your chop in the oven under the broiler or use a grilling pan. I usually S&P my chops to my liking before grilling and I don’t grill them too long. I like my lamb on the medium rare side so I take them off the heat when they are still rare and let them sit to perfection.
- Mushrooms have always been one of my favorite sides. I’ll buy several cartons of them sliced and/or unsliced and then bring them home to sauté in a combination of butter and olive oil. Often I add chopped garlic to the combination. Then I’ll freeze a whole bunch of them cooked like that to save for future easy use; and the rest I’ll use for my prepared dinner. For my lamb chops, I piled a bunch of mushrooms on top.
- I sided this dish with some excellent fresh Spinach that I had washed, rinsed and cooked in a pot stovetop just with it’s rinse water for no more than 1-2 minutes, drained and topped with shredded Parmesan.
- Then I felt like a bit of rice. Rice cookers are very easy however, if you don’t have one, I use the micro. My rice always turns out perfect and it’s easy to store the pot with the rice in it in the frig. Less washing for that dinner. I like long grained rice. I usually make rice for 2 because it’s so easy to have as a left over. So, for 2 servings, in a microwave pot I place 1/2 Cup rice with 1 1/3 C. water, cover the pot and on micro high, cook it for 5 minutes. Then I turn my micro heat to about three-quarter strength and cook the rice for another 20-25 minutes. Usually it’s just perfect then. Every micro varies in temp, so check if the 75% heat is correct for your rice cooking.
For easy access and printing of this and past recipes, visit Margot’s blog http://blog.tempinnkeeper.com Call Margot for personal cooking help or hosting
Margot is a self-taught enthusiastic & passionate cook. Having been an inn-keeper for 5 years at her own inn, she accumulated a lot of good recipes which she loves to share.