Lunch, fresh off the stove (well, still on the stove).
Sorry for dark lighting!
Chicken Soba with Mushroom Garlic Reduction
1/2 tub of crimini mushrooms, washed and quartered
1/2 red onion, diced
4-5 cloves of garlic (I like my garlic), smashed
1-2 handfuls shredded roasted chicken meat
Buckwheat soba noodles
1-2 tbsp. butter
Low sodium chicken broth
Dry red wine
Yesterday I opened my fridge and pulled out everything that was open and consumable (goodbye, icky cucumber). I didn’t think, I just grabbed. “Everything must go. Everything!!” There was half an onion, some mushrooms, a dwindling rotisserie chicken, half a lemon, and a nearly empty box of chicken broth. There was also half a bottle of wine on the counter that was no longer drinkable.
I wanted a lunch that tasted fresh and had a lot of flavor without putting me to sleep. Out came the soba noodles, which I love eating in a variety of ways. I brought a pot of water to boil.
I decided to do a quasi-pan sauce with the mushrooms. I say quasi because instead of searing meat, I would use onions. I started by sweating the onions in the butter over medium high heat until they started to leave a dark brown crust on the bottom of the pan. In went some chicken broth, which acted as a deglazer. After scraping up the brown bits, I added the mushrooms and garlic, cooking over medium to medium high heat. I alternated between adding chicken broth and red wine. I kept the pan hot enough to let the sauce reduce but not so hot that the sauce would entirely evaporate. Everything turned a purple chestnut color.
While the sauce simmered, I had cooked and drained the noodles. When the mushroom sauce was dark and a bit thickened, I added the noodles to the pan, tossing them with the sauce. Then I plated the pasta and squeezed the half lemon over the entire thing.
I like using up my leftovers, and I’m happy when I can find a perfect use for that last bit of onion, or last squeeze of lemon. Lemons are great to squeeze onto anything-pasta, oatmeal, eggs, salad, meat, tea…anything that can use brightness. Wine and broth of any kind are also my new friends. They build a better base of flavor for anything you make. I now buy wine, stock, and lemons on a regular basis, regardless of what I have planned that week. I don’t buy expensive wine for cooking. I am happy with the $2-3 selection from Trader Joe’s. As for broth, it can get pretty pricey to buy those cardboard cartons, but thankfully, making your own stock is both easy and economical. Just save your vegetable bits and meat bones (ok, well there is more to it than that, but this is the gist of it)! And as for lemons, ah, well, there’s nothing I can do about that. Is there a dwarf lemon tree that produces at least a bag of lemons per week? I didn’t think so.
And don’t underestimate soba noodles. They cook very quickly (three minutes or so, as opposed to seven or eight for Italian pasta), have a nice flavor, and are satisfying without leaving you feeling sluggish. And they are versatile! They can be eaten with tsuyu with some seaweed on top, or as a side along with an entrée.
Finally, I swear that my stainless steel All-Clad pan-the most recent addition to the kitchen, thanks to another very, very generous gift from Suzanne- has made a big difference in my food. Food heats evenly, meat sears, vegetables caramelize. It’s good when food sticks a bit because those bits release in liquid and make a flavorful sauce. The recipe above would probably turn out very differently if attempted in a nonstick pan.