I’ve recently become a particular variety of “homeless.” My husband and I (finally!) sold our condo in Uptown two weeks ago after being on the market a full 18 months (Eight.teen. Months. No joking.). It was our first home together, and although it feels faintly like the end of an era, we’re goofy with excitement over the prospect of owning an actual, honest-to-goodness house.
I could wax philosophical over the excitement of getting to do laundry on a whim (oh, the joys!), but I won’t bore you with such mundane details. The crux of this story is that for the month between selling our condo and buying our house, we’re living with my in-laws in the suburban boonies otherwise known as Stillwater.
While such a situation is not for the faint of heart, we feel pretty lucky, all things considered. But, just to hedge our bets, I offered to make Shabbat dinner our first week with the parents.
Requirements: Enough food to feed an undetermined number of guests (Would my brothers-in-law be there? What about their significant others?), and vegetables my 13-year-old sister-in-law and my husband would eat (damn picky eaters). Bonus points for using food currently on hand.
My menu: Baked chicken thighs with leeks in white wine, honey-orange glazed carrots, mashed squash and potatoes, and — of course! — challah. Many components, but all of them fall (more or less) into the assemble-and-heat category.
Making an effort goes a long way (particularly if it makes you look like a good little Jewish daughter-in-law, making Shabbat and all). We even did the dishes after dinner, just like moms like. Gold stars were awarded for practicality and frugality, since I used up frozen leftover chicken, as well as the carrots, potatoes, and squash from our CSA. Sholom in the home starts at the dinner table, it seems.
- Defrost chicken as necessary.
- Start the challah.
- Begin roasting the squash and potatoes.
- When the squash and potatoes are done, put the now-risen and formed challah into the oven to bake.
- Get the carrots on the stove.
- The challah and chicken may need to share the oven for a little bit. It’s OK.
- Finish the mashed squash and potatoes.
- Take the challah out of the oven. Don’t try to eat it too soon — you’ll burn your hands!
- Take the chicken out of the oven.
- Serve and enjoy! (And don’t forget to turn off the stove!)
Mashed Squash and Potatoes
1 squash, cut in half, guts and seeds removed; my current favorite is delicata, but you can use acorn, butternut, buttercup — whatever you prefer
2-3 medium potatoes
~1/4 C water, veggie broth, or skim milk
1 – 1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.
- Place squash halves and potatoes on the baking sheet. Cook until soft, about 45 minutes.
- Set aside until cool enough to handle.
- Remove skins from potatoes and squash (potato skin should peel off easily; leaving some intact is fine). In a large pot over medium-low heat, mash together squash and potatoes with salt and pepper; you may want to add some water to thin the mixture (or, if you’re making this meal without meat, or if you don’t keep kosher, add about a 1/4 C skim milk to the pot at this point).
- Let cook about 10-20 minutes, or until you’re ready to serve everything.
Honey-Orange Glazed Carrots
3-4 good-sized carrots, washed and cut into coins
3 Tbsp honey
3 Tbsp orange marmalade
1 C water, plus more as necessary
1/2 tsp salt
Pepper to taste, ~1/8 tsp
- Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine.
- Let cook to desired doneness (about 30 minutes). Ideally, the water will have nearly all evaporated, leaving you with a somewhat-gooey coating on the carrots. If the first cup of water cooks off before you’re done cooking them, simply add more water a half cup at a time until you’re satisfied.
White Wine and Leek Chicken Thighs
~1 chicken thigh per person
1 leek per 4 chicken thighs, white part (and as much of the green as you like) chopped
Enough wine to cover the leeks and touch the bottom of the chicken, about 1/4 C (any drinkable white will do; I had leftover Crios Torrontes – yum!)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Season the chicken thighs with paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- In a small/medium baking dish (I used an 8″ square), spread out the chopped leeks. Evenly distribute the chicken over the leeks. Pour wine so as not to splash off the seasoning on the chicken.
- Cover with foil. Cook about 20 minutes, until juices run clear.