Friday, February 19, 2010


I like hot dogs and beans as much as the next guy... hell, it was a once-a-week tradition back in the Days of My Youth... but who says a weeknight meal, even if it’s something as prosaic as chicken and ’taters, has to be boring?

Pollo al Mattone and Hasselback Potatoes
Pollo al Mattone, Braised Bok Choy, and Hasselback Potatoes.

Here’s a tasty repast that wasn’t all that difficult to throw together:

Pollo al Mattone - a fancy Eye-Talian name for Brick Chicken. You can go to Ted’s Montana Grill and they’ll mash a chicken breast under a brick and cook it up for you, or you can do it yourself. Here, I used a couple of Cornish hens and spatchcocked ’em by hacking out their spines and opening ’em up like a couple of paperback novels... with legs. A good recipe is here.

Braised Bok Choy - Take bok choy (Chinese cabbage), cut up and wash thoroughly, then throw it in a sauté pan with a little chicken stock over medium heat.

Hasselback Potatoes - From a Swedish restaurant comes this interesting way of baking a potato. Take a nice, well-scrubbed Idaho russet, slice off a thin layer from the bottom so the potato won’t roll around on the cutting board, lay a couple of chopsticks parallel to the potato, and, using a chef’s knife, slice the potato laterally at 1/8-inch intervals. The chopsticks will keep you from slicing all the way through - you want the potato to stay in one piece.

Drizzle the ’tater with olive oil and dot with butter. If you like garlic, place thin slivers of sliced garlic clove in the potato incisions. Sprinkle the whole mess with a 50:50 mixture of grated Parmesan and bread crumbs (if desired) and bake in a 425°F oven for 45 minutes. Is it steak fries? Is it a baked potato? It’s a little of both.

I used some Spanish sparkling wine (cava) to make the sauce for the Cornish hens; there was plenty left over for drinking with this pleasant weekday dinner.

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