“Chopped” Home Edition

“Chopped” Home Edition

Summer’s in swing. No classes for me, no summer job, kids are gone and Spouse works a day job. I find myself home alone a lot lately, a little stir-crazy. Going and Doing aren’t always budget-friendly, and I’ve taken to watching a lot of Food Network (especially Chopped, because they have to cook the way I do: on the fly and without a recipe) and thinking about different ways to entertain myself by reading recipes and cooking.

I don’t want to hang out with a hot oven or hover over a stove top too long, though, and I have to work with what’s on hand. Today, my on-hand “mystery basket” contained:

+ a piece of salmon I’d thawed in the fridge a few days ago
+ Swiss chard and mustard greens I found on sale last night
+ a tiny container of leftover canned pineapple chunks

This is what I wound up with:

"Chefs, today I have prepared for you..."

(I am not a practiced food photographer.)

I rinsed the salmon and patted it dry with a paper towel, then heated up a slosh (technical term) of olive oil, a slosh of orange juice, and a couple-three twists each of sea salt and pepper in a medium-size saute pan (med-high heat).

When that felt (technical term) ready, I laid the fish in flesh-side down and let it cook for like 3 minutes, adding a little more S&P to the skin-side. Then I flipped it skin-side down and scooted (technical term) it around in the oil and juice a little to make sure it was decently coated. After about two minutes, I covered it and moved the pan off the heat, hoping the skin would crisp up.

I tore off a small handful of chard and mustard greens and chopped that up together. Then I moved the fish to a plate to rest, put the pan back on the heat, and tossed the greens in with a bit of mixed garlic, another slosh of olive oil, and a slough of balsamic vinegar. I covered it and drained the juice from the pineapple, and then added that as well. Covered again, turned heat to med-low, buttered a slice of bakery bread, and cleaned up my mess.

When the fish felt like it was right in the edge of hot and not-hot, I pulled the produce, drained the last of the liquid away, and dumped it on the plate. It was mostly delightful.

My flavors were good, but I didn’t need the extra oil for the greens; I’d hoped they’d be a little toasted/crispyish, but instead they were limp. Not unpalatable, just not what I wanted. The salmon skin crisped exactly as I wanted, but I still couldn’t eat it because I have an irrational fear of eating salmon skin.

I used every ingredient in the basket and served it to myself with a little glass of hard cider. I say I did well enough to move on to the dessert round.


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