I think family cooks are the inspiration for the insanely popular Food Network TV show, Chopped. Maybe we don’t have squid ink pasta and gummy bear candy in our baskets, but we do have a fridge and pantry that require a little inspiration to get dinner on the table. Cooks ask me all the time, “how do you find the time to make these gorgeous dinners?” And I always respond with the straight up truth:
Making a meal that is just a little bit special only involves inspiration, not time.
For example, last night my Chopped “basket” (well…fridge) contained some (not super fresh) veggies, frozen pork chops and leftover roasted garlic. First things first, I thawed the pork chops. My fastest way to accomplish thawing meat is to place the package into a large bowl of cold water. You’ll be surprised how quickly this works. Next, when the chops have de-iced, I place them into a baking dish and marinate with whatever I have on hand. In this case, I used Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, tomato juice and fresh rosemary (my last two sprigs). I peeled carrots and placed them onto a baking sheet. I blanched some Brussels sprouts and placed them on the same sheet. I seasoned the veggies with cumin, curry, cinnamon, salt and pepper, and drizzled olive oil over everything.
Now, here is where the inspiration happened. I took those bulbs of leftover roasted garlic and smooshed them into some softened butter. I rolled that up into a cylinder, and placed it back into the fridge for a couple of minutes.
Now, all I had left to do was roast the veggies for about 15 to 20 minutes, and to season and grill the chops. At the last minute, I sliced a wedge of the garlic butter and placed it on the meat to melt. Voila…. Dinner fit for a king (and queen and a couple of lords and ladies too!). Here’s my recipe for Roasted Garlic Compound Butter. Now, what’s in your “basket” tonight?
Roasted Garlic Compound Butter
4 large heads garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground oregano
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons butter, softened
Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut about ¼ of the top off the bulbs and discard. Place the bulbs onto a sheet of aluminum foil, cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and season with oregano, salt and pepper. Close the foil loosely around the bulbs leaving a whole at the top. Place into the oven and bake until the cloves are golden, soft and climbing out of their papery skins. Remove from the oven and cool to room temperature.
Place the butter into a small bowl. Squeeze the cloves into the bowl with the butter. Use a fork to mash everything together. Spread the garlic butter onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the wrap to roll the garlic butter into a cylinder twisting the ends to make a tight roll. Place the butter into the fridge to firm up.
Slice the butter into rounds and place on grilled meats, fish or veggies.