When I was growing up in the west suburbs of Chicago, we had Sunday dinner just about every week. The meal occurred at midday after church. It typically involved a roast of some sort, potatoes cooked in any number of ways – baked, twice baked, boiled and buttered, mashed, smashed with garlic, I could go on but you get the idea – and a vegetable.
We introduced the idea of a standing Sunday meal here. There isn’t always meat. We don’t go to church. And it’s never at noon. But the important components remain – we sit down together, completing the weekend with simple food and heading into a new week with well fed. Many weeks, we invite friends to join us to share tales of weekend adventures and anticipations of the work and school weeks ahead. We eat, drink and enjoy the good fortune of friendship.
I don’t fuss over this meal. In fact, these last few weeks, I’ve not even followed a recipe. The gorgeous roast turkey breast you see above is a fine example. I purchased this bird (a boneless and skinless breast, though I typically prefer bone-in with skin for flavor) from our local farmer’s market. (Hooray for staying open through Christmas this year!)
I cut up a large yellow onion, a few carrots, a lemon and a couple large garlic cloves smashed with the back of a fork. I placed them in the bottom of a roasting pan, drizzled them with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper and tossed gently to coat. I then placed a roasting rack over the vegetables and laid the turkey breast on top. I showered that breast with nearly every dried spice I could find in my cluttered spice cabinet – thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano, tarragon, pimenton, marjoram – in addition to a generous sprinkle of kosher salt and pepper. I let it sit while the oven heated to 450 degrees F. I set the pan on the middle rack then checked every 20 minutes until a meat thermometer read 165 degrees F. I let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
I also like to roast two kinds of vegetables on one pan. This week, I made fingerling potatoes and Brussels sprouts – also at 450 for maximum ease and crispiness! You could try butternut squash, sweet potatoes or fennel as well.
Start with the potatoes. Slice them in half lengthwise then put them on a baking sheet with more smashed garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, pepper and a few springs of fresh rosemary rubbed between your palms to release the flavor. (If you are doing a turkey breast at the same time, place the veggies on the rack just below.) Roast them for 20 minutes, then toss and move the potatoes to one side of the pan. Add the Brussels – also halved and tossed with oil, salt and pepper – to the other side of the pan. Roast both for another 20 minutes. When you take the pan out of the oven, they should look like the photo above. Try not to burn your fingers as you snitch loose leaves of Brussels sprouts and crispy, shriveled up potato bits directly from the pan. And don’t let anyone see you.
Want to take the whole thing over the top? Reduce about 1/4 cup of high quality balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Let it boil gently until about 2 tablespoons of thick syrup remain. Drizzle over the vegetables and you’ve now made an easy meal interesting.
Do you have a weekly supper tradition? If so, tell me about it…I’d love to know.