It’s finals week for me, and Will’s work has also been more hectic even than usual. We’re both exhausted. Never mind creative and well-balanced cooking! Weekday dinners are designed to be as streamlined as possible; and Sunday dinners, which used to be major culinary events in our household, have started to feel burdensome. One Sunday, as we were walking like zombies through Costco, my eyes lighted upon two items that subsequently rescued us for the rest of the week.
In my defense, I’d already picked up Ahi Tuna for our Sunday dinner. But then I spotted the Brown Sugar Glazed Pork Shanks (photo above). The package claimed, "You'll love finishing what our chefs started," and I decided to believe that. I also thought about how it was still a chilly April outside and how pork shanks roasting in the oven would not only smell but feel more cozy than searing rare some sushi-grade tuna. Imagine the sides that would accompany pork shanks! So much more Sunday dinner-ish, right? It didn’t take long to convince Will.
Not far away, I saw some Roasted Chile Rellenos (above). Personally, I prefer my chile rellenos to be lightly tempura-battered and fried, but I saw the virtue of roasting as well. And the picture suggested a level of cheesiness congruent with my own notions of what stuffed rellenos should look like. (See photo below for just how cheesy it was.) Another package in the cart!
There were plenty of sides available at Costco as well, but we decided that we needed to have prepared somethings on our own from scratch, so we didn’t even let our eyes roam over items like scalloped potatoes, broccoli quinoa cheddar cakes, etc. Ok, eyes might have roamed over those, but we didn’t pick them up…
Of course, Sunday dinner did feel more genuine with the addition of roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed Brussels Sprouts with bacon and shallots. I sprinkled some toasted chopped pecans over both sides, for a southern touch that seemed to go nicely with the glazed pork shanks. (See photo at top of post for the full meal.)
And our Wednesday chile rellenos wouldn’t have been the same without home-cooked kidney beans (slow simmered with roasted jalapeno, garlic, and onions). Sure, the beans had been cooked long ago and frozen, but that sort of thinking ahead meant that all I had to do while the chiles were heating in the oven was to cook up a fresh batch of Mexican rice.
Sauté 1 cup long grain rice (I used Jasmine because that’s what I had) in 3 T canola oil for a few minutes until lightly toasted in color.
Then add ½ t ground cumin, ½ t kosher salt, 2 cloves minced garlic, and ½ chopped onion and sauté for 1 minute to incorporate everything.
Add 1 chopped Roma tomato and 1 T of tomato paste (I use the ones in the squeeze tube—very convenient) along with 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth.
Let mixture come to a boil, and then reduce the heat to “Low” and simmer for 20 minutes. When time is up, check to make sure liquid is fully absorbed. If not, let it go another 5 minutes. When water is fully absorbed, turn the heat off and let sit for 5 minutes before fluffing with fork.
With a bit of home-cooking, some prior planning, and some prepackaged entrées from Costco, we actually ate pretty well that week after all!