Quick meals without the fast food
By Isaac Newby
Although it may seem daunting, every hungry college student should know it doesn’t take formal training to be able to prepare a good meal.
If you take the time to plan meals, get some standard ingredients and are ready to modify a recipe, you can set yourself up for kitchen success. One great recipe to try is Chicken Curry, a dish suggested by Julian Darwin, chef and program coordinator at Cascade Culinary Institute. Modify the portions as needed, they are entirely up to you. Doubling it does not necessarily mean using double the amount of liquid—that depends on how much sauce you want to make.
2 chicken breasts (unfrozen makes prep easier) • ½ diced small onion • 2 garlic cloves 6-8 oz. mushrooms, sliced • Salt • Pepper • Curry powder • 1 to 1 ½ cups heavy cream or half and half • Canola/vegetable oil • Rice/rice noodles (for 2 servings, about 1 cup uncooked rice should be about perfect. Prepare the rice as the chicken is cooking)
Pat all excess moisture off the chicken and season both sides with salt and pepper. Pre-heat your pan with enough oil to coat the bottom, sauté chicken on both sides, about three minutes each side, remove from the pan before they are completely cooked and set aside. Sauté onions, mushrooms and garlic, and season with salt and pepper until onions and garlic start to caramelize. Add cream and curry powder, and stir. Then add the chicken back to the pan and heat together for five to ten minutes, depending on the chicken pieces’ thickness. Once it’s done, serve the chicken over a bed of rice.
Q&A with Chef Julian Darwin
Isaac Newby: What do you do at the college?
Julian Darwin: Advising, instructing, curriculum development, coordinate with local high schools, special events, promoting the program, work on high school career days, new student orientation, special tours of the facility to get the program out there.
IN: Why should we lay off fast food?
JD: Fast food is just bad. [Author] Michael Pollan wrote a series of books called “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” that talk about what is actually in food. Chicken McNuggets have 37 ingredients and five of them are known to cause cancer. Don’t eat fast food, primarily because it is mediocre. We need to eat food every day, why can’t it be good food?
Burrito shops such as Longboard Louie’s, Parilla Grill, serve good simple food. They offer fast and convenient food and you can recognize all of the ingredients.
IN: Why should we focus on simplicity?
JD: Simplicity is about the quality of the food. When you go shopping for things such as fruits and vegetables, search for what’s in season. Purchasing food at its peak is the ultimate goal.IN: For budget purposes, does it really make a difference in flavor and quality to purchase frozen chicken as opposed to fresh chicken?
JD: That’s a challenge, at Newport avenue market, they have free range chickens, which have a much better flavor, but a free range chicken is something like $14 for one chicken. At Costco you can get three whole chickens for that cost, so it comes down to budget. Always purchase the best possible ingredients for your budget. Also, read the label. If you can’t pronounce the name of the ingredient, it probably isn’t good. Simple food is about simplicity in ingredients.
IN: Considering time constraints, what items should students have on hand before cooking?
JD: Break the recipe down if you have a big time constraint, think about what will hold over. If you want to cook, you need to cook well; a “30 minute menu” is just cheating. You can do things such as dice onions/tomatoes and hold them for another day. What you put into the meal is what you get out of it.