BY CHEF MICHAEL FEKER | PHOTOS BY LAURA DIERBECK | LOCATION: G. GROPPI FOOD MARKET
How do you feel about purchasing food and creating meals?
Necessary daily ritual? Dreaded chore? Or the opportunity for endless new experiences?
I hope to convince you that the latter isn’t so hard to achieve.
Whether you are a professional chef or a home chef, the creation of those experiences starts when we shop for our ingredients. Restaurant chefs create menu items and source and order our ingredients around them. Buying the makings of memorable home meals takes a bit of time and planning — choosing where to shop for the freshest ingredients at prices we can afford.
Sometimes, due to the crazy pace of life, you might choose to take a shortcut. I feel that this is the reason why many convenience-based platforms are popping up.
Restaurant food delivery services are on the rise, and while we may tell ourselves we’re getting restaurant-quality food delivered to our door, that is a false assumption. The reason that food from your favorite restaurants feed your culinary soul is because of the entire experience — being served freshly prepared food immediately and allowing myself and my fellow restaurateurs to pamper you for the few hours that you have decided to feed your body and let your spirit unwind.
Raw-food meal deliveries are premeasured for you, but you still need to cook them. And while I understand the appeal of this one, I am not willing to shorten my journey from purchasing to plate. I want to choose each ingredient that becomes a part of what I feed myself, my family and my friends — and you should too.
The best way to change your thinking and truly enjoy the experience of cooking and feeding others is to keep it simple. Make enough of each component of your meal that you have enough to use them to create another meal. That way you are already reducing the steps of preparation while eating fresh food and remaining in charge of your flavor destiny.
And make shopping a genuine part of loving food, because how can you create a magnificent dish without knowing where your ingredients came from? Allow yourself enough time to focus and enjoy the experience of choosing colorful produce, fresh dairy and spices, beautiful cuts of protein and other pure ingredients, and compose your meals in the following manner: A pure protein, complex carbs and tons of vegetables.
To get you started, here is an idea that is quick to create, easy to shop for and will take your taste buds to Tuscany.
First off, always season your food with pure sea salt and fresh ground pepper — in this case the chicken, the rice broth and the zucchini.
Sear 6 oz. breasts of organic chicken in olive oil for 2 minutes per side (no longer) then remove them from the pan and set aside. Do not wash the pan.
Cook 1 cup of rinsed brown rice in 2 cups of organic vegetable broth seasoned with paprika for about 30 minutes. Cut organic zucchini into quarter-inch rounds and toss with a few shredded basil leaves and a clove of chopped garlic then add them to the pan in which you cooked your chicken and sauté on medium heat for 4 minutes.
Return the chicken to the pan, add the rice, heat through and serve. You can also whisk balsamic vinegar and good extra virgin olive oil together for a sauce and add even more panache.
Of course, I ask that you cook a few extra chicken breasts so tomorrow you can shred them and toss them with any remaining brown rice and zucchini and organic soy sauce and go to the Orient through the magic of food.
Visit my Youtube channel and watch my “Shop Till You Drop” episode to learn more about food shopping, and visit cheffeker.com to tell me what you’d like to read about in this space next.
And always remember: I want you to cook to live and live to cook. MKE