Simple summer dinners

June 10, 2017

brats n taters 0607

Brats, sweet potatoes, a pair of salads. Minimal work, maximum taste.

Though it’s not sufferin’ hot yet, the proliferation of fresh veggies and other good stuff to eat lends itself to a routine of simple summer dinners these days, when I can be troubled to cook at all.

(As I could not earlier this week, having spent the day in a meeting in Little Rock and gotten home around 6:45 p.m. We DID have a glass of wine and some excellent cheese and charcuterie before we left town, as well as a good caprese salad over spinach with shredded chicken for lunch, so I was in no danger of starvation, if you were wondering.)

The next day, I was woefully lazy, having bestirred myself only enough to knock the top layer of grime off the kitchen and run, but not yet put away, a load of dishes. And I decided to cook dinner.

You will recall I picked up bratwurst and other goodies t’other day at a new meat market. The “sweet and sassy” brats, described by the proprietress as “sweet with a little bit of a kick,” which I guess distinguishes them from the “sweet and fiery,” which I would interpret to be “hotter’ hell,” had been on my mind ever since. (For the record, I also have “sweet and tangy,” alleged to have something of a honey-mustard tang, but they’ll wait on a cookout some weekend.)

And I had sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes that were, in fact, growing vines on my countertop. I peeled and cubed up a couple of those, drizzled them with a bit of olive oil, and sprinkled them with a bit of barbecue dry rub. Then I cut the fresh brats up in thirds, and laid them amongst the sweet potatoes, so the juice and grease would leach out and into the sweet potatoes, flavoring them even more.

Those got a 350F steam bake in the CSO for 45 minutes, were allowed to sit and cool off in the pan, and a reheat/crisp-up at 375 on convection.

For a minimal amount of work, these things were pretty marvelous. I love sweet potatoes roasted like this anyway, and the added zing from the juices from the brats only improved them. The brats were nice and mildly spicy, a very good quality sausage, and I’m looking forward to the sweet-and-tangy and the whiskey flavored ones poached in beer and grilled. (In fact, I think the whiskey ones on big ol’ buns with a healthy helping of caramelized onions, homemade sauerkraut and some good German mustard would be pretty stellar.)

I intended to caramelize a couple of onions and toss in with the potatoes, but I forgot. Will add that next time. I think they’d really round out the taste profile.

I whipped up a cucumber salad (sour cream, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, fresh dill) to go with this, along with the ever-present jail slaw that lives in the fridge all summer long. Prep on the cucumbers took maybe 15 minutes all told; peeling, slicing, salting and draining for 30 minutes, then stirring up the dressing and tossing them in. Prep on the potatoes and brats took a max of 10. Cooking is passive; put it in the oven and go away.

Those are the good kind of meals to cook in the summer, and I highly recommend you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em try this one.



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