© Charles Brutlag | Dreamstime.com
Now that the school year’s in full swing, my family is back to a more regular schedule. Each weekday afternoon and evening is spoken for, crammed with piano, soccer, gymnastics — not to mention my husband’s and my commitments. By Friday, I’m spent, and in no mood to make dinner. Sometimes we order in, but we try to keep our restaurant spending to one night a week, and Saturday’s a better night to go out.
Here’s why: Friday is movie night in our house. We don’t really watch TV during the week, but after five days of work and school, we all settle in for a night of blissful escapism on the couch. I want making supper to be like our entertainment: utterly unchallenging, almost mindless. It needs to consist of ingredients I keep on hand, as there will be no dashing to the market. Finally, a confession: Though I’m strongly opposed to eating while watching TV (until recently I owned the domain name restaurantswithouttvs.com — I kid you not), rules are meant to be broken. So occasionally we wallow in sin. It’s fun. But it means that Friday foods can’t require silverware, so we can eat off our laps.
Our latest obsession is wings. In the time it would take to order and pick up takeout, I can make my own unique and savory Thai curry wings using Asian ingredients I keep in my pantry and fridge. My kids love this milder, more complex variation on Buffalo wings. The younger son doesn’t notice the spice, and the older one has argued that we should declare Friday “Wing Night.” The sauce of pre-made curry paste, soy sauce, honey, butter, and lime comes together in a flash.
But even wing nuts like us need a little variety. For a change, I’m adding Sloppy Joes to the rotation of Easy-Please-Me dishes. Because we don’t eat much red meat, turkey subs for the customary beef. You can make and freeze double batches of the filling ahead of time, but there’s no need. You can make these in half an hour. Like wings, Sloppy Joes can be messy. On the other hand, that might keep you and the kids from eating on the couch. And these Friday foods taste good enough to command your full attention.
These both pair well with a simple green salad or cole slaw.
Thai Curry Wings
Adapted from foodandwine.com
3-4 pounds chicken wings, tips discarded, wings separated into 2 pieces Vegetable oil such as canola or peanut Salt and pepper 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened 1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste 1 tablespoon honey or agave nectar Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lime 1 teaspoon soy sauce or Vietnamese fish sauce
Preheat the oven to 475°. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil. Spread the wings on baking sheets, drizzle generously with oil, season with salt and pepper and toss till all are well-coated. Bake the wings for 30-40 minutes, or until golden-brown and crisp.
In a large bowl, blend the butter with the curry paste, honey/agave, lime juice and zest and soy/fish sauce. When the wings are done, transfer them to the bowl and toss with the sauce mixture till well coated. If you prefer your wings Buffalo-style (saucy and messy), serve them now. I like to put them back in the pans and stick them in the oven for about 3 minutes so the sauce thickens up a bit, then toss them back into the serving bowl.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 green pepper, chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1 lb. ground turkey (dark meat tastes best) or ground beef ½ teaspoon salt 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce 1/4 cup ketchup 1 tablespoon molasses (not blackstrap) 1 tablespoon cider vinegar 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, to taste ¼-½ teaspoon chipotle powder, chili powder, or Tabasco to taste Optional: a tablespoon or 2 of Chinese oyster sauce or your favorite BBQ sauce 4 crusty sandwich rolls, split (I used onion-flecked kaiser rolls)
Heat oil in a heavy pot over moderately high heat, then sauté onion, pepper, and garlic, stirring occasionally, till soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add turkey and salt; sauté, breaking up lumps with a wooden spoon, till meat is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients up through Worcestershire sauce and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and optional sauces. An ice cream scoop helps get meat onto each bun.