Reducing Food Waste and Costs

Leftover Column by Marcus Samuelsson

Recently I was talking to my friend Lorraine about leftovers, and reducing food waste and costs.  She said that although she wishes she could be better about spending money on eating out, the convenience of paying for a hot, cooked meal was frequently tempting.

Additionally, Lorraine said that she has a hard time with cooking at home because she gets bored with her leftovers.  Though she loves chicken but always goes for chicken breast, often she just can't force herself to keep eating the same thing over and over.  Eventually this pattern became hard for her wallet to bear, and she came up with a great tip for any home cook to implement at the beginning of the week before your busy schedule takes time away from the kitchen, and pushes your stomach towards takeout.

Lorraine's suggestion was great for a Sunday night when you're preparing meals for the week ahead.  Buy a pack of 6 chicken breasts and prepare them with three different spice rubs.  Try two with Jerk mix (recipe follows), two with Harissa, and two with salt, pepper, lemon zest, and parsley.

My suggestion for Lorraine?  Check back for it next week!

In the meantime, try her recipe for spicing up chicken for the week ahead using my recipe for Jerk Mix.  The great thing about it is that it keeps for 10 days, so you can use it for two Sundays in a row.

Jerk Mix Recipe Makes 1 cup

Ingredients: 2 tablespoons olive oil 6 garlic cloves, minced 2 jalapeno chilies, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped 1 tablespoon ground allspice 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 teaspoon white pepper 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon ground ginger 4 scallions, trimmed and chopped 1/2 cup fresh lime juice 1/2 cup red wine vinegar

Heat the oil in a small saute pan over medium heat.  When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and jalapenos and saute until the garlic just starts to color, about 3 minutes.  Add the allspice, cinnamon, cayenne, and brown sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar melts and the mixture starts to chop together.  Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.

Transfer the mixture to a blender.  Add the white pepper, thyme, salt, ginger, scallions, lime juice, and red wine vinegar and blend until smooth.

Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.