The Better Brown Bag

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Spiced Chicken Stew
Floyd Cardoz, Tabla
“This warms up well in the microwave with some rice, or makes a great filling for a sandwich or wrap. This recipe makes six servings—enough to get you through the week.”

4 tablespoons canola oil
1 cinnamon stick
4 green cardamom pods
3 cloves
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs curry leaves
6 shallots sliced
1/2 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 cloves minced garlic
Chiles, with seeds, quartered
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 tablespoons semolina
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 pounds boneless chicken, cubed (leg meat is preferable)
2 carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup baby turnips
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups chicken stock
Juice of 2 limes
10 ounce can coconut milk

Salt the chicken and let it stand for 1 hour. In a pot, heat the canola oil and add the cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves; stir until the spices are fragrant. Strain out the spices and tie them in a sachet. Pour the canola oil back into the pot, then add the mustard seeds and bay leaves. Add the curry leaves, shallots, ginger, chiles, and garlic. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the spice sachet and semolina; cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add chicken, vegetables, and stock, bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Then add the lime juice and season. Add the coconut milk and simmer for 5 more minutes.
Rough Cost: $4.12

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Chicken Sandwich With Tomato Relish and Horseradish Mayo
Ryan Skeen, Irving Mill
“Make the chicken breast, spicy mayonnaise, and tomato relish the night before, and this sandwich is ready to go for those mornings when you sleep through the third snooze button. It takes about as much time as a peanut butter and jelly.”

8 ounces chicken breast (Skeen prefers grilled or roasted for flavor, but the meat can also be steamed over simmering chicken stock for 15 minutes)
2 Martin’s potato sandwich rolls
2 leaves of Bibb lettuce

4 tbs. tomato confit (see recipe below; oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes can be substituted)
2 tsp. sherry vinegar
4 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 tbs. shallot, minced
1 tbs. chives, diced fine
1 tsp. parsley, diced fine
1 tbs. sea salt

3 tbs. fresh-grated horseradish (The prepared horseradish, says Skeen, doesn’t have enough kick.)
3 tbs. mayonnaise (It will “hold up to two days before it loses its excitement,” says Skeen.)

ASSEMBLY: Spread out a piece of plastic wrap on the counter large enough to contain the sandwich. Center half the roll on the wrap. Spread 1 tablespoon of the mayonnaise on one side of the roll, then a few dollops of the confit. Top with 4 ounces of chicken breast, then the lettuce leaf, then the top of the roll. Wrap and go. Makes enough for two sandwiches at a time, with enough mayonnaise and confit left over to make at least two more.
Rough Cost: $4.50

Tomato confit is easy to make and produces a better flavor than sun-dried tomatoes, which can have a medicinal flavor unless you find a quality product packed in olive oil at the store. Score the bottom of 10 plum tomatoes, blanch them in boiling water for 5 seconds, take them out, then allow them to rest for 5 minutes. Gently peel the skins, and discard. Quarter the tomatoes, and scoop out the insides (save that for pasta salad for your next lunch). Toss the tomatoes in half the olive oil, the crushed garlic, and the sea salt. Spread them on a cookie sheet lined with tin foil, and slow-bake in a 225-degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes, checking every 10 to 15 minutes and rotating the tray for even cooking. Let cool, then dice the tomatoes and toss in a bowl with the sherry vinegar, remaining olive oil, shallot, parsley, and chives, and season with salt to taste.

Photo: Hannah Whitaker

Fresh Slaw, Smoked Oysters, and Bread Sticks
Ilene Rosen, City Bakery
“Grate the vegetables in equal parts or so, add olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, then leave it overnight. The oysters are much more exciting than tuna, and the can is the perfect size for one serving.”

1/2 cup fennel
1/2 cup red cabbage
1/2 cup carrot
1 ounce watercress (1/4 bunch)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 lemon
Salt and pepper

Grate the fennel, red cabbage, and carrot on the largest holes of a box grater. Chop the watercress into 2-inch pieces and add. Toss with 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and the juice of ¼ lemon, and salt and pepper to taste.
FOR THE BREAD STICKS: Toast 2 slices of good bread until dry; cut into ½-inch sticks.
ASSEMBLY: Pack the slaw in a plastic container and keep refrigerated until lunch. Eat breadsticks and a can of Crown Prince smoked oysters available at Whole Foods ($2.79).
Rough Cost: $5.52

The Better Brown Bag