After days in quarantine, coming up with creative meal ideas gets tougher and tougher. We spoke with some of Boston’s biggest chefs, who gave us some recipes they grew up with and that they make for their families’ today. Here are dishes that are not only easy to make, but are also crowd-pleasers.
1) Paul Walhberg – Shepherd’s Pie
Chef Paul Walhberg, creator of Alma Nove and Wahlburgers, grew up with his mother’s shepherd’s pie. Made with ingredients we all have on hand, this is a belly warming dish, perfect for a chilly March day in Boston.
1 lb ground beef
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 can cream-style corn
1 box instant mashed potatoes
Salt and pepper (to taste)
Optional: Homemade or pre-made gravy
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place ground beef in a large skillet and cook over medium to high heat. Add onions, salt, and pepper and stir, let simmer for about 5 minutes. Prepare the instant mashed potatoes while beef and onions are simmering. Spoon meat into a baking dish. Next, layer the creamed corn over the meat. Last, add the mashed potatoes over the creamed corn. Bake at 350 degrees until heated through and the top is lightly browned, which will take about 30 minutes. Optional: Serve with your favorite gravy.
2) Chef Dolly Bourommavong – Sriracha Glazed Brussels Sprouts
Chef Dolly Bourommavong, the director of culinary operations at the Aquitaine Group, is someone known for putting her own twist on the classics. And her rendition of Brussels sprouts is the spice we need in our lives right now.
Sriracha Glazed Brussels Sprouts
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Canola oil for deep-frying
1 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1⁄2 cups corn starch
2 cups buttermilk
Celery for garnish, thinly sliced
2 sticks (8 oz.) butter, unsalted
1 cup brown sugar
1⁄4 cup Sriracha sauce, or more if you like it extra spicy
1 T. garlic, minced
1 T. Tabasco hot sauce
2 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
4 T. buttermilk
1 T. yellow onion, finely minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T chives, finely chopped
2 T. cilantro, finely chopped
1 T. freshly squeezed lemon juice
Salt & pepper to taste
First, make the Sriracha Glaze. In a small sauce pot, melt butter and brown sugar together. Bring it to a boil. It should start to look like a thick caramel. Remove from the heat and whip in remaining ingredients. Set aside to cool.
Next, make the Buttermilk Ranch. In a bowl, combine all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper according to taste.
Finally, it’s time to cook the Brussels sprouts. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the Brussels sprouts in vigorously boiling water for 2 minutes. Strain well and place the sprouts on a clean dish towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Using a pot or pan large enough for deep frying, fill with canola oil 3 inches deep. Heat to 350 degrees F. While the oil is heating, in a gallon sized zip-top plastic bag or large paper bag, mix together flour and corn starch. Place the buttermilk in a bowl large enough to hold 1/3 of the Brussels sprouts.
Divide the Brussels into 3 batches. Dip the first batch in buttermilk. Using a slotted spoon or your hands, remove the sprouts from the buttermilk and place in the flour mixture. Seal the bag and shake until the sprouts are fully covered in flour. Remove from the flour and shake off any excess flour and carefully place in the oil. Deep-fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the oil and place in a paper towel-lined bowl and season with a little salt. Repeat with the remaining Brussels sprouts. Remove the paper towels and add as much or as little glaze as you wish. Toss to coat evenly.
Serve with sliced celery and buttermilk ranch on the side.
3) Michael Schlow – Braised Chicken
Michael Schlow is known for his elevated take on old world classics and what could be better than braised chicken thighs?
3 oz. extra virgin olive oil
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 white onion, small dice
18 oz. milled tomato
2-3 cinnamon sticks
5-6 pcs. star anise
Salt and pepper
2 T. butter
In a large deep sided sauté pan, place olive oil and turn heat to high. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and place in the pan and brown both sides. Once golden brown, (approx. 2 min per side) remove chicken from pan. Add the garlic to the oil and cook for 1 min, remove garlic and discard. Add onions and sauté for 1-2 minutes, add tomato and cook for 1 min, then reduce heat to medium. Add the chicken back to pan, add cinnamon sticks and star anise. Simmer chicken for approx. 15-20 min until cooked all the way through and tender. Remove cinnamon sticks and star anise pieces. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed. Remove the chicken from the pan and cut into smaller pieces. Add butter to the pan and stir to create a sauce. Add chicken back to pan and toss in the sauce. Divide the chicken into bowls. Garnish with crispy rice or thinly sliced chives or chopped parsley and serve.