Mushroom Tarragon Rice and Not Enough Rain to Rinse the Corn Clean

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“The rain-heads dropped a little spattering and hurried on to some other country. Behind them the sky was pale again and the sun flared. In the dust there were drop craters where the rain had fallen, and there were clean splashes on the corn, and that was all.”  from Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I think there will be a lot of corn recipes from this book, and I noticed from the footnotes that there will even be Spam in my future.  I cannot express how much I love Steinbeck’s writing style.  It’s so straightforward and still so elegant.  I am just getting started and I’ve been introduced to murderer Tom Joad.  I can’t say I like him much, but I think that’s pretty much the point.

I roasted my chicken by rinsing off the brine and speckling it with more tarragon and a little salt and pepper. I poured about half a bottle of wine mixed with water into the bottom of my pan (but again, thriftier folk might just use water and a bouillon cube or water and some spices or bay leaf). I sliced up an onion and spread that in the bottom along with some whole cloves of peeled garlic.  I roasted at 350 until the juices ran clear and an instant read thermometer placed in the thickest part of the thigh read 165 degrees.  I also opened up a can of corn from my cupboard and heated that, and I made this delicious rice dish with some leftover mushrooms.  I didn’t actually spend any money on anything new for this meal so it definitely fits my budget.

Mushroom Tarragon Rice

2 tbsp butter

1/2 cup roughly chopped mushrooms

2 tsp tarragon (or to taste – fresh is better, but mine came from a jar)

1 cup of whatever rice you have in your cupboard (mine was Carolina white)

2 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a saucepan.  Add the mushrooms and saute until they are tender and have started to emit their juices.  Toss in the rice and mix it into the butter, saute until the rice becomes translucent.  Toss in the tarragon, water, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, give it a good stir, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer according to the rice instructions (white rice is usually about 15 minutes).  When the rice is al dente, fluff it up and serve.

I learned from restaurant eating that mushrooms and tarragon make a wonderful marriage.  This dish was no exception.  The chicken was also amazing, the skin was crisped up lovely and the meat was moist and tender.  The onions and garlic that I fished out of the roasting pan were divine.  Because I served my chicken with rice instead of potatoes, I didn’t make a pan gravy.  Depressioners know that those who don’t waste don’t want, so I’ve got the pan drippings saved in the fridge and they’re earmarked for a gravy that will smother the filling in a chicken pot pie in the near future (another cheap meal to stretch this chick as far she’ll go without busting the bank).

As she was leaving my apartment last night my friend said, “Thanks for the magnificent chicken, yo!”


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Filed under Books, Cheaper Cooking, Cooking and Reading, Food, Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, The Great Depression

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