Last Updated on September 16, 2019
With the first full week of the new school year upon us, the planning this week stayed pretty freeform.
I pulled the rest of the chicken thighs and a brisket from my Butcher Box stash, took a look at the calendar to see what nights I’d have time to cook, invited some friends over for later in the week, and again—did my best to cook and eat all of the produce I hauled home from multiple farmers market visits.
Sunday: I’m going to go ahead and christen Sunday “Big Meat Day”—the best day to toss a hunk of meat on the grill and let it do its thing slowly while you have Nerf battles with the kids or cook other things in the kitchen.
We rubbed a brisket with harissa and cooked it over low coals for over an hour. While it cooked, I made a lightened up eggplant parm (no breading, much less cheese) and tossed tomatoes, cukes, and herbs together in a bowl with a drizzle of olive oil, white balsamic vinegar and a bit of flaky salt.
Monday: Big Salad is a nice way to follow Big Meat, so that was Monday.
We used the chopped salad recipe from my cookbook, My Kitchen Chalkboard, and tossed together chopped romaine, cherry tomatoes, corn kernels, radishes, cucumbers, and pickled red onions, then tossed it all with lemon vinaigrette and topped it with generous slabs of sheep’s milk feta cheese. I toasted some bread in a skillet and that was that.
Tuesday: My son made a taco request, and since we had leftover brisket, I ran with it.
I chopped up the meat and simmered it with a splash of beer and a few spoonfuls of adobo sauce while we collected the other taco fixings. We laid out smashed avocado laced with lime juice, a bowl of Greek yogurt, radishes and cilantro, some grilled peppers from earlier in the week, and black beans simmered with tomatillo salsa alongside the warmly spiced brisket. We piled our toppings into soft corn tortillas and reminded ourselves to observe Taco Tuesday more often.
Wednesday: I wanted to keep dinner simple so I could prep chicken skewers for later in the week. I’d made pesto the previous weekend, so I put a pot of water on for noodles and while I waited, I cut the chicken into chunks, rubbed it with sugar, cumin, pepper flakes, and salt, and skewered the meat onto soaked kebab sticks. I slid those into the fridge, then tossed the cooked noodles with pesto and served them with a little heap of diced cherry tomatoes. The kids’ noodles: plain with olive oil.
Someday they’ll learn what they’re missing.
Thursday: Quick skillet pizza and sliced veggies. Store-bought pizza dough is one of my favorite shortcuts to a solid dinner.
Friday: Since I prepped the meat on Wednesday, the bulk of the work for this dinner was already done. All I had to do was light the grill, boil water for bulgur, cut an onion and some lemons, and stir together a quick lemon-tahini sauce.
Check out the recipe below for this meal, mixed grill with chicken, bulgur, and tahini which can easily serve a family of four or six, with leftovers. Spiced chicken thighs, cut into chunks and skewered, take about 5 minutes to cook—and if you make extra, they’re a welcome topping for your lunch salad the next day.
- 2 lbs ButcherBox Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs cut into 1-inch chunks
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp salt plus more to taste
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 cup bulgur
- 3 lemons
- 1 red onion cut into 8 wedges, root end intact
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 1 small garlic clove peeled
- ¼ cup tahini
- Soak 10 wooden kebab sticks in water for at least 30 minutes. In a large bowl, toss the chicken pieces together with the cumin, salt, sugar, and pepper flakes. Thread onto the skewers (you’ll have between 8 and 10 total) and refrigerate for one hour or up to 3 days.
- When you’re ready to make the dish, fill a kettle of water and bring to a boil. Place the bulgur in a medium bowl with a pinch of salt. When the water boils, pour 1 ½ cups over the bulgur. Cover with a plate and set aside.
- About 30 minutes before grilling, remove chicken from the refrigerator. Light the grill (if using charcoal, wait until the coals are glowing and ashy on top; if using gas, preheat to high on one side and medium on the other)
- Cut two of the lemons in half and place in a small bowl with the onion. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Place the chicken skewers over the coals and arrange the lemon halves (cut side down) and the onions on the outer edges of the coals (or on the cooler side of the grill).
- Sear the chicken for about 2 minutes, flip and cook for another 2-4 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a platter, and rest while the lemons and onions continue cooking.
- Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce - pound the garlic clove into a paste by mashing it with the side of your knife with a pinch of salt on the cutting board (or use a mortar and pestle). Stir together the garlic with the tahini, lemon, remaining teaspoon of olive oil and another pinch of salt, then pour in hot water until you’ve thinned the sauce to consistency you like (I like thick but pourable). Taste and adjust seasoning. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
- Cook the onions until tender and charred at the edges and the lemon until softened and browned on the cut side, another 5-8 minutes.
- Taste the bulgur and add more salt if needed. Pile it onto a platter and place the skewers on top. Squeeze one of the lemon halves over the chicken skewers. Arrange the remaining 3 lemon halves on the platter with the onions, and serve with the tahini sauce alongside
Leigh Belanger is a writer, editor, and content strategist. Her 2018 cookbook, My Kitchen Chalkboard, features a year of seasonal family dinners with menu ideas and meal planning tips to help make home cooking easier.