This week we got a beautifully comfort food-themed box from Blue Apron, which included:
- Crispy Chicken with Mashed Potato and Spicy Collard Greens
- Pork Meatballs with Beet and Cranberry Agrodolce
- South Indian Squash Curry
I opted in for this week’s box due to the relatively gluten-free, dairy-free nature of the selections. Ever since doing a Whole30 last June we have really cut back on the gluten and dairy that we cook with. It’s done wonders for our overall energy and mood stability, so I really try to stick to that as much as possible. This limits what boxes we can go for with Blue Apron, but this week’s was pretty compliant so I was excited to try it.
Our box shipped on Monday, not Saturday as I’ve gotten used to previously. This comforted me since the box included chicken and pork and the less time raw meat spends in transit, the better (in my opinion.)
When the box arrived on Tuesday we were ready to get started. It had been a bit of a long day for both of us, calling for real comfort food.
Crispy Chicken with Mashed Potato and Collard Greens
This is a no-frills meal, and we loved it. Blue Apron isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel here. The mashed potatoes were smooth and velvety, the collards were tart and spicy, the chicken was crunchy and satisfying. In terms of preparation, we only deviated from the instructions by adding a little extra sherry vinegar to the collards. Having grown up in Florida, Eric has some strong opinions about how tangy collard greens should be and he couldn’t resist.
The cook time ended up being a little longer than the card read. They suggested about 40 minutes of prep and cook but it took us closer to an hour. That said, the end result was absolutely worth the wait. I love that Blue Apron understands the deliciousness of chicken thighs and doesn’t shy away from including them in dishes like this. When will science create my all-thigh chickens?? I’ll wait. I’ll wait all century. Genetically modify that ish!
Overall, I give this recipe a solid A. It didn’t blow me away, but it scratched that comfort food itch and left us full and happy. Don’t expect any leftovers and enjoy this hearty, “healthy” dinner.
Pork Meatballs with Beet and Cranberry Agrodolce
Here’s the deal: I. Love. Beets. I LOVE BEETS!
I also love meatballs. They are such an ideal form of protein! Bite-size, pre-ground meat: what’s not to like?! Obviously, this was a recipe that I needed to take the lead on. I cooked this bad boy the night the Cubs won the World Series. Related? Probably. You’re welcome.
But what’s an agrodolce, you might ask? Well, I looked it up and have I got news for you!
Agrodolce – a traditional sweet and sour sauce in Italian cuisine. Its name comes from “agro” and “dolce”. Agrodolce is made by reducing sour and sweet elements, traditionally vinegar and sugar.
Cool! Thanks, Wikipedia, for telling me that its name comes from two words that I don’t really know the meaning of! I guess now we know that “agro” means sour since we all grew up in Texas and know that “dolce” means sweet or sugar or something?
Moving right along, in this case, agrodolce is a badass “sauce” full of everything delicious. As we’ve established, I love beets, but I also enjoy fresh cranberries so pairing them up for this dish works well for me. The only change I would have made would be to cook the beets and cranberries a bit longer in a separate pan (rather than just heating it up with the meatballs at the end) and maybe throw it into the Vitamix for a minute to smooth it out and get a saucier texture. Then I would put it in with the meatballs, as it tinted them the loveliest red color.
The recipe had us mix both vinegar and creme fraiche into the farro, which was great but I wonder if we needed the dairy, because my lactose-tummy was a little rumbly afterward (the only downside to this dish.) This is the third or fourth time Bue Apron has had us mix some vinegar into a starch and every time it really elevates the flavor. We made a mental note of that for when we’re back to meal planning on our own: vinegar + starch = yum.
Anyway, despite the creativity and beet-inclusiveness of this recipe, I can only give it a B+ because there are just too many tweaks I would make. Eric found the meatballs to be a little too “meaty” and I can understand. It seems like they could have benefitted from adding a little of the shallot or kale into the mix for a more interesting texture. It was good! But it wasn’t great.
South Indian Squash Curry
Ugh, Blue Apron, you broke my heart a little here. First of all, I don’t believe that you had a hard time locating butternut squash. It’s the first freaking week of November. Squash are a fall fruit. (Yeah, a fruit. Look it up.) Secondly, the substitution of an acorn squash is pretty pathetic for the following reasons:
- They are way the hell smaller than butternut squash. We’re talking like less than 50% the size, so the portions here are now jank.
- Step one of the recipe tells me to peel the squash. Have you ever tried to peel an acorn squash? It’s damn near impossible. It’s like trying to peel a crazy straw. There are no good angles. Peeling a butternut is hard enough and it’s smooth! Blue Apron should be happy I didn’t lose a finger on this because come on.
- Acorn squash are meant to be cut in half, filled with brown sugar, and roasted. Peeling and chopping this up for a curry seems sacrilegious.
Now that we’ve established that it was almost inexcusable for Blue Apron to send me an acorn instead of a butternut squash, we can move on and talk about the actual curry.
I was lucky enough to try this about six weeks ago while visiting my sister. I guess in Houston they are able to locate butternut squash! It tasted terrific then, and — all griping aside — it tasted terrific now. This is another no-frills recipe and pretty consistent with most other approaches to curry. Add chopped veggies to a pan, simmer with spices and coconut milk, enjoy.
As for the difference that the acorn squash made, I can say that it dramatically reduced the overall volume of curry that we had compared to a butternut squash, but if anything it may have made the curry a bit creamier. So, net-net, I may be able to forgive Blue Apron this time after all.
Ultimately, this curry was exactly what I needed at the end of a rainy day like yesterday, and the power of the recipe was able to overcome a poor substitution, so I have to give this one an A+.
Well done, Blue Apron! Can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next week!