BLUE APRON I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!!! I meal-planned myself to exhaustion during Whole30 and it was heavenly knowing that Blue Apron had me covered this week. I don’t know if I have ever looked forward to a meal delivery quite this much! Anyway, our recipes this week have one clear thing in common: putting a sear on protein. It’s a great transition box post-Whole30. We got:
- Crispy Barramundi with Melted Leek & Roasted Vegetables
- Seared Chicken with Apple, Kale, and Potato Hash
- Cumin-Crusted Pork with Fig & Blood Orange Pan Sauce
I got another notification email before my box arrived that they had subbed out a yellow onion for a fennel bulb (LOL WUT) for the pork recipe. Knowing how much we love fennel, and how poor a substitution that is, I went out and bought a bulb so that I could fairly review that one as designed. As I learned previously, Blue Apron’s substitutions don’t tend to hit the mark. (However well-intentioned they may be.)
Crispy Barramundi with Melted Leeks
So many questions when I started this one. 1) What is a barramundi? 2) How do you melt a leek? 3) Can I do this recipe or is it going to be beyond me? 4) OMG is that what real horseradish is like?! The answers, I would learn, are: 1) It’s a type of sea bass and has a very light fishy flavor and flaky flesh. 2) You put it in a pot with butter, cover, and cook. 3) Chop, mix, sear — I could totally do it!! 4) Yes and damn it’s good.
This was a fast and furious recipe: lots of prep but once you get started cooking, it goes fast! I’ve never worked with leeks before but they were surprisingly easy to ribbon cut then clean in water. Lots of mud was stuck between the leaves, definitely gotta rinse those babies. I patiently let the fish skin cook for a solid 4 minutes before flipping it, which meant crispy-skin success!
The melted leeks were DIVINE and paired so nicely with the potatoes and broccoli. There’s a sour cream/horseradish/vinegar sauce that you split between the veggie mix and the fish — I could DRINK that stuff! Another fun combination of tang and creaminess with the unexpected bite of horseradish. This was a really great dish and we both were practically licking our plates. A great comeback, Blue Apron. A+ for crispy barramundi with melted leeks!
Seared Chicken with Apple, Kale, and Potato Hash
Boy, that title is a mouthful. The seared chicken, which should have been the star, suffered the disappointing fate of being a chicken breast. Even though it was well-seasoned, got a good sear, and some of the pan sauce dripped into the cuts, it’s still just a dry bland piece of meat. Nice try, chicken breast. But not this time!
On the other hand, the hash turned out better than expected. I had serious doubts about how large they told me to chop the potato, but it had a super creamy texture that held up and still cooked nicely in the hash. The apple was a great sweet counterpoint in the hash and the kale helped pull it all together. This dish seemed to be missing something, however. Maybe a bit of citrus would have helped liven it up? Regardless, the verjus blanc appeared to have leaked considerably in the box so I’m not sure if that impacted things. I just think it was missing like ONE ingredient which would have made it a great dish. (Oh, and a substitution of chicken thighs instead of breasts, of course. Dark meat ftw.)
All in all, it was a fine dinner and better than most I can cobble together on my own. We’re giving it a firm B and will continue to ponder on what the missing key could be.
Cumin-Crusted Pork with Pan Sauce
I’ll be the first to admit that “pan sauce” is not super appealing, but cumin-crusted anything definitely piques my interest. We were missing the fennel bulb for this one so I picked one up at Whole Foods to compensate. (I’ll admit, it killed me a little bit to spend $3 on a single ingredient from a $65 box…)
This recipe was easy to work through, but that’s where the “easiness” stops. This was one of the toughest, most jaw-workout meals I have had in some time. We cooked the pork properly, that’s not the issue. It’s the hard, nutty, graininess of the farro that put this over the top. We gave the pork and its delicious figgy orange sauce an A, but because of the poor side pairing and the exhaustion of our jaws at the end of the meal, this dish as a whole gets a C.
Why not pair the hearty pork and bright sauce with a creamy grits side? Or a sauteed apple? Any mush would have been a welcome treat after gnawing through the plate you see above. And one more thing — I hate to sound petty but you couldn’t even taste the cumin on the pork. So they might want to rethink naming of this dish. Maybe a more fitting name would be, “Good Pork with a Great Sauce and an Obvious Attempt at Fiber.”
Next week we start our adventure with Home Chef! We have two weeks of those boxes in a row and I am wayyy curious to see how it stands up against Blue Apron. Anyone else contemplating the switch, or compare them already?