Lunch: NYC Fried Chicken, Not So Scary (aka Deskside Chicken Salad)

photoUnderstandably, I’ve been a little intimidated by NYC Fried Chicken in the few months since I began working in the neighborhood.

I pass by not infrequently, and there always seems to be a number of men standing and eating at the street-facing counters, tearing into fried chicken, fried whiting fish sandwiches, fistfuls of fries, blatantly staring at passersby. The crowd, coupled with the overwhelming smell of fried grease being pumped out through some kind of vent as you pass the restaurant on the W. 39th Street side … well. You can see my point.

photo(2)I was on my way up to try the fried chicken at Piece of Chicken, when, on impulse, I decided to duck into NYC Fried Chicken. (Might have had something to do with the rain.) Inside, NYC Fried Chicken was cleaner than I expected, even if the front display cases where a restaurant might normally have takeaway containers of potato salad or cole slaw were oddly empty. The clerk was helpful and nice, even after I started asking (probably obvious) questions, such as, “Can you just buy chicken by the piece?” I couldn’t help it; the whole menu is combos, no a la carte posted, and this is the sort of thing I just have to ask.

photo(3)photo(4)Back at my office, in prep of my salad, I really dug into the chicken: It wasn’t can’t-touch-this, straight-out-of-the-fryer hot, but it was warm, had good flavor and not dry. photo(5)Slightly smallish pieces of chicken, in terms of the amount of meet you get, but two pieces worked like a charm for my hodgepodge salad of mixed greens, red onion, tomato, brown rice, fried chicken and ranch dressing. It was sort of like a Southern-style salad with the fried chicken, ranch, etc. … except, well, not really.

TIP: I paid $3.70 for a breast and a thigh; next time, if I don’t have the rest of lunch waiting back at my desk I’m going for the $4.20 combo which includes 2 pieces of chicken (one large, one small), mashed potatoes and a biscuit. That’s about a dollar more with tax.

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Lunch: The Surprising Success of the Salad that Was an Afterthought

photo(2)I paused, passing the kitchen on my rush out the door this morning, remembered I had some salad greens in there that needed eating, grabbed them, along with a bit of chicken and some onion that needed eating, and ran to work.

At work, I remembered that I had the end of a container of Wakim’s Foods garbanzo salad (which I’ve blogged about before, here and here), and some couscous.

I sensed something Mediterranean-ish transpiring, so I picked up some cubes of feta, marinated artichoke pieces and red onion (forgetting I had onion) and a hot pepper at the corner deli salad bar.

photophotoSomehow, all these forgotten elements conspired to make a really excellent salad: chickpeas in a lemon-y, herbal, olive oil dressing, plus rotisserie chicken, feta cheese, sliced onion. I love when an afterthought leads to a revelation.

Lunch: The Late Springtime Pick-Me-Up

Something about this combination reminds me of what Springtime is supposed to be about, which is all things fresh and pretty. (At least in the world of greeting cards.)

I guess they are all sort of fresh and pretty:

photo(2)photoeggs = Springtime symbol of renewal, new life
sprouts = By definition, newly sprouted
fiocchi = The puckering, dainty, pocket-like shape is pretty dang cute
arugula = A vibrant and zesty leafy green, with a slim-yet-curvy shape, if I ever saw one

Missed: the How-To Make a Leftover Salad Better Post (Friday Lunch)

I just couldn’t get to it yesterday, was too busy. But still really worthwhile content, so here it is: 

Say someone, let’s call this “someone” a “coworker,” offers up a take-out container of spicy Thai chicken salad, which is sort of along the lines of what you’re in the mood to eat, anyhow. 

photo-1photo-2It’s not beautiful, but it’s not wilted. Kind of smells good (spicy). And you just spent $6 on breakfast. Do you take it? Yes. Do you eat it right then and there out of that container? No! Rule no. 1 about leftover salads is you don’t eat them beyond a few hours of original prep. Rule no. 2 is, make it better. 

photoHow? By adding in fresh greens and maybe a little extra protein, to start. Also pick out any unsavory parts, such as soggy wonton noodles, or bits of lettuce that are starting to turn already. 

Combine in a fresh container (KEY), and shake. Don’t worry about the dressing; salads are perpetually overly-doused with dressing, so there will be enough on the original salad to gently flavor the additions. 

Enjoy.

Dinner: Monday, May 4, 2009

It’s been a wild ride today, one that is ending on a sweet note (thankfully). Hint: There’s a reason I’m logging this from my iPhone.

p-1600-1200-37eb9839-785a-4442-b1e1-21a47b730860.jpegp-1600-1200-4ad26bfa-5840-4847-bc9e-7805df4db4f4.jpegMy roommates offered to share some dinner with me, which was really kind. Or maybe the way I was watching the prep made them nervous, I’m not sure.

But thankfully they did, it being 9 o’clock and I still didn’t have a clue.

Out of their extras I made a brilliant little salad: queso fresco; green mango; a few bits of sliced jalapeño; avocado; flank steak that was tenderized then breaded then cut into strips; a legitimately spicy chutney-turned-sauce.

So good. So light. So small, and with plenty of room for dessert. Now it was my turn to treat: I kept it classy with a pair of cupcakes from Velseka and a cold glass of milk.

TIP: I’d you’re running low on salad dressing or any sort of sauce, add  a splash of olive oil and you’ll probably manage to get one more  serving out of it.

Lunch: Wednesday, April 29, 2009

photo68

Now that’s a steak salad.

As promised, a how-to guide to make the most brilliant salad in the most uninspired settings: at the office.

First, prep the night before: Cook the steak. Slice the steak. Slice the red onion. Boil, peel and slice the beets.

Second, package separately everything which will bleed, taint, or otherwise blur with the smells, tastes and textures of others.

photo315I wrapped up the sliced beets and onion in the same saran wrap, but still separately, folding in the onion first and the beets second. Blue cheese? Definitely separate. I placed the steak right on the greens because a) spinach is sturdy and I knew it could handle it and b) I wanted those flavors to “get to know eachother” as much as possible. Fraternizing encouraged.

Third, anticipate dressing needs at work. No one likes a dry salad. I keep a bottle of not bad olive oil (white truffle infused at the moment) in my desk drawer. Yes, I’m that much of a food geek.

photo221Fourth, assemble at work just as you would at home, none of this dumping everything in at once. So in this case, first toss the lettuce in the olive oil/dressing. Second layer the onions and beets. Third, bleu cheese and fourth, steak.

Fifth, utilize the microwave, if you so desire. I micro’d the steak for about 20 seconds just to take the chill off. Give it a little glisten. I guess I could have thought ahead a little more and just pulled it out of the fridge to let come to room temperature.

One thought I had, maybe next time I’ll throw the whole finished salad in the microwave for 20-30 seconds. Nothing wrong with giving the spinach a little wilt or the bleu cheese a little soften.

Sixth, presentation counts. Make it pretty and it’ll taste pretty damn good.

PREVIOUSLY: If you’re just going to eat something small, it may as well be … (Dinner: Tuesday, April 28, 2009) Steak salad prep