Family Meal is for Family…Don’t give em Garbage

As a cook at one of Chicago’s more creative and esteemed kitchens, I learned the virtues of family meal. What stuck the most, however, was the idea of the restaurant as family. Coming from a home where Mom cooked most nights, the concept of sitting down with loved ones and co-workers was something I held quite deep to my heart. So, it really pains me to learn of cooks dishing out cereal for their staff meals. Wrong. So. Blatantly. WRONG. While at the restaurant, I almost exclusively worked lunch and brunch shifts. This means less time for everything, especially the daunting preparation for service. However, we still had time to cook a balanced breakfast for our entire staff to enjoy. Wait, no, actually we didn’t have time. We MADE time.

It’s just a function of being a solid cook, and being able to manage your duties effectively. Multi-task. If you’re prepping vegetables for service, cut up a few extra greens for a salad. If you made a little too much decadent curry sauce, throw it on top of those leftover hard-boiled eggs. It’ll be good. I promise. In fact, breakfast is probably the easiest meal not to screw up. Eggs are simple and cheap. Besides, when cooked properly, there’s not many things I’d rather eat than scrambled eggs on toast. Lookup Gordon Ramsey’s method, it’s a foolproof way to make them not suck. Constant stirring, loads of butter, some sour cream, and chives will go a long way towards eggy perfection.

Here’s a list of easy breakfast family meal ideas, and how exactly to use those leftovers to your advantage.

Tortilla Espanol

  • Whole Eggs, whisked
  • Leftover Potatoes (Boiled, Fried, Whatever.)
  • Caramelized Onions (Low and slow in a mix of butter/olive oil.)
  • Butter (Lots of Butter.)

 

Garbage Salad

  • Leftover Hard-boiled eggs
  • Kale & Heavy Greens (Stir Fried.)
  • Red Onions (Cut into petals.)
  • Tomatoes (Cherry, halved.)
  • Romaine
  • Bacon (Cut into Lardons.)
  • Dressing/Vinaigrette (Your choice, but I’d vouch for a bacon fat-anchovy Green Goddess; because that’s how I roll.)
  • Leftover toasted bread (Ripped up. It’s better this way.)
  • Whatever else you’ve got taking up space on the family shelf

 

Quick Curry/Stew

  • Hard Roasted Onions (Charred, aggressively cooked in butter & oil.)
  • Bloomed Curry Powder in oil (Fennel, Cumin, Coriander, Hot Chili, etc.)
  • Tomatoes
  • Coconut Milk
  • Leftover meat scraps (Leftover braised chunks, chicken, etc.)
  • Bloomed Shrimp Paste in oil (If you’ve got it, makes anything better.)

 

Family meal may at times seem like an expensive inconveneince but it is one of the few perks in a hard industry. Making sure family meal is something your staff can enjoy will ensure you have a more engaged, energetic crew.

 

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