EVENT: Matt’s Birthday
VENUE: Phoebe’s Parents’ Car (Bobby), I-95
TYPE: Friday Night Roadtrip (with lots of fun traffic)
MENU: Roast Beef Baguettes with Cider Onion Jam and Fennel Remoulade; Ancho Chicken Sandwiches with Avocado and Chipotle Mayonnaise; Friendship Crispy Treats
Over the course of the past year, most of my friends have been celebrating year 25, the great quarter-life birthday milestone, and making my life more festive than ever. For many, it was a matter of pulling out all the stops by returning to their roots; Salima brought back the blowout birthday weeks she’s famous for, this time by taking the troops to Las Vegas; Cara got everyone to come out her mother’s house for a backyard BBQ; and Matt, instead of recruiting Caitlyn and me to recreate his old-school birthday glory in our apartment, gathered the whole college crew for a pilgrimage back to Rhode Island.
All thirty of us involved in this plan could not have been more excited. The only thing I was not looking forward to: leaving New York at 5pm on a Friday. My parents were nice enough to lend me their (aka, my former) car for the weekend, and to prevent my passengers from jumping out of the barely moving vehicle and beating me to Matt’s cottage at a brisk walk I decided to make sandwiches for the road.
I had some leftover chipotle mayonnaise in the fridge, and that gave me the idea to make spicy chicken and avocado sandwiches to toast Matt’s So-Cal roots. Then, as I was deciding between ciabatta and baguette in the bakery section, I realized I also had some Apple Cider Onion Jam to reappropriate, so I grabbed half a pound of roast beef on my way out, and decided to get both loaves.
When I got home, Cara was there for our weekly meeting. We talked about some quick book stuff as I got to work pan-searing chicken thighs. As she watched me start slicing open the two loaves of bread, Cara asked how many people I was planning on fitting in the car. Then I asked her to help me on another portion of the meal: the Rice Crispy Treats.
Beginning with the Cara-shaped Rice Crispy Treat I made for her 25th birthday, the friendship crispy treat has become my official quarter-life birthday cake. Matt’s name turned out to me a lot easier than Cara’s (no curvy letters), but that didn’t mean it rendered any fewer scraps for us to eat on the road, which I fed to the birthday boy and the rest of my passengers after the sandwiches and the New York state border were long gone.
From my kitchen, where back-to-back sandwiches make bumper-to-bumper traffic bearable, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
If you don’t want the hassle of making chicken for this recipe, you can use store-bought rotisserie chicken or sliced turkey. However, making your own chicken thighs is definitely the cheaper route ($5/lb vs $9 for sliced turkey!) and the marinade really makes this sandwich a keeper.
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder (or any chili powder you have on hand)
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 cup chipotle mayonnaise (recipe follows)
In a mixing bowl, combine the chili powder, juice of ½ a lime, mustard, oil and salt. Add the chicken and toss until coated in the marinade. Place a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over high heat and brown the chicken in batches. Remove to a plate and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes.
In the meantime, cut the ciabatta in half lengthwise and toast under the broiler on a cookie sheet for a minute or two, until the bread is crusty, but not yet beginning to brown.
Slather both sides of the bread with chipotle mayonnaise. Cut the chicken into strips and arrange them on top of the bottom half of bread. Add a layer of avocado, squeeze the remaining lime juice over the top, and sandwich together.
½ cup mayonnaise
1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce
1 tbsp adobo sauce (from the can)
1/2 lime, juiced
Mix all the ingredients together. This can be done up to a week in advance and kept refrigerated.
The parts of this sandwich sound fancy and complicated, but the sum really is not. Each can be made up to a week in advance and used for a variety of different dishes, not just this sandwich.
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 small fennel bulb, heart and outer leaves removed, thinly sliced
1 cup Apple Cider Onion Jam (recipe follows)
½ lb roast beef
Cut the baguette in half lengthwise and toast under the broiler on a cookie sheet for a minute or two, until the bread is crusty, but not yet beginning to brown.
Meanwhile, make the fennel remoulade: in a small mixing bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, lemon juice, and salt. Toss together with the fennel and set aside (this can be done a day or two in advance).
Slather the bottom half of the bread with a thin layer of apple cider jam. Top with slices of roast beef and the fennel remoulade (try to leave some of the sauce behind in the bowl if it seems like a lot). Press the sandwich down and cut into individual servings.
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons white wine
1/3 cup apple cider
1 tbsp cider vinegar
To make the jam:
Combine the onion, butter, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan with a lid. Saute over medium-low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, add the wine, cider, and vinegar and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring slightly more frequently, until there is no liquid left and the onions are soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. Let the jam come to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.