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The Only Seasoning You'll Ever Need
Dads, what do you do for dinner when all you have is a piece of chicken?
There are a few tools every dad needs in their cooking toolbox. You should know how to grill a steak (or a burger). You should know how to make a roux. You should know how to use a rice cooker and brown a grilled cheese to perfection. Here’s another one you can add to your collection: the everyday meat seasoning.
So you have a chicken breast (or pork shop or ground beef or anything) but no recipe and no idea where to start, and the kids are asking when dinner is ready at 30-second intervals. What do you do? Use this simple seasoning to cook up a quick kid- and adult-friendly meal.
It only takes a few ingredient you probably already have in the pantry: olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and (optionally) oregano. You don’t have to chop any veggies or herbs, and you don’t have to wait for it to marinate. And the best part is, it’s so versatile that no one will complain they have to eat the same thing every night. I start half my homemade meals with it, everything from spaghetti to quesadillas to fried rice.
First, pour a bit of olive oil into a skillet over medium heat. Coconut oil works too, but you don’t want to use vegetable or canola oil when cooking on the stovetop. It’s not as healthy, it tastes funny, and it can burn easily, so just don’t use it unless you are making a box-mix funfetti cake or something. Also, don’t ask me how many tablespoons. This isn’t Martha Stewart. You’re a man, just put enough. You want the bottom of the skillet to be covered in a thin layer but not so much that the meat is swimming.
Next put in your meat of choice. It works best if you cut it into small pieces first—kitchen scissors will make your life much easier here—but it’s not required. Throw in several shakes of salt and pepper (the more the better, but that’s just me) and stir or flip as required until the meat is browned on all sides.
Once the meat is nearly done, it’s time to add the garlic. You can use garlic powder if it’s all you have, but do yourself a favor and stock some fresh garlic. It’s cheap and lasts a while on the shelf and way better than anything that comes out of a plastic container. While we’re talking about it, you really need a garlic press. Garlic is in basically everything, so you’ll actually use it, at least a lot more than that fancy avocado slicer that’s taking up space in the drawer. Break off a clove or two or garlic, smash it with a heavy object (I usually use the back of the garlic press) to break off the hard skin, and squeeze the garlic into the pan. Make sure the pan and oil isn’t too hot. You want the garlic to brown but not burn to a crisp, which is also why we don’t put it in first.
At this point you are pretty much set. Let the meat cook and use it however you want. If you like things a little spicy, though, as I do, you can put in a bit of red pepper flakes. If you like it extra spicy, you can sprinkle on some cayenne pepper. Mix it in and let it cook for a minute to release the flavor. Finally, if you want to balance out the dish with a little mellower taste, toss in a few dried oregano flakes. Don’t add it until almost done, though, as you don’t want the oregano to burn. Besides tasting funky, it will adhere to your pan like drops of spilled concrete.
Done. Serve it like this with your side of choice. Or use it as a base for a whole range of meals. Want to make spaghetti? Add your favorite pasta sauce to the skillet, maybe add some italian seasoning. Kids want quesadillas? Splash your chicken or beef with a squirt of lime juice. Fired rice? Crack and egg into it, add your rice, a squirt of oil, and plenty of soy sauce. Once you’ve made the meat, you can change it however you like. I made some amazing steak and eggs the other night using some leftover beef strips. Or throw in some salsa and put it over eggs and/or rice to make a quick approximation of huevos rancheros.
You’re all set. If you ever need meat for any meal but are unsure how to cook it, you can pull this out of your pocket to impress your wife and kids. You can’t go wrong. It tastes good in everything.