Serendipitously, I discovered “half-board”. For my uninformed compatriots, this is a concept where you are fed a pre-paid/pre-set breakfast and dinner at your nighttime accommodation. While having the potential for disaster, if done well, it can be a righteous win. Much like dining on cruise ship, it wholly eliminates the brain space routinely used to decide the W’s of dining (when, where, what). These W’s are crucial “think ahead” points when living in rural, ahem wine country, France; nothing is open two days of the week and you most certainly need a reservation, if even obtained only ten minutes prior to arrival.
When planning our stay in the Dolomites, crazy Jon suggested we might stay in this place called “Zallingerhutte.” A hiking hut he called it. What the fuck is that anyway and, more importantly, it sounds terrible. Given the paucity of information available about this “recently renovated”accommodation, I had nightmarish visions of the bunk beds and communal bathrooms. You can imagine the shock and awe when we were escorted past the relaxation building (with two saunas, a steam room and three relaxation rooms) to our extra large bed with separate down comforters. Oh and then the half board. Every morning we had a spread of yogurts, meats, cheeses and every night they fed us a three course meal. Every. Single. Night. I still daydream of these days. The hiking was pretty cool too.
Consciously or not, the villa (i.e. Chez Scanlon) also routinely provides a half board option to its visitors. The deal is pretty sweet actually – I provide the meals and they provide the wine pairings. Unbeknownst to them, they secretly become my little hungry guinea pigs. While I think it has gone rather well, it is not lost on me that it could be the aforementioned disaster and, well, they are just too scared to tell me. Recently two friends (one old and one new) graciously, albeit unknowingly, allowed me to perform this trial on them. Every night, we ate a home-cooked dinner. Even on the day we really wanted to go out to eat – we couldn’t. Damn Mondays.
This experiment has forced me to plan ahead so that I have edible food ready to cook and am motivated to follow through. Dumb it down. Less thinking is almost always a good thing (but don’t even ask me how I feel about protocols). After an Instagram post by Grandma Gail that highlighted her addiction to squashes, I decided to purchase my own. My squash bounty included spaghetti squash, butternut squash and a potimarron (this is red kuri, apparently). Following a night of roast chicken, I managed to have the foresight to dice and roast this potimarron.
After a long day trip to Marseille (and a short walk on the calanques) it was sweet relief to see leftover bits of roast chicken, roast squash and a roll of puff pastry sitting in my fridge. A new fan favorite was developed. We can call it Kuri Chicken Pie.
There is no recipe for this magic. It is sauteed celery, carrot and onion. Heated with leftover roast chicken and the potimarron. Chicken broth and some flour make the stock. Put it in a pan and top with puff pastry. Bake until it turns golden brown. My lord.