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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Of Zombies, Half Marathons and Office Lunches

The words "office lunch" don't conjure up images of great food, do they?

Today we had a bosses' day lunch, which mostly meant that everyone brought bags of chips and trays of cold cuts, as well as sweets.

I like sandwiches, but I prefer something warm for lunch.  And if given the opportunity to bring food to work and cook here, sending good smells throughout the office, why wouldn't I do that?

I have a beautiful All-Clad slow cooker that I think I received as a wedding present when David and I were married two and a half years ago.  It almost never leaves its perch on the top shelf of the pantry--maybe it's been used about three times, but I can't get rid of it because it's so shiny, pretty and potentially useful.  A friend once called me a raven because I was attracted to shiny things.

I prepped everything last night, all 15 minutes of it, and started the slow cooker at 7:30 this morning.  By 10 a.m. the office was filling with the mellowing smell of onions and black pepper, and by 10:30 everyone was asking when lunch was.  It's the perfect dish for throwing together and setting aside while actual work is being done.  It's like the Filipino variant of Southern, vinegar-based barbecue:  savory, meaty and tangy.

On another note, I finished my last race of the season on Saturday, the Anchorage Running Club's Zombie Half-Marathon.  Although many people dressed up, I have wicked sensitive skin and didn't think a layer of zombie makeup would help matters any.  Here are a few friends and David just before the start of the race:

Check out my friend Arlitia and her nephew, dressed as "preppie zombies."

Although I wasn't out to set any records that day, I finished the race with a personal best time that shaved about a minute and a half off the time of my last half-marathon.  This really confirms that I'm dropping from a marathoner to a half-marathoner for future races!

Coming up soon:  The delayed reviews of three Portland restaurants--Gruner, Beast and Irving Street Kitchen--along with a recipe using this month's "mystery ingredient."

Slow-Cooker Chicken Adobo
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma FoodMadeFast:  Slow Cooker Cookbook

4 halved yellow onions, sliced
6 cloves garlic, crushed
2 bay leaves
1.5 tbsp. fresh-ground pepper, plus more to taste
3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of residual fat
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup fish sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
Cooked jasmine rice

Add half of the onions to the bottom of the slow cooker in an even layer.  Add the two bay leaves.

Layer the chicken thighs on top of the onions, then cover with the remaining onions.  Sprinkle with pepper and add the vinegar, soy sauce and fish sauce.  Sprinkle with the sugar.

I mixed the wet ingredients ahead of time, but strictly speaking it's not necessary.
Cover and cook on the high heat setting for four hours, or the low heat setting for eight hours.

OK, so the presentation isn't super-pretty, but this was all that was left after my office chowed the entire contents of the slow cooker.
 This serves 6-8 as a main course, ladeled over jasmine rice.  Your hungry office (or family) will love it.


  1. I love onions! those onions look fabulous and delicious!

    eek marathon running... brings back bad memories for me haha. Did the nyc one last year and will never do it again. I had a series called "how not to train for the marathon"

  2. Seems like you did a great way in the marathon. Bay leaves and chicken cooked together oozes out a lovely fragrant as I do this quite often though its cooked in curry style.

  3. I have a recipe almost exactly like this I've been meaning to try. I see now that it's worth it! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Oooh-I'll bet you scored some points with you boss by bringing this. This beats cold cuts any day- Yum! Keep that slow cooker-it will come in handy for parties and pot lucks.
    Congrats on your personal best time in the race--great way to end the season!

  5. All those beautiful slow cooked onions.... you almost don't even need the chicken!... then again, I love anything slow cooked.

    To answer your question about the sticky soy on beef ribs - As strickly a marinade it'll work just fine.. but with beef ribs, we have that pesky problem of way too much connective tissue and jaw numbing toughness. I've never tried it on anything that's slow roasted but I'm game to give it a go. I guess you could slow cooker them in just a basic braising liquid, then pop them on the grill slathered in sticky soy glaze to brighten them up and sticky them down :)

  6. How do you expect people to get any work done when the office smells of delicious food? I wouldn't be able to work I would want to eat lol. The dish sounds fantastic and the half marathon I bet was a blast.

  7. LOVE the zombie makeup for the marathon! What a nice thing to do to make a tasty dish for the office...but I'd probably get NOTHING done until after I ate!

  8. Loving the zombie marathon makeup! This chicken looks fantastic! I wish someone would bring this to my office!

  9. Guess I know what I'm doing for the Christmas office potluck :) Great job breaking your personal best on the race!

    Buzzed :)