Cooking Lessons for the Bachelor Brother

My brother is a bachelor. He eats out 3x a day. He loves Luby’s cafeteria and Papa Johns Pizza.

He is busy succeeding in business and art and excellence in life that leads him anywhere but the kitchen. Just so he wouldn’t die of malnutrition, I agreed to give this bachelor-brother-of mine a few cooking lessons.

When I asked him what he wanted to cook, he had two reasonable requirements:

  1. Not too many dirty dishes
  2. Can serve several days of leftovers

This is what his refrigerator looked like before the cooking lesson:

Filled with sisterly-concern for his vitamin intake, I proposed a cooking lesson full of as many vegetables as I could sneak into one pot: Miso Glazed Chicken and Veggies over Rice. The brother was suspicious of the word "vegetables" but I assured him he would like it.

Grocery stores can be the most intimidating parts about cooking, so we decided to start with the shopping.

The brother admitted he had never set foot in the produce section, and was confused by the fact that we couldn’t put different veggies in the same plastic bag. “Very inefficient.”

While he questioned me several times if “this was too many vegetables for one dish” the brother was very agreeable, and we got all our greens home. Green = the color his kitchen has never seen.

Before we got started with the actual cooking, we chopped all our veggies.

Chopping up front saves you from frenzied stress once the cooking gets started. Which brings us to the knife skills part of our lesson. First model, then repeat. I showed him how to slice a bell pepper by putting the tip of the knife near the stem and slice all the way around the bottom. Slice around the stem. Remove the white rib and seeds, and chop pepper into bite size pieces. He repeated the process pretty well!

Now onions can be tricky. When I asked the brother to “peel the onion” his immediate response was “how shiny do you want it?” After laughing a little too hard in his face, I realized he meant, should he only remove the papery peel, or also peel off the first layer of onion, to reveal a much “shinier” second later. We decided we needed a “shiny” onion, so he peeled liked a champ.

Then he sliced the onion from root to stem, but slightly off-center leaving the stem in-tact. He made long slices following the lines of the onion, and followed with a few “latitudinal” strokes. Then chopped cross-ways to release large onion pieces.

The brother doesn’t own a large mixing bowl, so we put the chopped veggies and spinach leaves in a large pot he had leftover from college. All chopping was complete in 12-ish minutes.

Then we focused on the chicken. The breasts were trimmed of excess fat and dried off on paper towels and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

Making sure the chicken is nice and dry will ensure a good “sear” – a golden crisp on the outside of the chicken, keeping the inside moist and tender. We coated the bottom of the cast iron pot with the oil (about a teaspoon) and heated on medium heat, until it sizzles if sprinkled with water. Then in goes the chicken for about 3 minutes each side. They don’t need to be cooked through at this point.

My brother’s dog Gorby oversaw the cooking lesson. This level of activity in the kitchen was very confusing.

Then the miso glaze is mixed together: 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup miso, 1 cup soy sauce. Half of the sauce is poured over the seared chicken.

Then dump all the chopped veggies directly on top of the chicken.

Pack in as many veggies as you can. They will all cook down in the oven. Pour remaining sauce over all the veggies, and place in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Once the chicken and veggies is cooking in the oven, you have time to cook the rice. All the details are below. Serve the chicken and veggies over rice and enjoy.

My brother doesn’t have a kitchen table, so we ate on the coffee table, among magazines and iPads. Awesome.

Miso Glazed Chicken and Veggies
  • 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken (I like legs, but breasts will do just fine.)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 cups broccoli crowns, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons miso
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 cup soy sauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Chop all vegetables into bite size pieces, except ginger and garlic which should be minced as finely as you can manage. Set all aside.

Pat the chicken dry, trim off fat, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat a little oil in a cast iron pan, and once the oil sizzles, seer chicken on each side (about 2 minutes.)

Mix the three sauce ingredients together, and drizzle half of the sauce over the chicken in the pan.

Dump all the veggies on top, cramming in as many as possible (they will cook down in the oven.)

Place in 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup long grain rice (I like Jasmine or Basmati)
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • Salt
  • 1/2 onion (optional)
  • 1/2 green bell pepper (optional)

Heat extra virgin olive oil in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Add uncooked rice with a pinch of salt, and stir until all of the rice is evenly coasted with oil and has started to heat (about 2 minutes.) You can add half of an onion and bell pepper to the top of the uncooked rice. This isn’t essential, but adds a nice subtle flavor.

Add water and increase heat to high. Cover pan and bring to boil.
As soon as water boils, reduce heat to low, and simmer covered for 15-20 minutes.