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Kibbee Nayee

Meal Shortcuts from Northern Virginia Vendors

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I've lately had some fun with buying prepped foods that can be cooked at home, saving a little time and money while not sacrificing goodness by any stretch of the imagination. I'll share a few and offer up the thread for anyone else's delicious adventures in this area.

The Assal Market on Backlick Road in Springfield, in the same plaza as Fischer's Hardware and Kate's Irish Pub, has a selection of pre-seasoned tandoori chicken pieces, packaged up and ready to go. No, I don't have a tandoori at home, but these skinless chunks of dark meat on my gas grill turned out to be sensational. Right from the package to the grill to my stomach. Also, I bought the ground chicken white meat and made chicken burgers with them. Much better than anything ground in the meat case at Giant or Safeway, trust me.

The Lebanese Butcher in Falls Church has marinated skewers of lamb and chicken kabobs. They also have pre-packed kafta. The kabobs go right on the grill and taste sensational. The kafta has to be formed into the traditional cigar shapes on a skewer, or patties (like I did). Add some rice and a salad and you have a feast for not a lot of effort or cost.

OK, let's hear about your shortcuts....!

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OK, I'm not sure how to post this one, but here goes....at the Afghan Mini Market on Backlick in Springfield across the street from the original Five Guys, there in the meat case, plain as day, in a package of six, were "lamb balls". That was the name on the package. Honest.

No, I didn't buy them.

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I just picked up some cook-at-home jumbo lump crabcakes from Annapolis Seafood Market. A half dozen of the smaller size (they also had cakes that were big and round like baseballs) cost a little over sixty bucks. I also added a pound of colossal spiced shrimp that were going for a little over twenty bucks a pound but they were truly huge monsters, fresh, not overcooked and well-spiced, not too much. The crabcakes I fried up in butter five minutes a side but the guy at the counter said that I could also have baked them for fifteen minutes at 350. They are really great crabcakes, full of meat and huge lumps of crab. Perfectly seasoned and not even a speck of cartilage anywhere. They make them on site and you just take them home. My first time venturing to Annapolis for seafood, not my last.

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Speaking of crab cakes, I went to the Whole Foods on P Street this afternoon to pick up some stuff and also to get some trout for dinner. No trout, alas, but while I was considering buying the Bronzino, somebody bought some crab cakes. I took a look at them, figured out how much time it would take to those on the table, and bought four of them @$3.99 apiece. That's a dollar less than Chris charges for his at the Farmers' market. I usually have to doctor up Chris' because they are so bland. I hesitated at first, because I made the mistake of buying crab cakes from the HT in AdMo and they really weren't very good. These were really good--full of large pieces of crab--except that they didn't have enough binder in them (!) and fell apart when I tried to flip them in the pan. I guess I should have baked them instead. Otherwise, they were a real steal--something one doesn't usually find at Whole Paycheck in the midst of their horribly over-priced seafood counter.

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they didn't have enough binder in them (!) and fell apart when I tried to flip them in the pan. I guess I should have baked them instead.

Next time, try this: fry them on one side only in a cast-iron or other oven-proof pan, then drizzle a little butter over the tops and slide the pan under a hot broiler to finish.

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Otherwise, they were a real steal--something one doesn't usually find at Whole Paycheck in the midst of their horribly over-priced seafood counter.

The prices are inline with Wegman's and the quality and provenance of the fish are certainly much better than any Giant or Safeway (in my area anyway).

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Next time, try this: fry them on one side only in a cast-iron or other oven-proof pan, then drizzle a little butter over the tops and slide the pan under a hot broiler to finish.

OOOH, this is good! I was actually using a well-seasoned cast-iron pan. Will use your method the next time. Thanks!

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