Best Airbnb Recipes
Staying in Airbnb's while traveling can be wonderful; each one is unique, it's often cheaper than a hotel, it gives you a feeling of home, and it allows us to save money (and save our expanding waistlines) by cooking meals and not always having to eat at restaurants.
However, each time we head to a new Airbnb, we're never quite sure what we're going to find in the kitchen as far as cooking supplies. Pasta is the most simple option most of the time, but that tires quickly. Having stayed in Airbnbs now in over 20 countries, we've developed some time-tested recipes that we can pretty much use regardless of what kind of hardware is stocked in the kitchen. We thought we'd highlight some of them for you. These are simple recipes with lots of variations that you can use depending on what you find at the market. We aren't really using precise measurements (we haven't had a single Airbnb with measuring cups), but rather are making general suggestions and ratios and you should vary to your own tastes.
Outside of the US, we've often found that dried spices come in small plastic baggies of 50-100g (2-4 oz.) vs. glass jars, so we've brought a sandwich sized Ziploc with us and as we discover a new spice in a country we're visiting, we get a small baggie of it and add it to our larger Ziploc of dried spices that we pack and travel with. Our favorites have been Merken and Rica Rica from Chile and Zaatar and Ottoman Meat Spice Mix from Turkey. For most of these recipes, we've tried to avoid buying things that come in large quantities that we won't use all of in the recipe (unless they're really cheap, like rice), or that we use frequently enough in other things to justify buying it.
We're including both metric and US approximate measurements since we still use the US system in our minds, but when we shop around the world, we have to ask for and buy in metric.
Herb Roasted Whole Chicken
This is by far our favorite comfort food while traveling and we tend to pair it with our roasted potatoes recipe immediately below. Most Airbnb ovens we've had came with an incorporated roasting pan that slides right into the sides of the oven or they have a Pyrex dish or rectangular cake pan or lasagna pan that can double as a roasting pan. Basting the meat by placing butter under the skin makes a longer cooking time more forgiving; the meat will stay juicy even if it cooks a bit longer. We've never had an Airbnb that had a meat thermometer, so we have to estimate when the bird is cooked through. Cooking for 1.5 hours means having a fully cooked bird is less of a worry.
Whole chicken from the market (patted dry with paper towels)
1/2-3/4 stick of butter or margarine
Fresh herbs (we've typically used thyme and rosemary, but you can use any combination that you think goes well together that you find at the market... sage, oregano, zatar, etc)
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven 190 degrees Celsius (about 375F)
Soften the butter or margarine by leaving it out on the counter for 2-3 hours.
Chop 1-3 cloves of garlic, chopped herbs, and salt and pepper and add to butter.
Mix butter, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to make a compound.
Gently pry open the skin of the breast and leg/thigh by sticking a finger between the skin and the meat.
Using a spoon, place about 1/2 the compound butter under the skin in various areas around the bird. It can help to clear the spoon by taking your finger over the skin from the outside and wiping the spoon underneath to remove the butter into the space between the skin and meat.
Using the remaining compound butter, take dollops and slather on the skin of the bird to cover. If there is compound butter left over after the skin is covered, take dollops and place around the skin of the chicken.
Salt and pepper around the entire bird
Roast for one and a half hours. If the skin is getting too browned, lower the temperature or move the cooking rack down a level.
Roasted Potatoes (and/or other vegetables)
These end up being nice and crispy. We've done all kinds of variations with spices for these as well. Our typical go-to is the same as what we use for our roast chicken, but when we've done yoghurt marinated chicken (see recipe below), we've dressed the potatoes in spices to mimic what we were doing with the yoghurt marinade like garam masala or curry powder. If you're going for a Mediterranean feel, you can use lemon with oregano or an Italian or Greek herb blend. If you want to make it a bit spicier, you can include some version of a dried red chili spice that's local like Cayenne, Paprika (smoked or sweet), or Merken (one that we loved from Chile). Again we've used Pyrex dishes, square baking sheets or lasagna pans, or the included oven roasting tray that we've found in our Airbnb's. We haven't had a single Airbnb where we haven't had something we could use for this.
About 1/2 kilo (1 lb.) per person of small red or yellow skinned potatoes. You can also use larger red or yellow skinned potatoes or baking style potatoes, but you have to cut them into smaller chunks.
Olive oil, enough to drizzle and coat the potatoes
Herbs and spices based on the meal you're cooking (see note above)
Salt and pepper
Aluminum foil (helps with clean-up, but not necessary)
Preheat oven to 210C (about 410F) If you are going to be doing the roast chicken as well, both should go in at 190C (375F). The potatoes will need to roast about an hour or hour and 15 minutes vs. 45 minutes at 210C.
Wash and dry potatoes.
Cut potatoes so that chunks are about 2cm (3/4in) in diameter. For small or medium red and yellow potatoes this usually is in halves or quarters. Larger is fine, but they'll need longer to cook.
Cover roasting pan with aluminum foil (optional).
Place cut potatoes on roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Mix the potatoes around until all surfaces of the potatoes are covered with the olive oil.
Season with salt and pepper and the spices you've chosen, mix again, and then spread out evenly on the pan.
Roast for 45 minutes or until crispy and browned on the outside.
Lentils are quick-cooking legumes, which makes this an easy recipe to do... they don't need to be soaked ahead of time like other dried beans do. This salad also keeps forever in the fridge, so it's easy to pull out on a night we don't want to go out or cook again. We've used a variety of fresh herbs to brighten it up depending on what we could find... Italian parsley, dill, mint, cilantro. For the cheese, any tangy white cheese will do.. we typically used feta or chevre. If we couldn't find those, we asked at the market for something similar. We found Dijon mustard everywhere we've traveled so far, but it hasn't always been cheap. We use it on our sandwiches, too, though, so it was worth it for us to purchase. You can eliminate it and just add more lemon juice to taste if you want.
Green or brown lentils (about 2 coffee cups worth or 1 and a half coffee mugs worth), rinsed
1 English or regular cucumber, chopped into 1/4 in (.5cm) chunks
1 large tomato chopped or a pint (about 400g) or cherry tomatoes halved
1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped
8-12 oz of tangy cheese (feta, chevre, or something similar)
1/4-1/3 a bunch of chopped herbs to taste (based on the herbs you're using, you may need more or may need less) We like our salad very herb-y
1/3 cup (or 100ml) olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Heaping table spoon of Dijon mustard
Salt and Pepper
Bring pot of salted water to a boil.
Add lentils and bring back to a boil, when boiling reduce to a simmer (lentils should be cycling up and down in the pot from the simmer).
Stirring occasionally, cook for about 20 minutes (lentils should still be al dente).
drain, rinse, and allow to cool, then place back in the pot or in a serving bowl.
Chop the onion, tomato, and cucumber and add to the lentils.
Crumble the cheese into salad.
Chop herbs and add to salad.
Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard for the dressing in a separate bowl and adjust to taste.
Dress the salad, toss, and let sit for 30 minutes.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Yoghurt Marinated Chicken Quarters
We typically would want to do this with just chicken thighs, but those are sometimes tough to find on their own without the legs attached. We originally used to cook this at home using garam masala, but we tried it with a variety of other spice blends like curry or zaatar as well while traveling and it worked with all of them. We travel with a few gallon sized Ziploc bags that we use for storage. Most places, though, you can find a roll of plastic bags to marinate the chicken. If not, you can marinate in any bowl or dish you can find.... the yoghurt is thick enough it won't run. This is another recipe that we often cook with roasted potatoes.
4 chicken leg quarters or 8 thighs
1 pt. (400g) thick or Greek style yoghurt (regular yoghurt will do in a pinch). You may need to thin it a bit with a teaspoon of water
Spice mixture like garam masala, curry powder, zaatar (about 3 heaping tablespoons or 100g)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper
Pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels.
Salt and pepper the chicken.
Incorporate the spice mixture and garlic into the yogurt and stir until combined and evenly distributed.
Cover the chicken in the yoghurt marinade on all sides (in a Ziploc, plastic bag, or bowl) and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (you can also add some of the marinade under the skin if you'd like).
Preheat oven to 190C (375F).
Place the chicken on a roasting pan and place in the oven on the very top rack (but do not use the broil setting).
Roast chicken for 30-45 minutes until done (chicken juice runs clear).
Spanish Chicken and Rice
This one is very flexible because it can be done both on the stovetop using a large sized stir-fry skillet if you find one, or in the oven using a Pyrex dish or lasagna pan. If you're going to do it all in the skillet, make sure that it is big enough so that you don't fill it any more than half way with rice, as it will double in volume when cooked (or you might just need to use less rice). The first time we did this we did it Spanish style using Spanish chorizo and smoked paprika, but have tried it now with a variety of other sausages and herbs appropriate to the country we're in and what we could find, adjusting the spices to go along with the sausage in a way that makes sense. For chicken broth, it is very unusual to find boxed or canned chicken broth anywhere other than the US. We've used bullion cubes in water or sometimes you'll find broth concentrate, which is kind of like a gel, and we've added that to the water.
4 chicken leg quarters or 8 thighs
1 Spanish chorizo sausage, chopped or sliced
1 red or green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 can diced tomatoes (drained) or one fresh tomato, chopped
2 coffee cups or 1 and a half coffee mugs of white rice
Salt, pepper, smoked paprika
Pat dry the chicken with a paper towel.
Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika.
Preheat a skillet to medium-high and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil (if you'll be using the oven, the also preheat the oven to 190C (375F).
Place the chicken skin side down and brown the chicken on the skin side (about 5-7 minutes).
Flip the chicken and brown on the other side (4-5 minutes).
Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside, covered.
Saute the chopped onion, pepper and onion until the onion is softened and slightly browned.
Add the garlic and chorizo and saute for 1-2 minutes.
Add rice and saute for 1-2 minutes. The rice will pick up the spices left in the pan, but you may want to add more salt/pepper/paprika at this point.
Add the tomatoes.
If you will be using the oven, transfer the contents of the skillet into your baking dish.
Add 1 and a half times the amount of chicken stock (or water plus bullion or broth concentrate) as you used for the rice to your baking dish or to the skillet.
Place your chicken skin side up on top of the rice (it's okay if it sits in the stock a bit) and, if you're using the oven, place the baking dish in the oven. If you're finishing cooking in the skillet, continue to cook over medium-high heat until the liquid starts an active simmer, and then turn the temperature down to continue simmering.
Continue cooking until the water has been absorbed by the rice and the chicken is cooked through (about 35-45 minutes).
This one is fairly straightforward and the ingredients we've been able to find in every locale. We look for a local bread that has a spongy texture. For the cheese, if you can't find mozzarella, ask for a similar local cheese, sometimes called a farmer's cheese (if that translates). We're not big fans of a panzanella after it's sat overnight and the bread gets too soggy, so we only make enough for one meal at a time.
Loaf of bread, cubed into 3/4 to 1 inch (1.5-2 cm) pieces
One to two large whole tomatoes or a pint and a half of cherry tomatoes (we found some multicolored heirloom tomatoes at a farmer's market and it added a lot of visual interest to the salad)
One medium onion
12 oz. (350g) of mozzarella
1 cup of fresh basil, leaves torn
1/2 cup (150ml) olive oil
1/4 cup (75-100ml) red wine, apple cider, or balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, chopped
Salt and Pepper
Place the cubes on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1-2 table spoons of olive oil, mix until well covered.
Bake cubes in the oven at 180C (375F) until golden brown.
Remove from oven, immediately season with salt and pepper.
Chop tomatoes, onion and avocado into chunks a little smaller than the bread pieces.
Mix bread, tomatoes, onion, avocado in a serving bowl.
Crumble in or chop the cheese and add to the bowl.
Mix remaining olive oil, vinegar, and chopped garlic together in a small bowl for dressing.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss once more.
Salt and pepper to taste.
Breakfast for Dinner
This is less a recipe than a suggestion. When we were in France, our aunt, Evelyne, made the most incredible omelet for dinner. We used that strategy a couple of times (again often pairing it with our favorite roasted potatoes) and did an omelet or frittata. This is great because you can stuff the omelet with any vegetables you find at the market, use local cheeses, and use up any sliced meat you might have in the fridge. It always helped to add some fresh or dried herbs to the omelet, and we always made sure to have onion and garlic to add that umami flavor. When we were in Spain, we learned to make a tortilla espanola and tried that one a couple of other times as well.
This one is also a suggestion and not a recipe. We often had leftover rice from cooking, and it was an easy meal to stir-fry some veggies (either fresh or frozen), add some garlic and onion, an egg or two, add the rice and then soy sauce and fry until tasty. Soy sauce was surprisingly easy to find most anywhere we've been in the world, and it's relatively inexpensive.
We've stuffed portobellos, green or red peppers, and zucchini and eggplant. We stuff with some combination of cheese, chopped sausage or cured pork, breadcrumbs or rice or nuts, onion or leek, and other sauteed seasonal vegetables we've found at the market. We throw in whatever herbs or spices we think will go well with the filling.