Archive for the ‘Main’ Category

Rock Shrimp, Tomato, and Leek Risotto with Basil and Meyer Lemon

Monday, December 13th, 2010


This is a sort of mating of my favorite Shrimp Scampi recipe with a recipe for a Mushroom Risotto that I really like (sans mushrooms though).  It should be almost soupy.

3 leeks, divided
1 cup cream
1 large tomato (or 5-6 roma tomatoes) cut into small 1/4 inch dice
10 large basil leaves cut into chiffonade, divided
1 cup arborio rice
3 tbsp butter, divided
1 cup white wine, divided
2 large cloves garlic
3-4 cups shrimp or chicken stock
1 lb fresh rock shrimp
3/4 cup frozen peas
1 Meyer lemon
Parmigiano Reggiano
salt and pepper

Carefully wash the leeks, then trim the root end and the tops just where they start to turn light green.  Halve them longways, then check for mud and dirt again and rinse if necessary.  Slice into thin half-moons, keeping the slices from one of the leeks separate from the other two.

Put the slices from two of the leeks into a small saucepan, cover with the cream, and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer gently for about 10 minutes.  Add tomato and continue to simmer.

Meanwhile, start the risotto.  In a heavy-bottomed, medium-sized stock pot, melt 1 tbsp butter.  Add leeks, and sauté over medium heat for a few minutes until softened and beginning to brown slightly.

Add rice and sauté for 2-3 minutes until coated with butter-leek mixture and beginning to toast.  Add 2/3 cup wine and stir until wine is mostly absorbed. Add about 1/2 cup chicken or shrimp stock at a time, stirring frequently, waiting to add more stock until there’s just a little bit of liquid left.  Continue to add stock until the rice is cooked through and just barely firm in the center.  Grate a bit of the Meyer lemon rind (from about 1/4 of the lemon) into the risotto, and season to taste.

Add 1/2 basil and peas to cream mixture and stir.  Check seasoning, then pour into risotto and gently fold to combine with the rice.

Heat a large non-reactive skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tbsp butter and melt, then add shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until cooked through — about 2 minutes.  Add shrimp to risotto, then return skillet to heat, melt the remaining 1 tbsp butter, then add the garlic cloves, pressing them through a garlic press.  Sauté for just a few seconds, then pour in 1/3 cup wine to deglaze, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.  Pour liquid into risotto, then squeeze 1/2 Meyer lemon on top and fold gently to combine.

Serve in shallow bowls, garnishing with a grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano and some of the basil chiffonade.  Serve with the same wine you used to add to the risotto.

Kung Pao Chicken

Sunday, May 30th, 2010


Some things are so tasty that people you know demand that you make them over and over again. This is one of them. Both a Chinese-American standby and a classic Sichuanese dish, the Americanized version tends toward the gloppy, sugary and watery, while the real deal is an architecture of flavor constructed around spicy chilis, numbing but floral Sichuan peppercorns, nutty fried peanuts, and tangy marinated chicken flavored with garlic and scallion. My version is close to the real deal but a bit non-traditional, with celery, chilis de arbol, and cilantro. Have with beers — especially if you use the Sichuan peppercorns, steer clear of wine. When half your tongue is numb, wine just tastes really wierd, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t seem to happen with beer. This is not a complicated recipe but it does require some fussy sautéing at the last minute, so I recommend you mise-en-place just so you’re not chopping one thing while burning another. All of the more unusual ingredients are easily obtainable in a good Asian market, except for the Chilis de Arbol, which can be purchased here.

Kung Pao Chicken


2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp shaoxing cooking wine
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp toasted sesame oil


2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp shaoxing cooking wine
2 tbsp brown sugar

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in to 1 cm cubes
2 tbsp canola oil
15-20 whole dried chilis de arbol, chopped into 1 cm pieces
1 tsp-1 tbsp Sichuan peppercorns (start with fewer to see if you like them)
5 large stalks of celery, cut lengthwise in thirds, then into 1 cm pieces
4 cloves of garlic, chopped medium
4 scallions, green and roots removed, cut by slicing once diagonally, then rotating 120 degrees, then slicing, then repeat (the idea is to get thin angled slivers)
Deep fried salted peanuts (some Asian markets like New Kam Man on Canal St. have these housemade) or dry roasted salted peanuts
1 large handful cilantro, washed, dried, and chopped fine

Make the marinade in a medium bowl (I usually make the sauce at the same time in a separate container). Add the diced chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.

If you haven’t already, make sauce by combining soy, shaoxing, and brown sugar. Stir well. Heat canola oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottomed skillet. When oil shimmers, add chilis and Sichuan peppercorns and agitate the pan for a few seconds until the oil colors and smells fragrant. Add celery and sauté until barely cooked, about 2-3 minutes. Remove celery and spices from pan and reserve. Try to leave as much oil behind in the pan as possible. Add chicken to pan and sauté until browned and cooked through. Add celery back to pan. Give the sauce another stir and pour over the chicken and celery. Add garlic. Cook for another minute until some of the moisture cooks off and the sauce gets a glossy look and coats the chicken. Turn heat off and add scallions and peanuts. Add salt to taste if necessary, and garnish with cilantro. Serve with plain rice. Serves about 4.

Salmon with Lentils and Mustard Herb Butter for Babies, Moms and Dads

Friday, April 24th, 2009


I’m on the hunt for recipes that work for both my husband and I and for our almost 9-month-old baby boy. We’re in danger of (or more accurately, firmly entrenched in) an oatmeal and sweet potato rut. Recently he’s gotten very interested in picking up tiny pieces of food and aiming them torward his mouth (he ate a whole pile of steamed zucchini the other day!) Yesterday, another mom at playgroup mentioned that her daughter loves lentils, which sounded like a perfect finger food, so I decided to look for something made with lentils that was simple and not spicy that would also appeal to grownup palates. I found this Gourmet recipe which fits the bill perfectly, with a few minor tweaks. I prepared and served it in two stages: first the lentils and the compound butter, made without salt, with the leeks finely chopped, and with the addition of some carrot for the little man, which he ate up happily, then adding salt, a splash of wine, and preparing the fish for me and dad. Dad is a little iffy on salmon, and he even liked it! I haven’t fed the baby fish yet, but he’ll have a few flakes of the leftover salmon with his lunch today.

Saumon Aux Lentils
Adapted from Shelly Wiseman, Gourmet March 2008

For mustard-herb butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon chopped tarragon
2 teaspoons grainy mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

For lentils
1 cup French green lentils
4 cups water
2 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
2 medium carrots, peeled
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 tbsp white wine
1/2 to 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For salmon
4 (6-ounce) pieces skinless salmon fillet
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Make mustard-herb butter:
Stir together all ingredients. When you’re ready to cook the salmon, add 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.

Cook lentils:
Bring lentils, and water to a boil in a heavy medium saucepan, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are just tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid, then drain lentils.

While lentils cook, halve leeks, wash thoroughly to remove any sand, then chop fine. Finely dice carrots. Cook leeks and carrots in butter in a heavy medium skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes.

Add lentils with reserved cooking liquid to leeks along with 3 tablespoons mustard-herb butter and cook, stirring, until lentils are heated through and butter is melted. Remove from heat. At this point, baby’s dinner is ready! I served him about 3 tbsp of lentils along with 3 defrosted mashed sweet potato cubes and 1 tbsp of yogurt.

When the baby is asleep, gently reheat the lentils and add lemon juice, wine and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm, covered.

Sauté salmon:
Pat salmon dry and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (total).

Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until foam subsides, then sauté salmon, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.

Serve salmon, topped with remaining mustard-herb butter, over lentils.

Scallop “Chips”

Saturday, April 18th, 2009


This addictive recipe comes from the Stonewall Kitchen Favorites cookbook.   The authors suggest them as an appetizer but they are great as a main course with lemony potato salad, cold blanched green beans, or as shown with a light salad of pea shoots, goat cheese, and pine nuts and a glass of chilled Torrontes. This is one of those things that you will be compelled to make again and again by peer pressure.

The inspiration for these crisp, savory “chips” came from an episode of the wildly entertaining show Iron Chef America on the TV Food Network. The “secret” ingredient was scallops, and Iron Chef Morimoto thinly sliced them and served them with a dipping sauce. That idea led us to remember how much we love an old New England favorite — deep fried scallops. These scallop chips are a combination of East meets West — very thinly sliced sea scallops are coated in panko breadcrumbs and fried so that they are crisp on the outside and tender inside –and they cook in about 2 minutes! We like making them in a wok because the oil sits at the bottom and none of it splatters.

Serve the scallops as an appetizer with Cocktail Sauce, Garlic Aioli, Asian Dipping Sauce, or lemon and lime wedges.

1 pound sea scallops, tabs removed
About 2 cups safflower or vegetable oil
One 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
About 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs, or fresh breadcrumbs
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Place the scallops in the freezer for 30 to 45 minutes to make them much easier to slice.

In a wok or a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over high heat about 20 seconds. Add the ginger to the oil and let it heat up for about 2 minutes. The oil is hot enough when you drop a tiny bit of panko into it and it sizzles immediately.

Meanwhile, thinly slice the scallops horizontally. You should get 3 to 4 slices from each large scallop. Place the panko in a bowl and lightly coat each slice of scallop with panko on all sides. Place on a plate.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Remove the ginger from the oil with a slotted spoon. Cook the scallops in batches in the hot oil. Add enough scallops to fit in a single layer in the pan. Cook for 30 seconds; gently flip them over and cook for another 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels. (If you’re making a double batch and need to keep the scallops warm, place them on an ovenproof plate and place in the oven while you fry the remaining batches; otherwise. Serve immediately.

Serves 6 to 8 [very polite people or 2 lucky bastards. -Ed.]

What to Do With Leftover Roast Chicken, Part 1

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Since my son was born, I’ve become an even bigger fan of things I can cook in the oven with minimal interventions before or after, so roast chicken is in even heavier rotation than before.  I used to be at a loss for what to do with the leftover bits, but I’ve come up with a strategy and a few options.  We eat the dark meat the night I roast the chicken, since the white meat is more flexible as an ingredient.  Then I save the chicken in a gallon freezer bag with as much juice and good stuff as I can scrape off the bottom of the roasting pan.  The next day I separate the white meat and the oysters (the little bits of meat from underneath the chicken) from the carcass and put them aside.  The carcass and any other bits, globs, or pieces go into a pot to boil with a few quarts of water, salt, peppercorns, some onion or shallot and whatever other aromatic vegetables I have, like celery, fennel, carrots, and/or parsley.   After it boils, I let it simmer for about 1/2 hour to 45 minutes, and then I strain out the solids, leaving me with a few quarts of really delicous stock.

I can now make one of the following two meals for two with minimal effort:

Chicken, Avocado and Walnut Salad with Spicy Pumpkin Soup
Hearty Sausage, White Bean and Kale Soup

Voila, dinner that no one will complain about.

Chicken, Avocado and Walnut Salad

1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tbsp aged balsamic vinegar
pinch of salt
4 tbsp walnut oil
4 cups salad greens, washed, carefully dried, and torn into bite sized-pieces
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1 avocado, thinly sliced
2 leftover chicken breasts, diced

Put the garlic, vinegar, and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the walnut oil. Add the salad greens and toss (I use my hands for this.) Top with avocado, walnuts, and chicken.

Spicy Pumpkin Soup

1/2 tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic
1 1/4 tsp hot smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 sweet potato, peeled and roughly chopped
2-3 quarts chicken stock
1 can pumpkin puree
salt and pepper to taste
cream for garnish

In a medium, heavy bottomed sauce pan, saute the garlic, paprika and cumin for a minute or two until the raw smell comes off the garlic. Add the stock and the sweet potato, bring to a boil, and simmer until the potato is cooked through. Add pumpkin puree and blend soup together with an immersion blender (or in small batches in a regular blender or food processor, but seriously, just do yourself a favor and get an immersion blender.) Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a small drizzle of heavy cream in each bowl.

Spicy Sausage, Kale, and White Bean Soup

2 fresh Andouille sausages
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 tbsp tomato paste (I buy it in a tube, so I don’t waste it when I just need small amounts.)
1 can white beans, strained and rinsed
2-3 quarts chicken stock
leftover chicken, diced
1 bunch kale
red pepper flakes to taste

Gently heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. Squeeze the sausages out of their casing into the pan, raise the heat to medium high, and saute until cooked through, breaking up with a wooden spoon as you go. Add garlic and tomato paste and saute for one more minute. Add white beans and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, add kale and red pepper flakes, and simmer until kale stems are cooked through, about five minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve. Slices of baguette or other bread grilled in the broiler and rubbed with garlic are a nice accompaniment.

Obama Shrimp

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

shrimpEveryone should have a few dishes they can make just from things they keep stashed in their pantries.  Case in point, the night of the last presidential election, I was glued to the television all day long and hadn’t shopped for dinner.  I had some frozen shrimp, so I decided to check in with Mark Bittman, whose ingredient lists are usually pleasingly brief.  He has a recipe in his book How to Cook Everything, called “Shrimp My Way,” that he says people go nuts for, and which, besides the shrimp, only needed garlic, a few spices, and olive oil.  Being keen on things people go nuts for, I decided to try it out.  Needless to say, it is fantastic, especially on top of roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, or with a baguette, a nice green salad, an IPA or a nice Torrontes, and OBAMA!!!!

Bittman calls for hot paprika, but I like to use hot smoked paprika — it adds a little extra zazz, and who couldn’t use a little zazz? I buy frozen uncooked shrimp, peeled and cleaned but with the tails on, which is the only way to fly.  Most shrimp you buy will have been frozen previously anyway, so why not buy them that way and have them whenever you want them?  To defrost just put them in a colander and run them under cold water for about 10 minutes.

1/2 cup olive oil
3 or 4 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 1/2 to 2 lbs shrimp
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
minced fresh parsley or cilantro and lemon wedges to garnish

1. Preheat the broiler to its highest temperature, and adjust the rack so that it is as close as possible to the heat source.
2. Very gently warm the olive oil over low heat in a large, broad, ovenproof skillet or baking pan. My Le Crueset tarte tatin pan is perfect — heavy, and with 2 handles! A cast iron skillet would also be perfect. There should be enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan; don’t skimp. Put the garlic in the oil and cook for a few minutes still over low heat, until it turns golden.
3. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp, salt, pepper, cumin, and paprika. Stir to blend, and then place immediately under the broiler. Cook, shaking the pan once or twice and stirring if necessary, but generally leaving the shrimp undisturbed, until they are pink all over and the mixture is bubbly. This will take from 5 to 10 minute depending on the heat of your broiler. Garnish and serve immediately.

Steamed Lobster with Two Dipping Sauces

Tuesday, November 27th, 2007

My husband and I recently had the pleasure of spending our Thanksgiving in Maine with my family and their neighbors. We had quite a few amazing food moments, few of which I can take credit for, including homemade pork sausage stuffing, homemade mozzarella cheese, oysters on the half-shell with homemade mignonette sauce, my mother’s inspired day-after-Thanksgiving Turkey Tetrazini Casserole, and traditional Ecuadorean Day of the Dead Bread Babies. We did manage to leave the state with a few pinchy crustacean souvenirs and one of my favorite breads in the world, a fougasse from the Beach Pea Bakery in Kittery, ME, which was a perfect meal after some nasty Connecticut traffic.

Cooking lobsters is one of those things that seems intimidating, but it’s actually barely more complicated than cooking pasta. The absolute most important step is the purchase of the lobsters.

The only truly delicious lobster is alive and has been caught within a day, preferably on the North American Atlantic coast. Supermarket lobsters have been stewing in their own waste digesting themselves for who knows how long (like, months), and it shows in the flavor and texture of the meat. Frozen lobster is so tough and stringy it’s not worth the price. Lobsters are sold by weight and sometimes by shell-hardness. The hardness of the shell depends on where the lobster is in its molt-cycle. Since lobsters grow about 20% during each molt, a soft-shell lobster which has just molted will fill up substantially less of the shell than a hard-shell lobster. Soft shell lobsters are generally about $2/lb less than hard shell lobsters for this reason. I seem to injure myself quite a bit less eating soft-shell lobsters — sometimes you’ll barely need a cracker — but some people feel gyped by finding space inside the shell. Either variety will taste amazing, so buy what you like.

Once you’ve purchased the lobsters, keep them in a wet, cool place until you cook them. Putting the lobsters in a paper bag inside a plastic bag covered with wet newspaper and ice is ideal. You should cook them the same day you buy them. I’m a fan of dumping them out in the sink to watch them flop around for a while, and/or “racing” them in the bathtub, or waving them around at squeamish guests, but maybe I’m not the nicest cook. In any case, you should remove the rubber bands from the claws. Use kitchen shears and watch out if you like your fingers!

To cook the lobsters, you will need a pot large enough to hold all the lobsters. A few small pots will work too. You’ll need about 2 inches of water in the bottom of the pot, heavily salted. The water should be as salty as sea water. Bring the water to a rolling boil, and in they go! To pick the lobsters up, make sure they’re right side up, and grab just behind the head. Again, watch out for claws. If you are a wuss, you can use tongs to pick them up. Place into the pot claws first, one atop the other, and cover tightly. Bring the water back to a boil, and boil about 12-20 minutes depending on the weight of the lobster. When the lobster is cooked, an antenna will pull off easily. When the lobsters are done, use tongs to grab them out of the pot and put them in a colander in the sink. Let them drain for a few minutes. If you like you can “start” the lobsters by snipping through the end of the claws and along the underside of the tail with kitchen shears.

Now is the fun part! I like to serve lobster with two dipping options — classic lemon butter, and a very easy Saffron Chipotle Aiolli.

Lemon Butter

3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
juice of 1/2 lemon
pinch of salt
optional: chopped tarragon or chives

Combine ingredients in a small warmed bowl.

Saffron Chipotle Aiolli

pinch of saffron threads
4 tbsp Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 small clove of garlic, pressed
juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp chipotle powder

Toast saffron threads in a small sauté pan until fragrant. Combine remaining ingredients. Crush toasted saffron threads into mayonnaise and stir to combine. Taste and correct seasoning. Let sit for at least 1/2 hour (this allows the saffron to combine with the mayonnaise, turning it an awesome yellow color.)

I like to eat lobsters beginning with the small legs on either side, followed by the claws and then the tail, since the tail will stay warm the longest.

Chicken, Bok Choy, and Shiitake Mushroom Stirfry with Brown Rice

Tuesday, July 10th, 2007

Growing up in Woodstock NY in the ’70s, I ate my fair share of tempeh, homemade yogurt, and stirfries heavily seasoned with any old spices or condiments that happened to be hanging around, particularly large doses of tamari (Japanese wheat-free soy sauce). In general, I’m not a huge fan of the whole Moosewood school of cooking, but every so often, I get a craving for something inauthentically Asian, by way of the health food store. My version here contains chicken (so there, vegetarians!) as well as bok choy, shitake mushrooms, and toasted almonds. You can be very creative with stirfries, but there are some key principles to follow:

  • Remember that each of the ingredients has its own optimal cooking time. After you’ve finished your prep, come up with a game plan for adding (and in some cases, temporarily removing) ingredients so that nothing is over- or under-cooked.
  • Just because it’s in your fridge doesn’t mean it belongs in your dish. Try to use ingredients that complement one another in flavor, sweetness, color, and texture.
  • Watch how much soy sauce/tamari etc. you use! Rather than indiscriminately dumping in more of any condiment when you need to add moisture to the pan, I like to mix up a batch of sauce that tastes balanced to me, which I usually make somewhat diluted with either water or broth. Then I add that instead of a squirt of soy sauce. That way you don’t wind up with any one flavor dominating.

I like it with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast on top, proving that you can be nostalgic for anything.

For the rice:

Start the rice first, since it takes a while to cook.

1 cup brown rice
2 1/4 cups water
pinch of salt

Combine in a small saucepan with a tight-fitting lid (don’t cover just yet though.) Bring to a boil over high heat, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer gently for 45 minutes.

For the stirfry:

2 boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/8 inch slices
1 lb baby bok choy, washed, ends removed, and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
20 large shitake mushrooms, sliced
1 bunch scallions, washed and sliced into wedgy-julienne (long diagonal slices, turning the scallion after each cut so that the layers of each slice will separate )
1 small red jalapeno, cut into fine dice
1 tsp vegetable oil

1/2 cup toasted almond slivers

For sauce:

2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp agave syrup
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/3 cup chicken broth

Combine all sauce ingredients except chicken broth, and taste. Should taste balanced, a little sweet, a little sour, a little salty. Add half the sauce to a bowl with the sliced raw chicken to marinate, and then add the chicken broth to the remaining sauce to use during cooking.

Heat a large saute pan or a wok over high heat. Add vegetable oil, then the chicken, and brown lightly on all sides until chicken is cooked through. Remove from the pan and reserve. Add mushrooms and bok choy and saute for several minutes, until bok choy leaves wilt and their stems turn bright green and soften. Add sauce as needed to prevent sticking or the bottom of the pan getting brown & crusty. Add jalapeno and scallions, and saute for two more minutes, until the scallions soften. Add toasted almonds and serve with brown rice.

Serves 4.

If you have leftovers, combine the stirfry and rice, and saute in a little extra vegetable oil with an egg for some tasty fried rice.

Mustard Panko Chicken

Monday, June 11th, 2007

Julia Child was on to something with this recipe for Chicken Broiled with Mustard, Herbs, and Breadcrumbs, although the multi-step broiling process seems too complicated for what could just be a tasty thing to cook after work on a weeknight. We like it with sauteed kale or a green salad and mashed sweet potatoes, although when I made it the other night I had half a loaf of olive bread from Bouley Bakery left over and going stale which I turned into a panzanella with olives, tomatoes, some creamy Israeli feta, basil, and pine nuts. It’s great either with homemade breadcrumbs or panko, and, as Julia suggests, the perfect wine to drink is a rosé.

8 chicken thighs, boneless or with bones
4 tbsp melted butter
1/3 cup dijon mustard (not the grainy kind)
2-4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup panko or homemade breadcrumbs
1 tsp dried thyme or tarragon
1 tsp kosher salt
freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 375°. In a small bowl, combine butter , mustard, and garlic. In another small bowl, combine panko, dried thyme or tarragon, salt, and pepper. Coat the chicken pieces thoroughly but lightly with the mustard-butter combination, then with the panko-or-breadcrumb mixture. Place in a baking dish that is big enough so that none of the pieces are touching, and bake until done. This should be about 25-30 minutes for boneless pieces and about 10 minutes longer with bones.

Pan Sauces

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Lately, I’ve been making pan sauces for just about everything. It takes just a few seconds to throw some chopped shallots, butter, herbs, and wine into a pan in which you’ve just fried up some steak or fish or whatever. You can use white, rosé or red (whatever you’re drinking,) any herbs you like, and any other ingredients you find appealing. I like a pan sauce with shallots, white wine, lemon pulp, and capers (and/or sea beans) for fish, and just a simple red wineshallottarragon sauce is killer on a rib eye. I’d love to try something with fruit for pork chops or duck breast, maybe plums and cherries. The one at right is a hanger steak with the most basic of all pan sauces — just a little butter, shallot, and red wine.

Basic Pan Sauce (with variations)

1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup wine (a goodly slosh)
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
(fresh or dried herbs to taste)
(sliced mushrooms)
(capers or sliced olives)
(sea beans)
(chopped fruit)

Pan fry, sauté, etc, whatever it is you want to sauce. When cooked, move from pan to a plate and keep in a warm oven until ready to serve. Return the empty pan to medium-high heat, and add 1 tbsp butter. Swirl around the pan to melt, and then add shallots. Add any other ingredients you like, though if you’re using fresh herbs, it’s best to wait to add them until the shallots are wilted. More substantial additions like mushrooms can go right in with the shallots. When shallots are nice and wilted, add wine and swirl around the pan until it’s almost entirely reduced and the sauce has a somewhat thickened consistency. Plate up your delicious oven-warmed food items, and top with your pan sauce creation.