Weekly Main Course Recipes:  January 18, 2013

One:  Pan-Seared Tuna with Capers                     Preparation and cooking time:  15 minutes
     This is best with good sushi-grade tuna that is quickly seared on both sides and cool or just barely warm in the center.  If you get regular tuna you will need to cook it until it is closer to medium - well. Ask your fish monger (I love that word)... or the guy behind the counter.

2 tuna steaks, 6oz each (180gr)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 clove garlic
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs capers
3 tbs chopped olives - kalamata or Greek black (or green if that is what you have)
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) cup white wine

Mince garlic.  Chop olives.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add garlic, fennel seeds and sauté 1 minute.  Remove and reserve.  Add tuna and sauté 3 - 5 minutes per side (depending on thickness - 3 minutes if 1 inch (2.5 cm), 5 minutes if 2 inch (5 cm)) for medium-rare, longer if you want them more done.  Remove and cover with a lid or foil to keep warm. Return fennel and garlic to pan and add rest of ingredients.  Bring to a boil and boil 2 minutes.  Pour over tuna and serve.

Two:   Veal Marengo                                                        Preparation and cooking time:  90 minutes
     This can be cooked in the 90 minutes allotted or left to simmer for a couple of hours if that works into your schedule better.  You can serve it over gnocchi, pasta or egg noodles.  I'm using pasta. Unlike a lot of Italian sauces, this is very light on tomatoes, just enough for some flavor.

16oz (480gr) veal, suitable for braising - stew meat, shoulder, whatever the butcher suggests
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs tomato paste
1 clove garlic
1/2 (4oz, 120ml) cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cup (12oz, 360ml) dry white wine
1 bouquet garni
1 tsp dried thyme
10 - 12 small shallots or 4 - 6 large ones
4oz (125gr) mushrooms
1 tbs butter
2 - 3 tbs cornstarch (maizena) dissolved in 3 tbs water

Cut veal into 1 1/2 inch (3.75cm) cubes.  Mince or crush garlic.  In a deep, heavy pan heat the oil over medium-high heat.   Add the veal and brown on all sides.   Add garlic, tomato paste, stock, wine, bouquet garni and thyme and bring to a boil.   Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 45 minutes. 
Peel shallots.  Clean mushrooms (see techniques).  If mushrooms are large cut in half or quarters.  Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add shallots and sauté until starting to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes, stirring often.  After the veal has simmered for 45 minutes add the shallots and mushrooms and simmer another 30 minutes or until vegetables are done. 
With a slotted spoon remove the meat and vegetables to a serving dish.  Cover to keep warm.  Turn the heat to medium-high under the sauce.  Give the cornstarch mixture a stir and add to the sauce a little at a time until thickened to your liking.  Pour over the meat and vegetables and serve over gnocchi or pasta.

Pasta                                                                                                           Time: 25 minutes

1 1/4 cups penne or egg noodles or gnocchi for two

Cook according to package directions.  Drain and put into a large bowl.  Spoon Veal Marengo over and serve.

Three:   Sausage, Mushroom, Red Wine Risotto     Preparation, cooking time:  30 minutes
    This has a heartier flavor than typical risotto, made with red wine and beef stock. It stands up well to the sausages and mushrooms. 

2/3 cup Arborio rice (or other rice specifically for risotto - Carnaroli or Vialone Nano)
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) red wine
2 cups (16oz, 480ml) beef broth
1/2 medium onion
1 tbs olive oil
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese - freshly grated  (about 2oz, 60gr)
6oz (175gr) sausages, any flavor
4oz (125gr) mushrooms
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 medium carrot
2 tsp oregano

Heat beef broth and keep hot over low heat. 
Finely chop onion.  In medium saucepan heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté until transparent.  Add rice and sauté stirring, for 2 - 3 minutes until rice has white center.  Add red wine and stir. 
Start condimenti.
When wine is almost absorbed add a 1/3 cup of broth, stir.   When broth is almost absorbed add another 1/3 cup and continue adding 1/3 cup at a time and stirring.  Before the last 1/3 cup taste a few kernels of rice.  They should be just 'al dente' - slightly resistant to the tooth but fully cooked.  If more broth is needed add it 1/6 cup at a time and waiting until almost completely absorbed. 
At this point risotto will be thick but not stiff - there will still be visible liquid and it will not hold its shape on a plate. 
Stir in the Parmesan and condimenti, pour into a bowl or risotto platter and serve immediately.  It will continue to absorb liquid and the leftovers (if any) will be very stiff. 

Note:  I normally use all or almost all of the broth.

Condimenti: Cut the sausages into 1" (3cm) pieces.  Chop the onion.   Trim and thickly slice mushrooms.  Roughly chop the carrot.  Mince garlic.
Sauté sausages in nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned and cooked through.  Remove.  Add onion, carrot and sauté 5 minutes.  Add garlic, mushrooms and sauté until mushrooms are nicely browned.  Turn heat to low, return sausages to skillet, stir in oregano, cover and keep warm until needed.

Four:  Pork Chops Creole                                                 Preparation and cooking time:  40 minutes
    Use boneless chops for this if you can get them.  The lively sauce keeps them tender even though they are only simmered 20 minutes or so..

2 - 4 pork chops, depending on size, 12oz (350gr) boneless weight
1 tbs olive oil
1 medium onion 
1/2 green pepper
2oz (60gr) mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) ketchup
1 tbs Worcestershire
1 tsp chili powder
2 tbs chicken stock
1 tsp oregano

Mince garlic.  Cut onion into quarters and slice thickly. Thickly slice green pepper, then cut slices in half.  Clean mushrooms and slice. 
In medium nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté pork chops until lightly browned, about 3 minutes per side.  Remove and set aside.  Add chili powder, garlic, onions, pepper, mushrooms to pan and sauté 5 minutes.  Return chops to pan.  Spread ketchup and Worcestershire sauce over top.   Add stock and bring to a boil.   Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 20 - 30 minutes, turning once and stirring sauce, until chops are done and tender.   Serve. 

Five:  Stir-Fried Chicken with Brussels Sprouts     Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
     I cut the carrots in half-circles for this dish - round, like the sprouts. Stir-fries should be visually pleasing as well as palate pleasing.       

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 rib celery 
10 - 12 Brussels sprouts
1 medium - large carrot
2 slices ginger, peeled
2oz (60gr) mushrooms
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) sherry
1 tbs peanut butter
1 tbs soy sauce
4 tsp olive oil
2 tsp cornstarch (maizena, corn flour)

Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Slice off stem end of sprouts and remove any wilted or damaged leaves.  Cut each sprout in half through the stem end. Chop the onion.  Cut celery into 1/4 inch slices.  Cut the carrot in half lengthwise, then slice, 1/4 inch thick (.5cm).  Mince the garlic and the ginger.  Dissolve the cornstarch in the soy sauce and set aside.  Now you are ready to cook. 
In large skillet or wok heat half of the oil over medium-high heat.  Add celery, onion, carrot, Brussels sprouts and stir fry 3 minutes. Add garlic, ginger and stir-fry 2 minutes more.  Transfer vegetables to a plate.  Add the rest of the oil to the skillet along with the chicken.  Stir fry 3 minutes.  Return the vegetables to the pan and add the chicken stock, sherry and peanut butter.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 7 - 10 minutes longer, until the vegetables are just tender - but not over-done. Give the cornstarch/soy sauce a stir to recombine and add it to the pan, stirring constantly until thickened.   Serve over rice.

Basmati Rice                                                                   Time: 20 minutes or whatever your package says
    Simple, fragrant, fluffy, quick-cooking ....for me, the perfect white rice.  

1/2 cup Basmati rice
1 tsp butter
1 cup chicken stock

Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat.  Add rice and sauté, stirring for 2 - 3 minutes.  Add stock or water and thyme.  Cook rice for length of time on package.  When done fluff with fork and serve.

Six:   Chunky Turkey Hash                                             Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes
    I buy turkey tenderloins for use in dishes like this.  If they are too large for a single meal I cut them in half (or whatever) and freeze the rest.  The tenderloin is very lean, takes on other flavorings easily and can be cut to size.

2 medium potatoes
2 carrots
2 ribs celery
1/2 green pepper
1 onion
4oz (125gr) mushrooms
2 cloves garlic
10oz (300gr) turkey tenderloin or ground turkey
4 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) chicken stock
3 tbs ketchup
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp oregano

Cut potato into chunks.  Roll-cut carrots: cut the end off the carrot at an angle, roll carrot 1/4 turn and cut next piece about 3/4 inch away at an angle, roll 1/4 and cut next piece, etc.  Steam potatoes and carrots for 15 minutes over medium-high heat, until they are just tender.
Chop onion, pepper, celery and mince garlic.  Clean mushrooms and slice thickly.  Cut turkey into bite-size pieces. 
Heat 2 tsp oil in large nonstick skillet over medium - high heat.  Add onion, pepper, celery and mushrooms.  Sauté until tender, about 7 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté 3 minutes longer.  Remove onion, etc to a plate.  Add turkey to skillet and sauté 3 - 5 minutes until browned.  Put on same plate as onions.  Heat remaining 2 tsp oil in skillet and add carrots and potatoes.  Stir-fry until vegetables are lightly browned.  Return everything to pan and heat through.  Add soy sauce, mustard, oregano, stock, ketchup and heat through, stirring constantly, 2 - 3 minutes over medium heat.  Serve.

Suggested menus:

One:  Warm Leek and Avocado Salad
Pan-Seared Tuna with Capers
Polenta Timbales with Cheese
Sautéed Spinach
  Bean and Celery Salad
Veal Marengo
Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Butter
Three:  Sausage, Mushroom and Red Wine Risotto
Apple Walnut Salad
Four:    Pork Chops Creole
Patatas Castellanas
Five:   Stir-Fried Chicken with Brussels Sprouts
Six:  Chunky Turkey Hash

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