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Weekly Main Course Recipes:  Nov. 29, 2013

One:  Bacalao a la Marinera (Fisherman's Cod)    Preparation, cooking time: 30 minutes
This is a Spanish dish that would, traditionally, be made with dried, salted cod.  I used fresh.  In Spain you can buy the bacalao dry as a board or already reconstituted and rinsed.  You can substitute any white fish: tilapia, snapper, mahi mahi;  adjust cooking times slightly, according to thickness.

12oz (360gr) cod filets or other white fish, fresh or frozen and thawed
1/4 cup (1oz, 30gr) slivered or chopped almonds
1/2 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
15oz (450gr) whole tomatoes, drained    reserve juices for another use
1/3 cup (3oz, 85ml) white wine
2 bay (laurel) leaves
2 tbs dry bread crumbs

Finely chop the onion and garlic.  Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, garlic and sauté until tender.  Drain tomatoes, reserving juice for another use.  Roughly chop the tomatoes.  Add to pan along with white wine and bay leaves.  Bring to a simmer and let cook, uncovered, 5 minutes or until thickened.  Remove bay leaves and stir in bread crumbs. 
Place fish in baking dish just large enough to hold it in one layer.  Spoon the sauce over, sprinkle with almonds and cover either with a lid or foil.  Bake at 400F (200C) for about 15 minutes, or until fish is done.  Uncover for the last 5 minutes of baking time.  Fish flakes easily when done.  (If you have pieces more than 1" (2.5cm) thick it may take 20 minutes.)
Remove fish from dish, place on a small platter and serve.

Two: Chicken and Cauliflower Savoyard           Preparation and cooking time: 50 minutes
    Savoyard means to be cooked in the manner of Savoy, a mountainous region in the east of France, bordering Switzerland.  It usually also means there are runny, sharp cheeses in the sauce.

2 chicken breasts - boneless, skinless
8oz (240gr) cauliflower, about 1/3 large head  
1 medium onion
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
Cheese Sauce
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) chicken broth
1/2 cup  (4oz, 120ml) white wine
1/2 cup (4oz, 120gr)  Greek or plain yogurt
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp tarragon
1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 cup (3oz, 90gr) shredded Gruyère or other strong cheese
1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour

For chicken:  Cut onion in half and slice thinly.  Cut chicken breasts in half.  In nonstick skillet heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and sauté until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add tarragon, thyme and chicken breasts and sauté until chicken starts to brown.  Add 1/4 cup white wine, cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for 10 minutes. 
For cauliflower: Cut cauliflower into large florets.  Put into a steamer over an inch of water and steam for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
For sauce:  Shred cheese.  Melt butter in small saucepan over medium heat.  Add flour and whisk well. Cook flour, whisking, for about 30 seconds.  Slowly add wine, then stock, whisking constantly, until thickened.  Bring just to a boil, barely.  Add yogurt, mustard, herbs and heat through.  Stir in cheese and cook, stirring, just until cheese is melted. Remove and keep warm.   
To assemble: Get a small baking dish (just large enough to hold everything and, if possible, nice enough to go directly to the table).  With a tongs, remove the onions from the skillet and arrange in the middle of the baking dish.  Lay the chicken breasts on top and surround with the cauliflower.  Pour the sauce over all and bake, uncovered, in 400F (200C) for 20 minutes.  Remove and serve.

Three:  Lentil and Meatball Stew                                 Preparation and cooking time:  45 minutes
This is a hearty, robust stew, full of vegetables and meatballs; perfect for a cold evening.  You can use any kind of lentil for this, but I like a combination. 

3/4 cup lentils either Lentils du Puy, tan, brown lentils or a combination. 
1/4 cup red or coral lentils
2 1/4 cups beef stock
1 onion
1 green bell pepper
1 rib celery
3 cloves garlic
1 tbs oil
1 tbs paprika, smoky or sweet
1 can whole tomatoes, 15oz (450gr)
1/4 cup red wine
3 bay (laurel) leaves
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried thyme

Pick over lentils in case they missed the odd stone.  Put green or brown lentils and beef stock in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer until lentils are done.  They should absorb most of the stock.  Don't let them dry out.  Drain any remaining stock when done.
Chop onion, pepper, celery.  Mince garlic.   Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add paprika and sauté 1 minute.  Add onion, pepper and celery, sauté briefly.  Then add garlic, sauté a few minutes longer.   Open and drain tomatoes, reserving juices.  Roughly chop tomatoes.   Add tomatoes, red lentils, all reserved juices, herbs and wine to skillet.  Bring to a boil.  Add meatballs.  Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until meatballs are done, turning meatballs and stirring sauce periodically, 20 - 25 minutes. 


12oz ground beef (350gr mince)
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 tbs Dijon-style mustard
2 tbs ketchup
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano

In medium bowl lightly whisk egg.  Add breadcrumbs, mustard, ketchup, wine and herbs, mix well.  Add beef and mix well.  Form into meatballs, about 1 1/2 " (4cm) in diameter.

To serve: Add drained lentils to meatballs in skillet.  Stir well to combine and serve.

Four:  Chicken Thighs in Red Wine Mushroom Sauce           Cooking time: 25 minutes
     Skin the thighs, if you like, but leave the bone.  These are braised in a savory red wine sauce with mushrooms and onions.

4 chicken thighs
4oz (120gr) mushrooms
1/2 onion    
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) red wine
1/2 cup (4oz, 120ml) beef stock
2 tbs Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp thyme
2 tsp cornstarch (corn flour, maizena) dissolved in 2 tbs water

Skin the thighs by simply pulling it off.  You may need to cut in a few places.  Discard skin.
Slice onion. Trim, slice mushrooms.
Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken thighs and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms, onion and sauté 5 minutes longer.  Add stock, wine, thyme and stir to combine.  Turn the thighs once or twice to coat with sauce. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes. 
To finish: Remove thighs to a small platter. Dissolve cornstarch in water.   Increase heat under sauce, add cornstarch and stir until thickened and clear. Stir in yogurt.  Spoon sauce over chicken thighs and serve.

 Five:  Pork Chops with Ginger Caper Sauce        Preparation, cooking time:  30 minutes
   I used bone -in chops for this, pan-fried, then kept warm while the sauce is quickly made. Remember, slightly pink pork is okay, and keeps it tender and moist. You need Greek yogurt, crème fraiche or sour cream for this.  Regular yogurt will not give a nice, thick sauce.

2 - 4 pork chops, depending on size 
1 tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs tomato paste
1 tbs capers
2 tsp minced, fresh ginger
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp Dijon-style mustard
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 cup (3oz, 90ml) chicken broth
1/2 cup (4oz, 125gr) Greek Yogurt or sour cream

Mince garlic. Peel a small section of ginger, cut into thin slices, then mince.  In a small bowl mix ginger, tomato paste, capers, Worcestershire, mustard, oregano and yogurt.  Set aside. 
In medium nonstick skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Add pork chops and sauté until well browned and cooked (almost) through, 7 - 8 minutes per side.  Remove chops to a small platter or plate and cover to keep warm. 
Add garlic to skillet and sauté briefly.  Add chicken stock and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  When simmering nicely add yogurt mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon and simmering until thickened.  When sauce is hot and thick, pour over chops and serve.

Six:   Chicken in Dill Sauce on Pasta                    Preparation and cooking time:    30 minutes
    I jut cut the chicken breasts in half, but you could cut them into bite-size pieces and toss them with the pasta.

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
2 tsp olive oil
2 tsp dried dill weed
3/4 cup (6oz, 180ml) chicken stock
1/4 cup (2oz, 60mlr) white wine
1 tsp Dijon-Style mustard
1 tbs cornstarch dissolved in 1 tbs water
1/4 cup (2oz, 60ml) Greek or plain yogurt
1 1/4 cup pasta, bite-size

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain
Cut chicken breasts in half the short way or into small pieces.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken and brown lightly, about 4 minutes per side.  Add stock, wine, mustard, dill, cover and simmer until chicken is done, about 15 minutes. 
Dissolve cornstarch in water and stir into skillet.  Remove from heat, stir in yogurt. 
To serve: Put pasta in a bowl. Add some of the sauce and toss to combine.  Top with chicken breasts, remaining sauce and serve.

Suggested menus:

One:   Baked Goat Cheese with Dates and Nuts
Bacalao a la Marinera (Fisherman's Cod)
Carrot and Rice Gratin
   Tuna and Caper Mini Frittatas
Chicken and Cauliflower Savoyard
Twice-Cooked Potatoes
Three:  Lentil and Meatball Stew
Barley with Shallots
Four:   Chicken Thighs in Red Wine Mushroom Sauce
Orzo 'Risotto' Style
Cauliflower with Browned Butter & Pepper
Five:  Pork Chops with Ginger Caper Sauce
Hash Brown Potatoes
Cauliflower with Paprika
Six: Chicken in Dill Sauce on Pasta
Braised Carrots and Shallots

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