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Bake-and-relax dinner; the cook's part is quick. The oven does the slow work.

Bake-and-relax dinner If today's version of ast cooking has you checking your watch from the time you hit the kitchen running until, breathlessly, you leave the table, we say it's about time to relax.

Try quick cooking the slow way.

How? The secret to these no-fuss menus is quick assembly of ingredients in 1 pan (or sometimes 2) that you just pop into the oven to bake. If the cooking times--which vary from 1 1/2 to 3 hours--sound extreme for a week-night, consider that if you get home at 5 and take 15 to 20 minutes to get ingredients into the oven, dinner can be ready between 6:45 and 8:15. If time allows, organize ingredients the night before (or in the morning)> then the first person home can slide foods in to bake.

This gives you at least an hour of dutyfree time (you'll need to stir foods occasionally) to devote to a little civilized relaxation--listening to music, reading the paper, catching up on the news, or perhaps conversing.

Even if the baking times are longer than your workweek schedule permits, try these dinners on weekends when you have chores about the house and garden. If company's coming, your guests will enjoy your effortless menus, too.

A special attraction of these oven meals is that they broaden the horizon to ingredients that seem to take too much time and effort for weekdays--shanks of veal and lamb, roasts of beef or pork, as well as risotto, polenta, and other tasty companions. Another benefit: few dirty dishes.

Oven-braised Sausages

With Grapes and Polenta

To complete this meal, make a salad of rinsed, crisped mesclum or other mixed greens (1/2 to 3/4 lb.) dressed with 3 tablespoons of the warm pan drippings and balmasic or red wine vinegar to taste.

1 quart (about 1 1/2 lb.) seedless green grapes, rinsed and drained 1 tablespoon minced fresh or 1 1/2 teaspoons dry rosemary leaves 8 (about 2 lb. total) mild Italian sausages 6 cups regular-strength chicken broth 1 1/2 cups polenta or yellow cornmeal Fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

Pour grapes into an 11 - by 17-inch roasting pan and cover tightly with foil. Bake on a rack in the upper third of a 400[degrees] oven until grapes begin to feel soft when pressed, about 25 minutes.

Stir minced rosemary into grapes. Pierce sausages several times with a fork, then lay them in a single layer on top of the grapes. Return pan to oven and bake, uncovered, until sausages begin to brown, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in 3- to 4-quart shallow baking dish, mix the broth and polenta. Place polenta on a rack in lower third of oven. Turn sausages and stir grapes, then continue baking until sausages have browned well, grapes have caramelized, and polenta has absorbed all the liquid but is still soft--45 to 55 minutes longer. Turn sausages and stir grapes and polenta occasionally during baking.

Spread polenta in a thick layer on a large platter. With a slotted spoon, transfer sausages and grapes onto polenta> if you like, use drippings to dress salad greens (see directions above). Garnish platter with rosemary sprigs. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 477 cal.> 21 g protein> 27 g fat> 38 g carbo.> 823 mg sodium> 70 mg chol.

Osso Buco with Risotto

First, brown veal shanks the nonmessy way--in the oven at a high temperature--then cover and bake. When meat is very tender, stir rice into the pan juices. As the rice bakes, the grains absorb the flavorful liquid and become risotto the easy way.

2 tablespoons butter or margarine 5 to 6 pounds meaty veal shanks, cut 2 inches thick 4 cups regular-strength chicken broth 2 tablespoons grated lemon peel 1 teaspoon dry thyme leaves 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 2 cups water 2 cups medium-grain or short-grain (pearl) white rice 1/4 cup minced parsley 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese Lemon wedges and parsley sprigs (optional)

Place butter in a 11 - by 17-inch roasting pan. Heat in a 475[degrees] oven until butter sizzles, about 2 minutes. Lay shanks in pan in a single layer.

Bake shanks, uncovered, for 30 minutes, then turn them over and continue baking until the meat is browned, about 30 minutes more. To pan, add broth, 1 tablespoon of the lemon peel, thyme leaves, ginger, and cinnamon> stir and scrape to release any browned bits.

Cover pan tightly with foil and bake until meat is tender enough to pull apart easily, about 1 1/2 hours.

Uncover pan and stir water and rice into broth. Bake uncovered, stirring rice and turning shanks occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender to bite, 20 to 25 minutes.

Mix together remaining lemon peel, minced parsley, and garlic> set aside. Remove shanks from pan and transfer to a large platter. Sprinkle meat with parsley mixture. Stir cheese into rice and spoon it onto platter alongside meat or into a separate bowl. Garnish with lemon wedges and parsley sprigs. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Per serving: 568 cal.> 55 g protein> 13 g fat> 52 g carbo.> 297 mg sodium> 190 mg chol.

Honey-Pepper Pork with Glazed Apples

And Onion, Hominy, and Greens

Moist heat, achieved with covered baking, converts pork shoulder into a succulent roast. After the meat, fruit, onion, and hominy are done, use the roasting juices to wilt the greens.

1 boned pork shoulder roast (3 to 3 1/2 lb.), excess fat trimmed 1/2 cup honey 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard 2 teaspoons pepper 2 large (about 1 1/3 lb. total) onions, sliced 4 large (about 2 lb. total) firm, tart apples (such as Granny Smith, Idared, Melrose, or Newtown Pippin) 2 cans (14 1/2 oz. each) white or yellow hominy (or 1 of each), drained and rinsed 2 pounds mustard greens or Swiss chard, rinsed, tough stems discarded, cut into bite-size pieces

Place pork in an 11 - by 17-inch roasting pan. Mix together honey, mustard, and pepper. Brush or spoon mixture all over meat. Arrange onion around pork, then cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in a 350[degrees] oven for 2 hours> baste meat and onion 2 or 3 times with pan juices.

Remove pan from oven and skin fat from juices. Core and quarter apples and arrange around meat> spoon juices over meat, apples, and onion. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake in a 450[degrees] oven, basting once with juices, until apples are just tender when pierced, about 15 minutes.

Uncover pan and bake until meat is well browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer> baste meat and apples often with juices. Gently push apples and onion to 1 end of pan> mix hominy with juices in cleared space. Bake until hominy is hot, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer meat, apples, onion, and hominy to a large platter> keep warm.

Place roasting pan with juices on high heat. Add greens and stir until just wilted, about 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer greens to platter with meat. Boil juices, uncovered, until reduced by about a quarter, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon juices over meat. Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 679 cal.> 49 g protein> 20 g fat> 76 g carbo.> 706 mg sodium> 152 mg chol.

Rump Roast with Oven Ratatouille

And Small Potatoes

While the beef roasts in 1 pan, tomatoes bake in a second pan until they begin to brown. More vegetables are baked with the tomatoes to make a hearty ratatouille. Then you transfer meat to pan with vegetables and add little potatoes to bake, using meat juices to baste the browning beef. Remaining meat juices mixed with vegetable juices from the ratatouille are thickened to make a rich-tasting brown gravy.

1 beef rump roast (2 3/4 to 3 lb.), excess fat trimmed 1 teaspoon coarse-ground pepper 1 1/2 cups regular-strength beef broth 1/2 cup dry red wine 1 1/2 pounds (about 10 medium-size) firm-ripe Roma-type tomatoes, cored and halved lengthwise 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 medium-size (about 1 1/3 lb.) eggplant, stem trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks 4 medium-size (about 1 1/4 lb. total) zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch chunks 1 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into strips 2 large (about 1 1/3 lb. total) onions, chopped 1/4 cup minced fresh or 2 tablespoons dry basil leaves 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dry oregano leaves 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed 3 tablespoons balsamic or red wine vinegar 8 small (about 1 1/2 lb. total) thin-skinned potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed Fresh basil sprigs (optional) 1 tablespoon cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water Salt and pepper

Sprinkle beef with pepper and place in a 10- by 14-inch roasting pan> add broth and wine, and cover pan tightly with foil.

Place tomatoes, cut side up, in an 11- by 17-inch roasting pan. Sprinkle evenly with 1 tablespoon oil. Place tomatoes, uncovered, on the top rack and foil-covered meat on a lower rack of a 425[degrees] oven. Bake until the tomatoes are well browned, about 1 hour.

Reduce oven temperature to 375[degrees]. Turn meat over and cover tightly with foil. Scrape tomatoes free in pan and add remaining oil, eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, minced basil, oregano, and garlic. Mix well, then cover tightly with foil. Bake until meat is very tender when pierced and ratatouille mixture is very soft when pressed, about 1 1/2 hours.

Uncover ratatouille, stir in vinegar, and push to 1 end of pan. Put roast in cleared space> reserve meat pan juices.

Arrange potatoes around meat and the vegetables> cover tightly with foil. Bake in a 375[degrees] oven until potatoes are just tender when pierced, about 30 minutes. Uncover, baste meat with reserved juices, and bake until potatoes are very tender when pierced and meat is well browned, 15 to 20 minutes longer> baste meat often with pan juices.

With a slotted spoon, transfer meat, potatoes, and ratatouille to a large platter> garnish with basil sprigs.

Add reserved meat juices to pan with vegetables juices> add cornstarch mixture. Stir until boiling. Pour sauce into a bowl> offer with salt and peper to add to taste to meat, potatoes, and ratatoulle. Maks 6 servings.

Per serving: 501 cal.> 52 g protein> 15 g fat> 39 g carbo.> 144 mg sodium> 120 mg chol.

Lamb Shanks with Minted Lentils

and Carrots

After the shanks and carrots brown, uncovered, in the oven, add the seasonings, lentils, and broth. Tightly covered, all bake moist and tender.

4 lamb shanks (about 1 lb. each), bones uncracked 1 1/2 pounds (about 6 medium-size) carrots, pelled and thinly sliced on the diagonal 1 large onion (about 1/2 lb.), chopped 2 tablespoons salad oil 1/4 cup cider vinegar 1/2 cup minced fresh or 2 tablespoons dry mint leaves 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel 1 1/2 cups lentils, sorted for debris and rinsed 3 cups regular-strength beef broth 1 teaspoon coarse-ground pepper Fresh mint sprigs (optional)

Arrange shanks in 1 end of an 11 - by 17-inch roasting pan. Pile carrots and onion in other end. Drizzle all evenly with oil, then turn shanks and stir vegetables to mix with oil. Bake, uncovered, in a 450[degrees] oven until shanks are browned, about 1 hour> turn shanks and stir vegetables occasionally to brown evenly.

Mix vinegar, mint, and lemon peel into vegetables> push vegetables aside. Pour lentils onto pan bottom, then scatter vegetables over them and add broth and pepper (mixture runs over into meat area)> lentils need to be covered with liquid.

Cover pan tightly with foil and bake in a 350[degrees] oven until meat is very tender when pierced, about 1 1/2 hours> 2 or 3 times, mix vegetables and lentils, and baste shanks with pan juices.

Transfer shanks and vegetables with lentils to a platter. Makes 4 servings. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Per serving: 853 cal.> 65 g protein> 38 g fat> 62 g carbo.> 195 mg sodium> 152 mg chol.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Mar 1, 1991
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