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One-dish entrees are simplifiers.

ONE CHALLENGE OF holiday entertaining is how to spend time with your guests rather than in the kitchen. These make-ahead entrees offer a solution by getting all the major steps out of the way a day or two before.

Choose from a black bean cassoulet or a handsome sauerbrater beef pie. Once the few time-consuming steps are finished, final assembly proceeds quickly; both casseroles can be fully completed up to a day ahead.

On party night, allow about 1 hour to reheat the casserole. Just add a salad, crusty bread, and wine or milk to complete either meal, and you're free to enjoy your guests.

Southwest Cassoulet

1 tablespoon canned chipotle chili with adobo sauce; or 1 dried chipotle chili (2 to 3 in.), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and crumbled; or 1 fresh jalapeno chili, stemmed and minced

1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground cumin, and dried oregano leaves

2 large (about 1 lb. total) onions, chopped

About 8 cups regular-strength chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds (3 3/4 cups) dried black beans, sorted for debris and rinsed

Mexican-seasoned turkey (recipe follows)

1 jar (15 oz.) roasted red peppers, thinly sliced

1 can (7 oz.) whole green chilies, thinly sliced

Tortilla arrows and whiskers (recipe follows)

In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine chipotle chili, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, onions, and 1/2 cup broth. Boil, uncovered, on high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and onions start to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

To deglaze, stir in 1/2 cup broth to release browned bits. Stir occasionally until liquid evaporates and mixture begins to brown again, 1 to 3 minutes. Repeat deglazing step 3 more times, until mixture is richly browned.

Add to onions the beans, 6 cups broth, and 6 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are just tender to bite, about 1 hour. Add turkey; simmer until meat is no longer pink at bone in thickest part (cut to test), about 1 hour.

Remove pan from heat; lift out turkey. When turkey is cool enough to touch, pull meat from bones and cut into bite-size pieces.

Drain beans, reserving liquid; set beans aside and return liquid to pan. Boil liquid on high heat until reduced to 2 cups.

In a shallow 5-quart casserole, mix beans, cooking liquid, turkey, red peppers, and green chilies. If made ahead, cover and chill up until next day.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350[degrees] oven until hot in center, about 45 minutes (1 hour if chilled). Lay tortilla arrows on casserole; serve whiskers to scatter onto portions to taste. Serves 10 to 12.

Per serving without tortilla whiskers: 338 cal.; 30 g protein; 5.4 g fat (1.5 g sat.); 43 g carbo.; 780 mg sodium; 57 mg chol.

Mexican-seasoned turkey. Combine 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon chili powder; rub evenly over 2 or 3 skinned turkey thighs (about 3 1/2 lb. total). Place meat in a heavy plastic bag or noncorrodible bowl (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel). Cover and chill 6 hours (for minimum salt flavor) to 8 hours (for full salt flavor).

Rinse meat under cold running water, rubbing lightly to extract as much salt as possible; pat dry. If made ahead, cover and chill turkey thighs up to 2 days; rinse before using.

Tortilla arrows and whiskers. You will need 12 corn tortillas (about 7 in.). With a sharp knife, cut large decorative arrows from 4 of the tortillas. Stack remaining tortillas (3 to 4 at a time) and scraps; cut into strips about 1/8 inch wide.

Pour about 1/2 inch salad oil into a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium-high heat. When oil reaches 350[degrees] on a thermometer, turn heat down to maintain temperature. Add 1/3 of the tortilla strips at a time; stir until strips are lightly browned and crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer strips to paper towels to drain; while warm, sprinkle lightly with salt or chili-seasoned salt. Also fry tortilla arrows until crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes; drain on paper towels.

Serve warm. If made ahead, let cool, then package arrows and whiskers separately and airtight. Chill up to 2 days. To reheat, spread whiskers in a paper towel-lined 10- by 15-inch rimmed pan. Bake at 300[degrees] until warm, about 10 minutes. Then, on some pan, reheat arrows until crisp, about 10 minutes. Makes 4 arrows and about 8 cups whiskers.

Per cup: 88 cal.; 2.1 g protein; 3.4 g fat; 13 g carbo.; 111 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Sauerbraten Beef Pie

4 1/2 pounds boned blade-cut beef chuck

2 large (about 1 lb. total) onions, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon mustard seed

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 cup red wine vinegar

2 cups regular-strength beef broth

1 1/2 cups dry red wine

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

2 pounds (about 9 large) carrots, thinly sliced diagonally

1 cup pitted dried prunes, quartered

1/2 cup raisins

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Cream cheese pastry (recipe follows)

1 large egg, beaten to blend

Trim and discard fat from beef; cut meat into 1-inch chunks. Combine meat, onions, ginger, mustard seed, pepper, cloves, and 3/4 cup water in a 5- to 6-quart pan; cover tightly. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Uncover and boil on high heat until liquid evaporates and meat begins to sizzle in its own drippings; stir often until drippings in pan are richly browned. Add 1/4 cup water and boil, stirring often, until drippings are again richly browned. Spoon out any fat. Add vinegar and stir browned drippings free.

Add broth, wine, and sugar. Lay carrots over meat. Cover pan tightly and bring liquid to boiling on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until meat is very tender when pierced, about 1 hour.

With a slotted spoon, transfer meat and vegetables to a shallow 3-quart casserole (about 2 in. deep and about 8 by 12 in.). Mix the prunes and raisins in with the meat.

Over high heat, boil liquid left in pan, uncovered, until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes; removed from heat. Meanwhile, smoothly blend cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water. Stir into pan juices, then pour over meat and vegetables. If made ahead, cover tightly and chill up to 2 days.

Lay pastry rectangle over meat mixture, folding edges under; flute firmly against the casserole rim. Set reserved pastry cutouts decoratively on top. Cut slits in crust. If made ahead, cover and chill up to 1 day (meat holds only 2 days total).

Brush pastry lightly with beaten egg. Bake in a 400[degrees] oven on the lowest rack until pastry is well browned and filling is bubbling, 40 to 55 minutes. If pastry rim or cutouts begin to darken excessively before center is brown, drape these areas with foil.

You can also bake the pie ahead, chill, then cover airtight up to 1 day (meat holds 2 days maximum). Reheat, uncovered, in a 350[degrees] oven until filling is hot to touch in center, about 40 minutes. (If edges of crust darken during baking, cover with foil.) Serves 8 to 10.

Per serving: 783 cal.; 48 g protein; 40 g fat (20 g sat.); 59 g carbo.; 464 mg sodium; 238 mg chol.

Cream cheese pastry. In a food processor or bowl, combine 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 1 cup (1/2 lb.) butter or margarine, cut into chunks; and 2/3 cup (about 6 oz.) neufchatel (light cream) cheese. Whirl or rub with fingers until coarse crumbs form. Add 1 large egg; whirl or stir with fork until dough holds together. Reserve 1/2 cup dough for decorations. Pat each portion into a ball. If made ahead, chill airtight up to 3 days. On a lightly floured board, roll large ball of pastry in a rectangle to match dimensions of the casserole plus 1 inch on all sides.

Roll reserved 1/2 cup pastry about 1/8 inch thick and cut designs, such as poinsettia leaves; place on top of crust.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:simple holiday cookery
Date:Dec 1, 1991
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