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They don't look quick ... but all three are.

They don't look quick . . . but all three are

When schedules are full, simple but attractive entrees that offer a few surprises are especially welcome. Here, our readers have provided recipes for three such main dishes. Pantry basics, plus a quick stop at the market, will get dinner underway.

During a residency in Jocotepec, a small city south of Guadalajara, Mexico, Pat Cameron-Field developed a fondness for the local version of picadillo, a beef stew mixture. Now living in Alpine, California, she still enjoys this quick-cooking picadillo, based on thin slices of beef.

Tomatillos, the green tomato-like vegetable, give the beef a nice tang. You can buy tomatillos fresh or canned in some supermarkets or in Mexican food stores. Potatoes cook in this stew, soaking up the juices.

Garnish the picadillo with avocado slices and serve with sour cream and cilantro. Rice is an additional companion.

Picadillo Stew

1 pound fresh tomatillos or 1 can (1 lb.) tomatillos

2 tablespoons salad oil

1 pound boneless top round beef, thinly sliced across grain

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1 pound thin-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 pound zucchini, ends trimmed off and sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 cans (10 oz. each) red chili sauce

1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced

3 to 4 cups hot cooked rice

Sour cream and fresh cilantro (coriander) sprigs

If using fresh tomatillos, pull off and discard husks. Wash tomatillos and slice 1/4 inch thick.

Pour oil into a 12- to 14-inch frying pan over medium-high heat. Add beef and cumin seed and cook, stirring, until meat is no longer pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatillos (if using canned tomatillos, add with liquid to pan and mash with a spoon), potatoes, zucchini, and chili sauce. Cover picadillo mixture and simmer over medium-low heat until potatoes are soft when pierced, about 30 minutes.

Pour picadillo into a shallow, wide serving bowl and garnish with avocado. To serve, spoon hot stew over rice. Spoon sour cream and cilantro leaves onto individual portions. Makes 6 servings.

Sharon Baden of Seattle has elevated chicken and noodles with this variation based on roast chicken. If you're rushed, you could purchase a cooked chicken at a supermarket delicatessen.

Rost Chicken in Tarragon Cream

1 roast chicken, about 2 1/4 pounds cooked (about 3 lb. before cooking) or 2 to 3 cups boned and skinned cooked chicken or turkey pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil or salad oil

1/2 cup chopped shallots or onion

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1 teaspoon dry tarragon

1/3 cup dry white wine

1 cup whipping cream

6 ounces dry twist-shape or bow-tie-shape pasta

Boiling water

3 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/2 cup grated or shredded Parmesan cheese

Pull skin off chicken and tear meat off bones; discard bones and skin. Tear meat into large pieces and set aside.

In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan, combine oil, chopped shallots, parsley, and tarragon. Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until shallots are translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in wine and cream. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil, uncovered, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and stir gently just until chicken is hot, 2 or 3 minutes.

At the same time, add pasta to 3 quarts boiling water in a 5- to 6-quart pan. Boil, uncovered, until pasta is tender to bite, about 10 minutes. Drain off water; add butter to pasta and mix. Pour pasta onto one side of a hot platter; pour chicken mixture onto other side. Sppon cheese over individual portions. Serves 4.

Nancy Reed of Bremerton, Washington, is a fan of onion soup au gratin with its lid of cheese-drenched toast. But she likes oysters, too, and devised this alternative. Consider an additional offering of fresh oysters on the half-shell. Accompany the soup with a green salad.

French Oyster Soup

6 slices (about 1/2 in. thick) French bread

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

3 1/2 cups regular-strength chicken broth

2 cups bottled clam juice

1/2 cup whipping cream

2 jars (10 oz. each) Pacific oysters, drained and chopped

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) shredded Swiss cheese

Generously butter both sides of bread slices; arrange slices in a single layer on an ungreased 10- by 15-inch baking pan. Bake in a 375| oven until a rich golden brown and very hard, about 1 hour; turn slices over after 30 minutes.

In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, bring chicken broth, clam juice, and cream to a boil. Stir in oysters.

Ladle soup equally into 6 ovenproof soup bowls. Mound shredded cheese equally on bread slices; set 1 slice, cheese up, in each bowl. Set bowls on 2 ungreased 10- by 15-inch baking pans. Bake, uncovered, in a 450| oven just until cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Photo: Picadillo stew of sliced beef and potatoes in tangy sauce is garnished with avocados. Spoon over hot rice; top with fresh cilantro

Photo: Cheese-topped toast covers oyster soup, accompanied by oysters on the half-shell
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:includes recipes
Date:Jan 1, 1985
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