Category Archives: Main Dish

Seafood Newburg

Christmas Eve was coming up quickly, and I was cooking for the DiRusso sisters. It was Feast of the Seven Fishes, an old Italian-American tradition of eating fish and other seafood in celebration of Christ’s birth. I was cooking in a competitive environment, so lobster was certain (witness last year’s Lobster Arancini, or the Lobster Ravioli the prior year).

I took it down a notch by not making it all lobster, but seafood newburg would be great – a bit lower cost (scallops were only $16/lb while lobster meat was $40/lb. Shrimp a relatively sane $7/lb). And I’d deal with three fishes right off the bat!

I searched the web for recipes, and found a couple to be just unimaginative or otherwise lacking, but then ran into the recipe from the January 1991 issue of Gourmet magazine, courtesy of Epicurious if you’d like the original recipe, or herewith, mine:

2 lobsters, steamed shelled, 1″ cubes
.75# sea scallops, tendons removed – if larger than 1″, halve
1# shrimp, thawed, deveined, tails and shells removed
5T medium-dry Sherry
7T brandy
3 cups heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
cayenne to taste
8 large egg yolks, beaten well

Puff pastry shells
phyllo pastry cups

In a heavy saucepan at medium heat, melt the butter and add the scallops and shrimp. When the scallops are opaque and the shrimp just turning pink, add the lobster and finish cooking the shrimp and scallops.

Add 4T of Sherry and 6T of brandy, and cook the mixture for two minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the seafood to a warm plate. Add the cream to the sherry mixture and boil gently until reduced to about two cups. Reduce the heat to low, then add remaining sherry and brandy, the nutmeg, cayenne, and salt to taste.

Whisk in the egg yolks and slowly cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it reads 140°F, then cook, whisking constantly, for three more minutes.

Stir in the seafood, and serve seafood Newburg over the pastry shells or cups.

Thanks to epicurious & thanks to Gourmet.

Stuffed Pork Roast

I looked around on the internet for recipes to try, and came up with very close to bupkis. So I made something up. All of the stuffing recipes contained onions or shallots, and some bread. Wow. What imagination. The only smart thing they did was to cut a hole through the middle of the roast rather than cut it open and fill it like a jellyroll.

Herewith, my take on Stuffed Port Roast. I had a chance to get a sample to Peggy, and I had a sample the following day. Four thumbs up. I think it turned out better than I expected.

Preheat your oven to 350F.
1 boneless pork roast, 3-4#
3 T vegetable oil, divided
2 medium shallots, diced
8 dried apricots, diced
8 dried plums (prunes for those over 50), diced
1 C bread crumbs (I cubed a dinner roll into a 1/4″ dice)
salt, pepper
1/2 t ground sage (because it’s pork)
2T water
1t chicken base (we use Better Than Bullion brand for just about everything)

Dice the shallots, apricots, and prunes, then saute in 1 T vegetable oil until the shallots are tender. Mix with the bread. Dilute the chicken base with the water, add to the stuffing, and mix is all up well.

Compress the pork roast from the ends, like a large filet mignon, and with a long knife, stab through the center – lengthwise – of the pork roast. Flip the roast end-for-end and stab again, taking care to align the hole in the roast. Use your fingers to open the hole as wide as possible, and fill the cavity with stuffing. Turn the roast, again end-for-end, and stuff from the other end, until the roast is firmly stuffed. Salt and pepper all four sides of the roast to your liking.

Heat the remaining vegetable oil in a Dutch oven, and sear the roast on four sides. Cover, and place in the oven for 45 minutes. Temp in the stuffing should reach at least 145F. (USDA is now calling for 140F for pork – it used to be 160F, but that always made for pretty dry meat.)

Rest the roast, covered, for 10-15 minutes, slice and serve.

You can make gravy with the drippings, which are mostly rendered fat if you’d like. For each T of drippings, add 1 T of flour, and cook to form a roux. For each T of drippings, add 1/2 C of milk or chicken stock (made from chicken base, just sayin’), stir and cook until you like the consistency, about 5-10 minutes.

Dutch Oven Chicken

For last Christmas, Peg unexpectedly bought me a Dutch Oven, not that we didn’t already have one. This one is enameled cast iron, unlike the plain cast iron models that we also own. So it’s pretty, and very easy to clean.

The dish is nearly trivial to make, and consists of only six ingredients:
1 whole chicken
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
salt to taste
pepper to taste
2 T vegetable oil
3 T AP flour

Preheat your oven to 350F.
Pour the oil into the Dutch oven and preheat over a medium high flame.
Rinse the chicken and dry it with paper towels.
Season both top and bottom of the chicken with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken in the Dutch oven breast-side down, where it will cook for five
minutes or so, until the chicken is browned nicely. Watch it for sticking.

While the chicken is browning, you have time to cut and slice the onion.

When the chicken is browned nicely, turn it over to brown the other side. Add the onions to the pot, along the sides. Cover the pot and place it in the pre-heated oven for 45-50 minutes. (My first attempt ran 55 minutes and it was a bit overdone). Set a timer.

When the timer expires, check the thigh with a meat thermometer. The chicken should reach a temperature of 165F to assure it’s done. Remove the chicken to a plate and let it rest.

Pour the onions, fat, and juices into a heat-proof container. Use a ladle to save 3 T of the accumulated fat, and put that back in the Dutch oven. Discard the remaining fat, but retain the other juices. Combine the flour and oil, cooking over medium heat to form the roux for the gravy. When the roux is cooked and smooth, add the onions and remaining juices to the Dutch oven, stirring well to avoid lumps, and cook for several minutes until well-mixed and thickened. If the gravy is too thick, add milk until the consistency is to your liking. A submersion blender may be used to advantage here, but it’s not really necessary. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Carve the chicken and serve with the gravy.

I think it turned out very well. Peg claims that she’s not going to cook any more.

Lobster Arancini

Each Christmas Eve for about the last decade, Peg and I head over to the house of our friends Jonathan and Karen. Karen is from an Italian-American family, and one Italian tradition for Christmas Eve is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. We don’t always make it to the full seven fishes, but I try to bring along a dish in the theme. I also try to compete with Karen and her three sisters, all of whom are excellent cooks.

My attempt this year was Lobster Arancini – golf-ball sized balls of risotto stuffed with a chunk of lobster meat, then rolled in bread crumbs and deep-fat fried. No, not really the healthiest of treats, but this happens only once a year. It may never happen again because these were a pain to make. But oh, were they good!

I made a double batch, but a single batch is probably manageable. For a single batch (and this follows pretty closely with Giada DiLaurentiis’s recipe, as her recipe came up in my research).

This recipe should make about 16 arancini, enough for 4 servings.

2 T butter
1/2 C finely chopped onion (or shallot)
1 C arborio rice
1/2 C white wine
3-4 C lobster stock (or chicken)
1 C grated Parmesan cheese
1 t salt
1 t pepper

2 C Panko bread crumbs
1 egg
8 ounces lobster meat, in 1/2″ cubes
vegetable oil

Heat the stock to a simmer. Melt the butter and gently saute the onions until translucent. Add the rice and cook for about five minutes. Then add the wine, and stir the rice until the wine is all absorbed. The start adding the stock, about 1/2 C at a time, stirring almost constantly until it is absorbed. After 3 cups of stock is absorbed, check to see whether the rice is tender (al dente). If not, add another 1/2 C of stock, and perhaps another, until the rice is done.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese, and let the risotto cool. You’re going to be handling it.

Beat the egg and combine that and 1/2 C of the bread crumbs with the risotto.

Take 2 T of the risotto mixture and form into a firm ball about 2″ in diameter. Make an indentation in the ball, insert a chunk of lobster, and form the risotto around the lobster to seal it completely. Coat the ball with the bread crumbs as you go, and when you have them all done, deep fry them in 350F oil until golden brown, about four minutes.

Drain on paper towels.