It’s officially winter. At the time of this writing I am again away from home involved in one of the many hurricane relief programs around the country, I’m already dreading going home to January’s bitter cold. I often wonder why I live in the Northeast when I am such a wimp when it’s freezing out…of course I couldn’t live in extreme heat either…hard to please when it comes to the perfect weather. Lol!
Anyway, winter is the lull time in our boating activities so there’s more time to play in the kitchen - it’s warmer in there too if you’re cooking. I watch a lot of Food Network programs and often try out some of my favorite chef’s recipes. Always the more involved ones as there’s no time for that in the summer! I also go for the dishes that, to me, are comfort foods. Not mac and cheese…don’t want to be dieting come spring…more the recipes that contain healthy ingredients but give you that warm all over feeling. Here are a few that I have tried and really liked. Both are on line at the Food Network site and you can watch a video of how these chef’s make their dishes.
Giada’s Winter Minestrone Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 oz. thinly sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 pound Swiss chard, stems trimmed, leaves coarsely chopped
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (14 1/2 oz.) can diced tomatoes in juice
2 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed, divided
2 (14 oz.) cans low-sodium beef broth, divided
1 (1oz.) Parmesan rind
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, pancetta, and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the Swiss chard and potato. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and rosemary sprigs. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the chard is wilted and the tomatoes are very soft, about 10 minutes.
In a food processor or blender, combine 3/4 of the beans with 1/2 cup of broth. Blend until almost smooth. Add the pureed bean mixture, remaining broth, and Parmesan rind to the vegetable mixture. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potato pieces are tender, about 15 minutes. Stir in the remaining beans and the parsley. Simmer until the beans are heated through and the soup is thick, about 2 minutes. Discard the rosemary stems (the leaves will have fallen off) and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve.
Tyler’s Chicken Marsala
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
All-purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 ozs. prosciutto, thinly sliced
8 ozs. crimini or porcini mushrooms, stemmed and halved
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them; pound with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly.
Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. When the oil is nice and hot, dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess. Slip the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 minutes on each side until golden, turning once – do this in batches if the pieces don’t fit comfortably in the pan. Remove the chicken to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm.
Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the drippings in the pan, sauté for 1 minute to render out some of the fat. Now, add the mushrooms and sauté until they are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated, about 5 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Pour the Marsala in the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Add the chicken stock and simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly. Stir in the butter and return the chicken to the pan; simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.