Tag Archives: one pot

French Onion Soup

The key to a good onion soup is time and patience. The onions must cook for a long while. As they cook, they will sweat, break down and release their juices. The juices must then be allowed to caramelize and form a crust which is deglazed with a fortified liquid. This is what will give the soup its rich brown color and deeply flavorful stock. If you skip this process, you will miss in the soup an extra depth of flavor and body that will leave you struggling to improvise as you desperately rummage through your spice cabinet for that extra something that is missing. There is no substitution for time to achieve this result.

The good news is that there is little effort involved for the cook, except for the exertion of patience. Once the onions are sliced, they are popped in the oven for 3 hours, requiring a mere stir from time to time. During this time you are free to get on with the hustle and bustle of your holiday preparations, secure in the knowledge that at the end of the day you and your family will be rewarded with a rich, warming and nutritious soup. A little comfort and care goes a long way at this time of year. Happy Holidays!

French Onion Soup au Gratin

Serves 4-5

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 large yellow onions, about 3 pounds, halved and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup dry white wine, divided
1/2 cup sherry or Calvados brandy
5 cups beef stock or a combination of beef and chicken stock
4 thyme sprigs, tied with kitchen string
1 bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12-15 baguette slices, cut 3/4 inch thick
1 cup grated alpine cheese such as Grùyere, Comté or Emmenthaler

Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Melt butter over medium heat in a large Dutch oven or heavy oven-proof pot with lid.  Add onions and salt.  Cook, stirring, 5 minutes.  Cover pot and place in oven for one hour.

Remove pot, stir onions and any collected brown bits on sides and bottom of pot.  Cover, leaving slightly ajar and return pot to oven. Cook until onions are soft and golden brown, two hours, checking and stirring up browned bits after one hour.  (There will be a lot of liquid in the pot at this point.)

Remove pot from oven and remove lid.  Transfer to stovetop. Simmer over medium heat until liquid evaporates and onions turn brown, stirring and  scraping up any browned bits on bottom and sides of pot, about 20 minutes.  Continue cooking to allow a crust to form on the bottom of the pan without burning, about 5 minutes.  Add 1/4 cup white wine to deglaze pan and loosen crust.  Continue cooking until wine evaporates and another crust begins to form.  Deglaze a second time with remaining 1/4 cup wine.  The onions should be dark brown at this point. Add sherry, and cook stirring until sherry evaporates. Add stock, thyme and bay leaf.  Stir and scrape up any brown bits on bottom and sides of pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes.  Discard thyme and bay leaf.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Make the croutons:
While the soup simmers, lightly brush bread slices with olive oil.  Place on a baking sheet and bake in 400 F. (200 C.) oven until light golden and crisp, 5-8 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Finish the soup:
Divide soup evenly among 4 oven-proof bowls or crocks arranged on a baking sheet.  Gently lay croutons in one layer to cover most of the surface.  Sprinkle cheese evenly over crouton and soup.  Place baking sheet in oven under grill element.  Broil until cheese is bubbling and golden brown, 2-3 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Aprés-Ski Menu: Beef Bourguignon

 

During the winter season I like to prepare rustic recipes from the French countryside. These hearty dishes are made with staples from the land, such as potatoes and root vegetables, bitter winter greens, cured meats and cheese.  My favorite is beef bourguignon, a stew consisting of a tough cut of beef slow-cooked in Burgundy wine until falling-apart tender, mingling with carrots, onions and mushrooms in a rich, savory stock.  It’s a delicious one-pot meal perfect for a cold night or an apres-ski meal. It may easily be made in advance, and like most stews, tastes even better the next day for easy planning. Enjoy with a glass of red wine, a roaring fire, friends and family.

Beef Bourguignon

Serves 6-8

5 tablespoons olive oil
3 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1 1/2″ chunks
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup cognac

4 large carrots
1 large yellow onion, cut in large chunks
4 large garlic cloves, smashed
1 – 750 ml. bottle full-bodied red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 – 6 ounce can tomato paste
2 teaspoons dried thyme

10 ounces (300 g.) pearl onions, peeled
1/2 pound white mushrooms, halved
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-proof pan with lid or Dutch-oven. Season beef all over with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add beef to pan in one layer and brown on all sides. Transfer to a bowl. Add cognac to pan and deglaze pan over medium-high heat, scraping up bits. Allow to reduce by half. Pour cognac over beef and set aside.

Preheat oven to 325 F. (170 C.)  Coarsely chop 2 carrots.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in same pan. Add chopped carrots, onion and garlic. Sauté 3 minutes over medium heat. Add beef, wine, stock, tomato paste, and thyme. (Beef should be covered by the wine and stock. If not, add more wine or stock to cover.)  Bring to boil, reduce heat to low and cook 2 minutes.  Cover and place in oven. Bake until meat is very tender 2 1/2 – 3 hours.

About 30 minutes before beef is done, cut remaining carrots in 1/2″ slices.  Steam or blanch carrots until crisp tender; drain. Sauté mushrooms and onions in a skillet with one tablespoon olive oil until light golden brown.

Remove beef from oven.  Strain liquid from stew into a saucepan. Separate meat from vegetables and discard vegetables. Boil liquid until sauce is reduced by 1/2 and has a sauce consistency, skimming fat from surface. Add sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour sauce back over beef.   Add carrots, mushrooms and onions to stock. Simmer 15 minutes. Serve.

Beef bourguignon can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Cover and refrigerate. Remove solidified fat from surface before reheating. Reheat over medium-low heat on stovetop, or in a 325 F. oven.

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Fricassée

Chicken Leek Mushroom Fricassee

Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Fricassée
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 chicken breast halves, with skin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lb. (250 g.) assorted mushrooms (such as white, crimini, shiitake) stems trimmed, halved
3 leeks, white and pale green parts, cleaned, sliced in 1/4″ pieces
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
1/4 cup (60 ml.) dry white wine
1/2 cup (120 ml.) chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper chicken all over.  Add chicken to skillet, skin-side down.  Cook, turning once, until golden brown on both sides, about 4 minutes.  Remove chicken from skillet.
Reduce heat to medium and add one tablespoon olive oil to skillet.  Add mushrooms and leeks and cook, stirring, over medium heat until leeks are vibrant and vegetables are tender but not too soft, 3-4 minutes.  Add thyme and sauté one minute.  Add white wine and simmer until most of the wine is evaporated.  Add chicken stock and return chicken to pan.  Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until chicken is cooked through, 5-8 minutes.  Remove chicken from pan and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add cream to vegetables and simmer until cream and stock reduce by a third and begin to thicken.  Arrange chicken on serving plates or platter.  Spoon sauce over chicken.  Serve with rice.

 

Skillet Chicken with Rice and Vegetables

Chicken Rice Vegetables

“This tastes like chicken soup without the soup,” declared my daughter as she tucked into a weeknight dinner of chicken and rice.  It was cool and cloudy outside, an unusual event in Northern California, where any rain in September warrants breaking news on the television.  As many of you know, I am a New England girl at heart.  Even when I was living in Europe for nearly 2 decades, I managed to end up in countries and regions where fog, rain, and cold weather featured prominently in the weather report, and I didn’t mind at all.  I married a Dane whose country prides itself on its dismal weather 9 months of the year.  Autumn weather brings out the best in my mood.  The finicky, blustery, invigorating climate sends me outdoors for cool fresh air and the spray of rain and then back inside for cozy clothes, warm fires and comfort food.  Inclement weather, to me, is like the proverbial other shoe to drop.  It balances out the sunshine and warmth of summer, and shows off the other side of Mother Nature.

So, now that I find myself living in California, otherwise known as the land of eternally blue skies and incessantly bright sunshine, I must seize my fall moments when I can.  This brings me to Chicken with Rice and Vegetables.  Due to the wild and unexpected display of crazy weather and freakish nature last week in Marin County (a.k.a. sprinkles and clouds) I embraced that other shoe, so to speak.  After taking a brisk run outside in the forest, I lit a fire in our fireplace, donned fluffy houseshoes and a fleece pullover, and proceeded to make a cozy one pot dish for a family dinner.  The result was what I would consider a compliment in the comfort food category by my daughter and an apt description of this homey skillet chicken and rice dish.  The other result was the hot flashes I experienced due to overdressing in fleece and fluff for the 10 F.  temperature drop in the air outside.

One Pot Chicken

Chicken with Rice and Vegetables
Mild and comforting, this is food that will please children and adults alike.The results will be more dry like a paella, not a stew.

Serves 4-6

4 large chicken breasts, with skin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, cut in 1/4″ slices
2 celery ribs, cut in 1/2″ slices
1 poblano pepper, or green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, cut in 1/2″ pieces
2 vine ripe tomatoes, halved, stem and seeds removed, cut in chunks
1 teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 turkish bay leaf
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup shelled peas or frozen peas
Thyme sprigs for garnish

Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken skin-side down.  Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Turn and cook 2 more minutes.  Remove from skillet and set aside on plate.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet.  Add onion and sauté until tender over medium heat, 2 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté one minute.  Add carrots, celery, pepper.  Sauté until colors brighten and vegetables begin to soften slightly, 2 minutes.  Stir in tomatoes, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper.  Add rice and cook, stirring, one minute.  Add stock.  Return chicken to pot and arrange in one layer over rice and vegetables.  Cover, reduce to simmer, and cook until chicken is cooked through, 12-15 minutes.  Remove chicken from skillet.  Place on plate and tent with foil to keep warm.
Add peas to rice, cover and continue to cook until rice is tender, approximately 5-8 more minutes.  Add additional salt and pepper, to taste.  Fluff rice and vegetables with a fork and return chicken to skillet.  Garnish with fresh thyme sprigs and serve.