Wednesday, April 20, 2011

What's on the Side?

Sometimes what's on the side is more important to me than the main course, and that is true of an Easter dinner.  There should be asparagus

some kind of potato (sweet potatoes are fine, too) and there should be some corn


or other kid-friendly veg to help make eating those ubiquitous Brussels sprouts easier.  I love brussel sprouts, but I only like them sauteed with bacon, guanciale, or pancetta, some garlic and shallot, they caramelize in the pan and become sweet.

  You can also roast them in the oven like asparagus.  

Today I'm sharing three recipes since I'll be flying East tomorrow with Dr. C. and meeting our son in ORD and then flying to Connecticut to spend Easter with our daughter and her family.  If I post tomorrow it will only be due to a delay, which I'm praying doesn't happen, I want to be there, and snuggle with our granddaughter.  All of these dishes can be made ahead, and then refrigerated, and in some cases frozen before serving.  

Gulliver's Corn
Serves 8

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese        
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Two 16-ounce bags frozen white corn, defrosted
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1. Brush a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with some of the butter.  Sprinkle 1/3 cup of the Parmesan over the bottom of the dish and tilt so the cheese is evenly distributed and adheres to the butter. 
2. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the cream until it begins to boil.  Add the corn, salt, and sugar, and heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is almost at a boil   
3. In the meantime, make a paste out of the remaining melted butter and the flour. Stir it into the mixture in the saucepan and cook until thickened and the liquid does come to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the mixture to the prepared dish, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/3 cup of cheese. 
Do-Ahead: At this point, you can let cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before continuing.
4. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake the corn dish until bubbling and golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Cook's Note:  If you would prefer to skip the cream, try whole milk; it’s not as luxurious, but it does the job.
 Another Cook's Note:  Remember that it takes 24 hours for every 5 pounds of weight to defrost, so start early and get those frozen casseroles into the fridge to defrost a few days early.

Honey Thyme Carrots
Serves 8
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 pounds baby carrots
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. In a 12-inch skillet, melt the butter over medium heat, then add the shallots and carrots and cook, stirring, until the shallots begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the honey and thyme and stir until the honey has coated the vegetables.  Gradually add the broth and simmer, uncovered, until evaporated by half, about 5 minutes. 
2. Stir in the heavy cream and reduce the sauce by about half, another 10 minutes. Stir in the nutmeg and season with salt and pepper.
Do-Ahead: At this point, you can let cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat over medium heat, being careful not to burn the carrots, or microwave on 50 percent power for 5 to 6 minutes, until heated through.

Carrie's Pan Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with Guanciale
Serves 6 to 8
 2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound guanciale, finely diced (see note)
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1 pound Brussels sprouts, tough outer leaves cut, and the Brussels sprouts cut into quarters
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
salt and pepper

In a large skillet, over medium high heat, heat the oil and cook the guanciale until it is crispy.  Add the shallot, and cook 2 to 3 mintues until softened.  Add the Brussels sprouts to the skillet, pour in the broth, cover and cook for 5 minutes, uncover and saute over high heat for 10 minutes stirring occasionally, until the sprouts are tender.  Season with salt or pepper if needed. 
Note:  Guanciale is cured pork jowl and you can find it in Italian markets; if it is not available pancetta, or prosciutto, or thick cut bacon will work here.  If you are using a leaner bacon, add more oil to the sprouts when they are sauteed for the last 10 minutes. 

I hope you all have a great day, on Friday I'll post the recipe for a dynamite dessert---the Bunny Cake, which can be made with any type 9-inch round cakes, but I'll feature carrot cake (why not?) for that recipe and I have the best darned carrot cake on the planet, filled with lots of goodies, and topped with an orange cream cheese frosting.  
 P.S. give yourself permission to order some things in if you are pressed for time; rolls, and baked goods can be bought from your favorite bakery, a veggie tray can be ordered, just make your own dip, and if you must you can order a whole dinner from Whole Foods .

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