How can we be starving!?

OK, so we are not literally starving, but the kids seem to think I am plotting against them. This week is all about the holiday and all of my cooking and shopping will be focused on that one, giant meal. Sadly, it bums me out to think that after all this work and planning, it will be completely consumed in under 45 minutes. And I think I am being generous in saying it will take that long. Seriously.

So after going off script last week with the menu, we are definitely living off Twice Cooked this week. My husband made a HUGE pot of sauce with meatballs, which I was so very much craving, so we will be having that tonight. Tomorrow, may likely be a “soup and sandwich night.” I use the term loosely, as that could mean anything from hotdogs to quesadillas at my house! Sometimes, we actually have soup and sandwiches on “soup and sandwich night.” Go figure. By the time Wednesday rolls around, if there is anything left to eat, we will eat at home. I am desperately trying to make space in both the fridge and the freezer. If it turns out that I am actually starving the children, we will eat out. Hopefully something that doesn’t generate a doggie bag!

To round out what I experimented with last week, I finally took a stab at making Chicken Marsala. For some reason, I thought this would be some sort of exotic dish, but it boiled down to being chicken fillets with a mushroom gravy. It was tasty, don’t get me wrong, but it was surprising to me that it was that simple. I got this version from Food Network and was surprised to read the small print that it wasn’t endorsed by their kitchens. I didn’t have time to research another version so I had to run with it. The kids didn’t like the mushrooms, so again, I likely won’t make this unless we have company. To go with it, I made a batch of cranberry compote, just so I could give it a whirl before the big day. I love the stuff, so I am happy to have it around to eat. YUM! Then, I made a Brussels Sprout Gratin. This was some seriously delicious stuff! I love the sprouts and then throw in some cheese and life is beautiful! Since I am so deeply enamored with the sprouts, I am including the recipe here.

Brussels Sprout and Caramelized Shallot Gratin
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

For the Caramelized Shallots:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
6 – 8 shallots (depending on size), thinly sliced lengthwise
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Gratin:
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Kosher salt
2 pounds brussels sprouts, tough ends trimmed and halved lengthwise
2 tablespoons flour
8 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
½ oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon lemon zest
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup caramelized shallots

For the Topping:
3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs (I used a baguette)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat leaf parsley

For the Caramelized Shallots:

Warm butter in a medium, heavy bottom saucepan over medium-low heat. Add sliced shallots and season with sugar, a pinch of salt and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper. Cook shallots until caramelized (light brown and soft), stirring frequently. This should take 15 – 20 minutes.

Reserve 1 cup of caramelized shallots for the gratin. Refrigerate any leftovers.

For the Gratin & Topping:

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Set aside. Prepare an ice bath (a large bowl of cold water and ice cubes). Also set aside.

Fill a large pot ¾ of the way with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once the water has come to a boil, add a handful of salt. Drop in the brussels sprouts and cook until just tender (about 5 minutes). You can test for doneness by piercing one of the sprouts with a fork. The fork should go in with some ease, but there should still be a little resistance left. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer brussels sprouts to the ice bath. Drain and gentle dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, Gruyère, Parmesan cheese, lemon zest, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and the freshly ground pepper. Add the cream, brussels sprouts and caramelized shallots, stirring to combine. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish and smooth out the top.

To make the topping, add bread crumbs, melted butter, lemon zest, salt, pepper and parsley to a medium bowl, stirring to combine. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the gratin.

Bake until the bread crumbs are golden brown (30 – 35 minutes). Let the gratin rest for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and that you don’t gain 5 pounds this week.

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