Main Course Recipes

Eggplant and Tomato Curry

by Anne Maxfield on November 11, 2019

I had a pile of Japanese eggplants from our CSA that were supposed to go into a Thai duck curry, but the duck leftovers disappeared. This looked like a good vegetarian/vegan way to use up those lovely eggplants. Serves 6:

  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2” piece of ginger
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds,
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 handful fresh curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chunky peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon mango chutney
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 12 small (Japanese) eggplants about 1 ½ pounds (see my verdict below for using regular eggplants)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • ½ pound mixed color cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 375º. Peel the onion, garlic and ginger, place in a food processor with the cilantro stalks and jalapeno and process to a fine paste. Put the spices and curry leaves into a medium ovenproof pan on a low heat with 2 tablespoons of oil and fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the ginger paste and cook for 5 minutes, or until softened, stirring regularly. Stir in the peanut butter, mango chutney and tamarind paste, season with salt and pepper. Put aside in a medium bowl.

Leaving them intact at the stalk, cut the eggplants into quarters lengthways. Rub and stuff them generously with all the paste, then arrange them in the pan.

Place the pan on medium heat and fry for 5 minutes, turning the eggplants halfway. Add the coconut milk, tomatoes, season well with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil.

Cover with tin foil and roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until thickened and reduced, removing the foil halfway. Season to taste, garnish with cilantro and enjoy!

My verdict: Hot, very hot! I used one small jalapeno and it was killer hot. A little mango chutney on the side and some basmati rice helped, but it was still pretty hot. For future, I’d go easy on the jalapeno and add more in if needed. Once the heat was sort of tamed, these were really good. I thought the cherry tomatoes looked a little lame, so got some Campari tomatoes, quartered them and used them instead.

Although my spice list goes to 120 items on an Excel spreadsheet, surprisingly fenugreek seeds were not on it, so they didn’t go in the curry. Not sure how that affects the final product, but now I’ve got some.

If you’re using regular eggplants, cut them into 1/2” rounds and sandwich the paste between them.

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Sheet-Pan Pork Chops and Brussels Sprouts

by Anne Maxfield on October 28, 2019

When a pork chop fell out of the freezer, I took it as a hint that it was wanting to be dinner. It helped that this recipe was an easy way to get pork and veg on the table. Serves 4:

  • ½ tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more as needed
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 large bone-in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick (about 1 3/4 pounds total)
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved through the stem
  • ¼ cup whole sage leaves
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Lemon wedges, for serving

In a large bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, cumin seeds, ground cumin, black pepper, red-pepper flakes and garlic until mixture resembles wet sand.

Smear mixture all over pork and let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes or refrigerate, covered, up to 24 hours.

Heat oven to 450°. In a bowl, toss Brussels sprouts and sage leaves with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread out on one side of a rimmed baking sheet. Add the pork to the other side of the sheet and place in the oven.

Roast pork chops and sprouts for 15 minutes. Flip the chops over and give the sprouts a stir and continue roasting until the pork is cooked through (135° for medium-rare) and the sprouts are browned and tender, 5 to 10 minutes more. Let pork rest 5 minutes before slicing off the bone as you would a steak. Serve together, with lemon wedges and enjoy!

My verdict: This ended up being a week where the sheet pans got a good workout. Like the chicken recipe, the ease of cooking like this makes it a winner. I had some potatoes that I’d cooked, so I tossed them in the oil and added them to the sheet pan.

My only tweak to this might be to use fewer cumin seeds and increase the ground cumin. It seemed like a lot of seeds, but to be honest, I only cooked one giant pork chop, so the ratio of cumin seeds to pork might have been too high to begin with.

Any vegetable that takes well to roasting would be good if Brussels sprouts aren’t your thing. And I’m sure that lamb chops would do nicely instead of pork, but watch the time, as they generally run smaller.

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The Trendiest Sheet Pan Chicken

by Anne Maxfield on October 14, 2019

This sheet pan chicken recipe is supposed to be the most popular recipe on the NY Times Cooking site, and it looked good, so we had to give it a try. Serves 4:

The Trendiest Sheet Pan Chicken

  • 3 ½ pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and ground pepper
  • ½ cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups green Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 cup parsley, tender leaves and stems, chopped

Heat oven to 450°. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with turmeric and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure chicken is skin-side up, then pour vinegar over and around chicken and place in the oven.

Bake chicken, without flipping, until cooked through and deeply browned all over, 25 to 30 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, combine olives, garlic, parsley, the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Once chicken is cooked, remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer chicken to a large serving platter, leaving behind any of the juices and bits stuck to the pan.

Make sure the baking sheet is on a sturdy surface (the stovetop, a counter), then pour the olive mixture onto the sheet. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently scrape up all the bits the chicken left behind, letting the olive mixture mingle with the rendered fat and turn into a sauce. Pour olive mixture over the chicken, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: I think Frank liked this better than I did. It might be because for once, I cooked him a breast and kept the thighs to myself. Both were crispy skinned and tender inside, so I would definitely use this technique to make chicken anytime.

However, the next time I make the recipe, I’ll deglaze the sheet pan on the stove over heat.  I didn’t like the sauce being cold and while I love garlic, the raw garlic overpowered the dish (true confession, I have great garlic from our CSA and it’s very pungent, but I only used 1 good sized clove).

The other thing missing IMHO was a little acid, so maybe a squirt of lemon in the sauce at the end.

And if I’m being hyper-critical, the olives were good, but a little subtle. Maybe a mix of black and green would pop more.

And, on another note, use a sturdy sheet pan so it doesn’t warp and be prepared to do some serious oven cleaning afterward.

Have you tried this? What did you think?

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Pork Chops With Rosemary and Capers

by Anne Maxfield on September 30, 2019

Sometimes you just crave good pork chops.

I did and this recipe from bon appetit with capers and rosemary caught my attention. Serves 2:

  • 2 1″-thick bone-in pork chops
  • Salt
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Season pork chops with salt and sprinkle evenly with ½ teaspoon of sugar. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chops, undisturbed, until well-browned underneath, about 3 minutes. Turn and cook just until second side is lightly browned, about 1 minute. Transfer chops to a plate (they won’t be fully cooked) and reduce heat to medium.

Pour remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil into the same skillet and add shallot and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened and just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes.

Add vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon sugar to skillet. Cook, swirling pan occasionally, until vinegar is nearly evaporated, about 2 minutes.

Add rosemary, capers, and ½ cup water to skillet; season with salt. Reduce heat as needed to maintain a very low simmer. Add butter and swirl pan continuously (and vigorously) until sauce becomes smooth, glossy, and emulsified.

Return pork chops to skillet, arranging darker side up. Simmer gently in sauce, swirling occasionally, until chops are cooked through, about 3 minutes (a thermometer inserted near the bones should register 135°).

Transfer pork chops to plates and spoon sauce over, serve and enjoy!

My verdict: These were really good and will go into regular rotation along with the ones with mustard and cornichons! I served them with mashed potatoes so I could take the new GIR potato masher for a test run and they were the perfect vehicle to soak up the extra sauce (BTW, the potato masher is great too but more about that later).

I was a little leery of the sugar in the recipe since I’d just trashed my grill pan because a marinade had sugar in it, but it was fine and my cast iron pan easily handled it.

Sage would probably work well in place of the rosemary, depending on what you had on hand.

 

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