If you haven’t noticed yet, I am a fan of Eric Ripert. Amy and I picked up a Roku for streaming movies and whatever else not too long ago, and on one of the channels I found his show Avec Eric. I had seen an episode or two of the show before, but now I can watch to my heart’s content. I started with an episode kind of at random, and saw a dish that sounded fantastic. It ended up being somewhat similar to the Poulet Basquaise that I made a while back, and still make from time to time. There were, of course, some significant differences as well. Some of the things went against the ideas I had about wine and food. I figured that Eric Ripert knows what he is doing, and I would go along with what he said. In this case red wine and fish together? Yes, yes indeed!
I frequently don’t follow recipes exactly. I do if it is something I am not familiar with, but if I have a fair idea of where things are headed I tend to fudge amounts, but follow the method and actual ingredients. Doing this also makes it very easy for me at least to adjust quantities to fit the number of people eating, so that I don’t have half a bell pepper laying around when I’m done cooking.
The recipe I had goes like this:
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup finely diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup small diced Serrano ham
½ cup small diced red bell
½ cups small diced yellow bell
1 cup tomato, peeled, seeded
1 teaspoon chopped fresh
½ cup red wine
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
– fine sea salt and freshly
– Espelette pepper or cayenne
That is not exactly what I did of course. Mine ended up more like:
1 medium onion diced medium fine
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 red bell pepper medium fine dice
1 orange bell pepper medium fine dice
4 roma tomatoes seeded, medium fine dice
1 TBSP thyme
red wine (I didn’t measure, it might have ended up a cup)
Parsley, fresh chopped
salt and pepper
salt and white pepper
fresh thyme sprigs
2 cloves of garlic, halved
Got everything ready to go? Ok, in a medium skillet heat the olive oil. Then add the onions and garlic to the pan, and cook over medium heat until clear. Add the bell peppers, and cook until nearly tender and add the tomato and thyme. Cook until the tomatoes are almost tender and add the wine. Bring it to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, season with salt, pepper and cayenne. Simmer to reduce (don’t forget to stir from time to time) to almost a jam consistency, and stir in the parsley.
Now we can tackle the cod… Season it on both sides with salt, white pepper and cayenne. Heat a skillet, and add the canola oil. Start with the skin side up and sear the cod. Put in the garlic and thyme sprigs in the pan with the fish. Now, here is a place where this can go wrong. Once you put the fish in the pan DO NOT touch it! The fish will be stuck, and if you try to force it you’ll just make a mess. Leave it alone for a couple of minutes, with the heat on medium. Gently poke the fish, and if it scoots a little you can flip it. Be gentle with it. Flipping things too quickly can get you burned pretty easily. I know it is a bit counter-intuitive, but go slowly. Move the garlic and thyme, and get your spatula under a piece of fish, then hold it on the spatula as you flip it over, and place the garlic and thyme on top of the fish. Continue cooking over medium heat until the fish is cooked through. To test this take a metal skewer and insert it into the thickest part of the fish, and leave it there for about 5 seconds. When you pull it out it should feel warm when you touch it to your lip.
To plate this up I put some of the sauce on the plate, and place the fish on top. We decided to have some roasted potatoes with dinner that evening. This was an amazing dinner, and I can’t wait to make it again!
I guess my past with lentils is a little strange. I first heard of them watching The Young Ones on MTV when I was a kid. Of course I had no idea what they were. It was still funny to see Neil try to serve them in the episodes with all of the crazy things that went on in the show. Tea kettles exploding, atom bombs, and then add in bands like Madness, Motörhead, and the Damned, and you’ve got a show that any 13 year old in 1986 would enjoy.
I first actually ate them at work, when I made lentil soup for the first time. I had a recipe, and everything in it sounded pretty tasty together, and so I figured the lentils wouldn’t hurt anything. One of the people I follow on Twitter is Eric Ripert, and from time to time he tweets recipes. One day I saw this:
ericripert Lentil soup: lentils+onion+ carrot+bacon +water+
seasoning.when tender remove meat.Blend +butter to soup consistency.Chix stock even better.
9:04 PM Oct 19th via Twitter for iPhone
That sounded like as good a recipe as any, and maybe better than a lot of them. Tonight for dinner, I’m making it. Obviously, this recipe leaves plenty of room for improvisation, so I’ll do just that.
I could just leave you with Chef Ripert’s tweet, but I won’t.
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 stick celery, diced
8 oz lentils (weight, half of a one pound bag)
1 quart chicken broth (I use Progresso, low sodium) I didn’t use the whole thing
salt, pepper, bay leaves, herbes de provence
3 TBSP butter (divided 1 and 2)
Sort and rinse your lentils. Always sort and rinse your lentils and beans. This is important because they are small, and about the same size as a piece of gravel or rock. Chomping down on a rock in the middle of your lentil soup would be “heavy, man.”
Melt one tablespoon of butter in a medium sized pot. Turns out I didn’t have any bacon, but I would have put it in once the butter had melted. Add the veggies and a pinch of salt, and sweat until the onions are clear. Add the lentils, broth, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, and turn it down to a simmer. You may need to add a little more broth or water as the lentils cook. Once they are tender, remove from the heat, and puree the solids. I strained the soup, pulled out the bay leaves, and used my little Cuisinart to do the job, but an immersion blender would do just as well. (Just a quick note, my sister knitted what I am using as a trivet in the above picture. )
Then I put the soup back together in the pot, and turned the heat back on, and added the final two tablespoons of butter. This just added a nice bit of richness. I always like to bring my soups back up to a boil before I serve them. This soup could easily be made vegan by leaving out the bacon, subbing olive oil for the butter, and veggie broth for the chicken broth. You’d still have a great tasting soup. “Lentils are really good, you know? No matter how many times you have them, they never get boring.” — Niel
Well, this happens sometimes. I end up eating really late. It isn’t intentional, but I get busy doing things and still need dinner. Of course these time are usually when I have some long cooking dinner in the works. Tonight would certainly fall under that heading. I sort of had a feeling it might. I had a family thing to go to, and had planned to pop in, and split in fairly short order. I had hoped to be home, cooking by about 6, and instead didn’t get home until 7pm. It also took a bit longer than I expected to cook the beans, but in the end it was all worth it!
One of the best things about the internet is the abundance of information about cooking, recipes, and food. Michael Ruhlman, Rick Bayless, Eric Ripert, and Mark Bittman just to name a few. I follow these, and several others on Twitter, and they all send out interesting messages, recipes, and today I adapted a post from Mark Bittman. Really, my biggest change to his recipe was to skip the bulk of the meats and just use a couple of chicken legs.
1/2 pound of dry cannellini beans soaked overnight
2 chicken leg quarters
2 cloves of garlic
2 onions cut into half inch dice
2 sticks of celery half inch dice
2 carrots half inch dice
1 zucchini half inch dice
salt and pepper
1 28oz can of diced tomatoes
1 tsp dry thyme
handful fresh parsley chopped
1 quart of chicken stock plus a little water
Since I had my beans soaked last night, and I broke down the chicken to get the legs I was more or less in assembly mode tonight. Step one, heat some oil in the large pot, and brown the chicken a bit. I could have given them a bit more time to brown a bit more, and that might have added a bit to the flavor, but in the end it was pretty good.
Then add the beans and enough stock to cover everything. This took about a quart for me. Bring it up to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer.This will need to simmer for about an hour. In the mean time, take your diced vegetables, and sweat them in a large skillet. You’re looking for them to start to get nice and tender, but not brown. A little salt is helpful when you are sweating veggies since it draws out moisture. Once they are tender I added the tomatoes, and herbs, and got everything hot, and also reduced the liquid a bit from the tomatoes and whatever came out of the veggies.
Once I had been simmering the beans for about an hour, and the veggies were softened and hot I added the veggies to the beans. Then I returned the pot to a boil, and turned it back to a simmer. This is where patience started to come into play. Everything really started to smell great. Cannellini beans take time to cook, and if you want to do this right you will let them take the time they need. You will be rewarded.My beans took another 30 minutes to finish cooking. They were tender, and not the least bit chalky. After an hour and a half simmering in the stock, and with all of the veggies the chicken was so tender that grabbing a leg bone to fish it out would leave you with no meat at all! That was dinner, and although it was certainly different than the cassoulet that I have had in the past I would certainly be happy to eat it again. That is a good thing, because I have plenty! Next time I make it I will probably find some turkey sausages that I can throw in there, and make it a bit more traditional. Traditional or not this was very tasty. Personally I always find this kind of long, slow cooking process very rewarding. It always seems to pay off in the end with a ton of flavor, and actually is fairly simple to do as long as you give yourself the time to take on the challenge. I ended up having dinner a little later than I would have liked, but it was great, and gluten-free. Hope you all enjoy it.
Edit: One thing I kind of forgot this morning at 2 am when I was finishing this up is a link back to day one, just in case you haven’t read it yet.