Magazine article Sunset

One-Dish Entrees Are Simplifiers

Magazine article Sunset

One-Dish Entrees Are Simplifiers

Article excerpt

ONE CHALLENGE OF holiday entertaining is how to spend time with your guests rather than in the kitchen. These make-ahead entrees offer a solution by getting all the major steps out of the way a day or two before.

Choose from a black bean cassoulet or a handsome sauerbrater beef pie. Once the few time-consuming steps are finished, final assembly proceeds quickly; both casseroles can be fully completed up to a day ahead.

On party night, allow about 1 hour to reheat the casserole. Just add a salad, crusty bread, and wine or milk to complete either meal, and you're free to enjoy your guests.

Southwest Cassoulet

1 tablespoon canned chipotle chili with adobo sauce; or 1 dried chipotle chili (2 to 3 in.), rinsed, stemmed, seeded, and crumbled; or 1 fresh jalapeno chili, stemmed and minced

1 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, ground cumin, and dried oregano leaves

2 large (about 1 lb. total) onions, chopped

About 8 cups regular-strength chicken broth

1 1/2 pounds (3 3/4 cups) dried black beans, sorted for debris and rinsed

Mexican-seasoned turkey (recipe follows)

1 jar (15 oz.) roasted red peppers, thinly sliced

1 can (7 oz.) whole green chilies, thinly sliced

Tortilla arrows and whiskers (recipe follows)

In an 8- to 10-quart pan, combine chipotle chili, cinnamon, cumin, oregano, onions, and 1/2 cup broth. Boil, uncovered, on high heat, stirring occasionally, until liquid evaporates and onions start to brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

To deglaze, stir in 1/2 cup broth to release browned bits. Stir occasionally until liquid evaporates and mixture begins to brown again, 1 to 3 minutes. Repeat deglazing step 3 more times, until mixture is richly browned.

Add to onions the beans, 6 cups broth, and 6 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are just tender to bite, about 1 hour. Add turkey; simmer until meat is no longer pink at bone in thickest part (cut to test), about 1 hour.

Remove pan from heat; lift out turkey. When turkey is cool enough to touch, pull meat from bones and cut into bite-size pieces.

Drain beans, reserving liquid; set beans aside and return liquid to pan. Boil liquid on high heat until reduced to 2 cups.

In a shallow 5-quart casserole, mix beans, cooking liquid, turkey, red peppers, and green chilies. If made ahead, cover and chill up until next day.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350[degrees] oven until hot in center, about 45 minutes (1 hour if chilled). Lay tortilla arrows on casserole; serve whiskers to scatter onto portions to taste. Serves 10 to 12.

Per serving without tortilla whiskers: 338 cal.; 30 g protein; 5.4 g fat (1.5 g sat.); 43 g carbo.; 780 mg sodium; 57 mg chol.

Mexican-seasoned turkey. Combine 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon chili powder; rub evenly over 2 or 3 skinned turkey thighs (about 3 1/2 lb. total). Place meat in a heavy plastic bag or noncorrodible bowl (glass, ceramic, or stainless steel). Cover and chill 6 hours (for minimum salt flavor) to 8 hours (for full salt flavor).

Rinse meat under cold running water, rubbing lightly to extract as much salt as possible; pat dry. If made ahead, cover and chill turkey thighs up to 2 days; rinse before using.

Tortilla arrows and whiskers. You will need 12 corn tortillas (about 7 in.). With a sharp knife, cut large decorative arrows from 4 of the tortillas. Stack remaining tortillas (3 to 4 at a time) and scraps; cut into strips about 1/8 inch wide.

Pour about 1/2 inch salad oil into a 4- to 5-quart pan over medium-high heat. When oil reaches 350[degrees] on a thermometer, turn heat down to maintain temperature. Add 1/3 of the tortilla strips at a time; stir until strips are lightly browned and crisp, about 1 1/2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer strips to paper towels to drain; while warm, sprinkle lightly with salt or chili-seasoned salt. …

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