Sunday, December 29, 2013
Best of 2013: Main Dishes
Experiments with brined roast chicken, an amazing beef stew and a host of broiled salmon entrees were among my favorite main dishes this year.
Beef and Pork
What makes Jacques Pepin's Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce so good? Perhaps it's the combination of pearl onions, baby carrots and mushrooms with no potatoes. Or the touch of pancetta (or bacon, which I used). Or maybe that the wine cooks slowly in the oven with a whole bottle of wine. Regardless, it was my favorite beef dish this year. Truly exquisite. Other good beef dishes included the Beef Wellington with Gorgonzola, a perennial Christmas tradition in our house, and this Traditional Beef Stroganoff, which I adapted from several recipes seeking an "authentic" recipe for old-school Beef Stroganoff.
My favorite pork dish was these Sweet and Sticky Baby Back Ribs that appeared in The Washington Post, a wonderful indoor way to make flavorful summer ribs. I also enjoyed Le Pigeon (Portland) Chef Gabriel Rucker's recipe for Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Thyme and Bacon and my simple weeknight dinner recipe for Orange Pork Stir Fry with Ginger and Chard.
Chicken and Turkey
I got experimental with chicken this year. Seeking to replicate one of my favorite restaurant dishes, the roast chicken at Palena, I made Spice-Brined Roast Chicken, which turned out fairly close to what you get at the restaurant. Wanting to bring the smoky flavors of outdoor barbecue into the kitchen, another brining experiment yielded this tasty Smoked-Brined Oven BBQ Chicken. Lastly, taking advantage of seasonal sweet corn, I came up with these Roasted Corn and Chicken Enchiladas.
Apart from Thanksgiving, I didn't do much with turkey this year, although we did enjoy the Thanksgiving Leftovers Tacos I invented to use of all those great Thanksgiving dishes.
Broiled salmon is something I turn to again and again, since it's so easy to prepare quickly during the week and lends itself well to a variety of flavors. This year, I experimented more with Asian flavors, like the umami-rich Dashi-Poached Salmon, Garlic-Ginger Broiled Salmon with Miso-Braised Mustard Greens and Mustard Broiled Salmon with Miso and Honey-Braised Greens. Another salmon dish I liked served with greens was Broiled Salmon with White Bean, Kale and Bacon Ragoût. And if tacos are your thing, Salmon Tacos offered a nice variety to my usual broiled fillet.
Most of the pasta and grains best dishes I featured Friday are vegetarian, but there are a couple other great dishes I wanted to include here: The Vegetable Napoleons with Red Wine Sauce, which is a great dish if you want a dramatic presentation, and Yogurt Kuku, a sort of Middle Eastern frittata, that I served alongside a selection of favorite mezze dishes.