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Archive for Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Ginger-apple chutney flavors quick entrees

October 22, 2003

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Even more timesaving than one quick recipe is a master plan that lines up a series of streamlined main dishes.

The key is a master sauce. The plan is from chef Ming Tsai, known for his spirited Asian-inflected cooking at his renowned Blue Ginger restaurant, Wellesley, Mass., and as a television-show host.

Most recently, he's written a cookbook, "Simply Ming: Easy Techniques for East-Meets-West Meals" (Clarkson Potter, 2003, $32.50), with co-author Arthur Boehm. It's a companion book to his current public television show, also called "Simply Ming."

His goal, Ming says, is to show people how to get great meals on the table fast without compromising the quality of the food. The plan consists of having one simple sauce, a flavorful base that needs only a few ingredients, that keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week, and can be used to make several main dishes, each taking under 30 minutes.

Here's a plan using Ginger-Fuji Apple Chutney as the master sauce:

Ginger-Fuji Apple Chutney

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4 cups Fuji or other nonmealy red apples (8 to 10 apples), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch dice

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil

2 medium onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice

2 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup apple juice

In a large, nonreactive bowl, toss the apples with the lemon juice.

Heat a large, nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the onions and ginger and saute until the onions are soft, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the apples and cook, stirring gently, for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the vinegar and apple juice and cook until the liquid is reduced by three quarters, about 30 minutes. Correct the seasoning and cool before ladling into a tightly sealed jar. Lasts 1 week, refrigerated.

Makes 4 cups.

Sauteed Pork Chops With Ginger-Fuji Apple Sauce and Maple Sweet Potatoes

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4 medium sweet potatoes

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

2 to 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, as desired, plus 1 tablespoon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Four 1/2-inch-thick loin pork chops

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup white wine

1 1/2 cups Ginger-Fuji Apple Chutney

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Wrap each potato in aluminum foil and bake until a knife can pierce the potatoes easily, 30 to 40 minutes. As soon as the potatoes are cool enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and transfer it to a bowl. Use a heavy whisk to whip the potatoes. Add the maple syrup and 2 to 4 tablespoons of the butter, whisk to blend, and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil to help keep the potatoes warm and set aside. Don't turn off the oven.

Season the chops on both sides with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour. Heat a large, heavy, ovenproof saute pan over high heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Add the chops and sear on one side until brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the chops and transfer to the oven. Bake the chops until medium done, 8 to 10 minutes. Turn off the oven.

Transfer the chops to a heatproof plate and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Place the saute pan over high heat, add the broth and wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping to incorporate any browned bits. Reduce the liquid by half, about 4 minutes, and add the chutney and the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add the parsley and correct the seasoning.

Place small mounds of the potatoes on serving plates. Place a chop on each mound, pour the sauce over, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: As soon as the potatoes are cooked, halve them. Then, holding them in a cloth-protected hand, scoop the flesh into a bowl and add chilled butter. The hot spuds and the cold butter yield the fluffiest result, as the butter doesn't have a chance to get oily.

Potato Pancakes With Apple-Scallion Cream

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1 cup Ginger-Fuji Apple Chutney

1 cup sour cream

4 scallions, white and green parts separated and coarsely chopped

4 large russet potatoes, peeled

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

To make the apple-scallion cream, combine the chutney, sour cream and all but 1 tablespoon of the scallion greens in a small bowl and mix (reserve the remaining greens for garnish). Refrigerate if not using immediately.

Using a food processor with a coarse grating disk, or the coarse side of a box grater, grate the potatoes. Transfer the potatoes to a large strainer set over a bowl and use a large spoon to gently press down on the potatoes to remove as much liquid as possible. In a large bowl, combine the potatoes, eggs and the scallion whites. Season to taste with the salt and pepper.

Heat half the butter and half the oil in each of 2 large nonstick pans over medium heat (or work in 2 batches with 1 pan). Add 1/3 cup of the potato mixture for each pancake, flattening it to make 4 to 6 pancakes about 4 inches in diameter. Cook until the bottoms of the pancakes are brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pancakes and repeat. (If using 1 pan, keep the first batch warm in a 200 degree-oven while you prepare the second.) Garnish with dollops of apple-scallion cream, and remaining scallion greens, and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

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