Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The reason I made the meatballs was really to make the sauce. This is a classic espagnole sauce made from mirepoix (onions, carrots, and celery), tomato puree, and brown stock (I used beef). I did add a bit of cream and dill to the sauce, following a recipe, so I'm not sure if it still would qualify as espagnole. It was fun making the sauce from scratch and the meatballs were tasty too. They were made from groud beef and pork with the usual meatball ingredients: eggs, bread crumbs, and bit of milk, and some seasonings. I browned them in the oven on their own before baking them in the sauce. I hate plain white rice (it's so bland!) but it served it's purpose to sop up all that sauce. Next time I'll use some saffron in it though, if I can get my wallet to cooperate.
This one I came up with just using some ingredients we had on hand because I didn't feel like making an extra trip to the store for the recipe I had originally planned on cooking. Everything turned out very well. The chicken was well seasoned with lots of paprika as well as garlic powder, rosemary, salt, and white and black pepper. After browning the chicken on both sides I set it aside and sauted the mushrooms with diced onions and garlic for a few minutes before adding Golden Sherry. I reduced the sherry by about half and returned the chicken to the pan to finish cooking. I caramelized the onions in a separate pan. The artichoke and tomatoes were just things we had on hand but they went very well with the dish.
The almond crust on the chicken would almost have been too rich without the refreshing sweet/tart flavor of the sauce. The parmesan couscous wasn't a good match. Maybe just a few fresh herbs or a garlic couscous would have been better. The chicken and sauce are so flavorful that rich, buttery asparagus and cheesey couscous are a bit much. I'll have to pass the sauce through a china cap next time to get rid of the seeds too. They aren't bad but they are a bit distracting. I will try hazelnuts next time and more oil instead of butter to lighten it up a bit. Altogether very tasty though.
This was a very hearty and rustic dish. Dry red wine and crimini mushrooms make it rich but not heavy and grape tomatoes balance well with the savory meats. It should definitely be made and garnished with fresh herbs. Whole wheat pasta is as hearty as the rest of the dish and acts as a more sturdy backdrop for the flavors than regular pasta would.