Mustard Gravy

Occasionally I plan to make a pan sauce after browning meat and find that the fond in the bottom of the skillet is just too blackened to make a good sauce. I came up with this “gravy” after a recent meal featuring skillet seared pork chops. The chops were nicely browned however the fond in the bottom of the pan was too far gone to use. Luckily pork and mustard have an affinity for one another so this recipe did the trick. It was also tasty on the roasted broccoli we served.

Mustard Gravy
Servings: 1 1/2 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • 1 cup hearvy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. flour
  • 1 Tbsp. rendered bacon fat (or other softened solid fat, such as butter)
  • salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour and fat in a small bowl to form a paste. This is called a beurre manié and it will be used later to thicken the sauce. If you don’t have bacon fat then unsalted butter could also be used.
  2. Add the Worcestershire and water in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer. Add the mustards, whisk to combine and simmer over medium-low heat for 5 minutes. The mixture will reduce slightly in volume.
  3. Stir in the heavy cream. Allow the mixture to return to a simmer and add the burre manié you made in the first step. Whisk the sauce until it is fully melted and incorporated.
  4. Allow the sauce to simmer for another minute; it should thicken into a nice sauce.

Note:
Don’t be scared off by the beurre manié. You can use any softened solid fat, such as butter or even the odd tablespoon of Crisco. Use a fork, or the back of the spoon, to press the fat into the flour until it is well combined. The idea is that the fat-coated flour particles will melt and help thicken the sauce as it simmers. Additionally the fat added at the end will add a soft sheen, similar to the effect of finishing a sauce by whisking in cold butter.

Mustard-glazed Pork Loin

When you host friends for dinner as often as we do you sometimes run low on inspiration. Luckily there are a host of websites, TV programs, cookbooks and magazines aimed at helping you find something to try. I believe the inspiration for this came from an copy of Food Network Magazine that I thumbed through while at my doctor’s office.

I used pork loin “roast” for this recipe. A pork tenderloin would also work however the cooking time would be less.

Mustard-glazed Pork Loin
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • a 2 lb. pork loin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • heaping Tbsp. Dijon
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Pat the pork loin dry and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the mustards, vinegar and maple syrup together and set aside.
  4. Add the oil to a oven-safe heavy bottomed skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers. Sear the pork on all sides until nicely browned.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and brush the pork with about 1/2 the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Brush on the remainder of the glaze, rotate the skillet 180°’s and roast another 15 minutes.
  6. Check the temperature of your pork roast. If it hasn’t reached 145°F on an instant-read thermometer then roast in 5 minute increments until it reaches that temp. If it has reached that temp then remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the roasts to a cutting board. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes:
I thought this paired very well with Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potatoes that I served that night. The savory glaze, with a hint of sweetness matched the earthy sweetness of the side dish really nicely.

Farro and Cauliflower Salad

My introduction to farro might have been almost a decade ago however I was reintroduced to it earlier this year via the local megamart deli counter. They sell a farro salad with finely chopped vegetables that was quite tasty. Once I located a good source of farro I started experimenting with combinations for salads until I found one I liked.

Farro and Cauliflower Salad
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 20 minute
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 oz. shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as chives or parsley
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups cooked farro
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, no bigger than 1/2″. Toss with the tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Prep the rest of your veggies. I quarter the zucchini, removed the seeds and then cut it into 1/4″ pieces. Same goes for the red pepper. I also cut the shredded carrots into smaller pieces.
  3. Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until just fragrant. Transfer to your serving bowl and set aside.
  4. Make a basic vinaigrette from the shallots, mustard, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Combine farro, veggies and herbs with the pine nuts. Toss to combine and then drizzle with the Vinaigrette. Toss some more until well combined. Enjoy.

Notes:
Both the farro and cauliflower can be prepared in advance, even the day before.

Turkey Cutlet with Worcestershire-Mustard Sauce

I had planned on serving the cutlets with a salad however the salad greens turned out to be rather nasty once I got around to prepping them for dinner. I decided a quick pan sauce could serve in place of the vinaigrette I had planned to make however when I searched for the usual pan sauce ingredients I came up bare. This improv sauce came out quite nice and will certainly make a return appearance.

Turkey Cutlet with Worcestershire-Mustard Sauce
Servings: 4
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 turkey breast cutlets
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 Tbsp. water
  • 1 heaping Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Pat turkey cutlets dry with paper towels. Season top side with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a 12″ skillet over high heat until the oil shimmers. Place the cutlet, seasoned side down, into the skillet. Sprinkle the unseasoned side with salt and pepper. Cook until the cutlet easily lifts from the pan, about 5 minutes. Flip the cutlets over and cook for another 3-4 minutes. When they reach 160°F on a instant-read thermometer transfer them to a plate and cover with foil.
  3. Remove the skillet from the heat and drain any remaining oil. Add the Worcestershire sauce and water; scrap the pan to remove any fond that has developed. Whisk in the mustard until the sauce is smooth and has thickened.
  4. Taste, adjust seasoning if desired, and serve sauce turkey cutlets.

Weeknight Green Beans

Healthy living (and my dietitian) suggest that the dinner plate should be half filled with non-starchy vegetables. I’ve never been great with this on the best of days and weeknight meals I often struggle to make a main and starch. So I’ve been poking through my brain to figure out vegetables we like that I can look with a minimum of fuss on a weeknight.

Weeknight Green Beans
Servings: 2
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil

Directions:

  1. Trim the stem ends off of the green beans and cut into 2″ pieces. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl, add a splash (call it a tablespoon) of water and cover with plastic wrap. Heat at full-power for 5 minutes. Drain water and set aside.
  2. While the green beans cook combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl and mix until combined.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat until shimmering. Add green beans and distribute into a single layer in the pan. Good for 2 minutes without disturbing to develop a bit of browning.
  4. Toss and stir to redistribute the beans. Cook for 2 more minutes. Check a green bean. If done to your liking go on to the next step, otherwise toss, stir and repeat until your happy with the doneness.
  5. Drizzle the mustard mixture over the green beans. Toss green beans so that the sauce coats as many of the beans as possible.
  6. Taste a green bean, add salt and pepper as desired, and serve.

Notes:
No reason this couldn’t be doubled except maybe your skillet size. If you can’t get a single layer of beans when doubling then bump the heat up to high and redistribute every minute.

Watercress and Endive Salad with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries

[Watercress and Endive Salad with Pistachios and Dried Cranberries]Our Christmas Eve dinner usually includes a plated courses in place of the family-style dinners we do for Saturday night. While the prep work during the day can be a bit annoying the salad course goes from component pieces to finished product in less than 5 minutes. When the plating starts folks know we’re about to get serious with the eating and find their places around the table.

This year used a recipe from The Way We Cook by Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven as a starting point. I’ve tweaked the ingredient list a bit and written up the instructions in my own words. Enjoy.

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Skillet Green Beans with Bacon and Mustard

I made these as a side to go with roast pork loin and potato gratin a couple of weeks back. They’d probably go pretty well with the ubiqutous turkey and mashed ‘taters of American Thanksgiving.

Skillet Green Beans with Bacon and Mustard
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 35 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 6 pieces of bacon, diced
  • 2.5 lbs. green beans, stemed and cut into 1.5″ pieces
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add cold bacon to a large skillet. Place over medium heat and cook until the fat is fully rendered. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cooked bacon to a plate lined with a couple of sheets of paper towels; set aside. Transfer the bacon fat into a small bowl, returning 1 tablespoon of fat to the skillet. Try not to snack on the bacon too much.
  2. Return the skillet to the burner, return to medium heat and add the green beans. Cook green beans, tossing periodically, for 5 minutes. Add shallot and 1/3 cups water and cover. Cook for 3 minutes.
  3. While the green beans cook combine the mustard and vinegar together and mix until combined.
  4. Remove cover and allow the water to evaporate, about 1 minute. Add the mustard/vinegar mixture. Toss until green beans are coated. Add the bacon pieces and combine. Transfer to a bowl and serve.

Notes:
Method copied from Cook’s Illustrated.