Cooking with Clint 01/03/13

January 2, 2013 in Health, Lifestyle, Living, Recipes by Clint Smith

Something to stew about

In cooking cliques there exists the Q-and-A tradition of quizzing ones culinary comrades with this scenario: if you died tomorrow, what would your last meal be today? And I’ve listened to a gastronomic gamut of responses—foie gras, langoustine, otoro tuna, kobe beef, caviar. But, when queried, I’ve often followed the impulse to make a nostalgic return to the formative and financially modest days of my culinary vocation. When I was a student in Chicago, I didn’t have the cash to buy filet mignon, but if I could get my hands on an economical cut of beef at the nearby market, I could use a few vegetables, a small amount of stock along with a bit of leftover wine to conjure something magical.

Daube of beef is a stew which was a staple of the provincial poor in France. There are countless variations which call for different cuts of meat and particular piece of equipment. Though purists would urge you to use a daubière (a uniquely shaped pot well-suited for braising) a sturdy stockpot will do the trick. And tell you what: you bring along a crusty baguette and some parsley and caper salad and we can enjoy this meal together. So long for now, dear reader.

 

Clint Smith is an honors graduate of The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu, and is currently a culinary arts instructor at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood.  To read more about techniques and recipes, visit cookingwithclint.com.

Daube of beef

Serves 2

  • 1 pound chuck steak, trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • As needed, olive oil
  • ½ onion, small dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry, red wine
  • 1 pint water or light chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

1.  In a high-sided stockpot, season and sear the beef in batches, reserving on a plate when meat is browned and mahogany colored.  Remove and reserve on a plate. Sauté onion and carrot for several minutes; add garlic and cook briefly (don’t burn). If more fat is required, add a small amount of olive oil. Add tomato paste and stir until vegetables become dark. Add a small amount of olive oil along with flour; stir to form a paste. Add wine and, using a wooden spoon, deglaze bottom of pan by scraping up browned bits. Add beef back to pot and pour in water or stock until liquid just covers the top of the meat (depending on pot size, may need to adjust liquid). Add bay leaves and bring to a gentle simmer and cook for until reduced halfway.

2.  Occasionally skim impurities from the top of the stew, and be vigilant about the liquid (meaning you may need to make further additions if reducing is too rapid). Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  When stew is thick, flavorful, and beef is tender, ladle into large bowls and serve with crusty baguette and parsley and caper salad.

Cooking With Clint 12/20

December 19, 2012 in Health, Lifestyle, Living, Recipes by Clint Smith

Lasagna: an indefatigable classic

Lasagna is an indefatigable classic—sure, we could quibble over styles (think of the variations between cheeses: cottage or ricotta or the complete absence of either), but the traditional combination of pasta sheets, tomato-based sauce, and some sort of dairy or cheese—all baked together in a savory stratification—make for a hearty, family-style dish that’s difficult to beat no matter the permutation.

An old cooking chum once shared a story with me that his grandmother, in addition to red tomato and white cottage, employed a layer of spinach to her lasagna as a nod to the Italian flag—red, white, and green, of course. I can appreciate those familial and familiar version, but with this week’s recipe I’ve included two elements that will be exercise for your cooking chops—Bolognese and white sauce.

The Bolognese (also called a ragu) is a mix of aromatic vegetables and chopped or ground meat, and the white sauce is a basic béchamel (one of the five leading or “mother” sauces) with an addition of two types of cheese.  And al forno is just a term that denotes a softened pasta noodle achieved through baking.

 

Clint Smith is an honors graduate of The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu, and is currently a culinary arts instructor at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood.  To read more about techniques and recipes, visit www.cookingwithclint.com.

Classic lasagna al forno

Serves 4 -6

 

  • 9 oven-ready lasagna sheets
  • ½ onion, grated
  • 1 carrot, peeled, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 8 ounces minced sirloin steak
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • A few pinches dry oregano and dry basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 ounces tomato sauce
  • 14 ½ ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 ounces red wine
  • 2 – 4 ounces whole milk
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

 

Cheese sauce

  • 1 ounce all-purpose flour plus 1 ounce unsalted butter
  • 12 ounces whole milk
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • 2 ounces grated white cheddar cheese
  • 2 ½ tablespoons grated parmesan (plus more for topping)

1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.  In wide-bottomed, high-sided sauté pan or sautoir, heat small amount of olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and carrots, reduce heat slightly; sweat veg several minutes before adding garlic; continue till veg are translucent and fragrant. Add in minced steak and ground pork; lightly season with salt and pepper; add dry herbs, bay leaf.  Using a wooden spoon, add tomato sauce; incorporate and reduce slightly; add crushed tomatoes, Worcestershire.  Pour in red wine and reduce until syrupy. Remove from heat, stir in milk.  Reserve warm.

2.  In a high-sided saucepan over medium heat, add flour and butter, allowing butter to melt to form a paste.  Whisk in 1/3 of milk, removing any lumps by stirring. Add in another 1/3 of milk along with pinch nutmeg.  Add last 1/3 of milk, bring to gentle boil. Remove from heat, add in grated cheese in small installments; whisk in parmesan, season with salt and pepper.

3.  Evenly spread 1/3 of meat mixture to a 8-inch by 11 ½ -inch by 2-inch casserole dish (or 2 quart baking dish). Line with three sheets of oven-ready lasagna; spread out 1/3 of cheese sauce and top with another 1/3 of meat mixture; add three more sheets of lasagna. Pour out remaining 1/3 of meat mixture, spread evenly before applying final amount of cheese mix.  Top with additional parm; cover with aluminum foil, bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. After removing, allow lasagna to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Top with extra parmesan.

Cooking with Clint 12/13

December 12, 2012 in Health, Lifestyle, Living, Recipes by Clint Smith

A new take on baked tenders

Last year I shared a more healthful alternative to the ubiquitous, breaded-and-deep-fried chicken tenders with a baked, cornflake-crusted version. So in the spirit of that particular recipe, I’d like to submit yet another poultry permutation. Like the cornflake-crusted dish, these pretzel-crusted chicken tenders call for baking as the cooking method, making it an overwhelmingly more calorie-conscious concoction as opposed to its deep-fried cousin.

The preparation is a woefully simple and requires a traditional three-step breading: 1) flour for dredging; 2) whisked egg; and 3) breadcrumbs. So let’s take a glance at this last step.  Any store-bought pretzel will work for this (the butter pretzels are a nice touch), just make sure that you crush them thoroughly before mixing with the coarse, Japanese breadcrumbs. And if you have kids who want to play sous chef, coax them into helping with coating the tenders while you prepare the dipping sauce.

There’s a bit of heat with the peanut-lime dipping sauce but it’s far from intense, and the sweetness from the brown sugar helps even the playing field.

This is a fun way to not only get the kids involved in the kitchen but curb your calorie-count at the same time.

 

Clint Smith is an honors graduate of The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu, and is currently a culinary arts instructor at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood.  To read more about techniques and recipes, visit www.cookingwithclint.com.

Pretzel-crusted chicken tenders with peanut-lime dipping sauce

Serves 3 – 4

  • 1 pound free-range chicken breast tenders
  • As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • As needed, all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups crushed pretzels
  • 1 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 3 large, free-range eggs, whisked till smooth
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • ¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
  • Juice from 1 fresh lime
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter

1.  Preheat conventional oven to 400 degrees. Combine crushed pretzels and breadcrumbs and toast in oven until slightly golden; remove and place in a wide bowl. Place a portion of aluminum foil on a sheet pan, and apply a light coating of nonstick cooking spray. Using three medium-sized bowls or dishes, set up a three-step breading station: first container combine flour and a generous portion of salt and pepper; in the next container add whisked eggs; and in the third dish, pour in pretzel mixture.

2.  In small batches, place chicken tenders in flour mixture. Shaking off excess flour, add tenders into egg, and then place in pretzel crust, pressing the meat into the breading mixture. Gently place the crusted tenders on foiled-lined sheet pans. Once all tenders are on sheet pan, place in 400 degree oven. Cook tenders for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown and chicken is firm when pressed.

3.  Meanwhile, prepare sauce by combining all remaining ingredients from ketchup through peanut butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the sauce until peanut butter has dissolved. Serve with chicken tenders.

Cooking With Clint: Pesto

October 10, 2012 in Health, Lifestyle, Recipes by Clint Smith

Presto: it’s pesto

Well, Indy is inching its way toward the chilly chapters of the season—time to think about your culinary reserves. Of course, when it comes to our pantries and fridges, there are items that keep better than others. What I like to do is maintain a few ingredients and incorporate them sparingly throughout the autumn and winter; and as it happens, homemade pesto is just such a culinary concoction.

Many Italian factions contend that traditional pesto—a mixture of fresh basil, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic and cheeses (though there are countless variations)—is associated with the combination of mortar and pestle (which makes sense, etymologically speaking). What’s more, there are pockets of food enthusiasts that won’t budge and that aforementioned execution. Honestly, as long as it’s prepared with care, you can produce a noble pesto in a blender or food processor.

Though the key ingredients are delicate, pesto freezes quite well. And here’s a tip for the fridge: in a seal-top container, add additional olive oil to the top layer to prohibit too much oxygen from penetrating your pesto.

And it doesn’t stop here; so don’t be surprised if you see another pesto permutation emerge in these pages in the months to come.

Pesto-brushed lamb chops

Serves 2 (2 chops per serving)

  • 6 fluid ounces olive oil
  • 1 ½ ounces pine nuts
  • 4 ounces fresh basil leaves
  • ½ tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 2 ounces Romano cheese, grated
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 4, 4-ounce lamb chops
  • As needed, pickled capers (for garnish)

 

1.  Pour ½ of olive oil in a food processor or blender, and add in following six ingredients. Blend or process until a smooth paste forms; with motor running, slowly pour in remaining olive oil to evenly incorporate. Reserve pesto in a bowl or dish and set aside.

2.  Preheat both an oven-safe sauté (or grill pan) along with an oven (set to roughly 400° F). Using a pastry brush, apply a bit of the pesto to the exterior of the chops; add a small amount of olive oil to the pan and add lamb chops. Sear on all sides, brushing on more pesto before placing in oven to finishing cooking to desired doneness.

3.  Remove lamb chops from oven and allow to rest for 7 – 8 minutes. Serve the chops with a fresh vegetable, and sprinkle plates with pickled capers.

Cooking with Clint

October 3, 2012 in Community, Health, Lifestyle, Recipes by Clint Smith

It’s okay to be selfish with shellfish

Don’t get me wrong, I love shellfish. But a little bit goes a long way. Give me a modest-sized yet high-quality disc of lump crabmeat formed into a crispy, golden cake and it’s aces in my book.  Then there’s the alternative: a hearty portion of a mostly-breaded concoction formed into a rubbery puck. No thanks, friend. What I’m trying to tell you is this: you don’t need to break the bank to impart all the hallmarks of high-quality ingredients—particularly lobster.

You only need a little lobster here. (In fact, I’d rather have you focus on technique with the cooking of the risotto grains, but we’ll get to that in a second.) We’re just looking to impart a little flavor and permeate this creamy dish with the distinctive aroma of lobster. The sundried tomato adds a bit of tartness to counterbalance the sweetness from the lobster.

Now, back to technique. If, while stirring your risotto, it seems as though your arm might fall off, you’re doing things precisely right. This takes a little labor, but as I’ve said before:  it’s worth it.  And although it’s perfectly fine to be selfish with shellfish, don’t forget to share.

 

Sundried tomato lobster risotto

Serves 4

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots, fine chop
  • 2 tablespoons chopped sundried tomato
  • 1 ½ cup Arborio or carnaroli rice
  • ½ teaspoon or to taste cayenne
  • 1/3 cup dry white vermouth
  • 6 ¼ cups shellfish, fish, or light chicken stock, simmering
  • 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, quartered and seeded
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy or whipping cream
  • 2 cups cooked, coarsely chunked lobster
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chervil or dill

1.  Heat the oil and half the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for several minutes until tender; add sundried tomatoes and cook until tender. Add the rice and cayenne and cook, stirring frequently for about 2 minutes, until rice is translucent and coated with hot fat.

2.  Pour in vermouth (it will bubble and steam rapidly). Stir continually until liquid is absorbed.  Add in a large ladleful (about 1 cup) of simmering stock, and continue to stir constantly until liquid has absorbed.

3.  Continue adding the stock, about half a ladleful at a time, allowing each addition to be absorbed before adding the next installment. Never allow rice to cook completely dry. This should take 20-25 minutes. The risotto should have a creamy consistency and the rice should be tender, but firm to the bite.

4.  Stir in tomatoes and cream, and cook for a couple minutes.

5.  Add the cooked lobster with the remaining butter; add in chervil or dill. Cook long enough to just gently heat the lobster. Serve immediately.

 

Clint Smith is an honors graduate of The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu, and is currently a culinary arts instructor at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood.  To read more about techniques and recipes, visit cookingwithclint.com.

Cooking with Clint

September 26, 2012 in Health, Lifestyle, Living, Recipes by Clint Smith

The “second life” of leftovers

I often ignore the misconceptions about the reincarnation of leftovers—the doggie-bag underdogs, if you will. Ask my family and friends (or anyone who’s made casual mention of being hungry while I’ve been bored): I have fun with excess food. Sometimes the original dish, along with its flavor profile, is nearly unrecognizable. Sometimes I don’t get the chance to be so sneaky. Either way, the clever use of yesterday’s lunch or last night’s dinner has a long and beloved tradition.

Risotto?  No problem: grandma would be happy to deep-fry a batch or arrancini (stayed tuned, dear reader, for this indulgent treat in a later installment). And how about pasta? Well, I recently ran into this problem along when another emerged: picky kids.

The remaining (and pleasantly exiguous) ingredients—Parmesan cheese and olive oil—for this baked dish are typically an accompaniment for any pasta-centric dinner, making the execution all the more convenient.

Of course, with leftovers being leftovers (read the large margin for subjectivity), I’m certain you’ll make adjustments accordingly—need an extra egg for more body?  Go for it.  Scale back on (or bump up) the Parm? Use your best culinary judgment. This savory, baked pasta “pizza” is a woefully simple way to make last night’s dinner disappear—for good.

Clint Smith is an honors graduate of The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu, and is currently a culinary arts instructor at Central Nine Career Center in Greenwood.  To read more about techniques and recipes, visit cookingwithclint.com.

Baked pasta “pizza”
Serves 4

•    8 ounces cooked spaghetti (or similar leftover pasta)
•    2 large eggs
•    To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
•    ½ cup grated Parmesan Reggiano (plus extra for garnish)
•    As needed, olive oil
•    2 teaspoons unsalted butter

1.  Preheat oven to 375° F, and place a wide, oven-safe sauté pan over medium heat on the range.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs until smooth, season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Add pasta and thoroughly coat with egg. Add in Parmesan and evenly incorporate throughout.

2.  Pour olive oil in sauté pan and swirl to coat evenly; add butter and, using a pastry brush, continue to evenly coat the bottom and sides of pan with hot fat. When pan is hot, add pasta-egg mixture, spreading out and pressing down to flatten the pasta. Add pan to 375° F oven.

3.  When pasta has become golden brown and egg has set, remove from oven and allow to rest.  Use an offset spatula to remove the “pizza” from the pan. Slice into wedges and garnish with additional Parmesan.

Cooking With Clint: Orecchiette

September 19, 2012 in Health, Lifestyle, Recipes by Clint Smith

Lend me your “ears”

With fall-like temperatures sneaking in lately, my mind is already gearing up for comfort grub. Pastas, of course, are ideal ways to accommodate complex and hearty flavors without getting too “heavy.”

Here’s what I believe is a seldom-used pasta among food enthusiasts:  orrechiette, the indented-disc shape of which resembles a small ear. In fact, the word has its root in the Italian “orecchio,” meaning ear, and “etto” meaning small. Pancetta is the Italian, salt-cured version of bacon. You may not readily notice this savory selection at your local market, but go to the deli counter and ask. In other words, if it’s not up front under glass, sometimes they have it in the back.

I like adding peas for their sweetness and color, but one of the unique features of orecchiette is its ability to cup or cradle vegetables and sauces. It would be easy to go overboard under that guidance, but keep things simple—a few meticulously handled ingredients with a user-friendly execution. This dish makes for a great, midweek snack, or a gray-day comfort food. So, friends, readers, culinarians, please allow me to lend you these ears.

Clint Smith is an honors graduate of The Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago, Le Cordon Bleu, and is currently a culinary arts instructor at Central Nine Career Center.  To read more about techniques and recipes, visit cookingwithclint.com.

Orecchiette with pan-fried pancetta
Serves 2

•    1 ½ cup dry orecchiette pasta
•    ½ cup chopped pancetta
•    1 cup chopped baby bella mushrooms
•    ¾ cup frozen peas
•    ¼ cup sherry wine
•    ½ tablespoon unsalted butter
•    4 – 5 grape tomatoes, halved
•    As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
•    As needed, grated parmesan (for garnishing)

1.  Being a medium stockpot of salted water to a boil; add orecchiette pasta, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.

2.  Meanwhile, in a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add pancetta and sauté until crispy; add mushrooms and sauté until slightly tender; add peas. Once peas have warmed, add wine and allow to reduce.

3.  Strain orecchiette and add to sauté pan. Add in butter and stir to incorporate. Add tomatoes, adjust seasoning, toss with parmesan and serve.

Many thanks, Frankie

September 13, 2012 in Living, Recipes by Clint Smith

It was probably during my fifth or sixth month in my first job at a Mexican restaurant that a cook named Frankie beckoned me to the back of the kitchen. This was near closing time, and I was at the helm of the expeditor’s station. I didn’t know what Frankie — a big-shouldered guy with haphazard facial hair and a childlike chuckle — had up his sauce-spattered sleeve; but I was suspicious of the mischievous glint in my amigo’s eye.

“Frankie” was certainly not his real name, but it didn’t matter; like most of the cooks at this establishment (and countless others), “Frankie” was more than a fake-named cook, he was a friend. On a platter rested three steak tacos, topped with a mix of cilantro, onion and cradled in warm corn tortillas. “This is what they should be serving,” said Frankie, vaguely gesturing at the belly of the kitchen. He squeezed a bit of fresh lime on one of the tacos.  “These are real tacos Mexicanos.”

I gained a great respect for Mexican cuisine—and I’m not talking about the ersatz variety suited to the palates of us gringos. In the months to come, the cooks (as part of their before- and after-hour rituals) shared with me traditional dishes like chilaquiles and menudo. So don’t thank me for this recipe. Thank “Frankie.”

Carne asada tacos

Yields six tacos

2 pounds flank or skirt steak, trimmed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh
lime juice
½ red onion, minced
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Zest from 1
fresh lime
As needed,
kosher salt
and cracked
black pepper
6 white or yellow corn tortillas
As needed, sliced
fresh lime

1.  Dice steak into small, bite-sized cubes and place in non-reactive bowl. Add in oil and lime juice, coating steak thoroughly; allow meat to marinate in refrigerator for at least four hours.

2.  Meanwhile, in a bowl combine onion, cilantro, and lime zest along with a small pinch of kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Set aside.

3.  Place a wide-bottomed sauté pan over medium-high heat; season steak with a small amount of salt and pepper before adding to hot pan. Sear meat thoroughly on all sides before removing from heat and allowing to rest (for about 7-8 minutes). Place a separate sauté pan over medium heat and lightly toast corn tortillas on both sides. Fill the tortillas with seared steak, top with cilantro along with a generous amount of fresh lime juice.

 

A lamburger that's baaad to the bone

September 6, 2012 in Recipes, Uncategorized by Clint Smith

By Clint Smith

You might have to do some investigating at your local market, but ground lamb is indeed available. And while I didn’t include any cheese with this particular recipe, you could certainly do worse than add a bit of feta to this top of this lamburger.

Now, let’s talk about the “quickles.” These are quick pickles, meaning that you can have them finished and cooled overnight, but they must remain refrigerated throughout their brined lifestyle. And owing to the subjectivity involved with the size of the cucumbers and desired application, I’ve kept the execution (read size of the pickling jars, the amount of garlic and arbol) rather loose. And as this is a sort of basic “quick” brine, this is a really fun way to transform existing produce into a salty treat, and a wonderful way to get the kids involved in creating a personalized product.

Serve your lamburgers and quickles with some sort of crunchy side—fries, kettle chips, it’s your call. And as I’ve indicated in the picture, fresh arugula—because of its peppery profile—is an appropriate accompaniment to your savory sandwich. And though I invoke one of my former chefs who used to say, “You can never cook lamb too rare,” I encourage my readers to simply be judicious and create something delicious.

Lamburgers with homemade “quickles”

Serves 2

1 pound ground lamb
2 cloves garlic, minced
A few dashes
Worcestershire
1 teaspoon chopped
fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped
fresh chive
As needed, kosher salt and cracked black pepper

For pickles (to be done at least 24 hours ahead of time):

As needed, lid-and-band pickling jars (such as
Ball brand)
64 fluid ounces
purified water
3 ½ ounces seas salt
½ cup apple cider vinegar
2 – 3 large cucumbers,
cut into spears
As needed, fresh dill
1 – 2 heads fresh garlic, cloves removed from skin
As needed, dried  arbol chiles

1.  In a large stock pot, combine water, sea salt, and cider vinegar; bring to a gentle simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Bring a separate stockpot of water to a gentle boil (this will be for sealing jars, so make sure you account for the height and amount of water that will be displaced). In prepared pickling jars, arrange cucumber spears with a judicious mixture of fresh dill, garlic, and arbol chiles. Carefully fill each jar with brine mixture to the rim. When jars are sealed tightly, place in boiling water and allow tops to pop, this will indicate the lid-and-band seal is tight. Remove jars from water and allow to cool before placing in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

2.  Preheat sauté pan or grill to medium-high. Combine ground lamb with garlic, Worcestershire, basil, chive. Divide in half and form two large patties. Season exterior with kosher salt and cracked black pepper and place on preheated device. Allow burgers to cook to desired doneness before removing from heat and allowing to rest for 7 minutes. Serve burgers with homemade “quickles.”

 

 

 

Tasty treasures in the clearance aisle

August 30, 2012 in Health, Lifestyle, Recipes by Carey Germana

By Clint Smith

Impulse buys. When it comes to consumer compulsion—whether it be conversion to a “smart” phone, or giving in to that gotta-have-it gadget expertly positioned in the check-out lane—I typically have the wherewithal to stave off such temptation. But when it comes to the gotta-have-it compunction of gastronomy, I must admit that I am a rather impressionable culinary consumer.

Take the centerpiece of this week’s dish: Swordfish. I picked up this hearty specimen in the clearance section of my local market; and while I’m not ignorant to the likelihood that this product had at one time been frozen before being thawed and packaged, I still believe a cut of this stature has some redeeming qualities, particularly for those home-cooks with their eyes on their checking account, and their hearts (to mix metaphors) on the nourishment of their family.

There’s nothing wrong with snagging a clearance cut of meat or discount fillet of fish, but I implore you make haste (read, don’t procrastinate and let it linger in your fridge). Enjoy your swordfish with a simply-dressed salad of thinly peeled asparagus and radicchio.

So don’t be self-conscious about surveying the clearance section at your local market. Who knows what tasty treasures you’re apt to find.

 

Pan-seared swordfish with asparagus and radicchio

1 large swordfish steak
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons apple
cider vinegar
½ teaspoon crushed
red pepper
A few pinches of sugar
To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
4 – 6 ounces fresh asparagus, peeled lengthwise
1 cup thinly sliced radicchio
¼ cup chopped
fresh chives
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Bring one quart of water to a boil. Meanwhile, and using a vegetable peeler, thinly cut asparagus lengthwise. Thinly slice radicchio and combine with fresh herbs. When water is ready, add asparagus; blanch briefly (no more than 15 seconds) before thoroughly draining and plunging into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain again and combine with radicchio mixture. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, vinegar, red pepper, sugar, salt and pepper until mixture emulsifies. Set aside.

2. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, add a bit of olive oil. Season swordfish with kosher salt and pepper before gently adding to pan. Sear fish on both sides, allowing to cook as you do so, until exterior is golden. After removing fish from pan, allow to rest for several minutes.

3. Pour dressing over asparagus mixture and gently toss to coat. Serve swordfish on top of the asparagus salad.