Thursday, January 21, 2010

Get in my belly!

Oh seafood, how I love you! And when I mix you with cream, wine, butter, leeks, carrots and bake you in the oven…where have you been all my life? This Seafood Gratin by Ina Garten won big in the Knox household. Healthy? Hmmm….well yes, before you add the cream and butter. But that extra mile you have to run the next day will be totally worth it (or in my case…just the time you spend thinking how you should be working out) I Promise!!

I decided to make this last Sunday afternoon. Pat was back in the office on the computer probably either looking at new phone or a new TV....his favorite pastime. And I had finished folding clothes and just couldn’t quite figure out what sounded good for dinner so I browsed through a few cookbooks until I came across this dish. I had looked at it before and decided that was the night to try it out!

I was pretty certain that I had all the ingredients to make this delightful looking dish and so away I went, chopping and defrosting. So what if I misread Seafood Stock to say Chicken Stock! Who cares that I didn’t actually have any lobster meat laying around the house (don’t we all?!?) but instead just used shrimp and canned crab meat! It was still superb! And I promise you’ll love it!

Confession time: It is shameful, I admit, but generally when a recipe calls for shrimp…well I just buy a bag of the precooked frozen shrimp. Lazy? Yes! But when I work until 5 and don’t get home until 5:30, and am normally starving…well that precooked shrimp is just fiiiiine.

However that may soon come to an end as the last time I was at the store I bought a bag of the peeled and deveined UN-cooked shrimp which I used for this recipe. And now I know the wonderful difference!

My sauce didn’t come out as thick as it should, but I think it was due to my impatience of stirring constantly for 5 minutes. But hey-stir away if you like that sort of thing! It tastes just as good either way.

Seafood Gratin
Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe

1 cup chicken stock (seafood stock or clam juice)
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup plus 3 Tablespoons of good white wine (I used a Pinot Grigio)
1 ½ Tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 1 ½ Tbs of water
1 bag of medium size peeled and deveined shrimp
6 oz canned crab meat plus juice
7 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, divided
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 cups julienned leeks, white and light green parts (2 large)
1 ½ cups julienned carrots
1 cup panko
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
Dried parsley
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. For the sauce combine the stock, cream, ½ cup of wine, and the tomato mixture in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, add the shrimp. After 3 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the shrimp to a bowl. Add the juice from the crab meat to the sauce mixture and then add the crab meat to the shrimp.

2. Continue to cook the sauce until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Mash 1 Tablespoon of the butter with the flour. Whisk the butter mixture into the sauce along with some salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

3. Melt 3 Tablespoons of the butter in a medium sauté pan. Add the leeks and carrots and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, until softened. Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of wine, salt and pepper, and cook for 10 more minutes, until tender. Set aside.

4. Combine the panko, Parmesan cheese, parsley and garlic. Melt the remaining 3 Tablespoons of butter and mix it into the crumbs until they are moistened.

5. In a medium casserole dish, add the seafood mixture. Add the vegetable mixture on top of the seafood. Pour the sauce over the entire mixture. Spoon the crumb mix evenly on the top.

6. Bake for 20 minutes until the top is browned and the sauce is bubbly.

7. Gobble up immediately.

Here are my leeks and carrots cooking away

And the finished, delicious product!

Last bite: I will definitely make this again. Maybe someday I’ll even make it the right way with all the right ingredients. Or maybe not. Either way, I’ll be happy in my tummy!

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