Supper Club

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For most americans, the month of November is ruled by one of two obsessions: The daunting prospect of cooking an enormous feast for friends and family, or the terrifying-yet-alluring idea of eating one’s weight in stuffing and potatoes. But what about the rest of the month? All too often, we become so distracted by the Big Holiday at the end, we either forget to eat well the rest of the time or order an endless stream of takeout dinners in anticipation of all the cooking that lies ahead.

Enter these four simple yet elegant, nourishing and satisfying meals. They seem fancy, yet they’re a snap to pull together. The butternut squash soup is velvety and rich, with just a hint of smokiness thanks to the pancetta. To turn it into an easy weeknight meal, serve it with some Roquefort toast.

The risotto, meanwhile, is infused with the flavor of that stalwart fall vegetable, the Brussels sprout. And just because you may have seen Gordon Ramsay bring professional cooks to tears over their failed risottos, don’t be intimidated by this dish—it’s quicker and easier than you think to pull off this classic. The artichoke pasta is simplicity itself, and the tangy, garlicky goat cheese sauce is pure luxury. Finally, you don’t need a grill to make a perfect seared flank steak. Armed with a heavy skillet, buttery, melt-in-your mouth meat is mere moments away.

Sure, these meals aren’t exactly diet food—but it’s November, and who’s counting calories?

Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4 – 6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces pancetta, cubed
1⁄2 white onion, small dice
1⁄4 teaspoon sweet paprika
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1⁄4 teaspoon white pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
20 ounces butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (available pre-cut at Trader Joe’s)
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
Paprika and chopped flat leaf
parsley, to garnish

Melt the butter in a heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring often, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crispy. Remove the pancetta (leaving behind the rendered fat) and set aside to drain on paper towels. Add the onions, paprika, salt and white pepper to the fat and sauté until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the squash and stir, cooking for an additional 5 minutes. Add the broth, bring to a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the squash is soft—about 20 minutes. Puree until smooth with an immersion blender. Temper the cream and slowly whisk into the soup. Add salt and white pepper to taste, and serve garnished with paprika, parsley and pancetta. This goes beautifully with melted blue cheese or Roquefort cheese toasts.

Pan-Seared Flank Steak Over Charred Corn & Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese Buttermilk Dressing
Serves 4

For the steak and marinade:
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Montreal Steak Seasoning
1 pound flank steak
Salt and Pepper

For the dressing:
1⁄2 cup buttermilk
3⁄4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1⁄4 cup plain Greek yogurt
11⁄2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Juice of 1 whole lime
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the salad:
4 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 cups grape tomatoes, quartered
1⁄2 cup flat leaf parsley, minced
1 small red onion, diced small

First, make the marinade. Generously salt and pepper both sides of the flank steak. Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade, and add, along with the steak, to a Ziploc bag. Allow to marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Remove from the refrigerator (but leave it in the marinade) 30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, make the dressing. Whisk together all the ingredients with an immersion blender and refrigerate until ready to use. To make the salad, cook the corn in a skillet over high heat until charred. Toss with the tomatoes, onions and parsley. Coat with the dressing and allow the flavors to come together while you cook the steak.

To sear the steak, heat a heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, that’s been coated with 1 tablespoon high smoke point oil, such as canola. When the pan is good and hot, add the steak and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side for medium rare (depending on thickness), until it reaches an internal temperature of 125 degrees F. Remove, cover the steak with foil, and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut the steak into thin slices against the grain. Divide the salad among 4 plates and serve the steak on top, garnished with parsley.

Artichoke and Goat Cheese Pasta

Serves 4 – 6

1 pound farfalle (bow tie) pasta
2 tablespoons butter
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups heavy cream
8 ounces Chevre, crumbled
2 14-ounce cans of artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry and cut
into quarters.
1 tablespoon flat leaf parsley, minced
4 ounces baby spinach leaves
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Minced flat leaf parsley, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large stockpot filled with well-salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside. Meanwhile, make the sauce. In a deep skillet, sauté the garlic in the butter over medium heat until fragrant. Add the cream and cook until the cream simmers, stirring occasionally. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Slowly add the Chevre, whisking until melted and incorporated into the sauce. Add the artichokes and simmer for 5 minutes. Add half the parsley, and stir the pasta into the sauce. Lower the heat to low, fold in the spinach, and cover until just wilted. Add the lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste, and serve garnished with parsley. 

Brussels Sprout Risotto with White Truffle Oil and Pine Nuts
Serves 4

For the sprouts:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 ounces Brussels sprouts, shredded (like cabbage for slaw)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste

For the risotto:
2 tablespoons butter
1⁄3 white onion, minced
1⁄4 cup dry white wine
1 cup Arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock
1⁄2 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon zest, pine nuts and white truffle oil, to garnish

First, make the Brussels sprouts. In a deep skillet over medium high heat, melt the butter. Add the sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly charred. Add the lemon juice and stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste, cover and set aside.

To make the risotto, heat the stock in a small saucepan and keep warm. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Sauté the onions until translucent. Add the rice and stir. Add the wine and cook until absorbed by the rice. Add the stock to the rice 1⁄2 cup at a time, stirring—preferably with a wooden spoon—until absorbed. Work slowly, adding the stock until the rice has become creamy and soft, but not mushy. This will take about 30 minutes. Add the Pecorino Romano and stir until melted. Next, fold in the Brussels sprouts. Serve immediately garnished with a pinch of lemon zest, pine nuts and drizzled with white truffle oil.

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