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Sinners & Saints

Photographs by Eugenia Uhl

There are times to indulge and, alas, times to eat in moderation. Times when we throw caution to the wind and times when we dial it back a bit. Periods of riotous celebration give way to sobriety, excess to something less. This is particularly so in December and January, when holiday festivities are followed by earnest resolutions and the harsh realities of the New Year. We have meals for both those times: Sinners and Saints, we call them. Whether you’re cooking chicken, pork, fish or steak, we’ve got you covered with two versions of each. One meal is for when you want to indulge, the other for when you don’t. We’re not talking feast or famine here. Feast, yes, but the alternative in each case, instead of abstinence, is a delicious meal that is healthy enough to make you feel saintly. Or, as Mark Twain put it, “Like a Christian with four aces.”

 

Ribeye Steak & Scalloped Potatoes

Put your cardiologist on speed dial
Sliced potatoes baked with butter and cream


 


Grilled Top Sirloin & Roasted Broccoli

Flavorful, lean beef on toasted bread
Spicy flavors with a touch of sweetness


 


Fried Pork Chops & Fried Eggplant

fried fat meets fried veggie
Pork and eggplant complement each other with their rich textures


 


Roasted Pork Loin & Grilled Eggplant

With oregano and pomegranate molasses
Middle Eastern flavors enliven lean pork


 


Fried Catfish & Hush Puppies

A Louisiana favorite with homemade tartare sauce (available online)
Fish fillets are dipped in milk and dredged in corn flour


 


Broiled Catfish & Poached Asparagus

A quick, simple and healthful meal
Just don't overcook the fish or the "grass"


 


Fried Chicken & French Fries

An easy method for the home cook
Tender and crispy chicken, hand-cut fries


 


Grilled Chicken & Arugula Salad

With walnuts, dried cherries and Parmesan
Spicy flavors with a touch of sweetness


SINNERS

Ribeye Steaks & Scalloped Potatoes

Grilled Ribeye Steaks

    4     ribeye steaks about ½-inch thick
        Coarse salt and freshly-ground
        black pepper

Preheat grill. Season steaks generously with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Grill steaks to desired degree of doneness. (Time will vary, depending on temperature of grill.) Serve steaks topped with a disc of herb butter. Makes 4 servings.

Herb Butter

    ¼     cup butter, softened
    1     teaspoon chopped parsley
    1     teaspoon chopped chives
    1     teaspoon minced shallots

Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to a sheet of wax paper. Form into a cylinder, wrap well, and refrigerate. To serve, cut into 4 pieces and place a disc on each steak. Makes 4 servings.

Scalloped Potatoes

    4     medium potatoes
        (about 2 pounds)
    1     tablespoon all-purpose flour
    4     tablespoons butter
        Coarse salt and freshly ground
        black pepper
    1     cup heavy cream
    ½     cup milk
        Freshly-grated nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 2-quart baking dish. Peel a potato and cut it into ⅛-inch-thick slices. Put slices in baking dish, sprinkle with flour, season with salt and pepper, and dot with butter. Repeat with each potato. Combine cream and milk and pour over potatoes. Grate a little nutmeg over the top. Cover dish and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until browned, about 20-30 minutes. Makes 4-6 servings.


Fried Pork Chops & Fried Eggplant

Fried Pork Chops

    4     pork loin chops
        Cajun/Creole seasoning
    1     cup all-purpose flour
        Cooking oil
        Hot pepper vinegar

In a large skillet, add about one-third inch of oil and heat until oil shimmers. Season pork chops generously with Cajun/Creole seasoning and dredge in flour. Fry pork chops (in batches, if necessary) until nicely browned on one side. Turn and fry until other side is browned. Drain. Serve with hot pepper vinegar for each diner to add, as desired. Makes 4 servings.

Fried Eggplant

    1     large eggplant
    2     eggs
    2     tablespoons water
    ½     cup all-purpose flour
    1    cup Panko breadcrumbs
        Coarse salt
    2     teaspoons chopped parsley
        Lemon wedges

In a large skillet, add about one-third inch of oil and heat until oil shimmers. Beat eggs with water. Cut eggplant into ½-inch slices. Dredge eggplant slices in flour, then in egg, then in breadcrumbs. Fry, in batches, until browned on one side, then turn and brown other side. Drain and sprinkle with salt. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.


Fried Catfish & Hush Puppies

Fried Catfish

    2     cups milk
    2     teaspoons hot sauce
    2     cups corn flour
    1     teaspoon coarse salt
    ½     teaspoon freshly
        ground black pepper
    ½     teaspoon cayenne pepper
    2     pounds thin catfish filets
        Cooking oil
        Lemon wedges

Heat oil in fryer or deep pot to 375 degrees. Combine milk and hot sauce in a large bowl. Add catfish to milk. Combine corn flour, salt, and peppers in another container. When oil is at proper temperature, remove a filet from milk, shake off excess, dredge in corn flour, and drop in the fryer. Repeat with additional catfish, being careful not to overcrowd fryer. Cook until crispy. Remove cooked catfish from fryer and drain. Repeat until all the fish is cooked. Serve with tartare sauce and lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Hush Puppies

People who don’t like hush puppies have only sampled the heavy, leaden ones that resemble small cannonballs. These are light and delicious, especially if made with stone-ground cornmeal.

    ¾     cup cornmeal,
        preferably stone-ground
    ¼     cup all-purpose flour
    1     teaspoon baking powder
    ½     teaspoon baking soda
    ½     teaspoon salt
    ½     teaspoon sugar
    ½     cup buttermilk
    1     egg, separated
    1     tablespoon olive oil
    ¼     cup finely minced onion
        Cooking oil

Heat cooking oil in deep fryer or pot to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, add dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Add buttermilk and egg yolk and stir to combine. Stir in olive oil and onion. Beat egg white until stiff and fold into mixture. Drop batter by teaspoonfuls into hot oil and cook until browned, turning once, if needed (some will turn on their own). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper. Makes about 20 hush puppies.


Tender & crispy chicken with hand-cut fries

Fried Chicken

Frying chicken for a crowd is a daunting task. When I was cooking for a large group of people, I found that it is much more efficient to fry chicken only until it is browned, then finish it in the oven. To my surprise, I even liked the result better. Chicken cooked this way approximates our grandmothers’ old-fashioned, pan-fried chicken.

    1     chicken (about 4 pounds)
    1     quart buttermilk
    1 ½     teaspoons salt
    1 ½     teaspoons cayenne pepper
    1 ½     teaspoons black pepper
    1     teaspoon hot sauce
    2     cups all-purpose flour
        Cooking oil

Cut-up chicken, reserving necks, giblets, backs and wing tips for another use. Pour buttermilk in a large bowl or pan, add salt, peppers, and hot sauce. Stir to combine. Add chicken pieces, cover, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat oil in deep fryer or pot to 375 degrees. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove chicken from marinade, dredge in flour, and fry, in batches, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Place chicken on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until dark brown and cooked through, about 25 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

French Fries

    4     medium potatoes
        Cooking oil
        Coarse salt

Preheat oil in deep fryer or pot to 375 degrees. Scrub potatoes, but do not peel. Cut potatoes into fries (thick or thin, as desired), and place in a bowl of water. Remove potatoes from water and dry thoroughly. Fry potatoes, in batches, until golden brown. Drain and sprinkle with salt. MAKES 4 SERVINGS.


 

SAINTS

Grilled Top Sirloin & Roasted Broccoli

Grilled Top Sirloin On Toast

    2     pounds top sirloin
        cut ½-inch thick
    1     tablespoon soy sauce
        Coarse salt and freshly ground
        black pepper
    4     large and thick slices of bread

Preheat grill. Coat both sides of meat with soy sauce and season generously with salt and pepper. Grill steak to desired degree of doneness. (Time will vary, depending on temperature of grill.) Let steak rest for 5 minutes. Toast both sides of bread on the grill. Thinly slice steak on the bias. Put each piece of toast on a plate and arrange sliced steak on toast. Pour over any juices from the steak. Makes 4 servings.

Roasted Broccoli

    1     head broccoli
    2     tablespoons olive oil
    2     cloves garlic, sliced
    ¼     teaspoon crushed red pepper
    ⅛    teaspoon coarse salt
        Lemon wedges

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Separate broccoli florets and combine in a baking dish with remainder of ingredients. Toss well to coat broccoli and bake in preheated oven until tender and lightly browned, about 30 minutes. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.


Roasted Pork Loin Filet with Oregano & Pomegranate Molasses

Roasted Pork Filet

    1     pork loin filet (about 1½ pounds)
    1     tablespoon olive oil
    ½     teaspoon coarse salt
    ¼     teaspoon freshly-ground
        black pepper
    1     teaspoon oregano
    ½     lemon
    2     tablespoons pomegranate
        molasses plus additional
        Fresh pomegranate seeds (optional)

Rub pork with olive oil. Combine salt, pepper, and oregano and rub into meat. Place loin in a plastic bag. Squeeze lemon juice over meat and add 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses. Squeeze bag and rotate loin so that it is completely covered with the seasonings. Seal bag and marinate for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pork loin in a shallow baking pan and roast, basting occasionally with marinade, until juices run clear when pierced, about 45 minutes. Let meat rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve drizzled with pomegranate molasses. Garnish with optional fresh pomegranate seeds. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Eggplant
& Green Onions

    1     large eggplant
        Olive oil
    1     bunch green onions
        Coarse salt
        Pomegranate molasses

Preheat grill. Slice eggplant about ½-inch thick. Brush both sides generously with olive oil. Trim green onions and brush with olive oil. Cook eggplant and onions on hot grill, turning as needed, until softened. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with salt. Serve drizzled with pomegranate molasses. Makes 4 servings.


Broiled Catfish & Poached Asparagus

Broiled Catfish

    4     large catfish filets
    ¼     cup dry white wine
    1     tablespoon melted butter
        Cajun/Creole seasoning
    1     tablespoon chopped parsley
        Lemon wedges

Preheat broiler. Butter broiling pan. Place catfish on pan, pour wine over fish, drizzle with butter, season with Cajun/Creole seasoning. Broil until fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Poached Asparagus

    1     bunch thin asparagus
        Water to cover
    1     teaspoon salt
    1     tablespoon olive oil
        Lemon wedges

Trim asparagus and place in a large non-reactive skillet. Cover with water, add salt and oil. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until tender. Drain and serve with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings


Grilled Chicken & Arugula Salad

Grilled Chicken

    4     boneless, skinless chicken breasts
    1     tablespoon olive oil
        Cajun/Creole seasoning

Rinse chicken breasts and blot dry with paper toweling. Place chicken in a bowl, add olive oil, and toss to coat. Season with Cajun/Creole seasoning. Cover and marinate, refrigerated, for 30 minutes or longer. Preheat grill. Grill chicken breasts until cooked through. (Time will vary, depending on temperature of grill). Makes 4 servings.

Arugula, Walnut, Dried Cherry & Parmesan Salad

    6     cups loosely-packed arugula
    ½     cup walnuts
    ¼     cup dried cherries
    1 ½  tablespoons olive oil
    1 ½     teaspoons balsamic vinegar
        Coarse salt and
        freshly ground black pepper
        Parmesan cheese

Combine arugula, walnuts, and cherries in a salad bowl. Whisk olive oil and vinegar until emulsified; add to salad ingredients and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide salad among 4 plates. Using a vegetable peeler, shave strips of Parmesan over salad. MAKES 4 SERVINGS.


 

 

 

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