Recipes From Luxe to Lean
Polenta Gratin with Spinach and Wild Mushrooms
Commercial wild mushroom mixes (usually a combination of shiitake, cremini and oyster mushrooms) are a godsend: Some invisible helper has already cleaned, stemmed and sliced the mushrooms for you. In this recipe, they are mixed with spinach and cream, then baked in a luscious gratin under smooth rounds of precooked polenta until bubbling hot.
Squash Gratin with Poblanos & Cream
Chef Julie Robles makes this vegetarian gratin in individual dishes with a topping of candied pepitas (pumpkin seeds). This version is for one big gratin garnished with plain toasted pumpkin seeds.
Bacon Burgers on Brioche Buns
The burger at Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern in San Francisco is called Le Grand with good reason: It's a custom blend of ground prime rib, brisket, skirt steak and tenderloin, topped with Nueske's bacon and Cowgirl Creamery's triple-cream Mt. Tam cheese. The recipe is also delicious with a mix of chuck and sirloin.
Turkey Burgers with Spicy Pickle Sauce
Give a beach party worthy of Gidget with guests in bathing suits and sunglasses and a menu of lean-but-luscious turkey burgers.
Warm Duck-and-Cabbage Salad
More and more specialty-food stores are selling duck confit legs, but in a pinch, rotisserie chicken works well, too.
Eugenia Bone, prolific home cook, writer and author of Well-Preserved, serves this simple green salad with a cheese plate and plenty of rustic bread. She always includes Taleggio and aged Parmigiano-Reggiano, as well as fresh imported sheep's-milk ricotta whenever she can find it at the market.
Beef Stew with Port and Porcini
Gail Hobbs-Page, who also consults on the raising of the grass-fed livestock at Dave Matthews's Best of What's Around farm, developed this beef stew recipe with chuck in mind, marinating it overnight to tenderize it, simmering it slowly, then adding port, red wine and porcini mushrooms to create a rich, deeply flavored sauce.
Lamb Stew with Swiss Chard and Garlic-Parsley Toasts
This robust, satisfying stew is made with lamb shank, a relatively lean cut with marvelous lamb flavor. The Swiss chard here adds a mild earthiness as well as vitamin K and calcium.
Fresh Fettuccine with Chicken-Liver Sauce
Using chicken livers to make pasta sauce is a great idea. Adding a little sherry to the sauce deepens the rich flavor.
Pasta with Cauliflower, Peppers and Walnut Pesto
This vegetable-loaded pasta is equally delicious warm or cold. Jerry Traunfeld created it with the Eastern Mediterranean staples of cauliflower and bell peppers, which taste great together, especially when tossed in a garlicky walnut pesto.