Tuesday, November 18, 2008

panade. what's in a name?

The recipe concotions continue with this Acorn Squash, Mushroom and Red Wine Panade recipe which The Wednesday Chef insisted fellow readers try a couple weeks ago. Turns out I own the book, Chez Panisse Vegetables, and if I'm going to be completely honest here, I haven't tried one bloody recipe from the the book! I've been collecting the Alice Waters library for quite a few years now and am frankly embarassed by its crisp white pages, hardly doused with olive oil or crustiness from countless cooking endeavors. Anyhoo, the point is the blog I read was so inspiring that I decided to give this recipe a try.

Now you may very well be asking yourself, what the heck is a "panade"? According to some online dictionary, it's a mixture of butter, water, and flour, often the base for choux pastry. Here, however, I believe the reference is purely "show". This vegetable casserole is definitely time consuming. Onions are caramelized in olive oil with garlic, thyme and then reduced with red wine and simmered with the addition of chicken stock and sliced and sauteed mushrooms. The recipe calls for chanterelles, but I substituted cremini mushrooms and it still turned out delicious. You lightly brown slices of country bread in a skillet before the layering process. Country bread, broth, thinly sliced acorn squash (which has been peeled and seeded), more broth, more bread and the rest of the broth. I practially had my own production line, unfortunately, I was the only employee and the boss. Sprinkle some parmesan cheese on top, I substituted it with pecorino romano and baked covered and then uncovered for an hour or so. The texture is definitely different, probably the first layer of bread, but the bread and vegetables soak up the goodness and earthy flavors of the flavorful broth. The crunchy layer of bread on top gives it character and the saltiness of the pecorino was a nice touch. Time consuming yes, but worth every minute? Absolutely.

Sometimes the best things in life are the result of time, precious time.

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