Recipes from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

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Serves 4

My friend Stephen Drucker described a warm butternut squash salad that he’d been served and asked if I could make one. Why not? I love the interplay of hot and cold plus the sweet butternut squash, tart dried cranberries, nutty Parmesan, and bitter arugula.

1 (11⁄2-pound) butternut squash, peeled and 3⁄4-inch diced
Good olive oil
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons dried cranberries
3⁄4 cup apple cider or apple juice
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 ounces baby arugula, washed and spun dry
1⁄2 cup walnut halves, toasted (page 78)
3⁄4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (see note)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the squash on a sheet pan. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the maple syrup, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss. Roast the squash for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until tender. Add the cranberries to the pan for the last 5 minutes.
While the squash is roasting, combine the apple cider, vinegar, and shallots in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, until the cider is reduced to about 1/4 cup. Off the heat, whisk in the mustard, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Place the arugula in a large salad bowl and add the roasted squash mixture, the walnuts, and the grated Parmesan. Spoon just enough vinaigrette over the salad to moisten, and toss well. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately.



Serves 6

Over the years I’ve tried many times to make a good coq au vin, the renowned French chicken stew with red wine, but with disappointing results. My television producer Olivia Grove one day told me, “Well, it’s just beef bourguignon with chicken,” and I thought, “So it is!” With that in mind, I adapted my old recipe for beef and came up with an easy chicken version that’s such a satisfying winter dinner. Usually the chicken cooks for hours and is dry and stringy, but I found that after only thirty to forty minutes in the oven, the chicken is perfectly cooked and still tender and juicy.

Good olive oil
8 ounces good bacon or pancetta, diced
2 (3- to 4-pound) chickens, each cut into 8 serving pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 pound carrots, cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1⁄4 cup Cognac or good brandy
1 (750-ml) bottle good dry red wine such as Burgundy
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade (page 61)
1 bunch fresh thyme sprigs
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen small whole onions
1 pound porcini or cremini mushrooms, stems removed and thickly sliced

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove the bacon to a plate with a slotted spoon.

Meanwhile, pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Liberally sprinkle the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. After the bacon is removed, add a few of the chicken pieces in a single layer and brown for about 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Remove the chicken pieces to the plate with the bacon and continue to add the chicken in batches until all the chicken is browned. Set aside.
Add the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper to the pot and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back!, and carefully ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the bacon, chicken, and any juices that collect on the plate into the pot. Add the wine, chicken stock, and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until the chicken is just no longer pink. Remove from the oven and place on top of the stove.
Mash 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour together in a small bowl and stir the paste into the stew. Add the frozen onions. In a medium sauté pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and cook the mushrooms over medium-low heat for 5 to 10 minutes, until browned. Add to the stew. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook for another 10 minutes. Season to taste. Serve hot.



Serves 4

Nothing’s easier than this roasted fish! It only takes ten minutes to make and it’s good enough to serve to the fanciest company. This recipe comes from my Parisian friend Myriam Richard-Delorme, who’s a wonderful cook. She serves it simply with steamed new potatoes and sautéed French haricots verts. How chic is that?

4 (8-ounce) fish fillets such as red snapper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces crème fraîche
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons minced shallots
2 teaspoons drained capers

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. (You can also use an ovenproof baking dish.) Place the fish fillets skin side down on the sheet pan. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Combine the crème fraîche, two mustards, shallots, capers, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spoon the sauce evenly over the fish fillets, making sure the fish is completely covered. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until it’s barely done. (The fish will flake easily at the thickest part when it’s done.) Be sure not to overcook it! Serve hot or at room temperature with the sauce from the pan spooned over the top.