Time for some Kismet cooking. As you doubtless know by now, there's almost nothing I like so much as ingredients coming my way through seeming coincidence. In figuring out what to do with them, I know I'm on the right track when I having a niggling feeling of vaguely remembering something. That's where my colossal book of clipped recipes comes in. It drives Jeff bonkers, because it's such an enormous overstuffed notebook that inevitably seems to be perched right in his way. By now he's surely learned that any criticism of my notebook, boldly entitled "Clare" on its spine, is rife with peril. I guess its title shows that I view it as an extension of myself, and dishing it is akin to answering "yes" when I ask him if I look fat in my new red dress. In other words, its someplace he doesn't want to go. My trusty notebook sent out a virtual vibration recently when my sweet next-door neighbor appeared bearing the last butternut squash from her garden. In looking around at my stash, nestled amongst my usual hoard, was a loaf of sourdough bread that had somehow been left behind in its rotation and was surely past its prime. I also had an abundance of Fontina left over from my stellar mushroom lasagna (more on that later). That was enough to cause that familiar niggling sensation and send me straight to "Clare". What was that recipe? Well, it was for panade and I found two--one from the New York Times, and a more recent one from the Wall Street Journal.
That's really my favoritecircumstance actually, because, instead of just having one recipe and allowing myself to slavishly follow it, I'm spurred to meld the two into something that's inspired by both, forming a confluence that is ultimately my own.
Panade closely resembles a rustic, vegetable laden stuffing, but stuffing without that annoying feeling that you can't sit down and eat the whole thing, and that you're duty bound to properly engage with the bird that's really the excuse to have made the stuffingin the first place. As if that isn't thrilling enough, a panade is enriched with cream and egg yolks which bind it all together. As you can imagine, I was enraptured.
As you'll see from the picture, I also found some delectable lamb sausage redolent with rosemary and garlic lurking in the fridge, which was definitely gilding the lily. The panade would have made a scrumptious feast all on its own, but, to be perfectly honest, I figured that Jeff and Felix might get sidetracked by the sausage and leave more panade for me. Let me just say, that theory worked out beautifully.
The recipes I found for panade called for putting it in individual ramekins. I knew right off that I wasn't having any of that, but it did inspire me to put it in my souffle dish which seemed just right. In the end, it was easy, quick and a great success. I mean, it was basically a cheesy stuffing fest. What's not to love? Just do remember to make the sausages too, to get your loved ones off the track.
Long may panade thrive in my kitchen, thanks in no small part to my beloved notebook. I must remember, however, not to ask Jeff how I look in that dress should eating panade become a habit.
Butternut Squash Panade
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
salt and pepper
1 loaf sourdough bread, very stale and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup Italian parsley, roughly chopped
2 teaspoons sage leaves, chopped
2 teaspoons thyme leaves, chopped
6 ounces Fontina cheese, chopped into 1/2 cube
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
2 ounces Parmesan Reggiano, grated
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a large souffle dish and a piece of foil that will go over it with 1/2 tablespoon butter.
Put olive oil and remaining butter in a saute pan. Put onions in the pan, cover and place over medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the squash, garlic and some salt and pepper and cover and allow to cook for about 4 minutes. Uncover and cook until the onions are lightly colored and the squash is tender, about 4 more minutes.
While that is happening, in a large mixing bowl, toss the bread with the parsley, sage, thyme and Fontina cheese. Stir in the butternut squash mixture.
Without cleaning it, return the saute pan to medium heat, and add the stock stirring to remove any brown bits from the side of the pan. Add the cream and stir for about a minute until it is warmed through but not boiling. Remove from the heat and add the egg yolks stirring constantly so they don't scramble. Pour the liquid over the bread mixture and allow it to sit for a few minutes so that it can be absorbed.
Put the mixture into the souffle dish, packing it down, and cover with the grated cheese. Cover the dish with the foil, butter-side down, and bake in the oven until the panade is semi-firm at its center, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until the panade is lightly brown on tip.
Serve immediately accompanied by sausages and/or salad.
--Adapted from The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal