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Get sauced

Savoury dressings put some pizzazz into your winter dinner

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IN the summer, when produce is ripe and rich with flavour, you don't need to do much to make a great meal. Fresh corn on the cob, just-picked peas, new potatoes with butter or juicy ripe tomatoes -- any of these will make a sensational supper with grilled meat or fish.

Not so at this time of year. Root vegetables are fine, but hardly exciting. This is the time to add some soul-satisfying sauces to your main courses.

Here are two simple-to-make main courses that are immensely satisfying because of their savoury sauces. A bonus is that these sauces will fill your home with wonderful, rich aromas of simmering stock and herbs or sauteed leeks with white wine.

Then take the humble potato, boil it and mash it, and serve some of the sauce over top. It's enough to make you like the cosy evenings of winter.

While the sauces are hearty, they are not overly rich.

The Normandy chicken, from Foodland Ontario, is made flavourful by the use of fresh herbs, mushrooms and Calvados or brandy, but it's thickened only by a little cornstarch.

The pork tenderloin recipe, from Epicurious.com, is a little more rich, with creme fraiche or sour cream, but at least one website user said she substituted yogurt and that worked well, too.

I tried out both recipes on guests and both were big hits.

Pork medallions with mustard-chive sauce

Serves six

Preparation time: about 30 minutes

2 tablespoons (25 mL) butter, divided

2 tablespoons (25 mL) olive oil, divided

2 cups (500 mL) chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only; about two medium)

1 cup (250 mL) low-salt chicken broth.

1/2 cup (125 mL) dry white wine

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup (125 mL) creme fraiche or sour cream

3 tablespoons (50 mL) whole-grain Dijon mustard

Two one-pound (500 g) pork tenderloins, each cut crosswise into 6 slices

2 tablespoons (25 mL) chopped fresh chives

1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh tarragon

2 tablespoons (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1. Melt 1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and cook until beginning to turn golden, stirring frequently, about five minutes. Stir in broth, wine and garlic. Boil until mixture is reduced to 1 2/3 cups (375 mL), about four minutes.

2. Whisk in creme fraiche and mustard; set aside. (Sauce can be made two hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.)

3. Melt 1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter with 1 tablespoon (15 mL) oil in another large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Saute until browned and cooked, about five minutes per side. Transfer pork to platter.

4. Add sauce to skillet; simmer sauce over medium heat until slightly thickened, scraping up any browned bits, about two minutes. Stir in chopped chives and tarragon. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Return pork to skillet. Cook over medium heat just until rewarmed, stirring frequently, about one minute. Transfer to platter, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Normandy Chicken

Serves four

Preparation time: about 40 minutes

2 teaspoons (10 mL) vegetable oil, divided

8 ounces (200 g) cremini (brown) mushrooms, sliced

1 small onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

4 boneless chicken breasts

3/4 cup (175 mL) chicken stock

3/4 cup (175 mL) apple cider or apple juice

1/4 cup (50 mL) Calvados or brandy (optional)

1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon/5 mL dried)

1 teaspoon (5 mL) chopped fresh or dried rosemary

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) salt

1/4 cup (50 mL) water

1 tablespoon (15 mL) cornstarch

1. In large nonstick skillet, heat 1 teaspoon (5 mL) of the oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, five minutes, or until softened. Remove and set aside.

2. Heat remaining oil in skillet. Add chicken breasts; cook until golden brown, about five minutes. Return mushroom-onion-garlic mixture to pan, along with chicken stock, apple cider or juice, Calvados or brandy, thyme, rosemary and salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer, turning chicken several times, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink inside. Transfer chicken to platter; tent with foil.

3. Increase heat to high, boil liquid until reduced by half, three to five minutes. Whisk water with cornstarch; whisk into liquid and cook over low heat until sauce is thickened. Spoon over chicken.

-- CanWest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 2, 2005 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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