One of the cooks left a comment that they had used Arborio rice instead of orzo. Taking my cue from this, and the fact that I had the rice on hand, I opted to switch up the recipe. I followed the first two steps of the recipe adding the Arborio rice after I had sauteed the shallots, sage and some seasonings. Once the rice had taken on some color, I added 3 cups of stock and let the ingredients simmer gently. I went in every so often and gave several vigorous stirs to help the rice release its starches. I added an additional cup of stock or so as the rice absorbed more liquid than the pasta would have. Once the rice was al dente and the squash tender, I removed it from the heat and stirred in the Parmesan cheese. Ms. Clark suggested a splash of lemon juice if the dish needed some brightness, but it was perfect as it was.
What a delightful meal! The layers of flavor made for a wonderful meal. There was a touch of heat from the red pepper flakes, the sage added notes of pepper and lemon. There was no need for the ricotta cheese as it was creamy on its own.
It pays to read the comments of other cooks as they provide some insight into the intricacies of a recipe.
From our Christmas Eve dinner, there was leftover Wellshire Farms boneless, spiral cut ham. I did some internet searching and found on the Williams-Sonoma website a recipe for Ham and Gruyère Pot Pie. For the recipe you’ll need flour, puff pastry, unsalted butter, milk, yellow onion, celery, Yukon gold potato, boneless ham, fresh or frozen peas, Gruyère cheese, fresh tarragon, kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and an egg.
You begin by making a roux, a white sauce made with flour and milk, in which you’ll cook the onion, celery, potato and ham. Once the vegetables soften, off the heat you add peas, cheese and tarragon. The pan is placed back on the heat for the cheese to melt and sauce thicken. Although this recipe gave its direction for six individual ovenproof dishes, I opted to make one large pot pie. The mixture just fit in my two-quart Corningware dish. I made the mistake of rolling the puff pastry a little, and this resulted in the pastry not rising as well as it should.
Needless to say, the filling wasn’t hurt by this. The pot pie was rich, was chock-a-block full of vegetables and ham pieces and less milk to make the sauce thicker. It was a terrific way to use up the ham. The tarragon gave a nice background flavor to the sauce. This is a wonderful way to use up leftover ham and is a good do ahead meal.
Brown-Butter Orzo with Butternut Squash*
This Creamy Fall Orzo Will Please Anyone Who Loves A Cozy Porridge,
By Melissa Clark
The New York Times, A Good Appetite Column
December 3, 2021
Yield: 4 Servings
Time: 45 Minutes
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup thinly sliced shallots (2 to 3), or use onion or leek
1 small (2-pound) butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into ¾-inch cubes (3 cups)
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves, or 2 teaspoons chopped rosemary or marjoram, plus more for serving if you like
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, plus more as needed
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes, plus more for serving
3 cups vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 ½ cup uncooked orzo
1 lemon, zested and halved
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
½ cup whole-milk ricotta (optional)
*I prepared this recipe using 1-1/2 cups Arborio rice. I added about ¼ cup of white wine the butternut squash as it cooked.
The rice took a little longer to cook than the time stated above. Also, I poured the 3 cups of stock in a once and stirred it vigorously each time so the rice would release its starches. An additional cup of stock was needed to cook the rice.
Ham and Gruyère Pot Pies
From the Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 packages (each 14 oz./440 g) all-butter frozen puff pastry, such as Dufour, thawed
8 Tbs. (1 stick) (4 oz./125 g) unsalted butter
4 cups (32 fl. oz./1 l) milk
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 Yukon Gold potato, about 5 oz. (155 g), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) cubes
1/2 lb. (250 g) boneless ham, cut into 1/4-inch (6-mm) cubes
1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) fresh or thawed frozen peas
3/4 cup (3 oz./90 g) shredded Gruyère cheese
2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water
Preheat an oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, unfold 1 puff pastry sheet and, using a paring knife, cut into six 5-inch-squares. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to use.
To create the bunnies, on the floured surface, unfold the remaining puff pastry sheet. Using a 1-inch (2.5-cm) round biscuit cutter, cut out 6 rounds for the bodies. Using a 3/4-inch (2-cm) biscuit cutter, cut out 6 rounds for the heads. Using a sharp knife, cut out 12 pointed oval shapes, each 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) long, for the ears, and cut out six 1/8-inch (3-mm) circles for the tails. Transfer all of the cutouts to the other prepared baking sheet. If desired, to add detail to the bunnies, use a sharp knife to score the ears, tracing an oval about 1/4 inch (6 mm) from the edge of the pastry. Score a small crescent shape on each of the heads to form an eye. Refrigerate the pastry until ready to use.
In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture smells fragrant and nutty, 1 to 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking until smooth, and bring to a gentle boil. Add the onion, celery, potato and ham and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat, add the peas, cheese and tarragon and stir until the cheese is melted. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly and the vegetables are tender, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and a generous amount of pepper.
Divide the filling among six 6-oz. (180-ml) ovenproof bowls or ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Brush the rims of the bowls with water. Place 1 puff pastry square on top of each bowl, pressing gently on the edges. Brush the surface of the pastry with some of the egg wash. Arrange the puff pastry cutouts to form a bunny on top of each pastry square. Brush the bunnies with egg wash.
Bake until the pastry is puffed and golden brown and the filling is bubbling, about 20 minutes. Let the pot pies rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 6.
Williams Sonoma Test Kitchen
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.