Our number four is so easy going you can pair it with just about anything, but we especially love it with the earthiness of mushrooms, the richness and umami of the Marsala spices and of course, the sweetness of the decadent chocolate pie.
This is the ultimate winter fire in the fireplace, cozy up with your family dinner. It sounds so good, if it weren’t for Covid, we’d drop in and join you.
CHEESE STARTER (OR DESSERT)
Try a plain Brie with raspberry jam or a lovely Gruyere.
WILD RICE AND MUSHROOM SOUP
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
For a Pressure Cooker:
- 5 medium carrots, chopped
- 5 stalks celery, chopped
- ½ yellow onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup uncooked wild rice
- 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons fresh chopped sage (or 2 teaspoons ground dried)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh, chopped thyme (or 3/4 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon ground dried marjoram (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary (or ¾ teaspoon ground dried)
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
For the Stovetop:
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk or milk substitute
- Place all ingredients into cooker. Use the manual setting for 45 minutes.
- Heat the oil on medium heat in a stock pot or Dutch oven. Saute onion, celery and carrots until onion is tender and translucent, 8-10 minutes.
- Add garlic, mushrooms, herbs and spices. Saute for another 3-4 minutes until fragrant.
- Add stock and wild rice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook 45-55 minutes until wild rice is soft.
- Make a roux: melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the flour gradually and whisk until smooth. Stir constantly until small bubbles form. Slowly add the milk. Stir until thickened.
- Add the roux to the rest of the soup.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with crusty bread or herbed flatbread crackers and butter.
Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Marsala is a fortified wine (wine to which a distilled spirit has been added, usually brandy). For this dish, you’ll want a dry Marsala made for cooking. You could also substitute straight up brandy, dark sherry or a dry Madeira wine. But we like to go to the trouble of getting Marsala. It’s worth it.
- 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded ¼-inch thick, or chicken tenderloins
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided into three ¼ portions
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, divided into two ⅛ portions.
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided into 2 Tablespoons and 1 Tablespoon
- 8 ounces bella or button mushrooms
- 3 Tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup chicken broth
- 2/3 cup dry Marsala wine
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Place the chicken, flour, ¼ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon pepper in a medium sized bowl. Using tongs or a wooden spoon mix to coat.
- Heat the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cast iron is best for getting a nice brown glaze, which makes a rich and flavorful sauce.
- Place the coated chicken in the pan, cooking until golden on each side and barely cooked through, 6-7 minutes total. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the same pan. Add the mushrooms and brown, stirring frequently for 5 minutes.
- Add the shallots, garlic and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt; saute for 3-4 minutes, but don’t brown. Add the broth, Marsala wine, heavy cream, thyme, the last 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and second 1/8 teaspoon of pepper.
- Scrape any drippings from the bottom of the pan and a bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered until sauce is reduced by half and dark in color. About 12 minutes. It should be a thin cream sauce at this point.
- Place the chicken back into the pan, along with any juices on the plate.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer until the chicken is warmed through and the sauce thickens a bit more, 2 to 3 minutes.
Sprinkle with parsley and serve.
CHOCOLATE CREAM PIE WITH PRETZEL CRUST
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Additional Time: 3 hours
- 3 ½ cups (about 5 ½ ounces) pretzel sticks
- ¼ cup light brown sugar
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 5 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- 5 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Chop pretzels in a blender or food processor until finely crushed. You can also put them in a plastic bag, close tightly and crush with a rolling pin.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine crushed pretzels, brown sugar and butter.
- Press the pretzel mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.
- Bake for 8 minutes. Let cool for 15-20 minutes.
- In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine the milk and chocolate. Stir until melted and thoroughly combined. Remove from stove and let cool until just warm.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt. Slowly add ½ cup of the warm milk mixture the bowl, whisking vigorously and tempering the eggs.
- Pour the tempered egg mixture into the saucepan with the remaining chocolate milk mixture, whisking constantly. Cook over medium heat, continuing to whisk the entire time, until the mixture is bubbling and thick, 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl. Cover with a tea towel and cool to room temperature.
- Add vanilla and mix gently but thoroughly.
- Cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours until the pudding is somewhat set.
- Using a rubber spatula, scoop filling into crust and chill for another 2-3 hours or overnight.
Serve cold as is or with whipped cream on top.