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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Timbales: Elegant and Easy

When we're celebrating an occasion, we like to have a special meal livened up with something we either haven't cooked before or something that we seldom make. This approach has led to some minor disasters, but mostly we end up with great meals.

On Christmas this year we found ourselves in a new house and without visitors, so we knew that we could make anything that sounded good. We decided that the menu would include pheasant pie, prepared using a recipe that Saveur magazine published a few years back. Because Tim brings back a few pheasants from his annual fall trip to South Dakota, what would be a difficult acquisition for most was easy for us, but still special.

To accompany the savory pie, we decided to make red pepper timbales. Timbales are little vegetable-based, custard-like side dishes that for some reason restaurants rarely serve anymore. We have a recipe for broccoli timbales, so we altered it a bit for the roasted red peppers. (In the broccoli version, substitute nutmeg for the hot sauce.)

Roasted Red Pepper Timbales

4 beefy red peppers, roasted, peeled, and seeded
2 eggs
2 T. soft butter, plus enough to grease six custard cups
1 t. sriracha, or other hot sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Half cup béchamel sauce
Boiling water

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.

2. Wipe the roasted peppers well with paper towels to remove as much water as possible. Puree the peppers in a food processor. You'll end up with about two cups of sauce.

3. Scrape the pepper sauce into a bowl. Add the eggs, butter, salt, pepper, and béchamel. Blend well.

4. Butter the inside of the six custard cups—you can also use coffee cups—and place them in a heatproof baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the pepper mixture into the cups, evenly distributing the liquid among the six cups.

5. Pour boiling water into the baking dish (not inside the cups) so that it comes halfway up the sides of the cups. Place in the oven, being careful not to let the water slosh into the cups. Bake for about 20 minutes, until a knife inserted into the timbale comes out clean.

6. Remove from the oven and let stand about five minutes before unmolding. Run a knife around the inside of the cup before turning the timbales onto plates.

Serves six.

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