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Bert Greene's Kitchen

Recipes He Could Stake His Reputation On

October 29, 1987|BERT GREENE | Greene is a New-York based food writer

I recently attended a party with about 100 literary and show business people.

"You look familiar," a man said to me as I elbowed my way out of the crush. "Did you coach for Notre Dame?"

"No," I replied. "I write cookbooks."

"Do people still do that?" he asked, downing a Chardonnay. "I thought you people were all into catering now."

"No, no," I said, smiling. "I used to be a caterer. But that was a long, long time ago."

"I knew you looked familiar. You used to make a chicken dish my ex-wife really loved. Chicken Louise something or other, right?"

I was stunned. For all the success that I've had during the past decade, my Chicken Louisette was the only thing that this man remembered about me.

Favorite Recipes

Another incident took place at the Society for American Cuisine, where I was to deliver the keynote speech.

The society had asked me to submit three of my favorite recipes for a cookbook that would be given to participants. It was difficult to choose three from the thousands of recipes I'd devised over the years. In the end, I selected a recipe from what I consider to be my best books: "Bert Greene's Kitchen Bouquets," "Honest American Fare" and "Greene on Greens."

After my speech a couple made their way through the audience to the podium to shake my hand.

"Bert, you didn't pick the right recipe for the cookbook."

"Why? Which would you pick?" I asked.

The answer came back like a shot.

"Lamb Shanks Provencal, from 'The Store Cookbook,' is one of your very best. After all, that's the recipe that made your reputation. "

With no argument from me, here are the recipes for two of my most popular dishes.

CHICKEN LOUISETTE

6 to 7 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 (2 1/2-pounds) chickens, cut for frying

1 small onion, thinly sliced

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/4 pound mushrooms, thinly sliced

1 package golden bouillon powder

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup chicken stock

1/4 cup cooked ham, chopped

4 slices white bread, crusts removed

Chopped fresh parsley

Melt 4 tablespoons butter in Dutch oven and brown chickens slowly. Place onion on top of chickens. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook slowly 30 to 40 minutes or until tender. Remove chickens. Add 2 more tablespoons of butter to pan and saute mushrooms until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Turn off heat, blend in bouillon powder and flour. Pour in wine and stock and heat, stirring, until mixture comes to boil. Add ham to sauce and simmer 5 minutes. Return chickens and simmer 10 more minutes or until heated through.

Cut slices of trimmed bread into triangles and saute in 1 to 2 tablespoons butter until golden brown. Arrange chickens on hot serving dish. Spoon on sauce, arrange bread around chickens and sprinkle with parsley. Makes 4 servings.

LAMB SHANKS

PROVENCAL

3 tablespoons flour

Salt

Paprika

4 (1-pound) lamb shanks

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3/4 cup red wine

1 1/4 cups water

1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or dried rosemary

Freshly ground black pepper

Fresh parsley, chopped

Combine 1 tablespoon of flour with salt and paprika to taste and lightly dust shanks. Heat butter and oil in deep, heavy saucepan until hot. Brown shanks on all sides.

Remove from pan and lightly brown onion in pan. Return meat to pan. Add red wine, 3/4 cup water and rosemary. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook in 375-degree oven until meat is easily pierced with fork, about 2 hours.

Take lamb shanks out of juices, blend remaining flour with 1/2 cup cold water. Add it to pan juices, stirring over heat until gravy thickens and comes to boil. Simmer 2 to 3 minutes, then strain.

Serve shanks garnished with parsley. Pass gravy separately. Makes 4 servings.

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