5 of Ann Heller’s favorite recipes

It’s a recipe created by Marcella Hazan, whose cooking schools in Italy and New York have trained thousands of American chefs in authentic Italian home cooking.

The first recipe I tried of hers is this Lemon Road Chicken. It turned out incredibly easy and delicious.

Makes 4 servings

1 chicken, about 2 ½ to 3 pounds

salt and pepper

2 whole lemons

Wash the chicken, drain and dry with kitchen paper. Remove loose fat. Rub inside and out with salt and pepper and rub in.

Wash and dry the lemons and soften them by rolling them on the counter. Prick each lemon at least 20 times with a skewer, ice pick, or toothpick. Place the lemons inside the chicken, close the opening with toothpicks or sleeves, and loosely tie the legs together.

Place in a skillet, breast side down and place in the top third of an oven preheated to 350 degrees. Don’t add fat.

After 15 minutes, flip chicken breasts and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes. Turn the heat up to 400 degrees and cook the chicken for another 20 minutes. (If you’re using a larger bird, you might want to roast the bird for an additional 5 minutes or so — but dig in the thighs at the joint and make sure the juice runs clear yellow.)

Serve the chicken in the skillet with all the lemon juices. They make a delicious sauce.

SPANISH PORK LOIN

One of my favorite Spanish recipes is this incredibly lightly seasoned pork loin.

The pork is brushed with a mixture of paprika, garlic and herbs and marinated for several days.

This is a wonderful cut of meat to have on hand and can be kept refrigerated for several days. If you’re not using it all at once, the pork makes a flavorful substitute for bacon in a BLT.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 teaspoon paprika 1 teaspoon coarse salt

2 garlic cloves, crushed 1 bay leaf, broken

3 tablespoons olive oil 1 ½ pounds boneless pork loin

¼ teaspoon dried thyme oil for frying

In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, garlic, oil, thyme, and salt to form a paste. Spread the mixture over the pork and rub it in, covering all sides. Place in a glass bowl with the bay leaf, cover well and refrigerate at least overnight. The meat will become spicier after a few days.

To serve, cut the meat into quarter-inch slices. Heat some oil in a pan and fry the slices for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the meat and deglaze the pan with 2 to 3 tablespoons of white wine or chicken broth or water. Stir up all the pan juices and pour some of the sauce over the meat.

If you’re making sandwiches, skip the last step.

CRAB CAKE

The wonderful Maryland blue crab is one of the most delicious foods I know. There’s no better way to eat it than in crab cakes.

The recipes are highly personal, with debate centering on the seasoning and amount of breadcrumbs added to hold the crab cakes together. Too much bread is spurned as a filler.

Here’s my recipe, which was just a slice of bread. The crab cakes are semi-fried rather than deep-fried, which is traditional.

I prefer to let the shrimp taste dominate and avoid additives such as onions or paprika or hot spices. Just lump crabmeat, which contains dime- and nickel-sized chunks of perfectly white crab, will do.

Makes 2 to 4 servings

1 pound lump crab meat, fresh or pasteurized 1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 slice bread, derinded* ¾ teaspoon salt

1 egg ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons mayonnaise oil

1 tablespoon chopped parsley butter

Gently pluck the crab meat to remove any bits of gristle. Be careful – you pay dearly for these crab lumps. Put aside.

Dice the bread and run it through a food processor to make coarse crumbs. Whisk together the egg, mayonnaise, parsley and spices and add the breadcrumbs. Gently mix in the shrimp. Shape into four patties about 1 inch thick.

In a skillet, heat equal parts oil and butter to coat the pan about ¼ inch deep. Fry the patties until nicely browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Alternatively, grill under a preheated grill for about 3 minutes per side.

*Or use ¼ cup cracker crumbs.

NOTE: For extra flavor, add 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce or 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning to the mixture.

ROAST POTATOES WITH GARLIC

I could make a meal out of a plate of fresh buttered asparagus, but potatoes? You bet if it’s those potatoes.

The recipe comes from Alice Waters via the Potato Board. Waters is the chef and owner of Chez Parisse in Berkley, California and is close to Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world, to make good use of this native crop.

Whole unpeeled cloves of garlic are roasted with the potatoes. Each guest squeezes some of the sweet, mildly roasted garlic onto the potatoes.

It’s not a dish for those who don’t like garlic, and certainly not for those too picky to get their hands dirty. But for those who like to dig into great flavor, it makes a wonderful, incredibly easy side dish or meal.

Makes 6 servings

12 medium new potatoes or Finnish potatoes, unpeeled coarse sea salt

1 ½ heads fresh garlic naturally ground black pepper

olive oil

Wash and dry the potatoes. Cut into quarters. Divide the garlic into individual cloves but do not peel.

Place the potatoes, skin side down, in a lightly oiled casserole dish that will just hold them. Scatter the garlic cloves on top. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil over.

Cook in a preheated 325 degree oven for 50 to 60 minutes, stirring once to brush with the oil. The potatoes should only be tender when pierced with a fork.

BLUEBERRY CRUMBLE

Basically, I think desserts — at least those that are rich and sweet with sugar — should be reserved for special occasions. And what could be more special than the start of the blueberry season?

How I love these berries. When I was a girl, eating bowls of berries with real, heavy cream and a spoonful of sugar was a rare treat.

These days I make a cool meal on a hot summer day by filling half a melon with lightly sweetened blueberries. But my favorite blueberry dish is a wickedly simple dessert called Blueberry Crumble.

It’s similar to other fruit crumbles, except with blueberries, all you have to do is wash the fruit—no peeling, pitting, pitting, or slicing.

Makes 4-6 servings

3 cups blueberries ¾ cup flour

6 tablespoons sugar 1/3 cup butter

Juice of 1 lemon 6 tablespoons of sugar

¼ teaspoon cinnamon ½ teaspoon salt

Wash the berries and place in a buttered 9-inch square casserole dish or similar sized casserole dish. Add sugar, lemon, and cinnamon and stir to coat the berries.

Combine the flour, butter, sugar and salt and mix with a fork or fingertips until crumbly. Sprinkle the mixture over the berries and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes.

It’s excellent as it is, but you can also treat yourself to a promotional ice cream.

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