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Persimmon & Pomegranate Salad

When Chef Goin opened her Los Angeles restaurant Lucques in 1998, she immediately won several honors for her Mediterranean-tinged cuisine, including being named a "Best New Chef" by Food and Wine magazine.

Part of the reason Lucques remains so popular today is Chef Goin's Sunday suppers. She prepares a different family-style meal each week, highlighting the season's freshest ingredients.

She has now compiled some of these menus into a beautiful new book called, appropriately, "Sunday Suppers at Lucques."

And she visits The Saturday Early Show to take the Chef on a Shoestring challenge. With just $40, she prepares a three-course meal that includes Persimmon & Pomegranate Salad, Spiced Pork Stew with Polenta and Caramelized Chocolate Bread Pudding.

Food Facts

Persimmon: Mostly available from October to February, a persimmon is large and round with a slightly elongated, pointed base. Persimmon should be plump and soft, but not mushy and the skin should be smooth, glossy and brightly colored. They are a great source of vitamin A and some vitamin C. Persimmon can be used in baked goods, puddings and other deserts, as well as eaten out of hand.

Pomegranate: The pomegranate is a fruit about the size of an orange and has a thin, leathery skin that can range in color from red to pink-blushed yellow. Pomegranates can be eaten as fruit, used as a garnish on sweet and savory dishes or pressed to extract the juice. They're rich in potassium and contain a fair amount of vitamin C.

Chili de Arbol: It is a bright red, slender chile measuring less than 3 inches in length. It is extremely hot, so it must be handled properly during preparation. The oil in the arbol chile, as well as many other hot chiles, is extremely irritating to the eyes or any small cuts on the hands, so it may be a good idea to wear gloves while handling it.

Gremolata: A garnish made of minced parsley, lemon peel and garlic. It's sprinkled over dishes to add a fresh, sprightly flavor.

The following are her recipes:

Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Arugula and Hazelnuts

Ingredients:
2/3 cup blanched hazelnuts
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon finely diced shallot; plus 2 small shallots, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh pomegranate juice (from 1 to 2 pomegranates), plus 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 small Fuyu persimmons, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, for juicing
1/2 pound arugula
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice, until they smell nutty and are lightly browned. When the nuts have cooled, chop them coarsely and toss them with 1 teaspoon oil and a generous pinch of salt.
  3. Place the diced shallot, pomegranate juice, both vinegars, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl and let sit 5 minutes. Whisk in the olive oil. Taste for balance and seasoning.
  4. In a large salad bowl, toss the persimmons, sliced shallots and pomegranate seeds with the dressing and season with salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Gently toss in the arugula and taste for seasoning. Arrange the salad on a platter and scatter the hazelnuts over the top.

Click on page 2 for Spiced Pork Stew with Polenta; page 3 for Roasted Root Vegetables with Gremolata and Polenta; and page 4 for Caramelized Bread Pudding with Chocolate and Cinnamon.

Spiced Pork Stew with Polenta, Root Vegetables, and Gremolata

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon cumin
2 tablespoons coriander
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
3 pounds pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch chunks
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
6 cloves garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon oregano leaves, plus 3 whole sprigs
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced fennel
2 bay leaves, fresh if possible
1 chile de arbol, crumbled
4 cups chicken stock
splash of red wine vinegar
1 lemon
4 sprigs cilantro
Roasted root vegetables with gremolata (recipe follows)
1 recipe polenta (recipe follows)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:


  1. Toast the fennel seeds a few minutes in a small pan over medium heat, until they release their aroma and are lightly browned. Pound them coarsely in a mortar.
  2. Place the pork in a large bowl with the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cayenne, smashed garlic, oregano leaves and thyme. Using your hands, toss the pork and spices together to coat well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Take the meat out of the refrigerator 45 minutes before cooking. After 15 minutes, season it on all sides with 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons salt and some black pepper. Reserve the garlic and any excess herbs and spices.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  5. Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in the olive oil and wait a minute or two until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the meat in the pan, being careful not to crowd it. (You will most likely need to cook the meat in batches.) Sear the meat until well browned and caramelized on all sides; this will probably take at least 15 minutes. As the batches of meat brown, transfer them to a baking sheet.
  6. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, carrot and fennel. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the tasty crusty bits left in the pan. Stir in the bay leaves, crumbled chile and reserved garlic and spices. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables start to caramelize.
  7. Pour in the splash of vinegar and reduce by half, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a boil.
  8. In the meantime, use a vegetable peeler to pull long strips of zest from the lemon.
  9. Turn off the heat, and add the pork to the pot. Tuck the cilantro, oregano sprigs and lemon zest around the meat. Cover the pan with plastic wrap (yes, it can go in the oven), aluminum foil and a tightly fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven about 2 1/2 hours.
  10. To check the meat for doneness, remove the plastic and foil being careful of the hot steam. Spoon a piece of meat out of the pan and press it with your thumb or a spoon. If it's ready, it will yield easily to a knife and almost fall apart. Taste it!
  11. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees.
  12. Ladle most of the braising juices and vegetables into a strainer set over a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with the ladle to extract all the juices. Reserve. Discard the remaining herb sprigs from the braising pan.
  13. Return the pork to the oven for about 15 minutes to caramelize the meat.
  14. Skim the fat from the braising juices. If necessary, reduce the broth over medium-high heat about 5 minutes, to thicken it slightly. Taste for seasoning.
  15. Pour the broth over the browned meat and stir to coat well. Transfer the stew to a large warm platter. Scatter the warm gremolata-coated root vegetables over the stew. Serve with the bowl of hot polenta. Tell your guests to spoon the polenta onto their plates and top with pork and vegetables, making sure to get lots of delicious braising juices. (You may need to serve more braising juices on the side if your platter is too shallow to hold them all.)


Roasted Root Vegetables with Gremolata

Ingredients:
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
9 small or 3 medium carrots, peeled
9 small or 3 medium parsnips, peeled
9 small or 3 medium turnips
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup 1/4 inch-thick slices shallot
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Place the lemon zest on a cutting board and chop it coarsely. Place the garlic and parsley on top, and chop the whole mixture together until very fine. This mixture is called gremolata. Set aside.
  2. Slice the carrots and parsnips in half lengthwise, leaving the stems attached. If they are on the bigger side then slice each half lengthwise again, into long quarters. Clean the turnips, cut off the tails and trim the stems leaving 1/4 inch of the stems. Cut small turnips in halves or quarters; if they're larger, cut them in half and then into 1/2-inch wedges.
  3. Heat 2 large sauté pans over high heat for 2 minutes. Swirl in olive oil and wait 1 minute. Divide the carrots, parsnips and turnips between the pans and season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and the thyme. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables just start to caramelize.
  4. Add the butter and sauté another 5 minutes, tossing them often. Add the shallots and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook another 5 minutes or so, until the shallots and all the vegetables are tender and nicely caramelized. If you're serving dinner soon, turn off the heat and hold them in the pan. Re-warm if necessary.
  5. Toss with the gremolata just before serving.

Polenta

Ingredients:
1 cup medium-grain polenta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Kosher salt

Method:

  1. In a heavy-bottomed pot, bring 5 1/2 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt to boil over high heat. Add the polenta slowly, whisking continuously.
  2. Turn the heat down to low, and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, whisking often.
  3. Add another 1/2 cup water and cook 1 more hour, whisking often and adding 1/2 cup water as needed, about every 20 minutes. The flame should be low, so the polenta is barely simmering. As you whisk, make sure that you reach the bottom of the pan to prevent the polenta from scorching. I like to use a rubber spatula to scrape the bottom and sides of the pot.
  4. Whisk in the butter, and taste for seasoning. Even when the polenta is finished, you might sense it thickening up a little. If so, add a little more water and whisk to get the right consistency. If you're not serving right away, cover the pan with plastic wrap to keep the polenta from thickening or losing moisture. If necessary, re-warm over low heat before serving.

Caramelized Bread Pudding with Chocolate and Cinnamon

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 or 5 slices brioche, or good quality white bread, 1/4 inch thick, crusts removed
3 extra-large eggs
2 extra-large egg yolks
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 tablespoon granulated sugar, for caramelizing the top

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spread the softened butter on one side of the brioche. Cut each slice in half on the diagonal and then again into quarters.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add the cream, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt, whisking to combine well.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate over the bottom of a 9 X 9 baking dish. Arrange the brioche, buttered side up, with slices overlapping just slightly on the chocolate (there should be just a single layer of bread).
  5. Pour the custard over the bread, pressing down with your fingers to make sure the bread soaks it up.
  6. Place the bread pudding in a roasting pan and pour warm water into the pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding dish. Bake about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until custard is set and the bread puffs up slightly. The pudding will be springy to touch.
  7. Let the bread cool at least 10 minutes.
  8. If you have a kitchen blowtorch, sprinkle the sugar over the top and torch to brown and caramelize. You could run the pudding under the broiler to caramelize if you don't have a torch, but be careful not to curdle the custard underneath.
  9. Serve the bread pudding from the baking dish at the table, using a big spoon.