Gene Kelly's Asparagus Vinaigrette
For the asparagus:
2 lbs. white (or green) asparagus
Salted boiling water
1. Cut off tough ends from asparagus. With sharp knife, remove any scales on spears below the tips. Wash carefully to remove sand. Drain well.
2. Tie spears in bundles. Stand bunches upward in asparagus cooker (or lower half of a double boiler). Pour in boiling salted water to within one inch of tips.
3. Cover (invert upper part of double boiler). Boil 12-15 minutes (or until spears are tender). Remove bundles carefully. Plunge in cold water to stop cooking. Remove strings, drain well. Chill well before serving. Serve with vinaigrette sauce. Serves 4.
For the vinaigrette sauce:
3 tbsps. wine vinegar
2 tsps. lemon juice
6 tbsps. olive oil
Pinch of dry mustard
1 tsp. salt
Ground pepper to taste
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp. sieved hard-cooked egg white
1 tsp. chopped gherkins
1 tsp. capers
1. Put vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper in screw-top jar. Fasten top securely. Shake jar vigorously to mix well.
2. Combine parsley, egg, gherkins and capers. Arrange asparagus spears on individual plates. Spoon vinaigrette over spears. Garnish with parsley "herbed" mixture.
Gene Kelly's Coq Au Vin
The extra steps that make this version so good include browning the chicken and vegetables, adding brandy (flamed as it is put into the stew) and, most crucial of all, removing the finished chicken and vegetables from the sauce, and reducing the sauce to about half its former quantity by a quick boil.
This last intensifies the flavor of the sauce immeasurably. "Beurre manié" is added to make the sauce a little richer still -- and thicken it slightly.
3 chicken breasts, halved
6 chicken legs
24 medium mushrooms
24 tiny white onions
1/4 cup butter
1/4 lb. thick sliced bacon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup brandy
2 cups dry red wine
1 can chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon dry parsley
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 cup water
Dry the chicken pieces thoroughly and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Wash the mushrooms and remove the stems.
Peel the onions. To do this effortlessly, drop them into a pot of boiling water. Count to 10 slowly, then drain the onions and run under cold water. The skin will slip off between your fingers. Cut bacon into half-inch pieces and cook in butter in a large Dutch oven or casserole until lightly browned. Remove bacon and drain. Pour half of the accumulated fat into a second large pan or skillet so you can use two pans for browning the chicken.
Add the chicken to fat, skin side down, without crowding. Cook it over medium heat until lightly browned on both sides. As pieces brown, remove them and add more. When all are browned, set aside.
From now on you will work only with the heavy casserole dish. Put the onions into it, add sugar and cook, stirring until onions are lightly browned. Then brown mushrooms and garlic. Put the chicken back in the pot and pour most of the brandy in over it. Retain about one tablespoonful and put it into a ladle. Light the brandy in the ladle and pour it, flaming, into the casserole to ignite the rest of the brandy. When you do this, stand back, as the whole casserole will flame up instantly. When the flame dies, add the wine, broth, water and herbs. Cover pan and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender. Remove chicken, bacon, mushrooms and onions.
Bring stock left in pan to a broil, skimming off fat as it rises. Boil stock rapidly for about five minutes or until liquid is reduced to about two cups. Mix one tablespoon butter and flour together thoroughly with a fork and stir this beurre manié into the sauce. Cook until the sauce thickens. Strain and pour over chicken.
If you are making the Coq Au Vin ahead, strain the sauce into a separate container and store it in the refrigerator. To reheat, place covered chicken in 325 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes. Arrange on platter. Meanwhile, reheat sauce separately and pour over chicken. Serve with rice that has been fluffed up with butter and parsley.
Gene Kelly's Irish Stew
3 lbs. lean boneless lamb (shoulder or leg), cut in 1 1/2-inch cubes
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
About 3 cups water (or stock)
2 onions, sliced
2 tsps. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
2 turnips, peeled, cut in large pieces
6 carrots, peeled, cut in hunks
3 cups potatoes, diced
2 tbsps. minced fresh parsley
1. Sprinkle lamb cubes with salt and pepper. Brown meat on all sides in oil in large skillet (or Dutch oven). Remove skillet from heat. Add water (or stock) to cover meat.
2. Add onion, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Cover, simmer until meat is tender (about 1 1/2 hours). Add remaining vegetables. Cover, cook until vegetables are tender (about 35 minutes). Remove cover during last 15 minutes of cooking time to reduce stock. Correct seasonings. Spoon lamb and vegetables into deep serving dish (or casserole). Spoon juice over lamb and vegetables. For a touch of the "green," garnish with parsley. Serve piping hot with prepared horseradish and slabs of dark or crusty white bread and butter. Serves 6-8.
Thoughts: Some cooks from the Emerald Isle prefer a "lighter" stew (meat is not browned before adding the liquid). For variations: substitute beef for lamb, add peas, and-or green snap beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, lima beans or corn; flavor with favorite herbs (tarragon, thyme, parsley, oregano or rosemary). The flavor of the stew improves if prepared in advance. Refrigerate, discard layer of lamb fat that congeals on surface before reheating. For the casserole treatment, top off stew with biscuits or prepare dumplings in the stock pot.