Gourmet dinner thoughts for health-conscious cooks

April 03, 1991|By Charlotte Balcomb Lane | Charlotte Balcomb Lane,Orlando Sentinel

After a winter of eating comforting stews and hearty food designed to ward off the cold-weather blues, the tastebuds begin to yearn for the lighter, fresher flavors of spring. This remake of a classic restaurant dish fairly vibrates with delicious tastes and textures. Turkey Oscar with Butterless Bearnaise not only captures the essence of the season, it does so with a minimum of saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.

The dish was named in honor of King Oscar II of Sweden who supposedly loved the combination of veal cutlets sauteed in butter and topped with crabmeat, asparagus and a buttery bearnaise sauce. This low-fat version uses thin turkey breast cutlets rolled around a filling of fresh crab and the first asparagus spears of the season. Instead of being sauteed in calorie-laden butter, this dish is baked in a pan that has been brushed with olive oil, which makes each bite easier on the waistline.

A creamy bearnaise sauce that is made without butter is the crowning touch. One egg yolk and a touch of cornstarch thickens the delicate mixture that is made with chicken broth, wine, tarragon and cream. A serving of Turkey Oscar with Butterless Bearnaise has fewer calories than two tablespoons of a classic bearnaise sauce proof that lighter foods can be as satisfying as their high-fat cousins.

This dish is an excellent, easy brunch or supper dish to serve for a gathering of family and friends. All the ingredients are in season and readily available in every major grocery store.

Turkey Oscar with Asparagus

2 teaspoons olive oil or canola oil, divided

4 skinless turkey breast cutlets, thinly sliced

1/2 pound fresh or pasteurized crab meat

1/3 cup dry, unseasoned bread crumbs

1 egg, separated

1/2 teaspoon tarragon

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1/8 teaspoon salt

8 spears fresh or canned asparagus

Butterless Bearnaise (recipe follows)

1 tablespoon fresh parsley or tarragon, minced for garnish.

Use one teaspoon of oil to brush the bottom and sides of a large baking dish or individual oval gratin dishes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, bread crumbs, egg white, tarragon and lemon. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Reserve egg yolk for Butterless Bearnaise.

Sprinkle turkey cutlets with salt. Roll each cutlet around one-quarter cup of crab filling and two spears of asparagus. Place seam-side down in the prepared dishes. Brush tops with remaining teaspoon oil.

If desired, rolls can be refrigerated for several hours until ready to serve.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove to heated plates and spoon Butterless Bearnaise over the tops. Garnish with parsley or tarragon.

Makes four servings.

Test kitchen notes: This dish is easy to make in advance and freeze. Omit the asparagus when making the rolls and freeze uncooked. Thaw before baking as directed in the recipe. Add cooked fresh or canned asparagus to the plate after removing from oven and topping with sauce. Extra sauce can be frozen.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 308 calories, 10 grams fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams, 183 milligrams cholesterol and 1247 milligrams sodium.

Butterless Bearnaise

1/4 cup white-wine vinegar (preferably tarragon flavored)

1/4 cup white wine or vermouth

2 tablespoons onions or green onions, finely minced

2 teaspoons dried tarragon (or 1 tablespoon fresh)

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg yolk

2 teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons chicken broth

3 tablespoons heavy cream.

In a small saucepan, combine the wine vinegar, white wine, shallots, tarragon and pepper. Bring mixture to a rolling boil. Cook for about ten minutes, until mixture has reduced by half. Strain through a fine sieve into a small dish. There should be about one-quarter cup liquid.

Rinse out the sauce pan and whisk together the egg yolk, salt, cornstarch and chicken broth. Stir in a spoonful of the hot vinegar-tarragon mixture to warm the egg, then whisk in the remaining vinegar. Place saucepan over very low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens in about three to four minutes. Whisk in cream and remove from heat. Pour over Turkey Oscar and serve hot.

Makes four two-tablespoon servings. Each serving has 75 calories, 6 grams fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 83 milligrams cholesterol and 112 milligrams sodium.

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