Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pax Romana

Vercingetorix surrendering to Julius CaesarFrom where do ideas spring? Are they triggered by external forces, or do they spring fully formed from the psyche? What do I know, I'm a food blogger, not a philosopher. In any event, here's how last night's menu came to be. I was at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market looking at produce. The grocer proffered a handful of yellow cherries. I popped a couple in my mouth and couldn't believe how sweet they were. I had to have a pound. While he weighed them out for me, I spied some beautifully ripe figs tucked under some herbs, and the cogs started turning...
Saltimbocca alla Romana
  • 8 2oz veal cutlets
  • 8oz prosciutto, thinly sliced
  • fresh sage leaves
  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • Salt & pepper
Stitch cutlets with sage leavesDredge cutlets in flour
Lightly brown cutlets on both sidesServe saltimbocca with broccoli rabe and reserved pan sauce
Use a mallet or rolling pin to pound cutlets to ⅛" thick. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Press 2 or 3 slices of prosciutto on top of each cutlet. Stitch 2 sage leaves on top of the prosciutto and through the veal. Dredge cutlets in flour, shaking off excess, and set aside.
Heat 2 Tbsp of oil and 2 Tbsp of butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook veal in batches until cutlets are lightly browned and the prosciutto side is crisp, about 1 minute per side. Move meat to a platter lined with paper towels. Repeat procedure with remaining cutlets. Discard toothpicks after cooking.
Pour off the cooking fat and return pan to high heat. Deglaze with marsala, scraping up browned bits. Reduce wine by half. Add chicken stock and reduce again. Stir in remaining 4 Tbsp of butter and reduce heat to medium. Return cutlets to the pan and cook until sauce thickens, turning veal occasionally.
Still life with figs and prosciuttoFigs with Balsamic and honey reduction
What of the figs you ask? I made a reduced syrup of 1 part Balsamic vinegar and 2 parts honey that I drizzled over quartered figs for a simple, elegant dessert. Toasted, shaved almonds sprinkled about added a nice crunch.
2007 Livio Felluga Pinot GrigioA 2007 Livio Felluga Pinot Grigio made for a fine addition to the meal. Fruit forward, apricot notes in the bouquet and on the palate. Great balance and a beautiful finish with more fruit and spice. Mount Carmel Wines sells it for $24. A worthy companion with veal, poultry and saltier seafood dishes.

Veal is such a light, airy meat. It's more a blank canvas for inspired sauces and simple techniques. Whichever Roman chef came up with saltimbocca needs an award named in his honor. One that rewards excellence in simplicity and flavors. I paired my saltimbocca with another Italian favorite, broccoli rabe. You've seen it here before. It's bitter and salty and garlicy and I just love it.

All this because I chanced upon some figs at the market. I think it best not to analyze these things too thoroughly, but I suspect figs reminded me of prosciutto and melon, and prosciutto lead logically to veal. There, I just showed you the man behind the curtain.
The aftermath
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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