Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Meat Is Murder...

... tasty, tasty murder.
I have a confession to make, my gentle readers. I am an obedient little Facebooker, dutifully updating my status in the fevered hopes that someone out there actually gives a damn. Take last Friday for instance: "5:01 Express to Philly and veal piccata." My boy Joe-D "liked" my status, except for the veal part. He's a vegetarian, you see  ̶  not because he loves animals, he'll point out, but because he hates plants. Well, I love plants and animals equally, and am convinced that, in the wild, something on all fours would eat me unhesitantly if I didn't kill it and cook it up first. So, I have no particular empathy for hair-on-fire PETA members or their ilk. However, after a particularly affecting episode of The Fabulous Beekman Boys, I am more cognizant of where I buy my meat and how it's prepared. No more dollar menu meals for me, thank you very much.
Veal Piccata - as prepared by the Lone Ranger
  • 6 veal cutlets
  • ¾ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 12 button mushroom caps, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 whole lemon, juiced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • ¾ cup chicken stock
  • 2 Tbsp capers
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
While a tablespoon each of butter and olive oil heat up in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pound cutlets to about ⅛" thickness with a mallet, and dredge in bread crumbs, shaking off the excess.
Cook veal in batches for one minute or so on each side, just until lightly browned. (Over-cooking will result in tough cutlets.) Remove to a platter. Add more butter and oil as needed for subsequent batches.
Once all the cutlets are browned, build your sauce. Start by pouring off any excess fat from the sauté pan, wiping out the pan with paper towels. With a wooden spoon, deglaze the brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan with the white wine and lemon juice. Whisk in the chicken stock and a pat of butter and bring to a boil. Add the capers and a splash of the brining liquid in the caper jar. A little more butter won't hurt the sauce, but your arteries may cry out in protest. Don't listen. Continue to whisk the sauce to reduce and thicken. Taste for seasoning.
Return the cutlets and add the mushrooms to the pan. Toss in the chopped parsley. Heat just to warm through, then serve over your favorite starch, in our case thin spaghetti noodles spiked with garlic-infused butter and parmesan cheese. Garnish with a bit more parsley and the toasted pine nuts.
This dish is so quick and easy, about 20 minutes from stovetop to table, and almost indescribably delicious - another meal that's all about the sauce. You'll be able to pick up very pleasing, complex flavors with each bite. The mushrooms and pine nuts ground the dish with earthy, meaty bass notes. All that sinful butter imparts a not-so-subtle richness, like heavy cream in coffee. The lemon juice and capers hit all the high notes with a bright, biting clarity.
I love this dish. If I were ever to open a bistro of my own, this would be the Thursday night special. Why Thursday, you ask? Because Wednesday is fried chicken night, and Friday is for catfish baked in parchment paper, silly!
Thanks for taking the time - Blog O. Food

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