Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pork cutlets Milanese

This recipe is by no means unique. You can try this with pork, chicken, veal, or even beef. What makes my version special is the trial and error I have endured for a couple of years until figuring out how to make these the best they can be.

Brining is essential (though don’t do it with beef). It infuses flavor into the meat and does some tenderizing as well.

Don’t be daunted by the instruction to fry only 3 1/2 minutes total. It will be completely cooked through. Any longer and you will have shoe leather. Get the oil quite hot: a drop or 2 of water flicked in (from a distance, please) should pop instantly.

Even my largest skillet was not big enough to hold all 4 chops at once. And in any case you would not want to crowd the pan.

Take seriously the direction to rinse thoroughly. You definitely need to get all the surface salt off the chops. And (this gets said twice) NO additional salt. In addition to what the chops have absorbed from the brine, the parmesan is salty.

My partner, Peter, is expert at making homemade bread crumbs from virtually any kind of leftover bread we have. Giada DiLaurentiis (whose repeated demonstrations of Milanese-making inspired me to experiment) uses seasoned bread crumbs. I consider that a real no-no. The off-the-shelf stuff from the supermarket tastes like crap to me.

Pork cutlets Milanese
4 boneless pork loin chops, trimmed of all fat
black pepper
paprika (smoked if possible)
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups unseasoned bread crumbs
1 cup grated parmesan cheese (or Romano, or a combination of both)
oil for shallow frying

Carefully cut the chops through the middle until you can open them like a book. One by one place them between sheets of plastic wrap and pound them to about ¼” thickness.

Cover the chops with the brine and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours. Remove from the brine, rinse thoroughly under cold water, and dry completely with paper towels.

Use 2 plates and a wide bowl: put the flour on one plate, the bread crumbs mixed with the parmesan on the other, and the eggs in the wide bowl.

Sprinkle the chops on one side with some black pepper and paprika. DO NOT add salt. One by one, dredge them in the flour (shake off excess), coat with egg (shake off excess), and then press both sides into the crumb and cheese mixture – coating them thoroughly. Place the chops on a plate uncovered and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Heat 1/8” vegetable oil until very hot. Place 2 chops in the oil, fry for 2 minutes; flip them over (carefully) and fry 90 seconds on the other side. Remove them to a plate covered with paper towels, cover with foil and let them sit while you fry the other 2 chops. Drain the second pair on paper towels and serve immediately.

*2 cups water, 2 tablespoons kosher salt, 1 tbsp black pepper – stirred until the salt dissolves.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Braised lamb shanks

I apologize for the piss-poor photo. I had to download it from somewhere on the web. When I finished cooking lamb shanks I was so hungry and yearning for the taste I knew would be there, that I wouldn't run upstairs to grab my camera - just chowed down. As is normally the case, I researched recipes, read about 6 of them, and then made a synthesized version that appealed to me. To be honest I don't remember if I've ever done lamb shanks before. If I did, it was eons ago.

Braised lamb shanks
(2 servings)
2 tbsp minced guanciale or 2 strips bacon
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lamb shanks
salt and pepper
2 cups chicken broth, more or less

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Place oven rack in lower 1/3 of oven.

Render the fat from the guanciale or bacon in a pan large enough to hold the shanks. Remove guanciale or bacon and drain on paper towels.

While the fat renders, season the shanks on all sides generously with salt and pepper. Brown them thoroughly in the fat (about 7-8 minutes total). Remove from the pan and set aside.

Add the onion to the pan and saute 3 minutes. Add the garlic and saute 2 more minutes.

Add the shanks, guanciale or bacon, and broth to the pan. The amount of broth is just enough to come 1/3 of the way up the shanks. Bring to a boil. If the pan you are using is oven-proof, cover it and place it in the oven for 2 hours. If necessary (it was for me) transfer to a large casserole and then bake. (I used the ceramic insert from my slow cooker. It was the only thing I had that was large enough.)

Serve over polenta or rice.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Puttanesca cauliflower

Watched "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef" this morning. Anne Burrell made a cauliflower in tomato sauce with caper berries and olives which got me to thinking about this recipe.

A couple of years ago I got inspired by Rachel Ray to make a sort of gremolata with olives and red wine vinegar. I've tinkered with it since and tinkered with it again to make this cauliflower dish.

Puttanesca cauliflower
1 head cauliflower
olive oil
oil-cured black olives
canned black olives, drained and rinsed
special green olives
juice of ½ lemon
more lemon juice as garnish

Preheat broiler.

Trim the heavy stem from the cauliflower to exposes the interstices between the florets at the top.

Brush the top of the cauliflower with olive oil and place under the broiler (oven rack set at 2nd position from the top. Broil until the top browns.

While the cauliflower broils, place olives, anchovies and lemon juice into a food processor. Turn the motor on and drizzle in just enough olive oil to make it form a quasi paste-like texture.

Remove cauliflower from the broiler and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Reduce the oven to 350°.

When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, turn it upside down. Spoon the olive mixture into the crevasses between the florets, using your fingers as necessary to cram it in.

Place the cauliflower, still upside down, on a v-rack in a deep roasting pan. Add about ½” hot water to the pan. Cover and bake until the cauliflower is tender, about 20-25 minutes.

To serve, cut into wedges, still keeping it upside down so that the tapenade stays inside. Drizzle with lemon juice and a bit of olive oil and serve.

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