A new look at cooking and home decorating...with an attempt to add more greens to the plate, more vegetarian options & hopefully lots of new ideas to explore

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chicken, Pork, Veal Marsala

Marsala dishes come from Italian/Sicilian cuisine. Most scaloppini cuts (chicken pork or veal) may be made with Marsala, as Marsala is the style of alcohol, similar to sherry, used at the end of cooking to de glaze the pan. Marsala is sold regular and sweet. If you use sweet you will need to adjust the sauce with a little vinegar in addition to the Marsala, see notes at the end of recipe. Even if you have a great butcher who cuts thin scaloppini cuts of meat, it is still worth the extra effort to use your mallet to pound the cuts a little thinner. In this instance you can practice cutting your own meat then pounding it thin since we will start with a pork loin.

Pork Marsala

1 pork loin about 3 pounds-
To prepare the pork cut off any excess fat, and slice the pork as thin as possible against the grain to create oval like cuts of meat- then place the meat under a piece of plastic wrap and pound the meat out working from the inside of the meat outward. The meat will become almost paper thin and double in size. Season all of the scaloppini cuts generously with salt and just a dash or fine ground pepper (these seasoning will flavor the sauce so do not go overboard). Set aside.

1 medium yellow onion, small dice
1 pound sliced mushrooms, portabella, or white button are fine- slice about 1/8” thick
2 small cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil (1/3 cup to start, more as needed during cooking)
2 tablespoons butter
1 ½ cups Marsala
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
3-4 tablespoons minced flat leaf parsley for garnish

Into a large and fairly deep sauté pan place 1/3 cup olive oil and 1 Table spoon of butter.
Turn heat to medium/ medium high and once the oil is warm start to add cutlets in batches, adding more oil to pan as you cook if the bottom of the pan seems dry. I am able to fit about 4 in the pan at a time. Sear on the first side for about a minute and a half then on the second side for about a minute. Remove each cutlet form pan when no pink remains on the outside. Set aside.

Once all the cutlets are cooked and have been set aside, add the onions and second tablespoon of butter to the pan and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook the onions for about 1-2 minutes until translucent. Add in the mushrooms and turn heat up just a bit to medium. Cook the mushrooms for about 3-4 minutes until just cooked through. Add to pan another tablespoon of oil (the mushrooms will have absorbed most of the prior oil) and add in the garlic. Cook for just under a minute then add in the Marsala, chicken stock, bay leaf. Turn heat up to medium high or high to reduce for 4-5 minutes. Remove bay leaf and add cutlets back into pan to warm through before serving. Re season the sauce with salt and pepper as necessary. Sprinkle with minced parsley.

Other options- when finishing the sauce I sometimes whisk in a heaping tablespoon of demi- glaze, if you have it you might want to use it (get it mail order or in cook shops), also when sautéing the onions sometimes people like to add in a little pancetta, or a tablespoon of tomato paste for extra flavor
Notes on Marsala- Marsala is regular and sweet. Regular Marsala is often used for this dish, but if all you have is sweet proceed with recipe and when adding the Marsala also add in 2-3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, this will help adjust for the sweetness-

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Week of reflection

This was a particularly rough week. My mom entered a Hospice program, a program for those no longer receiving medical treatment for a terminal illness. Many of my conversations with her this week have been about the past, reviewing and accessing decisions in our lives. Mom and I spoke of some of our favorite holidays, trips and other memories. I told her I always think of her when I cook, at which point she asked me which recipe reminds me of her the most.

There were many to choose from, apple cake, chicken Marsala, pea soup but my clear favorite was her blueberry muffins. The conversation pulled me from a state of reflection and back into the kitchen. I placed a mini apron on one of my little loves, then let little hands go to work cracking eggs, measuring blueberries, and even making meatballs. Children love to make meatballs. This week wasn’t so much about cooking ultra fashionable food, but rather, about conveying the basics of cooking and family traditions to a younger generation. It’s a wonderful thing to give children part of their family history through food.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Food for kids

I have posted "French" Mac n cheese for Margo (see post) because like most moms she was looking for something new for dinner. Also, Italian Mac n cheese(posted in 07) is a great dinner with a salad.

French Mac and cheese

I call this French because of the use of shallots, butter and heavy cream as a base. This version differs from my Italian style Mac and cheese which has pasta tossed with mozzarella balls, Italian breadcrumbs and olive oil.

Though this “French Bistro” version uses Gouda, Mascarpone and Romano cheese it is a very mild dish. Ultimately, it tastes very much like a French bistro style dish. I can just envision eating this in a cozy bistro complete with lace tablecloth a chalkboard full of specials and a bottle of Bordeaux. For a complete “French Bistro” effect serve this Gratin of Macaroni with a mixed salad and pots de crème for dessert. By the way, children love this!

1 Pound of pasta (elbow)- cooked according to the box and drained very well
Butter to coat baking dish

½ shallot finely minced (1 lobe), or in English that means ½ shallot = about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons butter
1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
32 fl oz (yes, the big container!) of heavy cream
6 oz Gouda cheese (remove red casing and cut into smallish cubes)
1/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1/3 cup mascarpone
pinch of sea or kosher salt
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

½ cup Panko breadcrumbs (or if you want to make your own fresh bread crumbs are fine)
Cayenne pepper to taste (I suggest a large pinch)
½ cup grated Romano cheese

Butter a very large gratin dish or a lasagna dish.

Melt the butter in a medium size non-stick saucepan, over med heat. Add in the shallots and garlic. Cook for Just 2-3 minutes until shallots are translucent- do not burn the garlic! - Add in all of the heavy cream. Turn heat to high to bring mixture to a boil then reduce heat to simmer. Simmer on low heat for about 5 minutes. Add in the Gouda, Romano, mascarpone Dijon mustard and pinch of salt. Turn heat to med high and stir and simmer until the cheese has melted. To the cheese add the drained pasta and toss. Place the mixture into your buttered dish.

Combine the ingredients for the topping in a small bowl then sprinkle over the top of the pasta- run under the broiler to melt the topping. Serve.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Duck confit with Barbeque sauce- a quick dinner

Hey, I never said it was a cheap dinner. I made this almost instant gourmet meal the other night and wanted to share it with you. I happened to be knee deep experimenting with barbeque sauces the other day and realized, much to my surprise, it was dinnertime! I looked through the fridge and found 2 little duck confit legs. D’artagnan makes the legs and I often pick them up at my regular chain grocery store. I find them more often around the holidays. If you cant find them try online, I think the company will ship.

Anyway, Grill the legs enough to char the skin (a few minutes per side) them toss them into a preheated oven (450) for about 8-10 minutes. At this point you can plate them, but I like to broil them, skin side up to get the skin extra crispy. Top with your favorite barbeque sauce and serve with baby spinach salad.