Saturday, January 12, 2019

Improved Veal Piccata



















Ah, Veal Piccata--one of my favorite go to Italian dishes.  It's simple, quick and easy and you get a heck of a lot of flavor from just a few simple ingredients.

I've had a Veal Piccata recipe here on the blog since its first year, and it is a pretty good recipe.  However, two things:  One, this was sort of an improvised recipe, made on the fly while we were traveling in Tuscany.  Two, I've tweaked and (in my opinion) improved my Piccata technique over the years.  I decided it was high time to revisit this dish and present the version I am now cooking.  (Hey, if Alton Brown can do 'Good Eats Reloaded,' we can do something similar here)

Anyhoo, Piccata as I mentioned is a simple dish, and it is one of the best ways I know to feature veal escalopes, which are thin slices of what would be the round steak area of a full grown cow.  This recipe sears them so that have a nice browning on the outside, but are still pink on the inside, and a lovely and tart sauce is made in the pan afterwards.  Let's get started.

Veal Piccata

4 Thin-Cut Escalopes of Veal, about three oz each
1/2 Cup Flour
1 Clove Garlic. Minced
1/3 Cup Dry White Wine
1 Cup Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Butter
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Capers (or more to taste)
1/4 Teaspoon Salt (or more to taste)
Pure Olive Oil for Sautéing
Corn Starch for thickening sauce

Start with your escalopes of veal.  They should be sliced about a 1/4 of an inch thick.  I usually cook two per person, so just multiply out however many you'll need.



Heat a couple tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet.  Get ti pretty hot, like 425F if you have a thermometer.  You want the veal to sear quickly but not overcook.

Place the flour in a breading tray and dip the veal in on both sides, shaking free any loose flour.




.


Then, when you're sure your skillet is hot, slip two or three cutlets into the skillet--don't crowd them.



Let sear for about 1 minute a side or so and then flip.  A nice golden brown crust should form on them as they cook.



When you've finished all your cutlets, place them on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.  Now we'll make the sauce.

You should have some lovely browned bits left behind in the skillet.



Add the minced garlic and let simmer for a few seconds.  Then add the white wine to this and deglaze the pan.



When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock.



Reduce your heat and let this simmer for a few minutes, until it reduces by a quarter or so.  Add the butter and let melt.



Add the lemon juice



and the capers and let simmer for a few minutes.



At this point, taste the sauce and adjust the flavor with the salt if necessary, and if it needs a little more garlic flavor, some granulated garlic (sparingly) can be added.  Should be just a hint of garlic flavor--mainly the sauce is tart and savory.

When the sauce is to your liking, mix a tablespoon of the corn starch with a quarter cup warm water and stir.  Mix this into the sauce to thicken it.


Serve the sauce over the cutlets, with maybe a little extra on the side.



Here we've served them with some roasted tomatoes on the vine and some angel hair pasta, which takes to the remaining sauce nicely.



Until next time,


Arrivederci!

Chris



Monday, December 17, 2018

Tangy Five Bean Salad



















If you've been hanging out around the Eat'n Man blog much over the past nine years that it's been around (yes, almost nine years blogging, kids) then you've probably noticed we like chow of the rather decadent variety.  Butter, cheese, cream, lard and even tallow and duck fat had made appearances in our dishes, and they were oh so flavorful as a result, but every once in a while, we like to tone things down, or maybe just balance them out, with a nice salad.  And so, without further ado, our own little version of that ubiquitous picnic and pot luck piece-de-resistance, the five bean salad.

Why five beans?  Who knows.  I've seen recipes for bean salads with as few as two beans (I guess if they went down to one type of bean, it would just be a 'something else' salad with beans) and as many as fifteen types.  Fifteen different beans, sheesh!  That's just showing off.  Besides, who knew there were so many beans.  And that's a lot of bags or cans of beans to buy and open for a salad, unless you are making a really big ole' bowl full of beans.

Well, to be fair, the bean salads with ten, fifteen or more beans are usually made from a pre-purchased mix of beans, but hey, where's the fun in that.  No, the main reason to make a bean salad at all is so it will have a pretty and appealing mix of colors when you bring it to your office holiday party or a box social.  (what's a box social?  I have no idea, it just seemed like a funny thing to say)  No, for ultimate table-side appeal and good ole bean flavor, five is perhaps the prefect number.  And we've taken the guesswork out of selecting your bean varieties by choosing the most perfectly flavorful and color-coordinated beans we could find, tossing in a few other veggie friends for good measure.  Let's get started:


Ingredients

1 14 oz can Black Beans
1 14 oz can Red Beans
1 14 oz can Cannellini or Navy beans
1 14 oz can Cut Green Beans
1 14 oz can Wax Beans
1 can Golden Sweet Corn
1 Medium Red Onion
1 Medium Red Bell Pepper
1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Champagne Vinegar
1/4 Cup Dijon Mustard
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Teaspoon Italian Seasoning
Handful Minced Cilantro
Salt and Pepper to taste


So, as you can see, we're using canned goods here.  Nuttin' wrong with 'em, they are tasty, healthy and cheap, particularly if you purchase the store brands like we did here (except we threw in some Le Sueur brand corn to class up the affair) 

So, open up them beans and get 'em in a mixing bowl, like we have here.



Note the nice colorful contrast of the various beans we've selected.  Breathtaking.  In fact, all they need is a little red and purple, which we'll provide by....

Dicing our red onion and red bell pepper.



And adding that to the bowl along with the corn.


And give everything a little stir with a whisk.



Next, let's make the dressing.  First, add olive oil to a separate, smaller mixing bowl.  Make sure to use top notch Extra Virgin olive oil, as we want some of the olive flavor to come across.



Then add your Champagne vinegar.



If you've never used Champagne vinegar before, you're in for a treat.  It's has the most delicate flavor of any vinegar I've tasted, and I've started using it more and more these days.  If you must, you can sub Apple Cider vinegar.

Add the Dijon mustard.



Then the sugar.



Then finally the Italian Seasoning and cilantro.

Mix things up with a whisk until thoroughly combined.  Or if you want, use a blender.



Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.  I usually end up with about a half teaspoon of salt and the same of pepper at this stage.  I'll add more as needed after I mix the salad.

So, add about half the dressing to the bean bowl and mix.  Taste and continue adding dressing until you've reached the flavor you like.  You'll likely add it all.  Adjust salt and pepper again and then cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill the salad in the fridge for an hour or two so the flavors will meld.

Stir one more time before you serve and that's it.



Until next time,


Chris






Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Smoked Tomato Soup


























As many of you know, my smoker is one of my favorite cooking appliances, and I put it to good use throughout the year with briskets, ribs, turkey, pork butts and so on.  But smoking isn't just about meats--you can smoke up other foods as well.  Foods like...soup.

Yeah, sounds weird, but I've been enjoying some great smoked soups over the years, such as my smoked corn and sausage soup that I posted here a few years back.  I've had a pretty good tomato soup recipe for a while, so I thought I'd introduce the flavor of smoke to it as well.  And no, we won't be trying to balance a bowl of soup in our smoker--we'll just smoke the veggies first, natch.



Ingredients

4 Large Beefsteak Tomatoes
1 Red Bell Pepper
4 Small Sweet Peppers
1 Medium Onion
4 Cloves Garlic
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
5 Leaves Fresh Basil
1/2 Cup White Wine
28 Oz Whole Peeled Tomatoes
28 Oz Crushed Tomatoes
2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 Can consomme
1 cup heavy cream (optional)

I like to use both fresh and canned tomatoes in this soup.  Reasoning:  Each has unique flavors that the other doesn't.  The canned develop flavors in the canning process that are desirable, but the fresh have subtle, delicate flavors that disappear when canned, so they are my base tomatoes for the soup, and that's what gets smoked.  I use four good-sized beefsteak tomatoes for this, maybe mixing in a large heirloom if they are in season.



Half the Beefsteak Tomatoes, Bell Peppers and Small Sweet Peppers and smoke them in as cool a smoker as you can get with mild fruit wood for 1 hour.  I usually use a mild fruit wood like cherry or peach for this recipe.  Stronger woods like hickory are a bit much for this delicate dish, and of course mesquite would be way too much (I pretty much never use mesquite for anything, despite its ready availability here in Texas)



After an hour the tomatoes will look about like this. 



Go ahead and pull them and bring 'em inside.



Use tongs or a spatula or maybe a combo of both as the tomatoes will be slippery and soft.  Try to keep the skins on--they have picked up a lot of the smoke flavor so we want them in the soup initially.  (we'll strain them out later)

Dice the onion.  Heat olivc oil in large pot and saute the onion in it.



 Add minced sweet peppers. Dice Bell Pepper and add.



 Coarsely mince the fresh basil leaves.



Add the minced basil to the pan.



Add minced garlic when onion is starting to brown.

After a few minutes add white wine and deglaze the pot.  .

Add whole peeled tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and the smoked tomatoes from your smoker.



Add chicken stock.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.



Add Smoked Paprika.  Simmer for 45 minutes.

After this time, use a spatula to loosely break up whatever tomatoes are still intact, then use a stick blender to puree the entire pot of soup.  (you can puree in batches in a regular blender if you don't have the stick)



Strain soup through food mill or chinois.  I'm using a fine-mesh chinois like this:





I ladle the soup into the chinois...



Then use the pestle to gently strain the soup though the mesh.



When you've got as much strained out as you can, discard the solids left behind and repeat until you've strained all the soup.  What's left behind will be almost velvety smooth and tangy, with a nice slight hint of smoke flavor.  Add the Consommé and heat a few minutes longer.

For a slightly creamier soup,add a half coup of heavy cream and heat through.

We served ours without the cream, but with a nice grilled cheese sandwich on the side--truly the perfect accompaniment to tomato soup.



Until next time,

Chris




Friday, April 27, 2018

Parmesan Green Beans Blistered in Mesquite Olive Oil




















I've always liked green beans, and it's a good thing, because they were a staple in our house while I was growing up.  Of course, back then, we usually got our green beans from a Del Monte can and simply heated them on the stove top.  But these days, being a foodie and all, I find I can do better, first by using fresh ingredients and then by ramping up the flavor.

This dish has both of those requirements, yet it remains super simple to prepare and easy on the pocketbook.  It also makes a lovely presentation, so it's a good side to make when you're fancying things up with your main courses and you need something that won't put you out.



Fresh green beans are full of nutrients and taste much better than the mushy versions in the can.


Ingredients

1 Pound Fresh Green Beans
1/3 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons Pure Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Mesquite Olive Oil
Lemon Juice for garnish

Directions

Wash the green beans and then trim ends off of them.



Admire your cut green beans.



Heat the pure olive oil in a large skillet until very hot, say 450F. (leave the mesquite oil out for now)
Add green beans to skillet.



They should begin sizzling immediately.  Let cook a couple minutes then toss.



After the first toss, the beans that were on the bottom should have started to blister a bit and sear.  Continue to toss and cook until most of the beans are blistered and slightly blackened.



Add Mesquite olive oil.  Use it sparingly, it is potent.



If you don't have the Mesquite-smoked olive oil, feel free to experiment with other flavored oils.  Garlic oil would be nice.  Toss to coat.  Cook one more minute.

Place beans in mixing bowl.  Add Parmesan.  Toss to coat.



Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.



Until Next Time,


Chris