When you can get your hands on a juicy tomato, you need to treat it right. All of those mealy, hothouse tomatoes that are pushed on us by the grocery store are great for tossing, but that’s about it. But then there’s that slim window of time where you can get your hands on heirloom tomatoes in a rainbow of colors, bumpy and rough on the outside, brimming with translucent tart juice in the center. When the planets align and the gods deem you worthy of an incredible tomato, you’d better recognize and step up to the plate. Continue reading Italian BLT Panini with Pesto Mayo
I have lovely memories of my mom’s baked chicken parmesan – we’d come home from elementary school and she’s take seemingly no time in breading chicken cutlets, seasoning them with paprika and spices, and then letting them crisp up in a hot oven. They were always so juicy and deliciously perfect, I never ever questioned why we didn’t have Shake ‘n Bake in our pantry. Mom knew what she was doing (and still does!)
After I got married, my aunt gave me a convection oven as a wedding present and I had to see if the crisping action was all it cracked up to be. I made a riff off of my mom’s baked chicken with dijon and cream replacing the usual parmesan cheese. Then, to make things more complicated, I tricked it out deconstructed cordon bleu style with a slice each of prosciutto and provolone.
When the timer went off and the chicken emerged from the oven, the clouds parted in the heavens and the angels began to sing. It was ever so perfect, with prosciutto like bacon and “everything’s-better-with” melted cheese. J’adore!
I kind of like that Chicken Cordon Bleu has nothing to do with the culinary institute and is rather a cousin of retro throwbacks such as Chicken Kiev and other roulade-style meat dishes. It makes me feel like I need to tease my hair, put on an A-line skirt and play a little Jack Jones “Wives and Lovers” to get in an old skool mood. Ok, not really. But it does make me miss my momma, thinking about all the foods that are meant for family dining. This one is certainly high up on the list.
Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 c. of cream
1/4 c. of water
1 tbs. of dijon mustard
1 c. of flour
3 tsp. of salt
1 1/2 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of white pepper
1/2 tsp. of garlic powder
1/4 tsp. of paprika
4 slices of prosciutto
4 slices of provolone (or fontina)
Set up a breading station with two shallow dishes – one with the eggs, cream, water and dijon and the other with the flour, salt, black pepper, white pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Dredge chicken breasts in flour, into the egg and then again in the flour. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet and top with a slice of cheese and a few slices of prosciutto. Bake for 35-40 minutes on 350° or until the chicken is cooked through and the prosciutto is crispy and deep rose. Serve.
Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a dish with a fancy name and a fancier presentation can also be soul-satisfying comfort food. This seemingly hoity-toity recipe is, at its most base form, an open-faced pulled pork sandwich. The ingredients married together create a taste profile that is wholly sumptuous and ever so necessary. I fell in love after first bite and promised myself that I’d make this one on repeat and revel in the glory as much as possible.
I use wild boar shoulder for this recipe, and thought the cut can take some time to braise until tender, I speed up the process with a trip to the pressure cooker. If you can’t get boar, simply substitute pork shoulder – the taste won’t be nearly as rich, but you’ll still be able to get down. Once the meat is shredded and cooled a bit, it rejoins the party on a raft of ciabatta, sharp provolone and a zesty homemade lemon aioli. Miner’s lettuce serves as an interesting counterpoint for the unctuous boar and salty cheese – it’s texture alone, similar to spinach, adds the fresh finesse that makes this one a stunner. Although this dish is an appetizer, just know that if you serve this dish first, chances are very good that people will fill up on these suckers with reckless abandon without a thought of saving room for anything else. They are just. that. good.
Pulled Boar Panini with Miner’s Lettuce and Lemon Aioli
1 lb. wild boar shoulder, cut into 2-3 large chunks
4 c. of chicken stock
1 fennel bulb, quartered
1 onion, quartered
2 bay leaves
1 tsp of fennel pollen
2 cl. of garlic, minced
zest of one lemon
juice of half a lemon
1 tsp. of dijon mustard
1/2 c. of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
4 oz. of miner’s lettuce, stems removed
1 1/2 c. of sharp provolone cheese, shredded
1 loaf of ciabatta
Begin by preparing the wild boar. Add the boar, fennel, onion, stock, fennel pollen and bay leaves to a pressure cooker. Bring to high pressure and then allow to cook for 30 minutes. Let the pressure subside naturally and remove boar from cooking liquid. Shred with two forks and set aside.
Now make the aioli. Add the egg, lemon, zest and mustard to a blender. Blitz on high and slowly stream in the olive oil. Turn off blender and taste for salt and pepper. The aioli should be pretty loose and not as thick as a traditional mayonnaise, so thin with additional olive oil if necessary. Set aside.
Halve the ciabatta lengthwise and spread with some of the aioli, saving a few tablespoons for drizzling. Top with the shredded boar and add the provolone to the top. Bake in the oven on 400° until the cheese has melted. Remove the two ciabatta loaves to a cutting board and cut into 8 pieces for each loaf. Sprinkle miner’s lettuce liberally over the top of the panini and drizzle with additional aioli. Serve while still standing, eating it right from the kitchen and not stopping to take it to the table.