Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday Supper

Labor Day weekend usually represents the symbolic end of Summer.  Though according to the calendar, we still have a few more weeks before the official first day of fall, our weather here has turned and so it already feels much like fall.  Perhaps on Monday, I will follow in the tradition of the outdoor barbecue on Labor Day, but for Sunday, it felt right to have a little fall supper.

I started the evening with two appetizers which take advantage of two ingredients at the peak of their season:  Pomodori al Forno, a recipe from Cafe Lago, and Mario Batali's Prosciutto di Parma with Baked Stuffed Figs.  Failing to photograph either, you will have to enjoy the photos from the links to the recipes.  Both are exceptional appetizers and so I felt I should mention them even without the photos.

Spaghetti Carbonara, as you can imagine, holds a special place in the hearts of this household. Pancetta, eggs, parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano.  What's there not to love?  When preparing this, my one worry was that the carbonara would be too heavy for the spaghetti I had made.  I had rolled the pasta to the #6 setting on the roller, and the cutter I used made a thin spaghetti.  I made a double recipe of pasta (2 cups flour, 4 eggs).   For the carbonara:
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1/4 cup grated pecorino romano
1/4 cup diced pancetta

Cook pancetta until browned.  In a bowl, beat eggs, then add the two cheeses and a drizzle of olive oil.  Cook pasta, drain, and toss with pancetta, rendered fat, and egg mixture.  For an added indulgence, make parmigiano cups to hold the pasta.  Sprinkle grated parmigiano into a large circle and bake in the oven at 400f until melted.  Let cool slightly, but it must still be malleable.  Lay each round over a inverted flat bowl and mold around the bowl.  
The carbonara I made was a little lighter than usual to try to compensate for the delicacy of the pasta.  But the pasta held its own.   A heavier sauce would have been just fine.


Veal Rib Chops with applewood bacon, crimini mushrooms and garlic is a go-to meal for me.  A good alternative to the regular steak, veal just feels a little more refined and special.
6 Veal rib chops
3 Slices of applewood smoked bacon, cut into 1/2 pieces
1/2 lb Crimini mushrooms, thickly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup veal stock
1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large frying pan, cook bacon until fat begins to render.  Season veal with salt and pepper and add to pan along with bacon.  You can do this in batches or in two separate pans, which is what I did.  Fry veal to medium rare.  My veal chops wound up being cut thinner than I had wanted.  I debated going back to get another 6 chops, but in the end, decided to make a first course carbonara instead.  So, cooking time was short.  Maybe only a few minutes a side.  Adjust the heat based on thickness so that you can make sure you have a good browning on the veal.  Higher heat for thinner chops, lower heat for thicker.   While frying the chops, I added sage leaves to fry and use as a garnish.

Remove veal chops, set aside and keep warm. At this point, you can combine the two pans into one.  Depending on how much fat was rendered while cooking, you may need to remove a bit, leaving just 1 tbsp in the pan.  Add garlic then mushrooms to the pan and saute until softened.  Add 1 tbsp of flour and stir flour in to cook slightly.  Deglaze pan with veal stock and bring to a light boil for a few minutes.  Add cream and boil for a few minutes more. 
Serve with whipped potatoes and lemon butter green beans.  

To make the meal complete, ask your friend, who is an amazing baker, to bring dessert!  These two pies, home grown plums with almond paste and blueberry and fig, were fabulous.  I am a crust gal and my friend Nicole makes the best crust.  Whenever we get together for dinner, Stella, a pie lover, always takes a few moments to dream about what pie Nicole might be making.  And we never say no to, in fact we beg for, one of her pies.  How does she make that crust?

The kids, not to be overlooked, had their own special meal.  I made them a double recipe of Beecher's Mac 'n Cheese.  After seeing what goes into this rich and over the top dish, I know why it is so divine and why it may have to remain on my list of "things which taste way too good to eat more than two bites for fear of addiction and just plain guilt for the indulgence of it all".  It definitely qualifies as food porn.  Rich, creamy, so very cheesy, a little goes a long way.  I feel guilty just thinking about it.

1 comment:

  1. The pictures don't do justice... I just have to mention how amazing the sauce and home grown potatoes were. Everything was better than the nicest dinner out could provide. Of course, the company was the best part, as always. Thank you! I will bake pies for Stella any time. :)

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