Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pan-Broiled Veal Chops

These incredible, big, thick veal chops are more than a little exstravagant, but a beautiful thick chop cut from a boneless pork loin would make just as tasty a dish with this treatment, with less damage to your pocketbook and your waistline.

These things were just beautiful, and I almost felt obligated to honor them, somehow, to honor the meat, express my appreciation for its beauty, by accompanying it with some kind of sauce or garnish worthy of it (like Marilyn Monroe, these veal chops would have looked great in a burlap sack, but I felt I had to try, for the chops, you understand, as a matter of respect).

The night before, I had dinner in a little-known Italian restaurant in Atlantic City called Cafe 2825, a tiny place with only 12 tables, which is simply the best restaurant I have ever been to. The story of this place is something worth a post of its own, but this is absolutely no exxageration, this place truly is the best restaurant ever in the history of the universe. The cuisine of Cafe 2825 is old school Italian, as is much of the clientele, with items like "Traditional Sunday Gravy with Meatballs, Sausage, and yet it is different from every other Italian restaurant I have ever been to because every dish, everything I have tried, anyway, is so light and fresh, minimally seasoned, with all the flavors based on the quality and freshness of every ingredient. And the night before, I had tasted the Veal Milanese, a breaded and fried veal chop, and it was served covered with a simple mix of arugula, tomatoes, and shaved parmesan. It was this dish which inspired me to decide that rather than make any kind of a heavily flavored or rich sauce for these chops, I would garnish them with a mix of roasted vegetables, minimally seasoned, and topped off with a light gremolata. Because its what I happened to have, I used tomatoes, scallions, garlic cloves, and strips of roasted poblano pepper left over from that pico de gallo I made for the shrimp cocktail.

Pan-broiling I explained in detail just last month; it involves meat, and a hot pan, no oil, just enough to make the meat shiny, and a throughly hot pan. In the case of these chops, because they were so thick, and because I did not want to sear them as much as I did the chuck-eyes I discussed in that post, I did not have to use the old cast-iron skillet. Because of their thickness, these chops would be cooked at a slightly lower temperature, for a longer period. Nevertheless, it remains vitally important to keep the pan hot enough so that liquids cannot pool in it, if juices seep from your meat and form a puddle in the pan, you are no longer pan-broiling, you are boiling your meat, and as a general rule, one thing you want to avoid in life is boiling your meat.

And so, now for the gremolata. This is something I learned from Mario Battale (sorry to say, one of the only ideas I took from him, for all the hype, Mario, well, just "meh," you know? Cafe 2825 is much better). A gremolata is a finely chopped, grated, or diced mix of various ingredients with interesting tastes and textures that you sprinkle on a dish to add just a little burst of fresh, complex flavor, but without overpowering. Its like a fresh version of an herb or spice mix. For this, I used a pretty basic gremolata, grated lemon peel, grated parmesan, ground black pepper, and chopped nuts, it would normally have been pine nuts, but I still have that bag of roasted pumpkin seeds I bought at Whole Paycheck-Costing Food, so I went with those.

And Voila! I love that word, "Voila," If I ever get a tattoo, I think I should think of a good place to just put the word "Voila."

Those thing next to the veal, frozen mini-potato pancakes, which makes them kinda a big flat tater-tot. Don't tell anyone I made frozen tater-tots, I had too few hands and too little time left on the clock. I would havepreferred to make something contrastingly bland, and less rich, to accompany this, maybe even just a bit of garlic-mashed potatos, or my zuchini spaghetti, which I will get around to showing you one of these days.

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