Monday, January 11, 2010

A Quick and Easy Weeknight recipe: Orecchiette with a Veal, Caper and White Wine Sauce.

There are plenty of people I’d love to spend time cooking with:
My heroes like Tyler Florence, who seems to make everything I like.
Ina Garten, who makes everything look so effortless.  Thomas Keller who makes everything look well, so, complicated.  But I’d have to say that Grace Parisi is near the top of my list.   And this fantastic recipe is a reason why all by itself. 

Grace Parisi may not be a household name but she should be.
Grace is the Senior Recipe Developer at Food and Wine magazine.
I find that title a little off-putting since the woman is one of the most inventive cooks I’ve ever heard of.  She doesn’t just develop recipes, she invents and re-invents everything from condiments to desserts.  I think her genius lies in moving the envelope enough to make something quite different without scaring a home cook off by making it difficult to imagine or cook.  Grace tweeks flavors and ingredients, making new combinations that just plain work.
        I’m not alone in thinking Grace’s latest Pasta creation is off the charts.  Food and Wine developed 10 new pasta recipes then called in 3 prominent chefs whose restaurants take their cues from Italian food.
In came Marc Vetri of Philadelphia’s Vetri and Osteria, Scott Conant of Scarpetta in New York and Miami and Michael Schlow of Boston’s Via Matta and Radius.   They chose Grace’s recipe for Orecchiette with Veal, Caper and White Wine sauce as the best of the best.  It takes maybe 40 minutes from start to finish and will introduce your taste buds to a sauce so heavenly, it’s a real lick-the- spoon-er.  Here is the recipe:

Recipe for Orecchiette with Veal Caper and White Wine Sauce

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil.
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound ground veal
Salt and freshly ground pepper
     1/2  cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. chopped thyme
1/2 tsp. chopped rosemary
2 tablespoons small capers,  
3/4 pound Orecchiette, preferably DeCecco
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the veal, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as you do.  Season with salt and pepper and raise the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veal is no longer pink and any liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

2. Add the white wine to the skillet and bring it to a boil over high heat until nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, thyme, rosemary and capers and reduce the heat to moderate and  simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta well and add it to the skillet along with the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, chopped parsley and butter. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until the sauce is thick and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to bowls and serve right away.

Photo at left: Not the most appetizing looking dinner ever...remember the parsley!

Notes:  You can easily make double this amount (and my guess is you will want to).  Simply stop the cooking process after step 1, remove the sauce you want to save and refrigerate or freeze it. Proceed with the rest of the cooking with the portion remaining in the pan.  Do not omit the parsley.  It makes a huge difference in the way the dish looks.  While it’s perfectly delicious without it, it is not nearly as appetizing.  In fact, Andrew didn’t think he would like it when I committed that error the first time I made this.

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