HELPING FAMILY FARMS FLOURISH. HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Pork Cutlets with Pine Nuts and Prosciutto “Lombatine ‘Vestite’ ai Pinoli”


         Here we have a simple pork cutlet or chop that is covered with juicy bits of golden raisin, salty, tangy capers, and rich Gran Padano cheese.   This sweet and salty, cheese-y topping is held in place by crisp slices of prosciutto.  For a pork lover like me, the dish is just about perfection.
         I’ve mentioned my fondness for “La Cucina Italiana” magazine before.  The 83 year old magazine got its start in Italy in 1929.  The US edition is a Johnny-come-lately by comparison.  It launched here late in 2007.  The magazine has an American editor named Michael Wilson who somehow makes every issue like a trip to Italy. And it maintains its Italian-ness by keeping the recipe titles in Italian and translating them in much smaller type below.  Somehow that adds to the feeling that this is truly Italian cooking.  Features about various regions of Italy make for a good read.  Ingredient features like the current issue’s one on Italian Beer introduce you to the people behind the brews.  And two more, one on beans, the other on strawberries, give you more than enough ways to put authentic recipes on your table. This "La Cucina" even takes you outside the kitchen door with “Start an Italian Garden”. But hands down, one of my favorite sections is called “In Cucina” (In the Kitchen).  That’s where you’ll find “Cooking School” which gives you an in-depth understanding of cooking techniques.  But it’s “Cooking by the Clock” that inevitably turns me on.  Today’s post is no exception. 
         For years I’ve wondered why anyone would buy those thin, small, boneless pieces of pork called cutlets of even pork chops.  Why would anyone choose those over a big 1 ½ to 2 inch pork chop as thick as a steak?  So I stuck to the tried and true and bought two chops that were not as thick as my preferred ‘Pork Steak’.  They were frenched and under an inch thick.  Following the recipe, when I pounded them down to the correct thickness, 1/3 inch, the bones detached themselves from the pork so in essence I was working with the recipe recommended ‘cutlets’.  Of course they were larger and each required every slice of prosciutto called for in the original recipe for 6 servings.
           It all worked beautifully.  A simple Spring salad, tossed with some ripe cherry tomatoes and dressed with a fruity Olive Oil, tangy white Balsamic Vinegar, sea salt and a few grinds of pepper was the perfect balance for the sweet and salty entrée.  And how easy was that to make.  The dish lives up to the promise of “Cooking by the Clock”.  It hit the table after the 25 minutes the recipe said it would take to cook.  Because I used the much larger pork chops rather than the 3 ounce cutlets, I needed every bit of the topping.  I’d suggest going with the entire recipe for two or four people. And here is the recipe which was initially for 6 servings, which I don't think gives you nearly enough filling per serving.
Recipe for Lombatine “Vestite” ai Pinoli or Pork Cutlets with Pine Nuts and Prosciutto. 
    1/4  cup pine nuts
    2 tablespoons golden raisins, plumped         in hot water for 10 mins and drained.
    1 1/2 tablespoons capers, preferably salt-packed, rinsed, soaked in cold water        10 minutes, then rinsed again   
    1 1/3 cups loosely packed finely grated Grana Padano cheese
    1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
    3  tablespoons unsalted butter
    1  garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
    6  (3-ounce) pork cutlets, pounded to 1/3-inch-thick
    6  thin slices prosciutto 
    4  cups loosely packed mixed greens
    1  tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    1  teaspoon red wine vinegar
    Fine sea salt


Heat oven to 475º with rack in middle.
Finely chop together nuts, raisins and capers. In a bowl, stir together nut mixture, cheese and parsley.















In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons butter and garlic over medium-high heat. In 2 batches, cook cutlets 2 minutes per side, then transfer to a cutting board, laying cutlets flat. 














Sprinkle nut mixture over cutlets, then wrap each cutlet with 1 slice prosciutto.

Arrange cutlets in a baking dish. Dot with remaining tablespoon butter; bake 5 minutes.









Meanwhile, toss greens with oil, vinegar and pinch salt. Serve pork with greens as garnish.