Simple, Delicious Veal Chops

Simple veal chops

I love a good veal chop, and I love a simple meal that still pleases the eye on a plate. So when my favorite meat vendor at the farm market had a deal on some beautiful grass-fed veal chops, this seemed perfect for a summer Saturday dinner. (And if you’re not into veal, this will work with a quality pork chop, as well.)

As with a steak or pork chop, the key is to cook the meat quickly, with high heat, until not quite done, then let it rest and finish cooking away from the heat. The result is moist, tender and full of flavor. The only way to mess it up is to over cook the chops. This was done in a hot cast iron frying pan, which gave me the chance to make a nice pan sauce with lemon, mushrooms and scallions. You can also make these chops on a grill and serve with mushrooms sautéed in butter.

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Improvising A Porchetta

Improvised Porchetta

Porchetta is one of my favorite things, which means that I’ve always wanted to give it a try in my own kitchen. Alas, even though I’ve managed to develop a pretty good relationship with several people at grocery meat counters and butchers, getting the right cut of pork hasn’t been possible, so far. I’m still working on it, but the immediate prospects are poor because it’s not something I’d order weekly and I’m not ready/willing to pay for a one-off custom cut of pork. 

Improvised Porchetta

Improvised Porchetta

So today, I’m going to post something I rarely do — a halfway successful recipe. By that I mean the porchetta was delicious and authentic, but because it was improvised, the appearance of the finished roast was, well, not as nice as I’d have liked. That’s life. 

To do an authentic porchetta, I’d want a whole or half skin-on pork belly, in a single piece, with a nice piece of pork loin still attached on the upper side of the belly. That way, I could prep it and roll it up for roasting. For this version, I managed to find, at a local international market, a smallish pork loin and several strips of skin-on pork belly, each about an inch wide. The idea was to wrap the pork loin with the strips held in place by sturdy toothpicks. Of course the strips shrank during cooking, so the whole porchetta came out looking a bit strange. Sliced and on a plate, however, it came off pretty well.

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Lemon-Dill Crusted Salmon

Lemon-Herb Crusted Salmon

Salmon has a lot going for it. It’s abundant, reasonably affordable as seafood goes, and certainly tasty. It can also get a bit boring, as in “didn’t we have that last week?” So I’m always looking for new ways to dress up a salmon dish. Lemon-dill crusted salmon fits that bill nicely. It’s a riff on the parmesan-crusted filet mignon I posted a while back, but flavored with lemon, dill and a little Dijon mustard. 

The recipe calls for roasting the salmon in the oven, but it can also be cooked part-way on the grill or pan roasted. The trick is to avoid overcooking in the first stage because it will cook more while you’re browning the crust under the broiler. for an inch-thick fillet, that would take 5-7 minutes in the oven, but watch carefully. If the salmon is too well done coming out of the oven/grill/pan, the broiler will dry it out.

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Silver Queen Crab Cakes with Jalapeno Tartar Sauce

silver queen crab cakes

The origin of the Silver Queen crab cakes recipe is a household mystery here at Discovery Cooking. My lovely wife Carol began making them in the 1990s, I think, though it might have been even earlier.Since then, we’ve refined the recipe a great deal. My best guess is that we came across the original somewhere on Maryland’s eastern shore, which you could rightly call the intersection of Silver Queen corn and blue crabs. If you’re not familiar with Silver Queen, it’s a white corn that’s among the sweetest varieties I’ve ever tasted, in part because we live close enough to the main areas of cultivation that getting ears of Silver Queen the same day they’re picked is not very difficult.

Silver Queen crab cakes are found all over the eastern shore. There are dozens of recipes online, but this one is a bit different from most of the ones I’ve tried. The crab cakes are creamy with just a thin crust and the flavors are perfectly balanced. It’s a cliché, but they really do melt in your mouth. They’re great by themselves or make a really good sandwich.

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Miso-Glazed Chicken Kabobs

miso glazed chicken kabobs

Kabobs are a quick and easy way to get a dinner together and you can raise them up a notch or two with a great glaze/marinade. Miso glazed chicken kabobs are one of my favorite ways to do that. They combine a glaze made from Japanese ingredients, including miso paste and white soy sauce, with chunks of pineapple, bell peppers and onion. 

Miso paste, by the way, is one of those amazing ingredients that give Japanese cuisine its special character. You can find it in almost any grocery that has a good selection of Asian ingredients or you can order it online. I keep a tub of the stuff in my fridge, and use it any time I need to ramp up the flavor in a dish. The recipe also calls for white soy sauce, a slightly milder type that is useful for fish and chicken dishes where you don’t want to darken the color of the meat, but still want the flavor kick that comes from soy sauce. I get mine online, because it is difficult to find, even in a large international grocery.

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Pan-Fried Walleye with Sauteed Spinach and Roasted Potatoes

walleye

It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while my  local grocery’s fish counter will offer up walleye (or walleyed pike, if you prefer) fresh from the great lakes. It’s inexpensive as fish typically go, and it’s delicious, as well. As you can see from the photo, I got my hands on some beautiful walleye fillets recently and decided to give it a Mediterranean treatment, rather than the traditional deep fry. It was so tasty, I may never go back to deep-frying.

300px-Walleye_paintingFirst, a bit about the fish. Walleye is a freshwater fish common to the upper midwest portion of the U.S. and southern Canada, including most of the Great Lakes. I got my first taste of walleye on a visit to Minnesota. More recently, I’ve been getting it on family visits to northwestern Ohio. The town of Port Clinton, Ohio, where my daughter lives, even has a walleye festival each spring. Walleyes get big, 20 lbs. or more, so the fillets from commercial fishing on the Great Lakes can be a pretty decent size, which means they’re fairly easy to cook. Walleye is very mild in flavor and has a texture much like a red snapper or similar white ocean-going fish.

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Pan Seared Cod and Roasted Vegetables With Classic Aioli

aioli

Aioli is the name for a classic French/Spanish sauce that’s been adopted by the culinary world to include a number of egg-oil emulsions that stray pretty far afield from the original idea. The aioli made for this simple dinner of roasted cod and vegetables is the classic version, prepared the way aioli has been made for several centuries, I’d guess. It’s delicious, rich, full of garlic flavor with just a hint of lemon. It’s perfect for dressing up fish and vegetables.

I’ve actually included two preparation methods — the traditional method using a mortar and pestle, and the modern method using a blender. I use both or either, depending on how much time I’ve got and the demands of the meal I’m making. Aioli can be made ahead and refrigerated for several days. 

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