Hopefully my MIA-ness will subside as I wrap up piano lessons this week for my impending maternity leave. I can’t believe it’s here. I can’t believe HE will be here any day now.
I’m officially within the two-week mark of the Jersey Baby’s due date. And if he’s anything like his Daddy and moi, he will be very deadline oriented. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. And me and The Husband tell The Bump every night that we really want to meet him, so please don’t be late. He also was not permitted to come while the Phillies made their dismal World Series run. Nor is he allowed to make a push for this world on Sundays or Mondays due to Daddy’s newspaper deadline.
(I’m kidding about the World Series and Sunday and Monday thing.... Well, not really.)
So, I’m sharing with you a massive dinner that I cooked back during the tail end of summer. These days, everything kind of skeeves me. And I don’t think I could finish a din din this big and substantive.
Give me an apple and banana, and I’m happy.
First up is a Lidia recipe: Veal Chops with Spinach and Pecorino Romano. I actually made the dish with pork chops, because veal chops were nowhere to be found in my moving and shaking town of Hammonton. I would just like to say that I love living here, but sometimes finding the food products you need is such a challenge. Guess that comes with living in the sticks. And that everyone knows your bizness. And you’re likely related to or somehow within Six Degrees of Every Person who Lives in Hammonton.
Anyhoo, here’s the recipe:
Veal Chops with Spinach and Pecorino Romano
Makes 6 servings
From “Lidia’s Italian Table”
By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
6 loin veal chops, each 1 to 1 ½ inches thick and about ¼ pound
Salt and freshly ground pepper
7 Tbsp. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 ½ lbs. fresh spinach, tough stems removed, well washed and drained
1 cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano
1 pint red or yellow cherry tomatoes, stems removed and cut in half
4 basil leaves, washed, dried and cut into thin strips
Prepare a charcoal grill or heat two large grill pans or cast-iron skillets over medium heat for 10 minutes.
Pat the veal chops dry with paper towels and season generously with salt and pepper. Rub 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil over the chops. Grill the chops or cook them in a skillet or grill pan, turning once, until both sides are well marked (or well browned if using a skillet) and just a slight trace of pink remains in the thickest part of the chop near the bone, 15 to 18 minutes, depending on the heat of the grill or pan and the thickness of the chops. Transfer the chops to a broiler pan or sturdy baking pan and preheat the broiler.
Meanwhile, divide the 3 tablespoons of the olive oil between two large, heavy skillets. Add 1 garlic clove to each skillet and cook over medium heat until golden, about 3 minutes. Add half the spinach to each skillet and season very lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the spinach is wilted and tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper. (Alternatively, the spinach can be prepared in one skillet in two batches.) Drain the liquid from the skillets and remove the garlic cloves.
Arrange the spinach evenly over the veal chops. Sprinkle the spinach with the grated cheese and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the remaining 2 garlic cloves and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and basil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing the tomatoes in the skillet, just until wilted, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and remove the garlic cloves. Remove the skillet from the heat and cover it to keep the tomatoes warm.
Meanwhile, broil the chops until the cheese is lightly browned and crisp, about 3 minutes. (If a broiler is not available, set the baking pan in a preheated 475 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 5 minutes.) Transfer the veal chops to plates. Spoon the tomatoes alongside the veal chops and serve hot.
The chops were awesome. And the broiler makes the spinach get a crispiness on. I loved that.
The second dish is Whole Grain Spaghetti with Pecorino, Prosciutto and Pepper. I used regular pasta instead of whole grain. The dish was fantabulous. Very peppery. I had fun grinding the peppercorns with my mortal and pestle.
Both the Lidia and Giada recipe can easily be cut in half. And, I have to say they really worked well together. I thought I was at a fancy pants Italian restaurnt. Kidding.
Here’s the pasta recipe:
Whole Grain Spaghetti with Pecorino, Prosciutto and Pepper
By Giada De Laurentiis
1 pound whole-grain (or whole-wheat) spaghetti
2 tablespoons mixed colored peppercorns, coarsely ground
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 cups grated (6 ounces) pecorino
6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
While the pasta is cooking: Heat a small, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the peppercorns and toast for about 20 to 30 seconds. Add the oil and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.
Drain the pasta reserving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Transfer the spaghetti to a large serving bowl. Add 1 cup of the pecorino and toss to combine, gradually adding reserved pasta water, if needed, to loosen up the pasta. Add the oil mixture, prosciutto, 2 tablespoons of parsley, and 2 tablespoons of basil. Toss well to combine all ingredients.
Garnish with the remaining pecorino, parsley, and basil.
And the end result: