Sunday Dinner Main Course: Pork Saltimbocca

Pork Saltimbocca 1

Tony, our son Gio, and I enjoy coming up with dinner menus inspired by new recipes or just some of our favorite dishes, and this week’s Scaloppine of Pork Saltimbocca is the perfect main course for a Sunday dinner.

When translated from Italian to English, saltimbocca means “jump in your mouth,” and once you try this savory specialty you’ll understand why. Our version of this dish features tender cutlets of pork tenderloin topped with salty prosciutto ham, mild and creamy fresh mozzarella cheese, and fresh sage leaves, complemented with a lemon butter sauce. These flavors are well-balanced and relaxed with each other, and Tony likes to say that the taste experience “dances on the tongue.”

Roman in origin, a saltimbocca dish traditionally features veal, but this high-end meat can be expensive and is often difficult to find in our region. Instead, we’ve found pork tenderloin to be a great substitute, as its excellent flavor and tenderness work well with the scaloppine preparation.

Scaloppine is a method in Italian cuisine where slices of meat (typically veal, but chicken and pork can also be used) are pounded into thin, tender cutlets, or scallops. The cutlets are then dredged in flour and quickly pan-fried, then served with a tomato or wine-based sauce. We love preparing meat this way, as it cooks in minutes and comes out unbelievably tender.

The process for Pork Saltimbocca is an easy one, but requires some advance preparation as several ingredients may not be staples in your pantry. To begin, a whole pork tenderloin is sliced into half-inch medallions, which are then pounded with a meat mallet until they are about 1/8-inch thick. This step can be done up to one day in advance if desired.

Pork Saltimbocca Ingredients 2

Each cutlet is lightly dredged in flour and pan-fried on each side in olive oil for about one to two minutes, then transferred to a baking sheet and topped with a slice of prosciutto and fresh mozzarella to be finished in the oven. The sauce for this dish is a simple lemon butter sauce which must be prepared just before serving, so it’s important to wait until the sauce is ready before baking the cutlets.

The same pan is used to make the sauce so that all those leftover little brown bits of meat can bring flavor and depth to the dish. Lemon juice, white wine and water are cooked over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half and those savory brown bits have been freed from the bottom of the pan, about three to five minutes. Use a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to coax the bits loose as the sauce thickens. For extra flavor, chicken or vegetable stock may be used instead of water.

A teaspoon of sugar is added, along with a pinch of salt and pepper, and then two tablespoons of butter are stirred in as the sauce continues to reduce over medium-low heat for three to five minutes, until all of the ingredients are fully combined and the sauce has achieved a light, silky consistency. Reduce the heat to the lowest setting to keep the sauce warm while the pork cutlets bake in the oven for about three minutes, until the cheese melts and the prosciutto crisps up just a bit.

Transfer the finished cutlets to serving plates or a platter and top with fresh sage leaves followed by the lemon butter sauce. Serve with roasted or whipped potatoes, or linguini tossed in a little bit of garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

CLICK HERE for Scaloppine of Pork Saltimbocca RECIPE
CLICK HERE for Lemon Butter Sauce RECIPE

A Lenten Dinner: Blackened Tilapia with Mustard Creole Sauce

Blackened Tilapia with Mustard Creole Sauce

One of our 2015 food resolutions is to add more fish to our diets and the season of Lent gives us the perfect opportunity to cast a wider net into the world of fish. Today’s catch is Blackened Tilapia with Mustard Creole Sauce.

Tony chose to feature tilapia for several reasons. First, it’s new to his repertoire, which is typically focused on ocean fish like sea bass, grouper, and shellfish, or freshwater fish like walleye and salmon. Next, it’s affordable and widely available in our local markets and superstores, typically priced around three dollars per fillet.

Mild, sweet and flaky, tilapia has the perfect taste and texture for this preparation and is firm enough to withstand being blackened, unlike sole or walleye, which are more delicate and may not hold up as well. Grouper, cod, catfish, or any mild, firm white fish will also work for this recipe.

Tony uses a simple blackening process which begins by coating the top of each fillet with a dry Creole seasoning rub, and then searing each piece, top-side-down, in a hot pan for one or two minutes until blackened. Tony prefers his fish lightly blackened and only slightly spicy, so our recipe is created from his point of view, but you can adjust the level of blackening and spice as desired. To finish, the fish is baked top-side-up in a 400-degree oven for eight to ten minutes, until opaque and flaky inside.

Blackened Tilapia white meat

Having just indulged in a Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras meal at Sarello’s last week, we’ve been inspired by the exotic world of New Orleans cuisine and have paired today’s blackened tilapia with a savory Mustard Creole sauce. This sauce is big on flavor and perfect with blackened white fish, but would be just as good with beef, chicken or pork.

The sauce can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated, then re-heated on the stove or in the microwave until hot. The recipe calls for two teaspoons of Creole seasoning and we typically use the same spice mix that we used to blacken the fish. We’ve included the recipe for our Creole seasoning dry rub, but at home I’ve often used a store-bought version with great results.

Other ingredients in the sauce include sliced yellow onion and red bell pepper, white wine, chicken stock, whole grain mustard, olive oil and heavy cream, which serves as the thickening agent for the sauce.  The sauce is pureed, so the vegetables do not require special knife skills – a basic slice or rough chop will do.

The vegetables are sautéed with the olive oil and Creole seasoning until softened, then add the white wine and cook for five to seven minutes until the liquid is reduced by half. The cream, stock and heavy cream are added next, and the sauce continues to cook for ten to fifteen minutes until the onion and pepper are soft and fully cooked.

We use a handheld immersion blender to puree the sauce, which should appear smooth and velvety when ready, and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If it seems too thin, continue cooking over medium-low heat for another ten minutes.

To serve, we fill each plate or serving platter with the mustard Creole sauce and then top with the blackened tilapia. Pair this dish with a simple salad or a light pasta dish and you have the perfect Lenten dinner.

CLICK HERE for Blackened Tilapia & Creole Dry Rub RECIPES
CLICK HERE for Mustard Creole Sauce RECIPE

Today’s Featured Valentine Recipe: Red Curry Scallops

Since its debut at Sarello’s ten years ago, our Thai-inspired Red Curry Scallops appetizer has become one of our signature dishes. And with its aphrodisiac qualities, it’s the perfect dish to woo your loved one this Valentine’s Day. Enjoy!

For more information about this recipe, view our blog post from February 2013: Sarello’s Famous Red Curry Scallops

Sarello’s Red Curry Scallops Recipe

Makes:  4 to 6 appetizer servings

All ingredients for this recipe can usually be found in your local grocery store, but we know for a fact that they are available at the Hornbacher’s on 32nd Ave.

Red Curry Sauce:
1 small can or jar of red curry paste
16 oz. coconut milk
2 oz. fish sauce
2 oz. clam juice
1 oz. heavy cream
1 oz. lime juice
¼ cup sugar

Using a medium-sized sauce pan, combine all ingredients over medium-high heat and bring to a simmer. Add a half-cup of the roux (flour and butter mixture for thickening), and whisk until the roux is incorporated and the sauce has thickened. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Roux:
½ cup butter, shortening, lard or vegetable oil (the more flavorful the fat, the better the roux)
½ cup flour

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan and stir in the flour. Cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly until a light straw color is achieved. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Scallops:
12-15 sea scallops
1 red onion, cut into half-inch thick slices
1 cup shiitake mushrooms, quartered (any mushroom will work)
1 cup carrots, julienne (sliced into thin strips)
1 cup sugar snap peas, whole
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chiffonade (cut into thin strips)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil

Using a large sauté pan over medium heat, pour in the vegetable oil and add the red onions. Cook for two minutes. Add the scallops, and cook for another two minutes. Add the red curry sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Finish by adding the vegetables and basil, stirring to ensure all ingredients are hot, and cook for another two minutes. When done, the sauce should be velvety smooth; not as thick as a cream sauce, but thicker than a broth. Pour into serving bowls, serve and enjoy!

Tony’s Tip: To make sure that all the vegetables are crunchy, or al dente, add any vegetables that may take longer to cook, like carrots and onions, first. More delicate ingredients, like mushrooms and sugar snap peas, or shrimp (if using instead of scallops) should be added toward the end because they will cook faster.

Learn to Make Gnocchi with The Lost Italian!

LEARN TO MAKE GNOCCHI:
A HANDS-ON COOKING EXPERIENCE WITH THE LOST ITALIAN
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23, 2015
$85 PER PERSON (plus tax)

Join Tony and Sarah for this HANDS-ON cooking class and learn how to make potato gnocchi from scratch. Come prepared to use your hands (and elbows, if necessary) and enjoy the relaxed environment of this small group setting, where you’ll work with a partner as Tony and Sarah guide you from start to finish through the art of making gnocchi. Once you’ve mastered the technique, you’ll cook your gnocchi and sit down with the class to enjoy your creation.

Bring only yourself and your enthusiasm – we will provide the necessary cooking equipment and materials. Class fee includes the use of all necessary equipment and materials, copies of all featured recipe(s) and hand-outs, and all food prepared during the class. Beer, wine and cocktails will be available for purchase.

Pre-registration is required as class size is very limited. To register, please call Sarello’s at 218.287.0238 or inquire by email to dine@sarellos.com and write GNOCCHI CLASS in the subject field.

A credit card is required at the time of registration to confirm your space, but no charges will be applied until the date of the event, except in the event of a late cancellation. Gift certificates may not be used for payment for the Cooking Series. Cancellations must be made by Wednesday, February 18 or your credit card may be charged a fee of $25 per person if we are unable to fill your space. Should this occur, you will receive a gift certificate in the amount charged for future use at Sarello’s.