Monthly Archives: August 2011

National Bacon Day Give-Away! Win a 6-Month Supply of Bacon!


Are you ready for the upcoming holiday? No, not Labor Day, National Bacon Day. It’s the Saturday before Labor Day falling on September 3rd this year. And it’s gonna be big! There’s a lot to do: Got anything to wear? Bought any decorations yet? Have you checked your office calendar? You might actually have the day off. Most important, you’d better have some cool bacon-themed gifts ready to give, and we’ve got an awesome gift for YOU!

One lucky Pork, Knife & Spoon reader is going to WIN a 6-MONTH SUPPLY of BACON!

Here’s what you have to do to win:

In the comment section below tell us why you love bacon.

Make it short, poetic, witty, rhyming, whatever you’d like. Just be creative and have fun!

The contest will run through Monday, September 5th, and we’ ll announce the winner on Wednesday, September 7th. Good luck! Any questions? Just ask me below or on Twitter @porkandknife. And don’t forget to TWEET about the give-away and include @porkandknife.


Need some great gift ideas for National Bacon Day? Check out my last post! There’s bacon gum balls, dental floss, cologne, and more!

Photo credits: Flickr Creative Commons, JasonPrattMavis.

Great Gift Ideas for National Bacon Day!

Do you know what this Saturday is? It’s National Bacon Day! Did you buy any gifts yet? Whaaaaat? OK. Don’t worry, I’ve got ya covered. Keep reading to find some of the tastiest, kitchiest, porkiest bacon gifts for him and her out there.


Man Bait Lollipops: A maple and bacon lollipop so good, you can snag a man with it.

Bacon dental floss to dislodge the sticky nibs of man bait lollipop in between your teeth.

Bacon Soap: Warning: Avoid large, scary dogs after washing your hands with this soap.

J & D’s Bacon Lip Balm: Ladies, say good-bye to dry lips and hello to hot guys!

Bacon Gum Balls: Nothing refreshes your mouth quite like the taste of cured meat.

Fargginay’s Bacon Classic Fragrance Spray: For the man or woman who wants “a sophisticated spicy maple fragrance with just a hint of bacon.” Yes, that’s the actual description.


Beautiful Pigs: Portraits of Champion Breeds: Because not only cows are beautiful.

Guy’s classic tees. Nothing say “man” better than broken in jeans and a porcine tee.

Uncle Oinker’s Savory Bacon Mints: Who cares how they taste? How can you resist anything from “Uncle Oinker’s”?

Bacon and beer scented candles. Could there be more complementary scents?

“Bacon is Like a Little Hug from God” and “Mmm… Bacon” aprons from Bacon Freak.

Bacon Freak’s “Bacon is Meat Candy” Bacon of the Month Club: For the bacon freak who has it all.


Photo credits, Flickr Creative Commons, jenny8lee, juhansonin,

Celebrate Labor Day with Richard Blais’s Famous Cuban Burger Recipe


Labor Day is a few days away, and whether you’re hosting a cookout or attending one, you must, absolutely must, include Richard Blais’s famous Cuban pork burgers from his restaurant Flip Burger Boutique. Lime and herb spiked pork patties are cooked to juicy perfection, placed on a toasted hamburger bun and topped with a slew of sweet, spicy, salty, creamy, crispy toppings including mayo, Dijon mustard, Swiss cheese, bacon, mojo sauce, pickles, orange zest, and fresh cilantro. They are staggeringly delicious.

Here’s what you need to do for your Labor Day cookout:

*Fast for a day before making these burgers. Otherwise, you’ll have to stop at one. And you won’t want to stop at one.

*Advise your guests to wear expandable elastic waistband shorts. They’ll thank you later.

*Makes lots of burgers and lots of margaritas. They’re made for each other.

*Light a candle in praise of Richard Blais and pork burgers.

Cuban Burger from Flip Burger Boutique
Yields 6 servings

For the patties:
2 pounds ground pork
2 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon sage
1 1/4 teaspoons onion powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice

1. In a mixing bowl combine all ingredients and mix until everything is thoroughly incorporated. Separate the meat into six 5 oz balls. Flatten the balls into a patty shape.

2. Heat up a gril, or large skillet with about a 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in the bottom of the pan, and cook burgers about five minutes on each side until cooked through.

For the Mojo:
1/3 cup sour orange juice*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/4 teaspoons oregano
1 1/4 teaspoons cumin
1 1/4 teaspoons coriander
1 teaspoons parsely
1 1/2 teaspoons cilantro
2 teaspoons xanthan gum*

1. In a blender combine all ingredients and blend on medium speed. Add xanthan gum slowly until the liquid begins to thicken. Refrigerate until needed.

To build the burger: (yields 1 burger)

2 teaspoons Dijon
1 teaspoon mayo
1 sliced cornichon
1 1/2 tablespoon sliced pickles
1 slice Swiss cheese
1 slice cooked bacon, cut in half
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 hamburger bun
2 tablespoons mojo sauce (from above)
1 Cuban patty

1. Slice the bun in half and toast. On the bottom spread dijon mustard and mayo.

2. Melt the Swiss cheese over the top of the burger and top with bacon. Place burger with cheese and bacon on top of bottom bun with mayo and dijon.

3. In a mixing bowl place pickles and cornichons and toss with mojo sauce. Place on top of burger. Top the burger with the chopped cilantro and orange zest. Serve.

Shopping note: Sour orange juice can be found in specialty Mexican markets. I didn’t have any, so I used regular orange juice and added a couple of squirts of lime juice to it . Xantham gum is a food thickener. Bob’s Red Mill sells it as do many online food stores. I didn’t have any, so I dissolved about 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in some water water, and added it to the mojo sauce.


Richard Blais Interview

blais-headshot-3-11Richard Blais of Top Chef fame, has been flippin’ out. After Bravo’s Top Chef, Blais became a regular on tv cooking competitions, launched his own TV show called Blaise Off, was a spokesperson for the National Pork Board, opened Flip Burger Boutique,a gourmet burger eatery in Atlanta, Georgia and Birmingham, Alabama, traveled around the world demonstrating his culinary prowess, signed a book deal with Clarkson Potter, and announced plans to open a second restaurant in 2012.

Despite this whirlwind of activity, Blais took some time out to answer a few questions for us. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: What’s your favorite way to prepare pork quickly at home? Shoulder cooked in a pressure cooker.

Q: What’s the most memorable pork dish you’ve ever eaten? Stuffed pig’s foot.

Q: What, in your opinion, is the most versatile cut of pork? Shoulder.

Q: Any new ingredients you’re really excited about? Spice combinations like vadouvan, ras el hanout.

Q: What can you tell us about your new cookbook? It will be an introduction to my cuisine and personality and focused on the home cook .

Q: You have a great Cuban pork burger on the menu at Flip. Any chance we’ll get to see the recipe? Sure, I’ll copy my chef there and share it.

Q: Are there any interesting food trends you see on the culinary horizon? The merging of creative and farm to table food. Indian food…

Q: After a long day of work, what’s your go-to meal at home? A quick pimento cheese & chutney sandwich, or spaghetti tossed with tomato sauce.

Q: You’ve been traveling quite a bit lately! Where are you coming from and where are you headed? Just back from Florida, San Francisco, and San Diego – Toronto, Wisconsin and New York upcoming. Internationally back from Beijing recently and heading toLondon, Hong Kong, and hopefully Norway soon!

Coming soon: Richard Blais’s recipe for his famous Cuban Pork Burger!

Photo courtesy of Richard Blais.

Got Company Coming for Dinner? Make Chipotle-Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin.

DSC_0033Pork tenderloin coated with chipotle-cocoa rub.

Do you have “company dishes”? You know, the dishes you make when you want to impress people with your culinary prowess? Mine is pork tenderloin. And it should be yours too. Here’s why:

*Everyone loves pork tenderloin.

*It’s one of the simplest, no-fuss meats to cook and is virtually impossible to mess up.

*It’s less expensive than other “fancy” meats.

*It’s endlessly versatile — make it with BBQ sauce, dry rubs, marinades, whatever. You can grill or roast it. You can even stuff it.

*Pork tenderloin leftovers make killer sandwiches for the next day’s lunch.

OK, I said it was “virtually” impossible to mess up. That’s true, if you don’t overcook it. According to the new USDA guidelines, pork chops, roasts, and tenderloins can safely be cooked to medium-rare at 145 degrees, not. 160, followed by a 3-minute rest period. Keep in mind that the 15 degree difference will yield a finished product that is likely moister and pinker than you may be used to which is perfectly safe. After you remove the pork tenderloin from the oven, cover it with tinfoil and let it rest for 5 to 7 minutes to keep all those savory juices locked inside.

DSC_0039Searing the tenderloin on a hot grill pan will char the exterior and keep the interior moist.

So next time you’ve got company coming for dinner, play it smart and make pork tenderloin. Then get ready to mingle with your guests instead of standing over a hot stove. And if you’ve got leftovers, which I really hope you do, use them to make this spicy Southwest sandwich: Spread two slices of jalapeno cheddar bread with a big dollop of mayo and a little dollop of spicy mustard; add the leftover pork tenderloin, and top with lots of shredded cheddar cheese or smoked gouda. Place under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly. Eat it while it’s hot.

Got any great pork tenderloin recipes? Please share them below in the comments section.


Chipotle – Cocoa Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Makes 6 to 8 servings

My favorite way to make pork tenderloin is to start with a dry rub that infuses the pork with flavor, then sear it in a hot pan to create a savory crust, then finish roasting it in the oven until done. Make-ahead suggestion: After applying dry rub, refrigerate tenderloin up to 24 hours. Let rest on countertop for 10 minutes before cooking.

1 – 1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle chile powder for lip-tingling heat OR 2 tablespoons for lip-numbing heat. It’s up to you.

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

2 – 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line the inside of a roasting pan with aluminum foil for easy cleanup. If you don’t have a roasting pan, a deep ovenproof dish will do. The dish does not have to be lined.

Place all dry rub ingredients in a small bowl and stir well. Using your hands, rub the tenderloin all over with 1 tablespoon canola oil. Then rub all over with the chipotle mixture, massaging it into the meat until well coated.

In a grill pan or large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat, warm remaining tablespoon of canola oil. Place the tenderloin in the skillet and cook, turning it over to ensure even browning on all sides, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to the roasting pan and cook until a meat thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the tenderloin reads 140 degrees, about 15 minutes. Pork tenderloin cooks quickly, especially depending on your oven’s heat. Cover the pork tenderloin with a tinfoil and let rest for 5 to 7 minutes before slicing for extra juicy pieces.

Serving suggestions: Any of the following sides would pair deliciously with this chipotle-cocoa rubbed pork tenderloin: Mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, sweet corn, sauteed zucchini and onions, grilled vegetables, roasted asparagus, coleslaw, jicama and cucumber salad, watermelon and feta salad.

Get Your Coupons for Free Pork Burgers!


UPDATE: August 29, 2011
Dear Readers,
Thank you for your comments. Due to a larger than expected number of responses, we are sorry to say that we have run out of coupons. The “No Ordinary Burger” contest, however, is still open. So please continue to submit your recipes through September 6th. Once again, thank you for your participation.


What’s better than a burger?  A pork burger. What’s better than a pork burger? A FREE pork burger. And we’ve lots of them to give away! Want some coupons for free pork burgers? It’s easy. If you have already submitted a recipe to the No Ordinary Burger Contest,” simply tell us about the recipe in the comment section below. Each person who does so will receive 10 coupons (while supplies last), each good for a free box of Johnsonville pork burgers. And if you enter a recipe by September 6th, the contest’s end date, come back and tell us about the recipe you submitted.

The “No Ordinary Burger Contest,” sponsored by Johnsonville Sausage and The National Pork Board, asks folks just like you to submit their own awesome pork burger recipes using new Johnsonville Original Bratwurst or Mild Italian Sausage Patties. To enter, just log on to now through September 6th, submit your recipe, and vote for your favorite pork burger.

Two grand prize winners will:

*Receive a YEAR’s WORTH of GROCERIES from Walmart.


*Have their recipes featured on Johnsonville Bratwurst and Italian Sausage Patty boxes.


Here are some tasty tips to get you started on your burger makeover:

*Make it tropical: Summertime fruits and veggies make great burger toppings.

*Double up the pork: Pork up your burger by adding pepperoni, bacon, or ham.

*Be cheesy: Because a burger without cheese is like a sundae without a cherry on top.

*Play up your family’s favorite flavors: Sweet mustard? Tangy barbecue sauce? Grilled peppers? You tell us.

*Elevate your sides: Got a super side dish like coleslaw or baked beans? Pile ‘em on!

*Think beyond the bun: Hamburger buns, pita bread, lettuce wraps, it’s up to you.

Good luck!

Grilling Brats for Tailgating


The last couple of weeks were big for pro football. The NFL lockout ended. Camps finally started. Chad Ochocinco promised to behave now that he’s on the Patriots. Peyton Manning became $90 million richer. And thousands of fans across the country thanked the football gods for this resolution and celebrated by digging out their tailgating gear from their basements.

Football camp get players ready to play. I suggest football fans have tailgating camp to get ready to cook and eat. Try to do too much, too quickly, and you could end up with loose jumbalaya and burned burgers. So let’s start simply with one of tailgating’s most popular foods, bratwurst, or informally “brats.”

First, remember that it’s “brot” like “lot,” not “brat “ like the neighbor’s unruly kid, and that a pair of links is a “double brot.” Got it?

Bratwurst is a German pork sausage that is usually grilled, placed inside a buttered and toasted hard roll, and smothered with any number of condiments, especially spicy brown mustard, pickles, onions, and sauerkraut.

You can buy brats just about anywhere meat is sold: at the butcher’s, the supermarket, and big box stores. Avoid the “pre-cooked” brats which aren’t as tasty as the uncooked originals.

Before you cook brats, you need to give them a beer bath — something a lot of male football fans would gladly do — by submersing them in beer. Be careful not to boil them, or the casings could burst, and you’ll have a bratsplosion to clean up. Just before they reach a boil, you’ve got to either lower the heat to simmer or simply turn off. This will lock in both moisture and flavor and help the meat cook more thoroughly from the inside.

The you’ve got to grill your brats. That’s easy. And you can drink the rest of the beer you opened while you’re doing it.

Don’t serve bratwurst in a hot dog bun. Use a brat bun (if you live in places such as Sheboygan, Wisconsin that actually sells them), or choose a muscular, crusty roll with good chew. Place your condiments on the brats, but remember brat law #23: no yellow mustard and, in many places, no ketchup are not allowed. (I don’t make the laws, I just report them.)

Finally, you must wash down your brat with a cold beer. There’s even a name for it: “bratwash.” Man, I love the Germans.


Bratwurst, recipe from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches by Susan Russo

Makes 2 sandwiches

2 uncooked bratwurst sausages (about 3/4 pound total)

1 bottle plus 2 ounces good beer, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for brushing rolls

1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon spicy mustard

2 oblong hard rolls

1/4 cup sauerkraut, drained of excess liquid.

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high. In a large pot over high heat, cover sausages with 1 bottle of the beer. Just before it reaches a full oil, turn off heat. Remove sausages and place on heated grill. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned and crisp, approximately 12 to 15 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.
  2. Warm olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and sugar; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and caramelized, about 10 to 12 minutes. In a small bowl, mixd remaining 2 ounces of the beer and mustard until mustard dissolved. Pour over onions; cook over medium heat until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Slice rolls in half lengthwise. Brush with olive oil and toast on grill 1 to 2 minutes, or until gold and crisp. Scoop sauerkraut onto rolls. Top with cooked sausages and onions. Eat immediately.

Photo credits: Flickr Creative Commons, JamieLWilliamsPhoto; Matt Armendariz from The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches

How to Make Moist, Tender Pork Chops


When I told my mother-in-law that I was writing for the National Pork Board, the first thing she said was, “Oh, good! Now you can tell me how to make pork chops so that they’re not all dried out.”

Well, actually, my friend, renowned chef and author Ron Oliver of San Diego’s The Marine Room is going to tell all of us how to make moist, tender pork chops. We talked chops recently, and here’s what he had to say:

1. Don’t overcook them. Most home cooks, who have been following grandma’s advice, overcook their pork chops. According to the new USDA guidelines, pork chops, roasts, and tenderloins can safely be cooked to medium-rare at 145 degrees, not. 160, followed by a 3-minute rest period. Keep in mind that the 15 degree difference will yield a finished product that is likely moister and pinker than you may be used to which is perfectly safe.

2. Choose quality pork. Oliver likes heirloom pigs such as Berkshires because they are genetically predisposed to be juicy and flavorful. He also suggests buying meat that has not been frozen. Berkshire pork can be found at specialty meat markets, independent butchers, and Whole Foods stores. For more consumer tips on Berkshire pork, check out

3. Marinate or brine the meat before cooking. Thinner chops, say less than 3/4-inch- thick, should be marinated and cooked like a steak, over high heat and quickly. For a fast and easy marinade, buy a salad dressing, like an Italian vinaigrette and marinate the chops for 30 to 60 minutes in the refrigerator before grilling or searing. A trick Oliver uses it to make a pesto mayonnaise (equal parts of each) and spread a thin layer on the chops, then place them directly on the grill. He says the mayonnaise acts as both a lubricant and a marinade, and caramelizes nicely on the grill. THICK CHOPS, say 1-inch and bigger, should be brined and cooked longer. Oliver says to use about 1/2 cup kosher or sea salt and 1/2 cup brown sugar, maple, or honey for 1 quart of liquid such as apple cider; other liquids such as water, pomegranate juice, or a combination of fruit juices works well too. Brine for 2 to 4 hours in the refrigerator.. Chops can be grilled, baked in the oven, or cooked on the stove top. Oliver prefers to place the chops on a very hot grill until nicely seared, then turn the heat down to medium, and cook them slowly until the desired doneness is reached.

So there you have it: Three simple steps to making moist, tender pork chops. If you’ve got your own tips or questions, please share them below.

For more information about Chef Ron Oliver, please visit his blog, Chef Ron, where you can find inspired recipes such as his Big, Fat Pork Chops with Summer Plum Compote, and purchase a copy of his award-winning cookbook, Flying Pans, Two Chefs One World, co-written with Executive Chef Bernard Guillas of The Marine Room.

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons, StuartWebster.

Prosciutto 101 and Cookbook Give-Away for Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter.


Americans love eating prosciutto, just not necessarily buying it. Buying prosciutto, an Italian dry-cured ham, can be confusing. Should you choose prosciutto di Parma or prosciutto San Daniele? Why does it always have to sliced “paper-thin”? Fortunately, there are people like Mark Scarbrough who can demystify the prosciutto-buying process. Indeed, he and his partner Bruce Weinstein, both renowned cookbook authors, can tell you just about everything you’d ever want to know about a pig’s derriere and have done so in their witty, informative cookbook Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2010).

I asked Scarbrough to talk some prosciutto. Here’s what he had to say:

Q: I’m seeing prosciutto everywhere from bistros to the supermarket deli. What do you think has led to its expanding popularity?

It’s really all about accessibility. When I was a kid, prosciutto just wasn’t–at least in north Texas in the early ’70s. Oh, maybe it was in some Italian deli somewhere, but we Baptists never went there. We wouldn’t know what to do if we walked in a store and saw a picture of the Pope. Anyway, prosciutto is now available in most supermarkets at the deli counter–and so you don’t have to risk the wrath of your Protestant minister to enjoy it. Plus, you don’t have to drive across town. Always a key.

Q: Buying prosciutto can be confusing. What’s the difference between prosciutto crudo and prosciutto cotto?

Although we in the United States talk about “prosciutto” as the justifiably famous, Italian, dried, cured ham, “prosciutto” is just the Italian word for the cut of pork, not the process to make it. Basically, “prosciutto” is “ham.” So it’s more accurate to call the prosciutto we usually buy “prosciutto crudo”–that is, “raw ham.” Raw? Yep, because it’s cured without being cooked. Got any friends into those crunchy, all-carrot, raw-food diets? Tell them you’re into raw food, too. You love prosciutto crudo. If you want a cooked ham, you want “prosciutto cotto,” best for slicing for sandwiches and wraps.

Q: What’s the difference between prosciutto di Parma and prosciutto San Daniele? Do you prefer one over the other?

You’re talking regional differences here–“from Parma” and “from San Daniele.” Parma, in central Italy, is where the famous Parmigiano-Reggiano is made. Originally, the pigs were fed the whey left over from the cheese-making process–and so the meat has a creamy tang. San Daniele is up in the northeastern Fruili region of Italy–the meat itself tends to have more pronounced sweet notes because of the earthier, less cheesy diet of the pigs. Bruce and I don’t really stand on ceremony when it comes to one over the other, although I will say that I prefer “di Parma” with fruits like figs, peaches, or grapes. Di San Daniele is terrific in baguette sandwiches with crunchy Romaine lettuce.

Q: How should prosciutto be sliced, and why?

Most often, prosciutto crudo is sliced paper thin–and on an industrial meat slicer. It’s almost impossible to shave it that thin at home because 1) our knives are not sharp enough, 2) they’re also not thin enough, and 3) we’re not steady enough after the first glass of Prosecco. However, it’s also great to get a chunk of prosciutto crudo and dice it into small cubes at home. You can use these in a stew or braise, frying them up as you would bacon. You’ll end up with a cleaner, sweeter finish without smoky notes.

Q: If someone doesn’t have access to a good Italian deli, where should he buy it?

Prosciutto crudo is available at the deli counter of most large supermarkets. We’ve got both di Parma and di San Daniele at our local Stop-&-Shop in rural Connecticut! If possible, look for the large hams in the deli case. And look at the hams themselves. Make sure they haven’t dried out from long storage. The meat should be firm and still moist, not cracked or flaky. If so, tell your supermarket to order another ham!

Q: What is the most delicious prosciutto you’ve ever eaten?

I do love culatello, a particularly fatty version of prosciutto crudo (and a bit of an Italian vulgarity in its name). It’s quite rich, almost achingly so, sort of like a cross between lardo (cured pig fat) and di San Daniele. It’s heaven on a hot afternoon with a cool drink in hand.

Q: The best way to eat prosciutto is ….

For breakfast. I love it instead of bacon–with a little cheese, too. It’s an easy start to the day.

Q: When it comes to prosciutto, you should never ….

Hesitate. Because it’s sliced paper-thin, you want to eat it within the next 24 hours. This is not a buy-it-on-Monday-eat-it-on-Saturday affair. Those paper-thin slices can dry out, even when wrapped between sheets of butcher paper or wax paper and sealed in a plastic bag. And once out of the bag, you need to eat it fairly quickly, within an hour at the most. Although sliced prosciutto crudo should be stored in the fridge, it’ll taste best at room temperature–so unwrap a slice or two in the morning, then make your coffee. By the time you’re ready to eat, the ham will be perfect.

Q: To me, prosciutto is…

An easily-found, artisanal product. You don’t have to drive two hundred miles to some small farm or order it over the internet. It’s most likely available where you shop on a regular basis. And if not, may I suggest finding a better supermarket?

For more pork inspiration and scrumptious food writing, visit Mark and Bruce’s blog, Real Food Has Curves.

Now for the give-away! 5 lucky readers will each receive a copy of  Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter. Simply leave a comment below saying why you’d like to receive the book. Want more chances to win? Tweet about this post and mention @porkandknife! Winners will be announced Monday, August 7th.


Saltimbocca-Style Chicken Breasts, recipe from Ham: An Obsession with the Hindquarter

Makes 4 hearty servings

4 (5-ounce ) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

8 paper-thin prosciutto crudo slices

32 basil leaves

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 medium garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup dry Marsala or dry Madeira

1/4 teaspoons salt

1. Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap on your work surface. Place the 4 breasts on it, spacing them several inches apart. Top with a second sheet of plastic wrap, then pound cutlets to 1/4-inch thickness using the smooth side of a meat mallet. Peel off plastic wrap and set breasts aside.

2. Place a piece of prosciutto on a cutting board. Lay 4 basil leaves on the prosciutto, then top these with 1 pounded chicken breast, laying it on the prosciutto so that the pointy ends of both match up. Lay 4 more basil leaves on the breast, then sprinkle with a pinch of nutmeg. Lay a second prosciutto slice over the breast in the same direction as the slice below and under so that the whole thing looks like a stuffed prosciutto pancake. Set aside and repeat this step 3 times.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, then swirl in the oil. Add the wrapped chicken breasts and cook 5 minutes on either side, until the prosciutto is lightly browned and even a little crisp and the chicken inside is cooked through. How can you tell if they’re done? You can cut into one with a knife to find out. Or you can try to stick an instant-read meat thermometer right into the meat without the probe poking through and hitting the skillet beneath– in which case the temperature should read about 165 degrees F. Transfer the packets to four serving plates.

4. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the skillet, then add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms give up their liquid and it boils down to a thick glaze.

5. Pour in the wine and bring to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the amount of liquid in the skillet has been reduced to half its original volume, about 2 minutes. No need to measure; just eyeball it.

6. Remove the skillet from the heat and swirl in the remaining 2 teaspoons butter and the salt until the butter melts. Divide this sauce among the four serving plates with the cooked chicken cutlets.

Top photo courtesy, Flickr Creative Commons, Rubber Slippers in Italy. Second photo, Susan Russo.