Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Veal Chops with Cherry-Port Reduction and Saffron Polenta

I learned from a really early age from my grandmother (my Dad's mom) to save rendered fat-- drippings from bacon, turkey, beef, pork, chorizo's/sausages and of course, duck.  My family is very frugal (not cheap) that they would save anything worth saving.  My Papa, God bless his soul, used them as substitute for Vicks(tm) and rubbed us with rendered grease when we have colds or fever when we were little.  It used to drive my mother crazy since we would be smelling of chorizo or adobo, *LOL*!

Duck fat is all the rave these days. And why not? It's smooth, creamy and tasty. It makes food taste extra special-- especially when used for fried rice, yum!

Bill and I were just at Serpas Foods, our favorite restaurant in Atlanta, with friends.  I had the trout, and it was excellent!  Nikki and Jen ordered the scallops and fisherman's stew respectively, both superb, and Bill had the veal chops, which was good, but not Scott Serpas good-- meaning, they were just okay.  He was disappointed that our favorite chef in Atlanta did not favor him with a gastronomique high this time.  What I think happened was that the veal chops were not allowed to rest -- it was bloody when he cut into them and was dry before he finished them.  So when I found these very sexy veal chops at TJ's, I knew that I needed to get my hands on them and give it a try.  I paired it with equally sexy saffron laced polenta.

Cherries and Port Reduction

1/2 cup Port
1/2 cup Balsamic vinegar (use inexpensive kind, like a 3-year-old)
1 cup beef stock
1 cup frozen pitted cherries
1 T butter
2 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Combine port, balsamic vinegar, beef stock and cherries in a heavy bottom sauce pan, bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium flame.  Allow to reduce by one fourth.  Add herbs and continue to reduce.  When the liquid has reduced by half, remove herbs and remove sauce from heat.  Whisk in the butter until it is completely combined with the sauce.  Set aside.

Veal Chops
(recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine)

3 1 ¼ inch thick veal chops
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 t ground allspice
1 T fresh thyme, chopped
2 T duck fat or olive oil, divided

Massage each side of veal chops with salt, pepper, allspice, thyme and duck fat. Let it sit/marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before cooking.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Heat a heavy bottom skillet over medium-high heat. Sear until brown, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining veal chops. Place chops in oven and roast until cooked to desired doneness, about 5 minutes for medium-rare (135°F). Allow the veal chops to rest for about 5-7 minutes before serving.

Saffron Polenta

2 T duck fat or olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
5 cups chicken broth
1 ½ t sea salt
1/2 t saffron threads
1 cup medium-grain polenta (coarse cornmeal)

In a heavy bottom saucepan, heat duck fat over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add broth, salt, and saffron, bring to boil. Add polenta and cook, stirring constantly, until polenta boils and starts to thicken, about 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low, and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover the saucepan and simmer the polenta until cooked through and very thick, about 7-10 minutes.

Oven-grilled Asparagus Spears

1 lb fresh asparagus
1 T duck fat or olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. If the stalks of the asparagus are thick, peel the bottom half of each. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with duck fat or olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

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