Saturday, December 27, 2014

Scallopini di Vitello al Marsala

     Veal Marsala!
     I learned this recipe at the first Italian restaurant that I apprenticed in.  The sauté chef at that restaurant was phenomenally good!  I have never seen a better Italian sauté chef since.  His accuracy and classic Italian style presentations of each plate were excellent.
     The restaurant was sold and the new owner lost the business many years ago.  Its a nice surprise when I am talking to someone and I mention that long gone restaurant, just to see if they knew of the place.  Those who remember, get a smile on their face and give a reply of "Oh yes, I remember that place.  The food was very good there!"

    Apprenticing at that little Italian restaurant was worth it.  I worked 14 hours a day and I was paid less than $50.00 dollars per day.  Most cooking school chefs attend classes or instruction for only 7 hours per day.  Believe me, a novice cook learns much more about cooking techniques when apprenticing.
     A better foundation for becoming a chef can be accomplished by apprenticing and working as a cook for five years, before stepping through the door of a culinary arts college.  I apprenticed in several restaurants for 5 solid years.  Most of the restaurant chefs were fine French, Swiss, German and Italian.  I learned a lot about classic European cuisine!

     After ten years in the business I was expected to instruct externs from culinary arts schools.  Most chef school interns were resentful over having to work with a chef who had never attended school.
     During the first major business rush on a busy night, I usually found the "head strong" intern cooks freaking out under the pressure of cooking for several hundred people in a fine dining atmosphere.  I ended up doing a lot of double duty work, till the the panic stricken extern regained some composure.  Believe me, that first major business rush is not easy to handle for an inexperienced extern to handle.

     I was good at teaching efficiency, speed, timing, safe food handling and solid cooking techniques to extern cooks who were new to the business.  I was a "slave driver" when it came to keeping a kitchen healthy and clean through the nights business.  Once externs were familiar with the basics, they were on their way learning finer points.  
     One of the most difficult kitchen duties to teach is sauté and saucier station work.  I was a fine dining restaurant sauté cook and saucier for a couple of decades.  Veal Marsala is one of the best recipes to teach cooks who are new to the game.  

     Glacé Viande:
     Glacé Viande is like a rich Italian Dark Roasted Veal & Beef Broth.  Follow this link to the recipe:
     • Glacé Viande
     Scallopini di Vitello al Marsala:
     This recipe yields 1 entrée.
     A rich dark roasted Veal & Beef Broth or a thin Glacé Viande is required for this recipe.  A French Veal & Beef Stock is okay, but Italian chefs do not use a French style stock.  
     The choice of Italian Marsala is important.  It takes less aged Marsala to flavor the sauce, than it does when using a Marsala that was not aged for at least 1 year in oak barrels.        
     Step 1:  Cut a 6 to 7 ounce portion of 3 to 4 small escallops from a tender section of veal leg.  (Never use the tough sections like the flank or mock tenderloin for scallopini.)
     Gently pound the veal escallops, till they become thin and even with the flat side of a meat mallet or a wine bottle.
     Lightly dredge the veal escallops in flour and set them aside.  (Do not stack the veal escallops on top of each other or they will sweat and stick to each other like glue.)
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of pomace olive oil.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Place the floured veal scallopini in the pan.
     Shake the pan gently, so the veal does not stick.
     Sauté the veal on both sides, till it just starts to get a few golden highlights.
     Step 3:  Push the scallopini to one side of the pan.
     Add 1 minced garlic clove to the oil in the pan.
     Add 2 teaspoons of minced shallot to the oil in the pan.
     Add 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Sauté and toss, till the mushrooms become tender and light golden brown highlights appear on the veal.
     Step 4:  Add 1 cup of imported Italian marsala wine.  
     Add 1 1/2 cups of thin Glacé Viande.
     Scrape and deglaze the bits of suc (fonde) from the bottom of the pan.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it becomes a thin glacé sauce consistency.
     Take the pan off the heat!

     Overlap the scallopini across the front half of a plate in a row.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it can glaze the back of a spoon.  (If the sauce becomes too thick, add a splash of Marsala and bring the sauce to a quick boil.)
     Spoon the mushrooms over the half of the scallopini row that is closest to the center of the plate.  (It is nice to expose a portion of the veal instead of completely covering it with mushrooms.)
     Pour the marsala sauce over the veal and mushrooms.
     Serve with a vegetable and starch of your choice.
     *the entrée in the photos was accompanied by al dente Campanelle Pasta that flavored with melted plugra butter and Italian Parsley.  Steamed buttered Sweet Snap Peas were also served.
     No garnish is necessary!
     The translucent deep brown Marsala Sauce is very appealing to the eyes.  The aroma and flavor of this simple recipe is simply delicious!  Ciao Baby!    

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