Friday, May 1, 2015

Kentucky Derby Pecan Crusted Pork Cutlet with Mint Julep Vidalia Onions

     Kentucky Derby Day! 
     The Kentucky Derby is tradition at its best.  Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, is like no other place on earth.  The first time that I walked through the old grandstand section was truly inspirational.  You can literally feel the history and the ghosts of the past in that old building.
     I never used to miss a handicapping contest in Las Vegas, especially during the Triple Crown qualifying race season.  I played the horses everyday for many years and pretty much made a living at this game.  Horse race wagering is the most difficult gambling game that there is and the money management involved can really put the nerves to the test.
     In the 1980's I worked in a French café that had a chef who really liked horse racing.  Most of the cafés clientele were millionaires from an exclusive island community.  These kind of people tend to show off on Kentucky Derby Day and place big wagers on the race.  On Kentucky Derby Day we offered Kentucky Derby Pecan Crusted Veal Cutlet as a special du jour.  The sauce that day was the chef's creation and it really did not do the entrée justice.  It was a mint flavored bourbon sauce made with instant beef bouillon and corn starch.  Corn starch thickened sauces are kind of taboo in fine dining cuisine for many reasons.  One reason is that when a cheap corn starch sauce cools, it has the texture of pudding.
     Years went by and I decided to improve the recipe.  Mint and bourbon flavored sweet vidalia onions is better suited for a pecan crusted cutlet.  Every bite tastes like savory pecans with a light Mint Julep chaser.  Since this recipe has a Kentucky theme, a pork loin cutlet is also a better choice than veal.  This all adds up to a fantastic tasting entrée for Kentucky Derby Day!
     Pecan Crusted Pork Cutlet with Mint Julep Vidalia Onions:
     This recipe yields 1 entree.
     Step 1:  Pound a 6 ounce pork loin cutlet flat and thin with a mallet or wine bottle.
     Dredge the pork cutlet in flour that is seasoned with sea salt and black pepper.
     Dip the floured cutlet in buttermilk.
     Dredge the cutlet in a mixture of 50% plain fine French bread crumbs and 50% finely chopped pecans.
     Step 2:  Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Wait for the butter to turn a light golden color.
     Step 3:  Sauté the pecan breaded pork cutlet on both sides, till it is a golden brown color.  (Flip the cutlet twice to prevent the pecans from scorching!)
     Remove the cutlet from pan and set it on a wire screen roasting rack over a drip pan to drain off any excess butter.
     Keep the cutlet warm on a stove top.
     Step 4:  Place a sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/3 cup of small chopped sweet vidalia onion.
     Sauté the onions till they turn clear in color.
     Step 5:  Add 1/3 cup of Kentucky Bourbon.
     Add 1/4 cup of beef stock.
     Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid by half.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint leaves.
     Simmer and reduce the liquid, till it is nearly evaporated.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, while stirring, to finish the mint julep vidalia onions.
     Remove the pan from the heat.
     Step 7:  Place the cutlet on a plate.
     Spoon the mint julep vidalia onions over the pecan crusted pork cutlet.
     Accompanying Southern Style Vegetables:
     • Apple wedges that are stewed with cinnamon, sugar and butter are nice with this entrée.
     • Sliced yellow squash and sliced leek sautéed in butter seasoned with black pepper and sea salt is a nice modern southern style vegetable.
     • Fried slices of ripe plantain are southern Florida favorite.  Fried plantains are a nice alternative to sweet potato.
     This Kentucky style entree is delicious!  The flavors are comfortably warm and friendly.  This is my favorite entrée to offer as a special du jour on Kentucky Derby Day! 

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