Buon giorno! Please accept my apologies in not posting sooner, but it has been a busy couple of weeks……Spring Break for our 9-year-old daughter……she is studying the Revolutionary War, so we spent a week exploring all the historic sites of Philadelphia, my hometown……and Émilie had her first cheesesteak……yum!
When Émilie & I returned from Philadelphia, my poor husband needed some TLC…a good homecooked meal, a nice bottle of wine, and a good movie…is there anything better? I love preparing “special” dinners for my husband & myself…sometimes, it is just more fun to open a great bottle of wine, make a fire (hint…when it gets this warm outside, we turn on the A/C so we can have the fire…once in a while you just have splurge on ambiance), have a nice dinner, watch a great movie, snuggle, and relax…is there anything better? Well, to make that evening perfect…you also want to prepare something easy, light (who wants to fall asleep during the movie), and full of flavor…the answer: veal rib chops, “skinny” eggplant parmesean, and a great citrusy salad. Admittedly, veal rib chops are difficult to find, and they are expensive…but if you can find them locally, by all means splurge & buy two for you and your significant other…if you cannot find them, no worries…I have the link for you! Marx Foods is a family-run business whose guiding philosophy is, “a meal can never be better than its ingredients”. Marx Foods truly is a phenomenal online source for all those hard-to-find, wonderful items that sometimes you just got to have……at wholesale prices! The veal rib chops are sold in packs of 10 (each rib chop weighs a pound, and 7o% of this is easily meat). The cost includes shipping (when I compare their prices to what is available locally for veal, especially in terms of quality, I know I am getting a true bargain), & the rib chops arrive frozen, which means that all you have to do is pop them in the freezer and pull out 2 or more veal rib chops for that “special” occasion you wish to celebrate! The chops are so flavorful, juicy, tender……and are approximately 460 calories per chop……and contain approximately 53 grams of protein……you cannot get any better than that! You will adore the lemon-garlic-sage sauce served with the chops……your senses will go wild! I love serving the veal with my “skinny” eggplant parmesan……delicious, packed with flavor, but not with the calories, because the eggplant is roasted……not breaded & fried……the roasting caramelizes the eggplant slices, imparting a sweetness that is simply beyond words……this is truly one of my favorite meals……complete this entrée with a refreshing citrusy-frisée salad……the salad cleanses the palate in anticipation of another buttery bite of veal or hearty taste of eggplant! I hope you like this meal as much as we do……even Émilie loves it! Finish with a little sorbetto, and you will feel transported to one of the hill towns in Tuscany……mangia tutti!
“Skinny” Eggplant Parmesan
Barolo……or Your Favorite Red……
Veal Rib Chops with a Lemon-Sage-Garlic Sauce
– allow 1 rib chop per person
1. If you decide to purchase the veal chops from Marx Foods, put the chops in the freezer as soon as they arrive. Always remember to remove the chops a 1½ days in advance to adequately thaw in the frig……
2. Once thawed, remove the chops from their vacuum packaging, rinse & dry with a paper towel, and grind a little fresh black pepper over the chops on both sides, place on a baking sheet, and return to the frig……I like how the pepper just flavors the meat……you can do this anytime prior to cooking……
3. Let’s prepare the sauce ingredients……chop or press both garlic cloves (personally, I chop because I hate cleaning the garlic press……yes, I am that lazy), mince the shallot, finely chop the sage leaves, and zest only one of the lemons (I love both the Oxo & the Microplane® zesters……& both are readily available for purchase from their respective websites, as well as from Amazon……you can’t go wrong with either one) then “juice” the “zested” lemon……lastly, slice the second lemon into ¼-inch slices (just eyeball this……you want the lemon slices thin and pretty……if the slices are too thin, they will fall apart), quarter each slice, so that you have 4 little “quarter” slices……remove the seeds & set aside.
“easy” pearl for juicing lemons……this is easy……cut the lemon in half, and either squeeze each half really hard, cut side up to present the seeds from going into the juice, so you do not have to fish them out……or make this really easy on yourself……there are a gazillion different citrus juicers on the market, from “reamers” to “hand-held” juicers……& they range in price from $9.00 for a wooden reamer at Williams-Sonoma to their newest cool gadget, the Chef’n Citrus Juicer, which I recently purchased and adore……it is only $19.95, and it is a dream tool……alot of hand-held juicers are hard on the hands……this one isn’t……if you buy one, please let me know what you think……the other great thing about the hand-held juicer……no seeds/pits in your juice!
4. In a sauté pan, pour just a smidge of olive oil in the pan, heat the oil over medium heat, add the minced shallot, and sauté for less than a minute. Reduce the heat to low, add the garlic, sage, & lemon zest, and sauté for less a minute. Add the lemon juice, a healthy tablespoon-full (do not measure……stick in your tablespoon and just “scoop” some from the jar) of veal demi-glace, and stir continuously until the demi-glace has melted. Add the wine & quartered lemon slices, stir to combine, and allow to reduce while you cook the veal chops. Salt & pepper to taste at this point, so the flavors have a chance to meld.
5. For this recipe, I prefer to pan-roast (sear on top of the stove, then finish cooking in the oven) the veal chops, rather than grill the chops, because the grilling overwhelms the flavors in this particular sauce. Preheat your oven to 375º. Remove the chops from the frig, and allow to sit at room temperature for 15-30 minutes……during this time, bake your “skinny” eggplant parmesans……in a skillet, heat a smidge of olive oil in a 10-inch skillet (about 2 tablespoons……again, eyeball this……) over medium heat. I do not like using higher temperatures because the meat will smoke once it is placed in the pan, and you have “splatter” all over your kitchen……and it is a pain to clean up, right? Meanwhile, “salt” the meat on the side you are cooking first, and lay that side down in the pan. Place both chops in the pan, “salted” side down with a couple of inches of distance between the chops. Increase the temperature to medium-high, place a splatter screen over the skillet, and allow the chops to sear for about 2-3 minutes……the chops are ready to turn when you can easily detach the meat from the skillet surface with a pair of tongs……if you pull up the chop, and you meet resistance, wait another minute. Sprinkle salt on the “up” side, remove the pan from the heat, turn the chops, and return to the heat. Pan-sear for another 2-3 minutes, then place in your oven to roast and attain the internal temperature you prefer……I am a “medium” girl when it comes to veal rib chops (lightly pink is perfect for us), so I roast for about 10 minutes, then check the internal temperature with my Oxo digital thermometer……when you do this, remember to insert the themometer horizontally to correctly check the temperature……when the internal temperature reaches 150º, remove the chops from the oven……if the temperature has not yet reached 150º, continue roasting for another 5 minutes, then recheck. Place the roasted chops on a platter or dish, cover with a bowl, and allow to rest……10 minutes is ideal, as the chops will continue to cook, and the resulting internal temperature will rise to a perfectly yummy 160º……resting allows the meat’s juices to redistribute, giving you a really delicious bite when you finally cut into the chop.
6. Finishing the sauce……on the bottom of the skillet, you have incredible, delicious flavors that should never be wasted……pour the sauce into the skillet, and over medium-low heat, simply “scrape” up the “fond”……this is the term which refers to all those delicious bits of food “stuck” to a bottom of any pan after cooking, especially roasting, which you just did! Actually, you are “deglazing” the fond with your sauce, which will only improve the flavor……you will not believe how even more delicious the sauce has become……if you choose to add the butter, now is the perfect time!
7. Now you are ready to serve……place each veal chop on a dinner plate, ladle the sauce over each chop……enjoy……& don’t forget to gnaw the bone!
“Skinny” Eggplant Parmesan
– serves 2 as individual side dishes……this recipe is easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled to accomodate any size crowd you are hosting!
1. Preheat your oven to 400º.
2. Using a sharp knife or a mandoline (Oxo makes fantastic mandolines and slicers, which are available for as low as $14.95 at Williams-Sonoma), thinly slice the eggplant in ¼-inch slices. Lay the eggplant slices on a Silpat® mat-lined baking sheet (available at Amazon.com & Sur La Table……these incredible silicone mats tolerate temperatures up to 480º, are easy to clean, and last forever……and are nonstick!), spray each side with a spritz of PAM® Olive Oil Spray, and roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Check the slices……they are ready to “flip” when the slices have become a dark caramel-brown color. Roast for another 10-15 minutes, checking to make the slices do not become black. Remove from the oven & allow to cool for a couple of minutes.
“easy” pearl……The fun part of this recipe is putting this together…your kids will love helping! These are easily made in advance, and can be stored in the frig until ready to bake! I like using 4-inch ramekins…or, Le Creuset® mini cocottes, as shown above…perfect for making individual servings, and looks great on the plate! The cocottes are made of stoneware, come with individual lids, and retain heat well, so the parmesans remain yummy & warm! They are available in a wide array of colors at
Sur La Table, and come in sets of 3 for $59.95.
3. Spray each ramekin or cocotte with PAM® Olive Oil Spray. Place one eggplant slice in the ramekin, spoon a little marinara over the eggplant, then sprinkle with the mozzarella. I then like to add a dash of sea salt, a grind of pepper, and lastly, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Repeat this layering until the ramekin is full……I like to “overfill” just a smidge……finish with extra cheese.
4. Bake the individual eggplant parmesans in a 375º oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the mozzarella has nicely browned and the pamesans are bubbling around the edges. Serve and enjoy!
– serves 2 generously
1. Zest the zest from the orange and place in a small bowl. Next, remove the white pith from the fruit by cutting it away with a sharp knife. I know this sounds crazy, but squeeze the pith over the zest, as you will notice that there is fruit attached, and the juice & zest will help make a great salad dressing. Cut the fruit into bite-size pieces and set aside.
2. Take 2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves and place in a medium-size bowl. Add the frisée, which you have already cleaned & dried, and add an equal amount to the spinach in the bowl……or, add 2 handfuls of Earthbound Farm frisée salad blend, as I did here……so easy! Add the orange sections and toss together.
3. Add a generous splash of champagne vinegar to the orange juice & zest, then half as much oilve oil, whisk, and salt & pepper to taste. Pour this over the salad & toss well……serve immediately & enjoy!