By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
I enjoy teaching. I gave cooking classes when I was a club and market chef, and they were enjoyable, albeit a tremendous amount of work. In the end, folks were able to eat some good food and perhaps learn a trick or two. I especially enjoyed when a guest would chime in with a better way to do something that I was demonstrating — I always love to learn new things.
Nothing has changed now that I am a “real” teacher. Now in my 13th year as a professional (I use that term loosely) educator, I enjoy the lesson that packs in a great many teachable moments and in the end, an assessment that is a pleasure to eat.
Last week I walked students in the basic class through a standard breading station: the classic ‘dry-wet-dry’ setup with seasoned flour, egg wash, and a breading of some sort. I decided to jump in with a chicken cutlet, but this works great with veal, pork (schnitzel) and shrimp et al.
It is a simple but important technique to have. I will not be writing about the breading station today, however, because I don’t have enough space after writing such lofty and scintillating recipes for the fresh pasta and lemon-leek cream. I can’t do it all, people. I can’t do it all.
Important to note here is that you will be experience three very different techniques in this recipe; breading, fresh pasta, and a pan cream sauce. These are invaluable skills for the experienced cook and I certainly don’t want to say that you do not know how to do these things. I am simply stating that they are good skills to learn if you do not already have them.
The lemon-leek cream is slightly reminiscent of a Thomas Keller beurre blanc. He cheats when he adds the heavy cream to his famous sauce, but I don’t care. And if TK can do it, then it’s good enough for me. No purist pride here.
One note that I did put in the recipe is that the cream sauce, because of the leeks, shallots, cream and butter, takes on a sweeter overtone. This can be simply contrasted by adding some capers, those beautiful, salty little bastards that work wonderfully with lemon.
And lastly, the fresh pasta. Oh, fresh pasta. If you’ve been reading this column for the past 15 years, what can I say? This isn’t the first time that I’ve bored you to tears with it. Too bad. Truly one of my favorite foods, fresh pasta is also one of my favorite things to teach. The touch, the smell and the taste. To me, probably one of the most wonderful things to learn how to cook. And with a little practice, you will understand why.
Chicken Cutlet, Fresh Papardelle, Lemon-Leek Cream
1 # fresh pasta (recipe follows)
4 cooked chicken breasts, tenderized, breaded.
1 qt. Lemon-Leek cream (recipe follows)
Broadleaf parsley, as garnish
1. Cook the pasta in salted water for 2-3 minutes
2. Remove and immediately place it in the lemon-leek cream
3. Stir and divide into four bowls
4. Top with breaded chicken cutlet and garnish with broadleaf parsley
makes one pound
2 1/2 c. Hi-gluten flour or semolina (preferred)
1 tsp. Salt
3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
heavy cream, as needed
1. I was taught a few years ago by a Sicilian chef to use a paddle in a stand mixer for pasta dough. Using the dough hook takes too long, and it is rather amazing how quickly this dough comes together with the aforementioned paddle.
2. Put the flour, salt, egg yolks and egg in the mixer with the paddle and let her rip.
3. One caveat: You can always add dry ingredients to a wet dough, but it is nigh impossible to add liquid to a bone-dry dough. So, as you mix this, add cream as needed to ensure that it isn’t too dry.
4. When the dough comes together in a tight but pliable ball, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for one hour.
5. When ready, simply roll it out and cut into the shape that you desire. In this case, pappardelle works wonders with the rich, creamy lemon sauce.
makes about 1 quart
1/2 c. Whole salted butter
4 leek whites, julienne and cleaned
2 shallots, finely minced
3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
2 c. Dry white wine
Juice and rind of 3 lemons
3 c. Heavy cream
Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Heat the whole butter in a pan.
2. When some of the foam has subsided, add the leeks and shallots and cook for 6 minutes.
3. When they are nice and translucent, add the garlic and cook for another three minutes, making sure not to burn anything.
4. Add the wine and reduce by half.
5. Add the lemon juice and rind and cook for a couple minutes.
6. Add the cream and, stirring regularly, cook until it reduces and thickens. This can take a while, so be patient.
7. Taste and adjust the seasoning with the salt and pepper. If you feel that it needs more lemon, then add some more lemon. And a few capers could be added for that salty “pop” to counteract this naturally sweet sauce.
8. Keep warm until ready to toss the pasta.
—Paul Suplee is a Professor of Culinary Arts
at Wor-Wic Community College and owner of boxcar40.
Visit him at www.boxcar40.com.