By Paul Suplee
I wake up starving. by stomach is grumbling as I stir in this comfortable bed in Atlantic City. Here for a food show, I think about the money I won on the blackjack table last night and then immediately my mind goes to dinner.
Oh, dinner. Oh, you comedy of errors.
For the first time in many years, I asked for the manager and flat-out refused to pay for an ounce of food that was on our plate. As we stared down at our two steaks delivered at 12:30 a.m. at the casino’s eponymous café (known for celebrating loud and raucous music), I could not believe that they would even serve them.
But let’s back up to pre-dinner. After freshening up, we went to the lobby to get a drink. One round was $36, so we decided to forego that activity and get a bite to eat. Three employees told us that nowhere was open, except for the burger joint on the second floor. After checking Yelp, we indeed found a restaurant that was open until 1 a.m. It was the hotel’s flagship restaurant … in their own casino. One security guard even looked at us when we asked and said, “Go walk to the back corner of the hotel and see if they’re open.” If only the man had a radio on his hip. Wait a minute; he did.
Now, understand that you will rarely, and I mean rarely see or hear me complain about food. However, my day looked something like this: Kickoff was at 6:00 a.m. I taught most of the day, set up the kitchen at my restaurant (my sous chef is in Greece for two weeks), worked until 7:45 p.m. and then drove three hours to Atlantic City. My schedule allows for little wiggle room these days, and I sunk into the booth, melting as I waited for dinner to come. Finally, I could relax.
As soon as the steaks were set on the table, my heart broke. I was crushed, knowing that this poor cow has given its life quite unwittingly for nothing. The grill marks were barely visible and these morsels were grey and steaming. They looked unappetizing, and I knew exactly why.
As I stared down at $60, I knew what the line had done. They were irritated with their late guests, I guess. And this is precisely why they microwaved our “medium-rare” steaks. I cut into mine and a poof of steam reminiscent of a nuclear mushroom cloud bellowed from my well-done chunk of flesh; the steak literally curled when I cut it.
I wasted no time. I haven’t gotten away since July 2018 and I was relaxed until this point, but a manager was needed. He was apologetic and certainly could not deny that the steaks were grossly mishandled. I know, maybe I’m taking this too far, but after 18 hours running, it hit me the wrong way.
Not one to let it ruin the evening, or at this point morning, I spent about 40 minutes playing blackjack. I finished ahead; we had the aforementioned burger, and went to bed.
The moment I woke up, I flashed back to seeing a billboard for Carmine’s, that magnificent New York Italian eatery, upon entering Atlantic City. I at once recalled the chicken picatta I ate at Carmine’s in The Atlantis in the Bahamas. And now I’m starving. At least I know what I’m eating for lunch.
1.5 pound Boneless chicken breast, skin removed
1 Tbsp. Brown butter (recipe follows)
1 Tbsp. EV Olive oil
1/4 cup AP Flour, sifted
1 Tbsp. Trimix (recipe follows)
2 cups Fresh chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon
1 more lemon, cut into slices and seeded
1/2 bunch Italian parsley, minced
1/4 cup Capers, drained of their juice
- Carefully cut the chicken into scaloppini
- Pound them carefully, ensuring that you do not rip through them
- Heat a sauté pan and add butter and the olive oil until hot, but not smoking
- Combine the flour and trimix in a plate, and dredge the chicken breasts
- Add the breasts to the oil mixture and sauté, flipping until they are cooked through, browned but not burned anywhere on the chicken. Adjust the heat accordingly
- When the chicken is cooked, remove from the pan
- Add the lemon juice and slices and cook for 15 seconds to deglaze the pan
- Add the chicken stock, parsley and capers and combine well
- Divide among four plates and serve with sautéed asparagus, broccoli rabe, or your choice of refreshing greens
makes about 1.5 cups
1 pound Unsalted butter
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat until liquefied
- As the butter melts, skim the foam off of the top
- As the water cooks out of the bottom layer, it will start to darken. This is what you want
- Allow this to cook until the butter starts to brown and develops a nutty, brown essence
- Remove and strain through cheesecloth to remove any particulates
- Refrigerate if not needed immediately, or use if you are ready to go
1 part Kosher salt
1 part Ground black pepper
1 part Granulated garlic
- Combine well and set aside until needed. Keep this on hand, and use it in most instances where you would use salt and pepper