Thursday, 9 January 2014

Why Some Chicks Like Flakes

Ceci con Cime di Rapa & Bresaola Croccante
Chickpeas with Cime di Rapa & Crispy Flaked Bresaola

Here, in this simple dish, you will find 3 of my favorite things- chickpeas, greens and Bresaola, combined and transformed, along with some cumin, garlic and onion into a very simple but totally delicious little meal. The thing that makes it so scrumptious is of course the crispy, salty and flaky contrast of the Bresaola to the fresh vegetables. This here is another example of how just a little of the right ingredient goes a long, long way...

Being made of cured beef and not pork, Bresaola is much leaner than regular ham, which is also the reason that it dries up so nicely and is then easy to snap into crispy little flakes. These add heaps of seasoning and good flavor to this, or any number of other dishes and make a nice change to bacon- and it is nice to try something a little different every now and again, right?

The first thing you need to do is to get a non-stick pan nice and hot and then lay out the slices of Bresaola, next to each other and not on top of each other. You will find that after a minute or so, there will be a pool of moisture beneath each slice- fear not- this is exactly what you want to happen! Simply flip the slices over and let them keep cooking away, whilst you rinse and chop your greens (just a couple of handfuls for each can of chickpeas you want to prepare) and finely dice a small onion and a clove of garlic.

After 3-4 minutes from either side, at a high heat, the Bresaola will have shrunk down in size quite a bit, have become darker in color and have stiffened up considerably... but it will also be nice and dry. The frying pan will also be bone-dry at this point, as all of the fat and moisture will quickly evaporate away... but again, fear not- because again- this is exactly what needs to happen!

Take the Bresaola out of the pan, open your can of chickpeas and add the diced onion and the juices from the can to the frying pan... hiss! Before your very eyes, all of those toasted-in juices and flavors will be deglazed from the base of the pan and the  diced onion will immediately begin soaking them up. 

Next, add the cime di rapa and the garlic, a pinch of cumin seed, a little nutmeg and of course, salt and pepper. Stir everything together well and as long as there is enough liquid in there to coat the bottom of the pan, reduce the hat and pop on the lid... add a little water if you need to, but allow the onion, garlic and greens to steam for 5 minutes.

When you remove the lid, you will find that the onion is nice and translucent and a nice golden color from the juices and that the rapa is a beautiful and vibrant green... and you will also notice how wonderfully rich the aroma already is!

Now it is time to add the chickpeas and a little smoked paprika powder, just a little more water, just to keep the base covered again and to replace the lid to keep all of the steam and therefor all of the flavor inside... and back on the heat it goes for another 5 minutes or so.

Letting things steam with just a little liquid at a time, rather than boiling them in plenty of water, lets them absorb all of the flavors trapped under the lid- that is the whole secret behind this. So at this point, the smell of the cumin will be coming through, the greens will be tender and soft, the onion sweet and delicious and the smoky paprika will have rounded everything off nicely... and your yummy little dish will be almost perfect... almost...

... but only almost of course- because now is the time to flake up that Bresaola and to add it with a generous sprinkle of black pepper and to serve it up! And good people out there- let me tell you that in this combination, this really IS perfection! Especially on a cold Winter evening! You can't get much easier... and you can't get much tastier! 

As usual- simple ingredients, un-fussy preparation, healthy, tasty and above all fun! Give it a go and enjoy! I hope you will love it as much as I did!

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