Sunday, 14 February 2016

Sort-Of Sicilian Sauciness!

Scaloppine di Maiale con Arancia Sanguinella, Marsala & Capperi & Barba di Frati alla Menta & Limone
Boneless Pork Cutlets with Blood Orange, Marsala & Capers with Mint & Lemon "Monks Beard"

I don't often prepare meat dishes, it's true... and that is not because I don't like meat- it is just because there are so many other things to eat THAN meat- lol! But, having said that, when I do prepare meat dishes- I like to celebrate the fact, even if they are simple cuts of meat... and do something a little different. 

This evening, I decided to try the combination of blood orange, Marsala and capers to create my own unique dish. Using these most typical of Sicilian ingredients and a couple of aromatic herbs- a new favorite way to serve a couple of humble pork cutlets was born!

The other, wonderful ingredient I used this evening was "Monks Beard", or "Agretti" as they are sometimes called. Usually unaffordable, these were at the market hall, ahead of season, reasonably priced and just waiting to be turned into something delicious... and so I did!

This is another of those dishes where precise measures are not necessary- it is all about the method and the ingredients involved. So let me put it this way... you will need: pork cutlets and Monks Beard (of course), then, 1-2 servings, 1 lemon, 1 blood orange, approx. 1 tablespoon of capers, fresh rosemary, mint and thyme, Marsala wine, salt, pepper and olive oil and a tablespoon or two of flour to thicken the sauce.

The result is fruity of course, pungent from the Marsala and the capers and also rich with the slightly salty monks beard which is prepared with lemon and mint... a lot of flavors and a lot of richness here!

This would make a perfect "secondo" as a part of an Italian menu... just make sure to have a pasta dish worthy of this as a follow up!

The monks beard does take a LOT of rinsing- I suggest to cut away the root ends generously before you even begin- there is going to be a lot of dirt in there!

Once the greens are clean, simply fry them in a good dash of olive oil, directly with some finely shredded or grated lemon zest and plenty of finely chopped mint.

They are naturally salty, so all you will need to add is pepper, along with, for one panful as you can see here, the juice of half a lemon. Add a pinch of sugar if you prefer to not have your greens too tangy (to balance out the lemon juice) and toss through a few times, then set aside nice and warm whilst you prepare the pork.

Sprinkle the pork generously with flour before you begin frying and add plenty of orange zest, rosemary, thyme and pepper. Fry at a high temperature for 1-2 minutes before turning.

Deglaze the pan with a shot glass of Marsala, turn over the cutlets, add more flour, zest and herbs and continue cooking on a high setting. Add the juice of the blood orange and a good pinch of salt at this point.

Now reduce the heat and check the sauce- you will be adding a little water and flour next, to make up more volume, so make sure there is plenty of Marsala and orange favor.

Stir together a little water and flour in the usual way and add to the juices- allow to simmer for a good 4-5 minutes and turn over the cutlets half way, until the sauce thickens nicely and the meat soaks up all of the good flavors... and then you are ready to serve!

Add the capers right at the end, along with a little extra zest and pepper- and enjoy!

Mmmm- I'd say this picture speaks for itself!

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