Turkey-prosciutto stacks with cheese
It was Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, and we weren't tired of turkey yet, but it was starting to get a little iffy. I had enjoyed turkey meat picked off the carcass for a Thanksgiving evening bedtime snack, turkey sandwiches with cranberry jelly for Friday lunch, and a big jar of turkey broth stood in the corner of the fridge, awaiting service as a base for soup.
But what to do for dinner? Friday night, and I was in the mood for something more interesting than mere re-heated leftovers. And just to add another variable, I wasn't really in the mood to do anything very complicated.
A quick review of the refrigerator and the pantry led to a simple but tasty creation that showcased leftover turkey breast meat in a stylish dish that fell somewhere between a traditional cordon bleu and that historic Louisville regional treat, the Hot Brown.
The dish is so easy that simply describing it should be sufficient to send a skillful cook to the kitchen without further conversation: Assemble a short stack of thin-sliced turkey breast and thin-sliced prosciutto; top with a bit of Gruyere or other flavorful cheese, and sauce it with a smooth, rich Mornay laced with Dijon. A mound of steaming rice formed a just-right starch accompaniment, and a simple green vegetable on the side made it a meal.
If I had really been in a hurry, I could probably have skipped the sauce, saved a few calories and a little time, and it would still have been good.
INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
For the "stacks"
1. Preheat oven to 325F (160C). Layer two slices of turkey breast and two slices of prosciutto alternately into two short stacks, and place both stacks in a lightly greased baking pan or oven-proof dish. Cut the Gruyere into thick slices and place an equal amount on top of each stack. Place them in the preheated oven to warm through for 10 or 15 minutes, until they're hot and the cheese is melted.
2. Meanwhile, make a quick Mornay sauce. Warm the milk (1 minute in the microwave in a Pyrex measuring cup should be just right). Grate the Parmigiano and measure out the other ingredients. You'll want to have everything at hand and ready to go as you make the sauce.
3. Put the butter into a saucepan over medium heat. (If you have one, a saucier - a heavy saucepan with a curved bottom to accommodate a whisk - is a great tool for sauce-making.) When the butter has melted and most of the bubbles have died down, put in the flour all at once, and whisk until it is smoothly incorporated into the butter and has cooked slightly but not yet started to brown. Pour in the milk, a little at a time, whisking as you do so. When all the milk has been added, let the mixture come back to a gentle boil. When it thickens a bit, reduce heat to very low. Add the grated cheese, the Dijon and dry mustard and the cayenne, and stir until the ingredients are incorporated into a smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
4. Leave the sauce over very low heat, stirring occasionally, while you finish the stacks by turning on the broiler just long enough to brown the top of the cheese. Serve on hot plates, surrounded by the sauce.
MATCHING WINE: Pinot Noir seemed perfect, and this dish went very nicely with a good one from Sonoma's Russian River Valley, "J" 2002 Pinot Noir, featured in this week's Wine Advisor Premium Edition. It would go well, too, with a fruity, low-tannin Italian red - a Chianti or other Sangiovese-based red - or with a relatively rich and full white, from Chardonnay to Chenin Blanc to a Southern Italian variety.
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Great book gift for "foodies"
I originally ran this item in Monday's 30 Second Wine Advisor, but it's so oriented to "foodies" that I'm taking the liberty of repeating it today for this audience. I got my copy a couple of weeks ago and have thumbed through it repeatedly since. I haven't had more fun browsing in print since my parents bought us the Encyclopedia Britannica when I was in sixth grade.
With none of Brown's goofiness but with substantially more intense scholarship, McGee's On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen has become a cult classic for "foodies" who can't get enough information about what really goes on in the oven - and in our stomachs - when we cook and eat. A massive volume - its 894 pages in hardcover tip my kitchen scale at 3 pounds, 1 1/4 ounces - its 15 densely packed chapters cover foods from milk and dairy products and eggs to sauces, sugars, chocolate and confectionery, not to mention "The Four Basic Food Molecules." (All right, they're water, fats, carbohydrates and proteins.)
Here's the info and buy-it link at Amazon.com for On Food and Cooking:
Last Week's FoodLetter and Archives
Last week's Wine Advisor Foodletter: Happy Thanksgiving! (Nov. 25)
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Thursday, Dec. 2, 2004
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