Monday, September 24, 2012

A Craving for Prosciutto

I can't believe that I've lived in Hudson for almost 10 months and it's taken up until last week to finally check out the Italian Market in town.  I had an overwhelming craving for prosciutto.  Usually I save up all my Italian deli needs for when I go into NYC and can shop for them at Russo's on 11th street in Manhattan - as I have for decades.  It's difficult to venture out of your comfort zone.  But I did - because I had to.  It's fresh fig season. Fresh figs and prosciutto are an ideal match.  Fortunately, the Italian Market had a selection of both imported and domestic prosciutto.  I bought a quarter of a pound of imported San Daniele prosciutto and found enough slices to make several meals with them.

When a paper thin slice of sweet-salty prosciutto wraps itself around a plump, moist sugar-sweet fig you'd think that they've been going steady for ages. They have.  And, right now you can find fresh figs in most local supermarket aisles.  I found a box of perfectly ripe Mission figs (the dark ones) at the Pricechopper.

 One day I breakfasted on a piece of toasted quinoa bread that was covered with the exceptional Kate's Homemade butter- made in Maine - found on the shelves of Hannaford's (because they are a Maine company too)  topped with halved figs and draped with prosciutto.  A perfect, way to begin an early autumn day.

   Some people, obviously more elegant than I, ceremoniously peel their figs.  I do not.  I like the contrast of color provided by the deep purple Mission figs and the rosy-pink prosciutto.

I'm very fond of the many recipes in both Spanish and Portuguese kitchens that combine fish or seafood with pork products - ideally, cured pork products.  Whether it's  Spanish trout with jamon de Serrano or  Portuguese clams, potatoes and spicy chorizo sausage, these dishes articulate the genuine flavor and texture of the main ingredients; soft, glistening, melt-in-your mouth fish with aromatic, toothy pork.  Throw in some potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, fresh herbs and spicy peppers and you've got this...
It all began with those slices of prosciutto waiting for further instructions.  I purchased a beautiful piece of fresh, gleaming white cod from Lick (yes, Lick - get on their fish order list), picked up some new, fingerling potatoes, and tomatoes from the Hudson Farmers' Market , and I had some garlic, and some Thai hot peppers and fresh thyme from my own little garden.


Here's what I did:
.   Parboiled the potatoes until a tester easily passed through them.
.   Sauteed finely chopped garlic and hot peppers, and fresh thyme leaves in a generous amount of olive oil.  Add the juice of a lemon.
.   Added the parboiled potatoes to the oil and tossed then around until they were coated with the olive oil mixture.   Removed from the heat.   Removed the potatoes from the oil and add to a baking dish.
.   Placed the cod fillets in the oil mixture and turned them over to coat them with the mixture.  Wrapped prosciutto slices around the fillets to fully enrobe them.
.   Pushed the potatoes to the sides of the baking dish and placed the cod in the middle.
.   Placed sliced tomatoes on top of the cod.   Drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.  Sprinkled with flaky sea salt.   Placed sprigs of fresh thyme over all of it.
.   Baked at 450 degrees F. for 15 minutes.  Served immediately.   Although, it does taste pretty damn good leftover, and chilled because the dish juices turn into a kind of aspic from the natural fish gelatin and prosciutto fat.



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