dsc04228from Outstanding in the Field: A Farm to Table Cookbook, p. 173.

Every once in a while, probably more often than is good for my bank account, I decide to splurge and make myself a dinner with an expensive ingredient. When I splurge, I choose something I’m not likely to pick off a restaurant menu. A simple ingredient with a decadent edge. A veal chop. Veal cutlets or scaloppine bore me. But a veal chop holds out the promise of an abundance of flavor that veal cutlets only hint at. In the end, the flavor of the chop justified the expense. Delicious, sweet, tender meat on a juicy bone eliminated the last shred of regret that I splurged.  With a glass of light red wine, Hayden on the iPod, and the TLS before me, I stretched that dinner out as long as I could. Sublime.

Over the holidays I received a signed copy of Jim Denevan’s new book as a gift. A resident of Santa Cruz, California, Denevan seems to be making a go of traveling the country and putting on big dinners at or with the help of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms. His recipes have an appealing simplicity to them: Little gem lettuce with chopped egg and lemon; burrata cheese with nectarines, mâche, and hazelnuts; Pumpkin and Persimmon Soup; Farro Soup with Greens; English Pea and Fresh Mint Risotto; Swordfish with Kae and Anchovy Sauce; Sausage-stuffed whole roast quail with grape sauce; Slow-roasted Pork Belly with Cannellini Beans; Cider-braised Pork Shoulder; and Pure Maple Syrup-Braised Short Ribs. As you can see, there’s a lot to work with here. The first recipe I tried, Savory Pecan, Parmesan, and Thyme Shortbread, didn’t impress me as much as Martha Stewart’s savory cookies, but they were good. So, I chose the veal chop as my next venture.

His directions are pretty straightforward…

2 large heads endive

4 (10- to 12-oz) veal rib or loin chops, each 1 inch thick

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 Tblsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 cup Chicken Stock or low-sodium broth

1 Tblsp spicy brown mustard

2 Tblsp capers, drained

1 Tblsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Trim the bottoms of the endives. Separate the leaves, put them in a bowl, and set aside.

Pat the veal chops dry and season them with salt and pepper. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Place the veal chops in the pan and cook until browned, about 5 mins. Turn over the chops and cook for about 5 mins, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a chop reads 140 F for medium rare to medium. Transfer the chops to a warmed plate to rest.

Add the shallot to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 1 to 2 mins. Add the stock, mustard, and capers and swirl the pan to combine. Add any juices that have collected on the plate as the veal has rested. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes.

Toss the endive with the parsley, lemon juice, and remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and arrange the endive on 4 plates. Place the veal chop alongside the endive and pour the sauce on top. Serve immediately.

For Food Alone purposes, the amounts are significantly different…

You will undoubted baulk at the butcher counter when you realize that the cost of one hefty veal loin chop is not much less than $20. But steel yourself. You’ve already decided to treat yourself to a fine dinner at home. Promise yourself not to eat veal for another twelve months. Bite the bullet and buy the chop. You can save on the endive. Just buy one.

I used my preferred whole-grain mustard from Meaux — and regretted it. The mustard really should be creamy.

My chop was a little heavier than the 10- to 12-oz chop Denevan calls for, so I had to adjust the flame and let it cook a few minutes longer on each side without letting the chop surface burn. When I removed it to the plate, I covered it in foil in order to help it continue to cook while I made the sauce.

Even though I was only one person, I cut the ingredients for the sauce only in half in order to make it easier to cook.

The results conformed to what Denevan promised would happen: a delicious chop with a tart sauce.

But, if I should ever make this recipe again…

I would preheat the oven to 325 before beginning.  Instead of pan-frying a thick chop longer, I’d remove it from the pan when the chop was browned to my liking, cover it with foil,  and stick it in the oven to continue cooking. A meat thermometer would tell me when it was ready while I quickly finished the sauce.

Finally, this is a good, easy recipe. And even if it’s a long time before I spent that much on a chop again, I will certainly use the directions for the sauce. In fact, I already make a version of it with pork chops.

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