Sunday, November 07, 2010
I recently spent some time in the country and ate at a local hotel, The Royal Mail in Birregurra, on a couple of occasions. The first time, on a Saturday night was an altogether elaborate menu, featuring some mighty fine dishes.
Our second visit couldn't have been more in contrast. It was the Saturday's chef night off and the menu was more typical country fare, mixed grill with all the cliches sort of thing, though still very well cooked.
One item that caught my eye was the chicken parmigiana, ubiquitous throughout the land, very often featured as a pot and parma kind of special for slack Monday nights.
Now as much as I like a good parma, why is it that someone hasn't dallied around with the concept? You know, have a bit of fun with it. A play on the old chicken and egg, who came first theme.
The more I thought about it, the more possible it seemed to have a genuine egg parmigiana. The ham and cheese were easy as was the tomato sauce. But what makes a parma just that?
The coating of breadcrumbs of course.
Why not fry up the breadcrumbs in some butter and sprinkle them on top to give that vital crunch and texture?
For each serving
1 or 2 slices of best quality smoked ham - see note
2 or 3 slices buffalo mozzarella
1 poached egg
2 tablespoons tomato & basil sauce - recipe follows
2 teaspoons breadcrumbs, fried in butter till nicely browned - see tip
Let the ham and buffalo mozzarella come to room temperature. Lay 1 or 2 slices of ham attractively on a plate and top with slices of buffalo mozzarella. Lay a freshly poached egg on top and drizzle over the tomato and basil sauce. Sprinkle with the fried breadcrumbs and serve immediately.
Tomato & Basil Sauce
1 tin Italian plum tomatoes
1 or 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a few leaves of fresh basil, shredded
salt & fresh ground pepper
Take a tin of whole tomatoes and crush them with your hands. Put them in a pot and bring to a simmer. Add the garlic, shredded basil leaves and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Simmer until just thickened.
Note: I was talking about this dish with Steve Kirk from Kirkfood who supplies me with the freshest Italian buffalo mozzarella when I can't make it to La Latteria for the best local stuff. He suggested using Italian prosciutto as a variation, or if you wanted to splurge, some Iberico jamon wouldn't go astray either.
tip - when you've fried the breadcrumbs, don't leave them in the frypan as they will continue to cook and darken.