seven year itch

perfecting the "done before they arrive" party- a work in progress

Categories: Meat, Grains and Pasta, Veggies and Sides, Dinner for Two, Dinner Party, Sources, Posted on October 12, 2014 by Sandy Bergsten

My hubby and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary. I can’t tell you how fortunate I am to be able to spend my days with such a remarkable person. Years ago I thought a solid marriage filled with unconditional love would be just beyond my reach. But then almost a decade ago Dave came into my life. How incredibly fortunate that I would become his wife.

A special man on a special day deserves… well… something special. Superior spouses know that the surest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. So I pulled out all the stops and made him one of his favs.

When I lived in New York my butcher, the legendary Harry Oppenhiemer, always said save the best cuts when it’s just the two of you. Following his sage advice I splurged on a pair of spectacular veal chops

Not only do I pinch myself each and every morning that I am married to such a wonderful man, but that I am all the more blessed to have a fleet of fantastic butchers right down the road at Dorothy Lane Market. Ladies if you haven’t embarked on a relationship with a real live butcher the time is now. Why would anyone purchase something sealed and stamped in the refrigerator meat case when a dream guy is waiting for you in a white apron ready to fulfill your every desire?

The perfect marinade- Ronny DiSalvo’s homemade Italian dressing. I pick up a pint from this knight-in-shining-armor every week.

Seal in a Ziploc bag and refrigerate for a few hours. Then grill over hot coals until just charred on the outside and pink on the inside.

A showstopper main requires a suitable side- risotto with baby asparagus. Marcella Hazan taught me that you can commit a little heresy by partially cooking then cooling your risotto hours ahead of time then finishing it off right before serving.

First chop the baby asparagus into one-inch pieces.

Steam in the microwave until just tender, less than two minutes.

Refresh in an ice bath. Drain and set aside.

Chop a small onion. Sauté in two tablespoons butter until translucent.

Add the Arborio rice, stir until coated. Add the white wine and stir until evaporated. Add ½ cupfuls of simmering broth, stirring frequently until evaporated.

Continue stirring in ½ cupfuls of broth until the rice is almost al dente. Spoon the risotto onto a cool heavy rimmed baking sheet. Let cool completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. (This can be done hours ahead of time).

Right before serving melt a tablespoon of butter in a clean stockpot, add the risotto, stir to coat and continue with the ½ cupfuls of steaming broth until al dente.  Meanwhile re-warm the asparagus on 50% power for one minute. Stir in the finely grated parmesan cheese. Lightly fold in the asparagus with one tablespoon of butter. Check for seasoning. Spoon the risotto onto plates and drizzle with white truffle oil.

While tending your risotto prepare the next side- a sauté of wild mushrooms. Stem and slice the shitake and cremini mushrooms.

In a large heavy skillet heat the butter over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté, stirring occasionally until they have thrown off their water and begin to crisp. Season with salt and pepper.

The mushrooms can be made several hours ahead of time. Let cool, cover and refrigerate. Reheat in one tablespoon of butter in a clean skillet.

The perfect finish- my mom’s famous veal chop sauce. Finely chop a large shallot. 

Cook shallots in butter over medium-low heat until softened, about 5 minutes (take care not to brown the shallots). Add the chicken broth, reduce by half over medium heat, about 15 minutes.

Add the heavy cream and reduce by half over medium heat, about five minutes. Stir in the Madeira. The sauce can be made a day ahead. Cool completely, cover and refrigerate. To serve warm over low heat. Spoon over the grilled veal chops and garnish with a little chopped parsley.

Being able to get all of these components in place before the love of your life walks in the door… well that’s one way to scratch the seven-year itch.

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