Wednesday night is reality TV night in my house – mainly because the only reality TV shows I can stand to watch are on Bravo on Wed nights. (We won’t mention NBC’s Biggest Loser on Tuesday nights – too embarrassing to admit I watch that).
So now that Project Runway is over for the year – what to watch? Well, Top Chef, natch!
One of the things that makes Bravo networks reality shows great is that they get Real Talent. And the competitors must exhibit great facility with their talent, as well as creativity.
Watching Top Chef last week was really interesting. They brought in the requisite talent from all over the country, most of whom are working in the industry in restaurants, and many of whom have professional training. What was interesting was, the challenge required each contestant to prepare a classic dish – one from the Canon of recipes that are part of the foundation of a chef’s repertoire. There were dishes such as Eggs Benedict, Steak au Poivre, Shrimp Scampi, and soufflé.
Of those ending up in the bottom half eligible for elimination, some just made a dish that wasn’t as good as their counterpart, a few didn’t have much of a clue how to make their assigned dish (soufflé comes to mind) but…of those that ended up at the very bottom – the most surprising was the guy that had Chicken piccata. Tom Coliccio’s comment, at the judges table was, “I’m still not sure he knows what piccata is”. And another comment from the judges table was, (I’m paraphrasing) ‘in order to push the bounds you first have to understand the basics.” How True!
Same holds in sewing. I’m fond of telling students that I’ve taught, in order to break the rules you first need to know and understand them. Otherwise your results are sure to be unpredictable, not reproducible, and your success will be haphazard.
Anyway, I was inspired. I love to cook, but I’m no classically (or otherwise) trained chef. So I went looking at recipes.
I LOVE Epicurious.com.
I entered Piccata into the Epicurious search box, and came up with a list of recipes. I sat down and read them all.
Then I put away the computer and went to play in the kitchen. I didn’t have any chicken, what I had was Mahi-Mahi.
Dh declared my Mahi-Mahi piccata an unqualified success. (and because I’m not trained and was just winging it, I’m not sure my results will be reproducible)
First, I poached the 1 pound Mahi-Mahi filet in white wine…approx 8 mins. Then I removed the fish from the pan and covered it on a plate in a warm oven.
I drained the wine and dried the pan, then melted about 2 T butter, whisked less than 1 tbs flour into the butter, then slowly added less than ¼ cup (probably closer to 3 T) of white wine – I was using Pinot Grigio – and the juice of a whole lemon. I added some salt and a little bit of white pepper, then put the fish back in the pan and heated through again.
Meanwhile I boiled some fresh angel hair pasta and micro-cooked some new asparagus.
The whole thing took less than 20 minutes to make, and was unbelievably good.
Picatta, sort of. no pics, we were busy eating.