Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Crispy

I like the word crispy. I like things that are crispy. Starched collars, eggrolls, kale, even hair sprayed until it feels like it's going to break into little splinters - I like it all.
So, when the title of a recipe was Crispy Pork Cutlets, and when I was at the time wanting to learn how to cook a good slab of meat, I thought the recipe sounded interesting. Capers, lemon, arugula, pork, how could it not be delicious?

But I have this little problem, sometimes I forget to read recipes. I read the title and the list of ingredients, look at the general length of the recipe, and then I make my decision, to cook or not to cook. So for crispy pork cutlets, I thought I'd be brave, face the pork, and cook.

I sliced a thick hunk of meat into chunks and pounded them to even half inch widths (only to reread the recipe and realize they were supposed to be a quarter inch)...



I chopped up sage and thyme and mixed it with coarse salt and pepper for a nice little herb rub...


and then all of a sudden, this happened:


Yes, after all my moaning about deep fried food in Scotland, here I was in my kitchen sinking my beautifully pounded cutlets into a pan full of boiling oil. Yikes.

So I'm not posting that recipe. It was good. And the fried-ness was saved a bit by a the bed of fresh arugula, but still. I'm not planning on making it again anytime soon. Instead here is something cleaner, and in my opinion better in flavor anyway. A bowl of spicy tomato broth filled with delicate pink shrimp and finely sliced fingerling potatoes.


The most difficult part about this fabulously flavorful and filling recipe was peeling and deveining the shrimp, an unnecessary step if you get them done for you in your grocery store. With a crusty French baguette to soak up the spicy broth, this was hearteningly healthy after the oil incident.

Shrimp and Fingerling Potatoes in Tomato Broth
adapted from Bon Appetit

Note: I have approximately doubled the amount of paprika, rosemary and chili flakes from the original recipe. If you want a milder broth, halve the amounts.

2 tbsps olive oil
2 cups finely chopped onions (I used two large onions)
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsps paprika (yes, tablespoons!)
1 14.5 ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes in juice
1 heaping tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes
1 cup dry white wine
1 8-ounce bottle clam juice (scary sounding I know, but trust me)
3 cups water
8 ounces fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4 thick rounds
1 pound peeled deveined uncooked shrimp

1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, then add the onions and cook gently till they are soft and have a nice brown color, 15 to 20 minutes. Add garlic and paprika, stir together for two minutes.

2) Stir in tomatoes with their juices and cook, stirring often, for about 30 minutes. It will be very thick. (I added a 1/4 cup of water to mine halfway through because it was looking a little dry. If you do this just make sure to cook the water off before proceeding.)

3) Stir in rosemary and red pepper, add the wine and cook another ten minutes until the liquid is completely evaporated. Add clam juice, then three cups of water.

4) Bring broth to a boil then add the potatoes. Simmer about five minutes, till potatoes are tender, then add the shrimp. Cook them just shy of five minutes, until they are nice and pink. Season with plenty of salt and pepper. Serve.

Serves 4

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