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I have two friends who made it to the finals of MasterChef. One now lives in Kinsale. The other is Melanie Jappy who is currently producer of the innovative and elucidating Wine Show – a Top Gear for booze as Stuart Heritage has pointed out in a review. Mel is a gifted cook with that no-fuss, no-muss ability to turn out a parade of courses from a fairly small open kitchen without you barely noticing. It is the hallmark of the adroit provider and one that I try, hopelessly, to emulate. But I don’t, like her, have a Big Egg barbecue in my backyard. Here is an idea that we can all do with stout tomatoes, either Sicilian, as hers were, or supermarket. Heat a heavy frying pan, add diced guanciale (cured pork jowl – Waitrose stocks it) and sauté until the fat is rendered. Remove most of, but not all of the fat. Add a slug of extra virgin olive oil, heat and fry sage leaves for a few seconds. Set them aside with the guanciale. Halve the tomatoes round their middles – their waists – and put them cut side down into the pan. Season and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Turn over and do the same. You can now leave this until you want to eat. All the juices will release into the pan (very MasterChef phraseology). When ready, tear up some good buffalo mozzarella (keeping the water) and put into the bottom of a serving bowl. Add the tomatoes to the mozzarella, bring the pan juices to a simmer, add thinly sliced garlic and soften for a few seconds. Add a little of the buffalo water and a little crème fraîche to make a sauce, season and pour over the tomatoes. Garnish with the guanciale and sage. Perfect first course.

thewineshow.com

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