conchiglie al forno; costolette di vitello balsamico, carote

It was conchiglie al forno; costolette di vitello balsamico; carote, or more precisely, and in English, baked shells with mushrooms and radicchio; one veal chop finished with balsamic vinegar, wilted radicchio, thyme-roasted carrots with micro fennel.

I had half of the conchiglie al forno remaining from April 19th, and I really wanted to use it for a couple of primi, to some interesting secondo, which in my mind meant small meat portions. On Sunday it happened that I had a veal shoulder chop in the freezer, a portion I had already been concerned about because I knew it was smaller than what we would normally share. It seemed the perfect choice to follow the baked pasta.

It was.

Because I had accidentally stinted on cream when I had originally assembled the dish (baked pasta rule #1: you will probably never have enough cream), I added a little ricotta to the antipasto before I put it into the oven to heat up, and I drizzled a little olive oil around it once it was in the serving bowls.

That was the meal’s virtually automatic primi.

The second course may have been a perfect followup to the first, since I imagine both dishes to be very Tuscan.

  • one thick 14-ounce pasture-raised veal shoulder chop, or what was described more precisely by Tony, a young butcher who was tending the farm stand that afternoon, as “a shoulder chop close to the ribs, which looks like, and could be described as rib eye”, from Consider Bardwell Farm, brought to room temperature, seasoned well with sea salt and freshly-ground Tellicherry pepper, placed inside a small oval enameled cast iron pan which had been coated with a film of olive oil then allowed to get very hot, seared over medium-high heat for about 6 minutes per side, allowed to rest on a small warm platter for 4 minutes or so, the meat removed from the bones and divided into 2 servings and arranged on the plates where it was drizzled with a teaspoon or so of good balsamic vinegar, garnished at the side with purple micro radish greens from Windfall Farms
  • two varieties of carrots, one of which I believe is properly described as ‘Purple Haze’, a hybrid, from Norwich Meadows Farm, washed, trimmed, scrubbed, and dried, tossed in a very little olive oil with salt, pepper and thyme branches from Eataly, spread inside a medium seasoned Pampered Chef pan and baked at 400º until tender (the time would depend on size; these took about 20-25 minutes), finished with micro fennel from Windfall Farms
  • a little radicchio from Eataly, from part of a head that had not gone into the preparation of the conchiglie al forno, warmed slightly in olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper,
  • the wine was a California (Santa Ynez Valley) red, Jacqueline Bahue Pinot Noir Sta. Rita Hills 2015, from Naked Wines
  • the music was the entire album, of late 17th-century German music for the theater, ‘Biber: Battalia / Locke: The Tempest / Zelenka: Fanfare’, the performance by Il Giardino Armonico