Cooking with Tony
Cooking with Tony By Tim Hoey, Photos by David Verdini Chef Tony Grande Relish a Relaxed Summer Meal— n early summer, a bit of the Italian spirit in all of us emerges. rough activities such as backyard gardening and comfortable, relaxed dining, we intuitively connect with the season's harmonious atmosphere and sense of renewal. And early summer's lighter recipes provide a marvelous vehicle to savor this gioia di vivere, Italian style. Sharing our enthusiasm for early summer, Chef Tony Grande of Il Capriccio recently talked about delicious dishes that capture this season's celebratory spirit. Tim: What foods do you associate with early summer? Tony: Well, in Italy, we're close to nature, regardless of the region where one lives. We're in touch with its eternal rhythms and enjoy its bounty. In Italy, at this time of year, that bounty includes veal. Tim: Why is veal connected with early summer? Tony: Veal is meat from a mild-fed calf about six months old. For top quality veal, the animals must eat grass, as it gives the cow's milk and the calf 's meat its ﬂavor. Fresh spring grass is the best food; its quality makes a big diﬀerence in the veal's taste. Tim: So veal would be at the peak of ﬂavor in early summer. Tony: Exactly. And that's why Italians make a point of preparing veal dishes at this time of year, because it's one of the lightest, most delicate meats. Tim: Does grass aﬀect the veal's color? I Tony: Yes. Grass gives the veal a light pink color, rather than white. Pinker veal has much more ﬂavor. Tim: Is there a preferred way to cook veal? Tony: Yes. In my veal recipe, it's important to thoroughly cook the meat so that the veal is tender to the fork. In general, cooking time depends on the cut of the veal. A couple of guidelines are helpful. First, unlike red meat, you can't serve veal rare. Also, it can't be overcooked, as that eliminates the meat's juices. Once veal is dry, it's a loss. Cooked veal that has a light pink color is best. Tim: Most of us are familiar with veal chops, loin, and cuts suitable for scallopine. Tony: e so-called secondary cuts oﬀer excellent value, and are delicious in their own right. Bocconcini di vitello al vino bianco (see recipe) is an excellent example. It's a dish that home cooks can easily prepare and enjoy. Bocconcini is a stew-like dish whose slow cooking approach is consistent with the season's relaxed mood. Tim: You suggest serving it with zucchini salad—an intriguing pairing. Tony: Zucchini salad oﬀers a contemporary touch you typically don't see on menus around here, and it's a crunchy salad appropriate for the summer. Tim: Sometimes our notion of Italian cuisine doesn't encourage culinary innovation. 46 Vicinity MAGAZinE June 2010
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