A modern approach to southern cuisine is what they represent. Located in the Ritz Carlton, Grand Lakes off Central Florida Parkway, they are moving food from field to table. Using farms such as Whisper Creek, they can provide the freshest local ingredients to both the food and the cocktails. When I prepare a dish at home, I’m always looking for what’s seasonal and locally grown at my farmer’s market. It is refreshing to see that more and more of our restaurants in Central Florida are doing the same. I’m thinking it’s time for me to go on a culinary adventure and visit the new Highball & Harvest.
Sometimes I think I want to make my favorite soup, Italian Wedding, just a little different. Instead of it being just a soup, I want to make it into a one pot meal. This morning at the store I picked up some items to do just that. I picked up 3 pounds of ground pork, a red pepper, and 1 package of mini cheese ravioli.
In a large bowl with the pork I added to large eggs, 1 tablespoon of dried sage, 2 tablespoons of dried oregano, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, 1 teaspoon of black pepper, 5 dashes of Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 a cup of apricot jam for some sweetness, 3 tablespoons of chopped Italian parsley, and half a cup of my secret ingredient.
Yes here it is, basil pesto. I’m telling you, this has all the flavors you want in a meatball. I bought some fresh pesto in the refrigerated dept of the store. Adding this ingredient, you will not be able to tell I used ground pork, and truthfully, it’s just less expensive all the way around. Using a small scoop, so all meatballs would be the same size, I rolled them up and placed them on two lightly greased baking sheets. I used non-stick cooking spray, and also lightly sprayed the meatballs on the top so they would brown nicely in the oven.
I put them in an oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, I just want them to get some nice color to them. They will continue to cook in the soup. Now for the base for the soup. 1 large sweet onion diced, 2 cups of celery chopped using even the leafy tops, 1 red bell pepper finely diced, and 6 cloves of finely minced garlic.
I add 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy bottom pot like this one above. Then I toss in the veggies starting with the onion. Remember to season every layer with a sprinkling of Kosher salt. I add only 1 teaspoon of black pepper because once the oil heats up I throw in a good pinch of red pepper flakes.
After I add the carrots I add in 3 tablespoons of tomato paste and let that cook in with the onions and carrots for an extra layer of flavor.
Now after around 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, all the veggies that you’ve added will have had a chance to soften slightly. next comes the liquid. I use 2 quarts of low sodium chicken broth. Then add all the meatballs into the pot.You may need to add some water so all the meatballs are submerged.
Bring all this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Next I add in 1 package of thawed frozen spinach. make sure to squeeze out all the liquid from the spinach you can before adding it into the pot. Then toss in 1 package of the frozen mini cheese ravioli. Continue to cook this together for another 5 minutes or so, or until the ravioli has completely cooked through.
Turn the heat off and cover the pot to keep everything nice and hot. That’s it, soup’s on! I like to serve this with some shaved Parmesan cheese over the top.
Sorry for taking so long to post this recipe, but you know how life can get so busy sometimes. Anyway for this recipe, I like to start with the potatoes. I’m using Yukon gold, I think they work the best, and it’s what my mother used. Trying to stay with tradition, with a few minor changes, just gives this dish a modern makeover.
So here I’ve taken 6 small Yukon gold potatoes and quartered them. Placed them on a baking sheet, with some olive oil, and a good sprinkling of Kosher salt and pepper. I’m also using 2 tablespoons of fresh chopped rosemary to add to the potatoes. I think rosemary and potatoes are a perfect marriage, and this is just one of the changes I’ve made to this dish. I roasted them in a 450 degree oven for around 15 minutes, but half way through I turned them over so all sides would get some nice color. The reason for me doing this first is to give the potatoes a head start, because I’m going to use them as a bed for the chicken. This way all the flavor from the chicken will drip down onto the potatoes and make them super yummy. So after they come out of the oven I place them into my retro dish.
Next the chicken. I’m using 6 boneless-skinless chicken breasts. Now I know that using chicken that’s not on the bone or has it’s skin still on can sometimes be a bit dry when cooked. Not to worry. I’ve done something here to stop that from happening. I’ve seen recipes where they brush mayo onto the chicken before breading them, and that’s fine, but I’m using my favorite creamy Caesar dressing instead. Caesar dressing has so much more flavor than mayo and it has lemon in it as well.
To enhance the rosemary flavor I’m adding 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary to the Caesar dressing as well, and just mix that through. I’ve just taken each breast and brushed some of the Caesar dressing all over each one. Now instead of using Italian style bread crumbs, like my mom, I’m using Panko bread crumbs. I like how they are lighter and crunchier. They give a little more texture to the coating. In the Panko I’ve just add some finely chopped fresh parsley and mixed that through before breading the chicken. When all the chicken is breaded, and the potatoes are spread out in the bottom of the dish, I lay the chicken on top like you see above. In the bottom of this dish I’ve added 1 cup of low sodium chicken broth so the potatoes won’t burn, you need some moisture for the cooking process. I have the oven now set at 350 and I drizzle some olive oil over the top and put them in, for around 15 minutes. I do this to start the breading to get some color on them before adding the delicious lemon mixture and onions to the dish.
While the chicken is in the oven, I sliced and sauteed some very thinly sliced onions just enough to soften them with a sprinkling of salt. Then I set them aside while I fix the sauce that makes this dish so delicious.
In a bowl I have 1/2 a cup of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary. To that I grate 6 cloves of garlic. Then I take 3 lemons, zest and juice and add that into the bowl. I then add 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth. I whisk this all together and pour this mixture into a sauce pan. On med heat I start heating up this sauce until it comes to a low simmer. After the 15 minutes that the chicken has been in the oven, I take it out.
You can see the chicken has browned somewhat. Next I add the onions and ladle 1/2 of the hot lemony liquid all over the top of the chicken. Cover with foil.
I continue cooking the chicken at 350 for another 35-40 minutes, or until internal temp is at 165 degrees. After I remove the chicken from the oven I let it sit on the top of the stove covers for another 15 minutes to rest some.
Just a tip for this dish. I keep the reserved lemon garlic sauce on the stove, on med low heat, so when I plate this chicken, I ladle on some right over the top before serving. This dish is so wonderful and so flavorful that I’m sure you’ll be making it over and over again.
I like to serve it on a large platter, family style, with a gravy boat full of that lemon garlic sauce, the way my mother brought it to the table.
In 1993, Boulevard opened in San Francisco and has become one of the most recognized restaurants in the United States. Nancy Oaks partnered with designer Pat Kuleto, have set out to create a timeless Bella Epoque inspired design along with chef Nancy’s expression of American regional flavors with French influenced style. Boulevard, a culinary landmark, located in San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront, has without question, made it’s mark in the culinary world. For more on Boulevard, San Francisco. visit their web site at http://www.boulevardrestaurant.com.