Bresaola cheese packets
Purely on a whim, the other night when I was in a hurry and it was a little too steamy a June afternoon for working over the stove to seem much like fun, I hit my favorite Italian deli (Lotsa Pasta in Louisville). Having nothing special in mind, I let instinct be my guide, shopping randomly until a selection of ingredients found their way into my basket and inspired a quick, easy and cool creation that added just enough heft to turn a bowl of dressed lettuce greens into a healthy summer salad.
The ingredients? A stack of thin slices of <i>bresaola</i> ("Breh-zah-YO-lah"), a Northern Italian-style air-dried beef specialty that might best be described as beef trying to be prosciutto; some ricotta cheese and a little mild goat cheese, and a jar of nicely charred roasted Italian red peppers in brine. Using small rice bowls as molds, I lined a few cups with <i>bresaola</i>, then blended the two cheeses and a ration of roasted peppers into a pink puree. A scoop of this puree went into each beef-lined bowl; tuck beef over the cheese to cover, invert the bowls over a plate to dump out neat spheres that look a lot like fist-size soccer balls (great concept for World Cup parties); surround with dressed salad greens and serve.
That description pretty much precludes a formal recipe, but just to keep things organized, I'll spell out the step-by-step for those who'd like to print out
a copy for the kitchen.
INGREDIENTS: (Serves two)
4 ounces (120g) <i>bresaola</i>, sliced thin
4 ounces ricotta cheese
1 ounce mild goat cheese
2 ounces Italian-style roast red peppers
Salad greens and vinaigrette or dressing of your choice.
1. Lightly grease four rice bowls or other similar small bowls by wiping them with a little olive oil on a paper towel. Line each bowl with about one-fourth of your <i>bresaola</i> slices, laying them in carefully in an overlapping rosette pattern to make a complete circle, with the outer edges of the meat draped over the edge of each bowl.
2. Cut the red peppers into small pieces and blend them with the cheeses into a thick, pink puree with a stand or stick blender; add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Put about one-fourth of the cheese and roast pepper mixture into each bowl and carefully turn the loose edges of the <i>bresaola</i> over the cheese so as to enclose the filling completely with meat to make a more-or-less round ball.
4. Put the bowls in the refrigerator for about an hour or the freezer for 15 minutes or so until they're refreshingly cold. (Feel free to skip this step if you don't care about refreshingly cold.) Then invert each bowl onto a serving plate, two per serving. Surround with dressed greens and serve.
<B>WINE MATCH:</B> Just about any dry red wine should do fine. A Pinot Noir would work very nicely with the earthy characters of <i>bresaola</i> and goat cheese, and any acidic Italian red would make a natural pairing. It was fine, too, with a Bordeaux blend from the Eastern U.S., the Blenheim Vineyard 2002 Virginia Meritage
featured in the June 5, 2004 <I>30 Second Wine Advisor</I>.