Tuesday, February 25, 2014

My Little Chef: Risotto! Plus Chicken Cutlets with Prosciutto and Asparagus

For our second week of cooking lessons, Max selected an Italian menu.  Shocking, I know.  Max would eat Italian 18 out of 21 meals per week, if I'd cook it.  He is definitely his daddy's son.

Me: "Hey Ade, what'dya want for dinner tonight?"
Adrian: "I dunno.  Pasta and sauce?  Maybe some sausage?"
Me: "Adrian.  What do you want for dinner?"
 Adrian: "Maybe pasta?  And, I dunno....sauce?  With sausage?"
 Me: "Ade.  Thoughts on dinner?"
Adrian: "Ooooh!!  How about pasta?  With....sauce?  How about meatballs?"
Adrian: "Hey, babe?  It's Sunday.  You know what's fun to do on Sunday? Make sauce!"

Okay, so you get the idea.

Max was actually a bit more creative than pasta and sauce.  With sausage.  He really loves to look at cookbooks, so when I suggested that it was time to plan his next menu, he pulled out two and flipped to a couple of recipes pretty quickly.

The first was for his appetizer.  I haven't yet burst his bubble with the reality that regular, weekday meals, at least in our household, do not generally include an appetizer.  The whole Max-cooking-the-meal thing is still new, enough so that it feels like a special occasion, and special occasions warrant appetizers.  So for his appetizer, he wanted to make ravioli.  Or, I'm sorry, mezzaluna.  He had a recipe marked, with a lovely accompanying photo.  It turned out that he didn't actually want to follow  the recipe, which was for a four cheese mezzaluna.  He wanted to make a meat filling, and said he knew just how to do it.

I drew the line at making our own pasta, mostly because I didn't want to, but also because I had several packages of egg roll wrappers in the fridge that really needed to get used up.  I have to say, I probably should have let him make the pasta.  The filling he made was so delicious, and the egg roll  wrappers so limp and unsturdy, I really did him an injustice.  In any event, the kid knew what he was doing.

Filling the mezzaluna.

A perfect little half-moon.

The finished mezzaluna, plated with just a taste of tomato sauce.  

For the main course, Max made chicken cutlets.  He pounded the chicken breasts flat and dredged them in flour; I sauteed them, I'm still uneasy about letting him loose with the potential of spitting oil.  Once the cutlets were pan-fried, he topped them with a slice of prosciutto and some Parmesan cheese, and put them under the broiler to brown the cheese.

Max chose asparagus for the veg, which thrilled me.  I have been trying to convince him to try asparagus forEVER, I really thought he would like it.  There were a couple of times over the winter that I made it, and asked him to try it...he didn't want to, and I didn't push it because honestly, it wasn't asparagus season and I knew it wouldn't be the best.  But on this day, we went to the store and the asparagus was slim and firm and I felt really good about his decision to try it.  That asparagus did NOT disappoint.  He drizzled it with olive oil and roasted it in the oven....and LOVED it.  Yay!

The other side was a collaborative effort.  Adrian and I love risotto.  I love to make risotto.  It has boggled our minds that Max would always refuse to eat it.  He loves rice.  He loves cheese.  It didn't make sense.  So I convinced him that it would be the perfect addition to his meal, and he acquiesced, with the caveat that he could put some pesto in it.  Um.....okay!

He was unimpressed with the amount of effort risotto requires....but....he loved it.  It's a special occasion dish, to be sure, but I was really relieved to finally have him admit that is was delicious.

Endlessly stirring the risotto.

Plating.  Max takes plating VERY seriously.

Milo watches his big brother at work.

Pesto risotto, roasted asparagus, chicken cutlet topped with prosciutto and
Parmesan, by Max.  The fresh sage garnish was Max's own touch, after he
flavored the olive oil I cooked the chicken in with some.

I am so proud of how seriously he's taking his cooking lessons.   HE takes so much pride in it, every step, from planning the menu to plating, it's awesome to see.  That he's had great success has been icing on the cake.  This meal was definitely company-worthy, nevermind a more-than-acceptable family meal.  

Cooking with Max used to frustrate me.  A LOT.  But it's slowly but surely becoming a weekly activity that I really look forward to.


  1. Risotto, for us, is a comfort food of a different sort. The comfort comes from the making. Been a long, crappy week? One of us is likely to say, "Let's make risotto" It's our slow down, hang out in the kitchen drinking the wine (we tend to be sacrilegious and make red wine risotto because we prefer to drink red wine and drinking wine is an integral step in Stites risotto preparation) and talking and laughing and endlessly adding a smidge here and a smidge there and stirring until its perfect dish. Risotto FORCES you to slow down, and we love that about it. Of course, then you get to eat it, too :-)

    1. I like red wine risotto, too, which I discovered one night out of necessity (risotto already underway, no white wine to be had).


So, whaddya think?