Sauteed Cutlets with Capers and Lemon Sauce Recipe
Sauteed Cutlets with Capers and Lemon Sauce

By Jill Wendholt Silva

New cookbooks offer hot ingredients, cool techniques

After an unseasonably cool spring, the summer grilling season is shaping up to be another scorcher.

It's not surprising that Good Housekeeping and Weber continue to offer solid advice and dependable recipes to satisfy America's ever-expanding appetite for quick and healthy meals.

But these days the hottest ethnic ingredients, such as chimichurri and wasabi, are expanding our palates, while sizzling techniques ranging from indoor pan-searing to stovetop smoking to outdoor Latin-style grilling to Japanese yakitori, provide just the ticket for adventurous cooks in search of the next sweltering heat wave.

Sear, Sauce, and Serve: Mastering High-Heat, High-Flavor Cooking by Tony Rosenfeld

Indoor cooking with high heat has become a point of contention in our house: I insist it is a necessary evil that gets dinner to the table faster than heating up the charcoal grill and waiting for the briquettes to burn down to white ash. My husband thinks it produces too much smoke and should be relegated to restaurant chefs.

The problem isn't so much my technique -- I'm actually quite good at the sear. No, the problem is we have the wimpiest exhaust hood since cavemen invented fire, resulting in residual smoke and occasional wall spatter.

Tony Rosenfeld knows a few things about high-heat cooking techniques: He's a chef and the founder of a Boston-based burger chain. His book covers the basics of sauteing, stir-frying, broiling and grilling.

Rosenfeld's style is as entertaining as it is informative: "Get the pan ripping hot and open up a window. If you're one of the lucky few to have a high-powered exhaust hood, forget the window. But if you're like me, you'll need to rely on kitchen windows to prevent the smoke alarm from sounding."

Another point of contention: moving food around in the pan.

"When you're staring down a skillet full of sizzling food, the tendency is to make like a Benihana's grill chef and bang your spatula and tongs all over the place, messing with this and clattering with that. Resist the temptation."

Granted, there are times when I want to move it all outside -- like grilling corn in the husk. That's when my husband wishes I'd just boil it on the stove.

After running through the all-important sear, Rosenfeld adds chapters on "sauces while you sear" and "sauces after searing." Sauces while you sear have complex flavors because they are made in the hot pan after the meat has cooked, using some sort of acidic liquid (usually booze, wine or vinegar) to deglaze. Sauces after searing are made outside the pan by chopping and whirling.

Sauteed Cutlets with Capers and Lemon Sauce

Makes 4 servings

1 1/4 pounds pork, chicken or veal cutlets, pounded into 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch thickness (see note)

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

1 tablespoon olive oil

Sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3 tablespoons nonpareil capers, rinsed and patted dry

1 lemon, the zest shaved into 6 (1-inch wide) strips (with a peeler) and the lemon juiced

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Sear: Season the cutlets generously with salt and pepper. Put the flour in a large shallow bowl (like a pie plate), dredge the cutlets, shaking off any excess flour, and transfer to a large plate.

Set a large, sturdy skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute, or until a droplet of water instantly evaporates once it hits the pan's surface. Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and all the oil until the butter melts completely and its foam subsides, about 1 minute. Add half of the cutlets and cook, without messing with them, until they just start to brown around the sides and easily release from the pan, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until just firm to the touch (they should have just a little give when pressed) and cooked through (slice into one if you're unsure), about 1 minute. Transfer to a large plate and tent with foil. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter, cook the remaining cutlets in the same manner, and transfer to the plate with the other cutlets.

Sauce: Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter with the capers in the pan (with any fat remaining from the sear) over medium heat, stirring until the capers brown and become fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the lemon zest and cook for 30 seconds so it becomes fragrant. Transfer the capers and zest to a small plate lined with paper towels.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter and the flour and cook, stirring, so the mixture acquires a light brown hue and smells slightly toasted, about 1 minute. Whisk the chicken broth and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, until the liquid reduces by about half and thickens, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the parsley, if using, season with salt, pepper and more lemon juice to taste. Serve, drizzling over the seared meat and topped with the capers and lemon zest (the latter is more for garnish than for eating).

Shopping tip: Choose boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breasts cut into strips and pounded thin, center-cut pork loin cut into medallions or pre-sliced veal cutlets.

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