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Friday, November 30, 2012

In Season: Persimmons - Persimmon Carpaccio with Prosciutto & Manchego

Pear and Prosciutto Carpaccio,  Photo: Martha Stewart.com



Let me let you in on a little secret: when I am serving a multi-course company dinner, my first course is almost always raw or totally make-ahead. Adopting this method for stress free entertaining pays off because it allows you to be calm, cool, and collected as you greet your guests and help them settle in to party mode. Maybe you've prepared to a cold Seafood Cocktail, or perhaps a make-ahead soup. Or maybe you've made my ultimate favorite: Carpaccio. 

I am wild for Carpaccio. I order it everywhere and I love to make it. Carpaccio is a traditional Italian dish featuring thinly sliced raw beef with a dash of oil, lemon, and capers, but in the present day, Carpaccio has come to mean a lot of things. It can be thinly sliced raw fish, cured meat, or even a vegetable, as evidenced by in NK's Tomato Carpaccio. Recipe HERE. One my favorite done-in- a-jiffy versions is Martha's Pear and Prosciutto Carpaccio. Recipe HERE


Carpaccio fits right in with my personal mantra for dinner party hosting: 
Make it easy, make it beautiful, make it special, and make it from the best products you can afford. 

Today's Carpaccio inspiration comes from the food blog I admire most in the world:
Zen Can Cook - click HERE to check it out.

Trust me, Zen really can cook. He's a real-life chef. And a fancy chef at that. Many of his recipes have a high level of difficulty and are replete with exotic, sometimes hard to find ingredients. Additionally, Zen's plating and culinary aesthetic are some of the best in the blogosphere. That said, his blog, at times, runs a bit counter to what we try to do here on Neurotic Kitchen - food that's easy, elegant, accessible and fast. But that doesn't mean we can't adapt some of his simpler dishes, and in this case, I've chosen a Zen recipe that features a novel, in-season ingredient, but one that is not so exotic as to be very hard to find - The Fuyu Persimmon.  

Our slight adaptation of Zen's recipe is, like the original, delicious and super easy. Wait for it........... Fuyu Persimmon Carpaccio with San Daniele Prosciutto, Shaved Manchego, Walnuts, and Pear Balsamic Reduction. Sound good? Oh. Yes.

Before we begin, let's learn a bit about Persimmons and the two major varieties that are available:

All info just below is courtesy of About.com

"Hachiya Persimmons are mouth-puckeringly tart unless absolutely, supremely ripe. Ripe hachiyas are unbelievably soft - and are often almost liquified into a silky smooth pulp inside. They are elongated and oval shaped. They will ripen once picked, so you can let them soften on the kitchen counter until ready to use. Hachiyas are thought of as "baking" persimmons and are commonly peeled and pureed into a pulp to add to baked goods. They add stable moisture and a mild, pumpkin-like flavor to cakes, puddings, and other treats."

Fuyu Persimmon, Photo: NK 
"Fuyu Persimmons are distinguished by their 'flat' bottoms and squat shape. Fuyus should be more orange then yellow and are at their best when just barely a teensy bit soft. They will ripen after picked, so buying rock-hard fuyus and allowing them to ripen at home can be a good strategy. Fuyus are commonly eaten raw, often sliced and peeled and salads. They can also be roasted to great effect. They have a mild, pumpkin-like flavor. Prepare Fuyus by hulling them (cutting out their top and its attached flesh), slicing, and peeling them. 
Remove and discard the large black
seeds as you encounter them." 

Got all that? 
Good! 
Now away we go:

Persimmon Carpaccio with Prosciutto and Manchego
Adapted from Zen Can Cook
Thinly Sliced Fuyu Persimmon, Photo: NK
Serves 4 

Ingredients:
2 Ripe Fuyu Persimmons, peeled
5 Ounces Frisee and Arugula Mix

1/4 Lb Imported Prosciutto

Aged Manchego, shaved (if you buy 1/4 Lb slab it will be more than enough)

1/4 Cup Walnuts, toasted
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil + extra for brushing
Sea Salt
Black Pepper
1/2 Cup Pear Balsamic Vinegar (regular is fine too)

Method:
Toast Walnuts briefly if you have not already. 

Set a pot over low to medium heat and pour in Pear Balsamic Vinegar. Keep an eye on it and bring Vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid is reduced and syrupy. Turn off heat. 

Meanwhile, peel the Persimmons and thinly slice them. You can use a mandoline for this but a sharp knife works well too, especially if the Persimmon is super ripe.

Set 4 to 6 slices of Persimmon on each serving plate, overlapping slightly in a clover shape (see photo above). Brush with a bit of Olive Oil and sprinkle with Salt.

Combine the Lettuce Mix with the Olive Oil and Lemon Juice and season with a bit of Salt and Black Pepper. 

To assemble, place one slice of Prosciutto (folded or flat) over the Persimmon. Sprinkle with Manchego and Walnuts. Place another slice of Prosciutto atop that, and again, sprinkle with Manchego and Walnuts. Finally, place mixed Salad on top of it all and sprinkle with Balsamic Reduction. If not serving immediately, leave off the Balsamic Reduction until ready to serve. 
Enjoy! 
Persimmon Carpaccio, Prosciutto San Daniele, Manchego, Walnuts & Pear Balsamic Reduction, Photo: NK
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