Time flies. We opened the restaurant a few weeks ago, and four dinners have come and gone. Two dishes from our second weekend have lingered in my mind and seem to be calling to be shared.
The first is an appetizer of pan-seared prunes wrapped in pancetta (alternately, prosciutto or bacon). We first had this dish several years ago in the home of a dear friend who coincidently was a guest at Old Tioga Farm when we served it recently. I had never forgotten it, though I was reminded of it again in Rome a few months ago at a cooking class. The attraction of the dish is the richness of contrast between sweet and salty. The prune, of course, is a dried plum — rich, intense, and concentrated. Pancetta, prosciutto, and bacon are also concentrated, and they are certainly very rich. The resulting dish is an explosion of powerful, almost overwhelming flavor, which is best enjoyed in small quantities. We serve three wrapped prunes, and that’s enough.
To make it, wrap each prune in a small piece of pancetta (or bacon or prosciutto) so that it goes a little more than all the way around. Over medium heat, brown the prunes in a little olive oil until nicely browned on one side, and then turn and do the other side. Garnish with a tiny shaving of parmigiano and serve!
The other dish whose memory has lingered is a frittata with braised chard and goat cheese. I’ve always had mixed feelings about frittatas. Compared to the exquisite omelette of the French, the Italian frittata has always underwhelmed and disappointed. Recently, however, I’ve been making very thin frittatas with minimal ingredients, and I’ve found these to be more graceful and interesting. The star of the one we served at the restaurant is goat cheese, whose rich flavor works so well with the egg. We use goat cheese from local producer Jackie Stash of EverView Farm near Benton.
In a 9 inch cast iron pan, melt a little butter over medium heat and add four beaten eggs to which a little grated parmigiano and salt has been added. Immediately shake the pan a bit, and tilt it to let some of the raw egg find space in the pan to cook. After just few minutes when it is mostly cooked through, add a little spinach or chard which has been cooked down in a pan with a little onion or garlic. Also dot with goat cheese and season with freshly ground black pepper. Move the pan to the oven and run under the broiler for a minute or so, just until nicely browned and the goat cheese is slightly melted. Serve at once.