Reverse engineering is one of those skills that some people are just born with . . .
These people can taste something at a restaurant, immediately identify key ingredients, and then recreate a pretty good mock-up at home. If I could do that, we wouldn't be eating out nearly as much.
Ha ha, in fact, Bryan once said to me, "if you could cook like Jody Adams, I'd be happy to eat at home everyday."
Alas, I am far far away from being anywhere close to having the cooking savviness that many of our local chefs possess. However, once in a blue moon, I do succeed in recreating some easy dishes inspired by local restaurants.
Here's a delicious yet über simple appetizer dish we made the other day. It's inspired by one of Bryan's favorite appetizers from Monica's (both the Trattoria and the Vinoteca) in the North End. It's funny, if you look at both posts, you'll notice Bryan ordered it both times - he likes it that much.
Frankly, we didn't do a whole lot to "reverse engineer" this dish. We gathered clues from the name of the dish. On the menu, this appetizer is called "Involtini di Prosciutto e Provolone al Forno", which translates to baked prosciutto and provolone "rolled up" ("involtini" means rolled up and "al forno" means baked).
That's pretty much what we did.
We bought some nice prosciutto and provolone cheese from Formaggio Kitchen. You don't need anything fancy. In fact, when I told the cheesemonger at Formaggio what I planned on doing with the provolone, he suggested the simpler, less expensive provolone.
Cut up the provolone into manageable pieces (mine were about ½ inch by 1-2 inch), wrap with prosciutto, and then bake in the oven. I believe I used the toaster oven and baked at around 350 degrees. You can use convection if you want to crisp up the prosciutto a bit. In fact, I'm guessing that if I did it at a higher temperature, my prosciutto would have looked more crispy.
Serve alongside some roasted red peppers or summer heirloom tomatoes. We did modify Monica's original dish a bit by putting the whole thing over grilled bread (from ACME bread company in San Francisco, no less!), which was awesome.
You can't really go wrong with this combination. It's sort of like a really fancy ham + cheese sandwich. It's brilliant, yet so easy, and really, really good.
Involtini di Prosciutto e Provolone al Forno from Monica's (above) and ours (below).
Ha ha, I put mine in the oven a bit too long (I was cooking a gazillion things at the same time - see entire meal at this post) and the cheese oozed out of the prosciutto "wrapping" while I wasn't paying attention. I really do believe that higher temperature and a faster baking time would have resulted in something that looked more like what they have.
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