The chefs at Michael Anthony’s school both locals and visitors on the popular Italian dish.
Story by Rachel Acquaviva + Photos by W Photography
Members of the LOCAL Life team recently took a field trip to Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana for a hands-on cooking class with chefs Trey Place and Patrick Neary.
The theme of the class was scaloppine, a type of Italian dish that consists of thinly sliced meat dredged in flour and sautéed in a variety of redux sauces.
We were shown how to make the dish three ways: Chicken caprese, Scalappine di Maiale con Balsamico (pork scalappine with balsamic reduction) and veal with artichokes.
Setting the table
After the chefs ran through the menu for the day, we washed our hands and got right into things. We all sat in a U-shaped counter with a demonstration stove in the middle. Each of us got a cutting board, knife, towel and program with the recipes and a pen. The pen was very important for me as I was avidly scribbling down tips and trade secrets from Chef Place.
- When it comes to balsamic vinegar, use a minimum of 6 years old.
- When cooking with wine, use a wine you would drink.
- When making a reduction, always use bay leaves.
Any way you slice it
We started by slicing Roma tomatoes, basil leaves and fresh mozzarella. Then we julienned our onions, which is just a fancy style of slicing them. Some members of the class had trouble mastering the onion julienne and opted for a more freestyle chopping method. Luckily, the class was a judgment-free zone, so all was OK. We laughed it off as the chef passed along a bowl and we added the onions that would go into the dish at the end.
Just beat it
Finally, we prepared all of our protein for the day. Each of us received a perfect cut of veal, pork and then chicken along with a meat pounder. We went to town, pounding each piece until they were each about a quarter of an inch thick. This step was a lot of fun. If you were experiencing any stress or anger, you could take it out with the meat pounder. The room got loud as we all got an arm workout and a therapy session at the same time. I’m not going to lie — my arm was a little sore after this step.
Our first course was a play on caprese. This dish consisted of chicken, fresh mozzarella, basil, house-made chicken stalk and a beurre blanc sauce, which might be the most difficult step to replicate at home due to its volatile nature. We cooked the chicken in grapeseed oil for two reasons — it’s neutral (has little flavor) and it has a high smoke temperature, which makes it great for searing.
Patience is a virtue
Chef Place instructed us to lay the chicken, presentation side up, away from us when putting in the pan to avoid splattering it on ourselves. Another great tip Chef Place gave us is once the chicken is in the pan, leave it alone. Just be patient and let it cook. We finished by baking it in the oven and Monter au Beurre, which means to mount the chicken with butter. If you don’t like a lot of butter, this dish is probably not for you, but you’re missing out!
Not worth its salt
The most delicious, but most difficult part of the three-course meal to master was the beurre blanc sauce. Chef Trey likes to use European butter because it has more fat. He recommends keeping the butter as cold as possible until you’re ready to cook. We used unsalted butter so we could control the amount of salt added to the whole dish. Also, salt acts as a preservative, so unsalted is fresher.
Our cooking class doubled as a science lesson as we learned to use heavy cream as a stabilizer, and that since lemons are acidic, they need a white vinegar to act as a stabilizer so that the sauce does not separate. If you want to hear about the rest of the class, I suggest you sign up for a spot and see the magic for yourself. Michael Anthony’s offers two types of cooking classes. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, they teach a hands-on class where participants dice, chop and cook. On Fridays they offer a TV demonstration-style class.
What’s for dinner
The best part of the class came when we were done cooking. We all sat down family style to enjoy our creations, a glass of wine and great company. This was such an enjoyable way to learn new skills while meeting new people and sharing unexpected conversation with both locals of the Lowcountry and visitors. If you are looking for a great rainy-day activity to do on the island, or just want to expand your culinary horizons, a class at Michael Anthony’s cooking school is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
2 (8-10-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 Roma tomatoes, sliced
4 basil leaves
2 balls of fresh mozzarella, cut into slices
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup vegetable stock
1 cup beurre blanc
Salt and pepper
Directions  Place chicken on a cutting board. Using a boning knife, butterfly each breast evenly across to create two smaller equal sized breasts. Using a meat pounder, lightly pound each breast to flatten to about 1/4 inch thick.  In a large sauté pan, heat grapeseed oil on high heat. Place chicken in hot oil and sauté approximately 2-3 minute per side.  Discard excess oil and season both sides with salt and pepper.  Add garlic, white wine and vegetable stock to pan.  Top each chicken breast with a few slices of tomato, basil leaves and then the mozzarella.  Place the sauté pan in a 400 degree oven and bake for about 8 minutes, or until mozzarella is thoroughly melted and slightly browned.  Remove from oven and place chicken on a serving plate.  Return sauté pan to the stove on medium-high heat and stir in beurre blanc and parsley.  Reduce sauce until thickened.  Spoon sauce over chicken and serve
Veal with Artichokes
8 (2-ounce) veal cutlets
Flour for dusting
1/4 cup olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
8 artichoke hearts (jar is fine)
1/3 cup white wine
1 cup veal stock (can substitute beef stock or broth)
2 ounces butter, cubed
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper
Directions  Put veal cutlets between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound well with a meat pounder.  Pound cutlets until 1/8-inch thick.  Season the veal with salt and pepper and dust with flour, shaking off the excess.  Heat the oil in a skillet and sear the veal on both sides. Remove from the pan.  In same skillet, add the garlic and sauté over medium heat, until lightly golden.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, lemon juice, and reduce by half.  Add the veal stock and simmer to reduce slightly.  Add the butter cubes and allow the sauce to thicken while it reduces.  Return the veal and artichokes to the pan at this point and allow to gently braise in the low simmering liquid.  After simmering the veal for about 3 minutes, place the veal onto each plate. Check the sauce consistency, reducing more in needed and then add the chopped parsley, pepper and salt to taste. Spoon over veal.
Chef tips: Michael Anthony’s is known for its veal. If you haven’t tried it, do so. Chef Place likes the artichokes stems more than the hearts because he thinks they have more flavor. Veal stock makes a great demi-glace. Use fresh lemon juice. Never the plastic lemon that you get at the grocery store.
Scaloppine di Maiale con Balsamico (Pork Scaloppine with Balsamic Reduction)
2 pounds pork loin, trimmed of all fat
Flour for dusting
1/4 cup grapeseed oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, thinly slices
1/2 cup peppadew peppers, roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup vegetable stock or chicken stock
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup white wine
Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions  Trim all the fat from the pork loin and cut into ½-inch thick slices.  Using a meat pounder gently pound into ¼-inch thick pieces.  Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat with the grapeseed oil for 30-40 seconds.  Dredge the pork in the flour and shake off all excess.  Place pork in the pan and sauté each side about a minute.  Remove the pork from the pan and place on a clean plate.  Add the onion, mushrooms, peppadews, and garlic and sauté about 2-3 minutes.  Add salt and pepper. Deglaze the pan with balsamic and white wine and cook for 2-3 minutes.  Add the vegetable stock and place the pork back into the pan.  Cook for another 3-4 minutes or until a thick sauce develops.  Turn off the heat and add the butter. Swirl the pan until all the butter is melted.
Chef tips: Grapeseed oil is great for sautéing because of its high smoke temperature. Peppadew peppers are Chef Place’s favorite because they add a little spice. The mushrooms we used were from Bluffton. Clean with a brush. Never get mushrooms wet. Use a balsamic vinegar that is at least 6 years old.
Go to cooking school
Michael Anthony’s offers two types of cooking classes. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, they teach a hands-on class where participants dice, chop, and cook alongside Chef Pace and Chef Neary. On Fridays they offer a TV demonstration style class. Find more information online at michael-anthonys.com.