PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- When chef Ken Amspaugh was asked to create a new spring menu, he immediately thought of Veal Oscar, the classic dish that features sauteed veal cutlets topped with crab meat and bearnaise sauce, garnished with asparagus spears.
"Veal Oscar is a wonderful change of pace from the usual offerings of lamb or ham," Amspaugh said. His updated version of Veal Oscar is on the spring menu at Gracie's Bar & Grille in Providence, where he is executive chef.Veal Oscar is said to have been named in honor of Sweden's King Oscar II, who reigned 1872-1907 and was especially partial to its ingredients.
The 23-year-old chef learned how to make the classic dish when he studied culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University, but he puts a new spin on the conventional recipe and calls his version New Wave Veal Oscar (recipe follows).
Instead of sauteing breaded veal cutlets, he grills thick veal chops over a wood fire. He uses lobster instead of crab meat and trades the traditional bearnaise sauce for a hot and spicy hollandaise sauce.
Instead of asparagus, he tops the veal chop with aspiration, a new hybrid that is a cross between asparagus and broccoli.
Aspiration, now available at many supermarkets across the nation, looks like an asparagus stalk with baby broccoli florets on the end. Amspaugh precooks the aspiration by blanching it for a few minutes in boiling water. He then shocks it in ice water to stop the cooking process so the vegetable is tender-crisp to the bite.
Amspaugh likes to serve his updated Veal Oscar with sweet potatoes that he cuts into matchsticks and sautes in clarified butter. Because the sweet potatoes are sliced so thin, they cook quickly.
NEW WAVE VEAL OSCAR
1 pound sweet potatoes
Clarified butter, as needed (see note)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 pound aspiration, blanched and shocked in ice water
1 cup lobster meat, fresh or frozen
4 veal chops (10 ounces each), about 1-inch thick
1 cup Hollandaise Sauce (recipe follows)
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into thin matchstick-size pieces. In a frying pan over medium-high heat, saute the sweet potatoes in clarified butter. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
In another frying pan over medium-high heat, saute the precooked aspiration and lobster meat in clarified butter. Season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
Grill the veal chops, preferably over a real wood fire or on a gas grill, about 3 minutes on each side. Place equal amounts of the sweet potatoes in the centers of four dinner plates. Place a veal chop on top of the sweet potatoes. Garnish each plate with an equal amount of aspiration and lobster meat. Top each veal chop with hollandaise sauce. Makes 4 servings.
Note: To clarify butter, put it in a large glass measuring cup in a warm (225 F) oven and let it stand until it melts and the milky substance settles at the bottom. You can strain the clear liquid at the top into a container through damp cheesecloth; or just put the melted butter in the refrigerator to harden and then scrape off the milky residue.
SPICY HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 pound butter, melted
2 tablespoons hot water
Dash of cayenne pepper
Hot pepper sauce, to taste
Salt, to taste
Use a double boiler or a metal bowl placed over hot, but not simmering, water. Put the egg yolks in the boiler top and beat with a wire whisk until smooth. Add the lemon juice and gradually whisk in the melted butter, pouring in a thin stream. Slowly stir in the hot water, cayenne pepper, hot pepper sauce and salt. Continue to mix for 1 minute. The sauce should be thickened. Serve immediately, or hold over warm water for an hour or two. Immediately refrigerate any leftover sauce. Makes 1 cup.