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Capital Grille Prosciutto-Wrapped Mozzarella
■1 pound large fresh mozzarella balls
■15 paper thin slices prosciutto
■10 ounces large or cherry heirloom tomatoes (mix of yellow and red)
■1 teaspoon kosher salt
■1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
■6 slices pain rustique bread, cut in 1/4-inch thick slices on the bias (see note)
■1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons hot clarified butter (divided)
■1/2 cup finely grated Grana Padano cheese (see note)
■1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
■3/4 ounce chiffonade cut basil leaves plus 3 sprigs fresh basil for
■2 tablespoons 12-year-old balsamic vinegar
■Slice the balls of mozzarella cheese into about 1/2-inch-thick slices weighing about 1 1/4 ounces each.
■Individually wrap the slices of mozzarella with slices of prosciutto, making certain to completely cover the cheese.
■Place the wrapped mozzarella on parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use.
■Core tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Halve or quarter smaller heirlooms tomatoes and place in a mixing bowl. Season with kosher salt and pepper. Let tomatoes rest.
■Brush slices of bread on both sides with the 1/4 cup hot clarified butter and sprinkle both sides liberally with the grated cheese. Press cheese gently into the bread. Toast in a panini press over medium-high heat or in a hot sauté pan that has been coated with clarified butter, turning once, until golden brown and crisp on each side. This will take 1 to 2 minutes per side. If using a skillet, cook slices in batches; do not crowd pan.
■Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
■Place remaining 2 tablespoons clarified butter in a hot skillet. Gently set pieces of wrapped mozzarella in the skillet and sauté 2 minutes per side or until exterior is crisp. Place seared mozzarella balls on a cookie sheet then transfer to oven. Cook until cheese starts to melt and is hot, about 5 minutes.
■Meanwhile toss tomatoes with olive oil, the chiffonade of basil and the balsamic.
■To assemble: Mound a spoonful of the tomato salad in the centers of three large, warmed dinner plates. Arrange the grilled mozzarella, leaning it against the tomato salad, around the front and side edges of the plate. Lean two croutons on the backside of the plates. Place a sprig of basil in the center of the tomatoes and serve immediately.
Notes: Pain rustique has a thick crust similar to Italian bread.
Grana Padano cheese is available specialty food stores.
Parmigiano-Reggiano could be substituted.
Source: Jeff Beale, executive chef, The Capital Grille, Wisconsin