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An Amuse-bouche of Pineapple and Prosciutto

The custom of greeting diners with a few bites of food before dinner is as rewarding today as when a French chef came up with the idea years ago. It's a personal give-away, a tease, a display, a show off created by the chef de cuisine for you--meant to be at once a delight and a harbinger of a great dinner to come.

An amuse should capture the eye, peak the imagination and startle the pallet. It should be bold. After all, it's just a few bites.

Here we have stripes of prosciutto di Parma lining a small dessert glass, which is then filled with fresh pineapple cubes. That's nice, but where's the excitement?

We need a bold sauce: Pineapple and pepper are well known flavor pals. And sugar goes well too and serves as a thickener. To make this work takes a lot of pepper. I used about a tablespoon of freshly ground white pepper corns. (I get them from the Spice House in Milwaukee and they are much hotter than the supermarket varieties)

So, here's how:
About 6 servings

1. Cut open a fresh pineapple and create bite sized cubes with about half of it.
2. Roughly cut the remaining half of pineapple and place it in a blender.
3. Add 1/4C of dark brown sugar and 1T of freshly ground pepper (Yep it's going to be very peppery)
4. Spin the mixture at high speed to break up the pineapple and blend all well.
5. Pour the sauce into a small sauce pan and bring to high simmer while stirring constantly as the sugar melts
6. Lower the heat and continue to simmer the sauce as it reduces and thickens slightly
7. Let the sauce cool and then pour it into a squeeze bottle or other small container
8. When ready, line the dessert glasses with strips of prosciutto
9. Fill the glasses with pineapple cubes
10. Add a generous portion of the sauce, but don't drown the pineapple
11. Fold the prosciutto strips over the top of each glass or add a cap of prosciutto.
12. Serve at ambient temperature or slightly chilled (use small forks)
Note: One reason this amuse works is that it has four of the five elements of taste: sweet, sour, salty and umami.


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