Monday, February 22, 2010

Insalata di Radicchio, Parmigiano Reggiano e Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale

This is a super simple salad that signifies the beauty of Italian cuisine. More specifically, that of Emilia Romagna. Radicchio is one of the few seasonal winter lettuces during this time of year. The bitterness of the radicchio matches wonderfully with the sweetness of the balsamic vinegar. This is another one of those recipes where sub par ingredients yield a sub par dish. So be sure to get the best possible ingredients all around. When you are only putting 3 or 4 ingredients on a plate, there is nothing to hide behind.

Serves 2-4

TT = to taste

1 head of Radicchio, core removed and thinly sliced(about 1/4")
Parmigiano Reggiano
3T of 25 year Balsamic Vinegar
Extra Virgin olive oil, best quality available and preferably from Emilia Romagna
TT salt
TT freshly ground black pepper

Put the radicchio in a mixing bowl
drizzle in the vinegar and season with salt & pepper
taste for seasoning
transfer radicchio to individual plates
using a vegetable peeler, shave the parmigiano reggiano over the top of the salad
drizzle some best quality extra virgin olive oil over the top
serve immediately

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lune Grandi con Tuorlo, Ricotta e Tartufo

This is a classic recipe for ravioli common in some of the northern regions of Italy(Toscana, Emilia Romagna, Lombardia). Being that the ravioli filling is so rich, you would only serve one raviolo at a time. When you are using so few ingredients, you really have to make sure that you are using the best ingredients or the dish will just not be as good.

Makes 5

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
3/4 cup Semolina Flour or AP Flour
1 Egg, room temp
pinch of salt
1t olive oil

combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
Try to make sure that the pasta is as wide as the machine will take
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 two times, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
take pasta sheet and put a heaping 1/4 cup of the filling on the pasta sheets about 2 1/2" apart
use a spoon to make a nest in the center of the filling
carefully lay the egg yolk in the nest
brush water around the filling to help the sheets stick together
cover the sheet of pasta with the other layer
use an old 28oz can of tomato sauce as the pasta cutter
press the around the filling to get all the air bubbles out
press the cutter on top of the pasta to form the moon shape
place the ravioli on a sheet pan lined with parchment and dusted with flour
you may need to re work some of the extra dough again through the pasta machine to get more ravioli made
cover the ravioli and hold until ready to cook

For Filling:
1 1/4 cups homemade ricotta cheese, recipe is on this blog(or substitute a good quality imported ricotta)
1/4 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
1-2t white truffle oil
5 egg yolks, farm fresh
TT salt
TT pepper

drain ricotta for 15 minutes
put ricotta in mixing bowl
stir vigorously with wooden spoon so ricotta becomes soft
stir in the cheese, truffle oil, salt and pepper
set aside

For Sauce & Garnish:
1 stick unsalted butter
15 sage leaves
grated parmigiano reggiano
white truffle oil

To finish:
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
in a large nonstick pan put the butter in and cook until melted and hot
drop the sage leaves in and fry until crispy
remove leave and put them on a paper towel to drain
cook butter until milk solids have browned but not burnt and remove from heat
cook pasta for 2-3 minutes
remove carefully from the boiling water and place in the saute pan yolk side up
finish cooking the rest of the ravioli in the same manner
you can add a little bit of the pasta water to the saute pan to help this the sauce a little and help it adhere to the ravioli
once it is all cooked off heat the brown butter and pasta together for little bit spooning the sauce over the ravioli.
transfer to individual plates
garnish with 3 sage leaves each, a touch of grated parmigiano reggiano & the very little drizzle of white truffle oil
serve immediately.

(If you have fresh truffles you can substitute those for the truffle oil)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Stufato di Agnello

This is a recipe that shows the cuisine of the interior cooking of the islands of Italy (Sardegna & Sicilia). Along the coast, you'll see that fish and seafood are king, yet on the interior there is a lot of lamb, goat & game eaten. Here is a rich stew that combines bright citrus flavors with the winter vegetable and legume bounty.

TT = to taste

1 1/2# Lamb stew meat (leg of lamb cut into cubes)
3T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Red Onions, julienne
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 celeriac, peeled and med dice
4 carrots, peeled and 1/4" slice discs
1 can of 28oz whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes, crushed by hand or with spoon
1 cup Nero D'Avola(Sicilian Red Wine)
2 cups Lamb Stock (substitute veal stock, beef or chicken stock)
1/2 Lemon Confit (preserved lemons - Homemade or Moroccan grocery stores ), seeds removed & med dice
pinch of saffron
2 sprigs of rosemary, tie together with thyme
4 sprigs of thyme, tie together with rosemary
15 oz can chick peas, drained & rinsed
1 bunch of lacinato kale, rib removed and diced, leaves cut into 2" squares
TT salt
TT pepper

heat the olive oil in a dutch oven over med-high
season the lamb with salt & pepper
once oil is just starting to smoke, add the lamb
sear the meat all over, then remove
turn heat to med low
add the onions and cover
after 5 minutes, stir the onions and break up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan
continue to cook the onion for about 20-30 minutes until well caramelized
add the garlic and saute for 5 minutes
add the wine, the tomatoes, lemon confit, saffron, herbs, lamb & stock
bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer
cover and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally (make sure it is simmering and not boiling vigorously)
add the kale, celeriac & carrots & simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally
add the chick peas & simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally
taste for seasoning and adjust with salt & pepper as according
check for tenderness with the lamb and vegetables
remove the herb bundle and discard
if they are not quite tender enough to your liking you can simmer for an additional 30 minutes or so. (It should be tender though)
Transfer to individual crocks and serve with a slice of grilled or toasted crusty bread(if you like you can grate some pecorino cheese on the top)
serve immediately

Monday, February 15, 2010

Braciole di Pollo con Patate Arrosti

This is a delicious recipe for stuffed chicken. Italy is not a big sauce culture. I truly believe that when you can use delicious proteins cooked properly, you don't need any sauce. The animals have so much flavor on their own that you don't want any kind of sauce that masks the flavor. I have used mushrooms here that are cultivated year round, yet you can substitute any other seasonal mushrooms you like. Treating the whole chicken as a roulade isn't always what Italians like to do. Yet the Sicilians love to roll things. The addition of the Sicilian dessert wine, marsala, makes this a true taste of the famous southern Italian isle.

TT = to taste

4# Farm raised free range chicken
1/2# Shiitake Mushrooms, stems removed
1/3 cup pancetta cut into lardons
1/2 of a large red onion, julienne
1 cup marsala wine
6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
8 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked and coarsely chopped
2# baby red skin potatoes, quartered
extra virgin olive oil
TT salt
TT pepper

In a large saute pan over med heat, add the pancetta, onions, and 2T of olive oil
saute for 10-15 minutes until the onions are softened and caramelized
add 3 of the sliced garlic cloves, the mushrooms and half of the chopped thyme
saute for 5 minutes
add the wine and cook until fully reduced (around 5-10 more minutes)
season with salt and pepper
remove from heat and allow to fully cool in refrigerator
De-bone chicken while leaving skin and muscle intact(if you don't feel comfortable doing this you can have your butcher do this or skip this process and stuff the cavity with the mushrooms mixture.)
To do this, cut down the back side of the chicken(opposite the breast side)
use you boning knife to separate the skin and meat from the carcass
pop the legs and wings out of the joint
scrape the meat from the legs and wings on the inside being sure not to tear the skin
save all of the bones and giblets for making stock
lay the chicken skin side down on cutting board
use a meat mallet & pound the muscles to tenderize it
season the meat with salt and pepper
place the stuffing mixture on the meat
starting at one end by the legs and wings section and roll it towards the other legs and wings section to form the roulade
use kitchen twine and tie up the roulade to help hold its shape and cook evenly
once tied season the skin with olive oil, salt & pepper
take 1/4 of the chopped fresh thyme and spread it on the skin
preheat oven to 475F
dress the potatoes with some olive oil, salt & pepper
place the chicken in the center of a roasting pan
place the potatoes around the chicken
Once oven is heated, put roast into the oven and roast until the a thermometer registers 155F (around 40-45 minutes)
remove from the oven and transfer chicken roulade to cutting board to rest for 10-15 minutes
once you remove the chicken from the pan, add the rest of the garlic and thyme to the potatoes and stir together
put the roasting pan back in the oven for a few minutes to heat up the garlic and herbs
remove the pan from the oven and taste the potatoes for seasoning and adjust if needed
once roast is done resting, remove the twine and slice into 1" wide pieces
spoon some of the potatoes on to individual plates
place a couple slices of the chicken roulade on top of the potatoes
if you like, you can spoon some of the pan juices on top of the chicken or a little drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil
serve immediately

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Perciatelli con Ricci di Mare

This is a classic sea side pasta that symbolizes what Italian is all about. Using fresh ingredients and preparing them simply. This recipe uses one of my favorite seafood prepared two different ways to show the different textures that sea urchin can take on.

serves 4

TT = to taste

1# dried perciatelli or bucatini
120g Sea Urchin
2T extra virgin olive oil
1T chili flakes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley
TT salt
TT pepper

bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water
heat the olive oil on medium in a large saute pan
add the chili flakes and garlic and saute for 2 minutes
add half of the sea urchin and saute for 1 minute
once pasta is 1 minute away from being al dente, remove it from the water and add it to the saute pan
toss together with a little bit of the pasta water for last minute
add the parsley and the lemon juice and toss together
season with salt and pepper if needed
transfer to individual plates
garnish pasta with the rest of the of the raw sea urchin, a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil and a bit more flat leaf parsley
serve immediately

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Coniglio alla L'Indiano di Venezia

This dish is a combination of the cultures. Since Venice was such a big port for the spice trade, many of the flavors from India made their way into the dishes of Venice. this is an upscale take on a dish that might be made by an Indian living in Venice. Some of the flavors in this dish don't seem quite Italian, yet certain parts of Italy really have adopted the different spices and made them part of the cuisine.

Serves 2

TT = to taste

For Rabbit:
1 Rabbit, loins and rib section only
Garam Masala Spice Rub (preferably homemade)
TT Salt
olive oil

trim the silver skin of the loin piece
cut around each rib to remove any fat or meat
use butchers twine, wrap around the individual bones and slide off tip to remove any excess fat left on the bones
tie the loin to the bottom of the rib section to create a frenched rack look
repeat with other section so you have two racks of rabbit
cover the racks with the spice rub mixture
allow to marinate for a couple hours
season racks with salt
heat olive oil in medium saute pan over med-high heat
once just smoking, add the racks flesh side down to brown
flip over after a couple minutes and transfer to 350F oven for a couple minutes to cook through, shouldn't take any longer than 5 minutes in oven

For Vegetable:
1 head Radicchio, cut into 8 pieces, core still intact
1 cup fresh Orange juice
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2T olive oil
TT salt
TT pepper

heat the olive oil in pan over med low heat
add the garlic and saute until softened and just turning the lightest golden brown
add the radicchio and saute for 1 minute
add the orange juice and cook until the orange juice has reduced by about 75%
radicchio should be nice and tender
season with salt and pepper

For Sauce:
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
juice of 1/8 of a lemon
1t grated ginger
pinch of chili flakes
TT salt
TT pepper
ice water

combine mint, cilantro, lemon juice, ginger and chili flakes in food processor
while running slowly pour in a little of the ice water until sauce is pesto consistency
season with salt & pepper and set aside until ready to use

While cooked rabbit racks are resting add the radicchio to the pan that the rabbit cooked in to heat through and pick up extra flavor
transfer the radicchio to individual plates
top the radicchio with the racks and serve with the mint pesto
serve immediately

Zuppa di Cipolle

This is a recipe for one of my favorite soups of all time. The rich combination of a good beef or veal stock with the sweetness of the onions is a masterpiece to behold. Then topping it with some good bread and cheese, just makes it the perfect soup to warm up with during these cold months. The trick to making the dish a success is to really kill the onions. A proper onion soup takes hours to make not minutes.

Serves 4

TT = to taste

4 1/2 - 5# of yellow onions
4T unsalted butter
1T AP Flour
1/2 gallon of dark beef or veal stock (preferably homemade)
4 sprigs of thyme
4-8 slices country bread
2 garlic cloves
TT salt
TT papper
8 slices of Comte cheese (substitute asiago, fontina, piave vecchio, gruyere, trugole) plus more if needed
TT red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried bay leaf
extra virgin olive oil

peel onions and cut into julienne
in a 6 qt dutch oven on low heat add the butter and onions
saute covered stirring occasionally adding water if needed to keep onions from burning and cook until onions are very caramelized and are almost 1/6-1/8 there original volume. (4-7 hours)
once onions are very caramelized and ready
add flour and cook for 5 minutes
add stock, thyme & bay leaf
bring to simmer
cook until reduced by 1/3 and soup becomes thick
season with salt, pepper and vinegar
remove thyme and bay leaf an discard
ladle soup into large oven proof soup crocks about 2/3-3/4 full(around 20oz crocks)
grill bread until well marked or toast or broil until toasty
cut tips off the garlic cloves and rub the garlic cloves on the bread slices to infuse bread with the garlic flavor
drizzle bread with a little extra virgin olive oil
cut bread into cubes
place cubed bread on top of soup
top bread with the cheese
place crocks under the broiler and cook until cheese becomes nice and melted and crispy
remove from broiler and allow to cool slightly
serve immediately

Mlinzi con Polpetti di Anatra

This is a take on a classic dish from Istria(NE Italy, Now part of Croatia). Mlinzi or Mlinci depending on the dialect are an irregular shaped oven dried pasta. The sheets are rolled out and then baked in the oven until crispy. Then they are broken into smaller pieces and boiled until tender. They are typically paired with a goose or duck ragu. I have served them with meatballs that are made out of duck. What you are left with is a delicious pasta that reminds you of the old days.

TT = to taste

For Pasta:
2 1/2 cups Unbleached AP Flour
1 cup Semolina Flour
5 Lg. Eggs Room Temp
3T Olive oil
1T salt

combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
Place sheets on baking sheets and put into 350F preheated oven and bake until golden brown and crispy (about 10 minutes)
Remove from oven and break into small irregular shapes
Set aside until ready to use

For meatballs:
2 Magret duck Breasts about 2# total weight
6 oz pancetta
2 1/2 cups day old bread cubes
2 eggs
1 cup dry cherries
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 onion, small dice
1T fresh chopped rosemary
2T grappa
1 cup grated Montasio Cheese (substitute parmigiano reggiano)
TT salt
TT black pepper
4-6T Rendered Duck Fat

Remove the fat and skin from the duck breasts
trim the fat off of the skin and reserve each
place the duck breasts, fat from duck breasts & pancetta in the freezer for 1 hour
Place meat grinding attachments in freezer for 1 hour
saute the onions and garlic together on med heat in a 1-2T of olive oil or duck fat until softened
transfer to refrigerator to cool
Assemble the meat grinder
cut the duck breasts and pancetta into cubes
run the duck, duck fat & pancetta through the coarse setting on the meat grinder.
place the ground meat in a mixing bowl
soak the bread in a bowl of cold water for a couple of minutes
squeeze the excess water out of the bread
add the eggs, cherries, onions, garlic, cheese, bread, rosemary & grappa to the meat
season with salt and pepper
form into meatballs a little larger than a golf ball in size
heat the duck fat in a large saute pan over med-high heat
cook the reserved skin in the duck fat to render out the excess fat from the skin
(the skin cracklings can be save as a garnish for pasta dish if you like)
once hot enough add the meatballs in batches and brown on both sides (a couple minutes per side
Proceed to sauce part of recipe

For Sauce:
1 6oz can tomato paste
2 sprigs rosemary
1/4 cup grappa
2 cups duck stock (substitute chicken stock)
TT salt
TT papper

strain out some of the duck fat so there is a 2-3T left and reserve the rest for later use
add the tomato paste to the duck fat and cook on medium heat stirring occasionally until emulsified and paste has darkened (10-15 minutes)
add the rosemary, grappa & duck stock
bring to boil and reduce by 1/3
add the meatballs to the sauce and transfer to the 350F oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until meatballs are done
remove the meatballs and reserve warmed, skim off any rendered fat and season to taste with salt and pepper
keep sauce warm
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
cook until pasta is tender 3-5 minutes
transfer to sauce and toss together
repeat until all pasta has been cooked off
transfer cooked pasta to individual bowls or plates
garnish with meatballs and a little grated montasio or parmigiano reggiano cheese
serve immediately

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Pappardelle con Ragu alla Alto Adige

This is great recipe that shows the tremendous diversity of Italian cuisine. This is a rich short rib ragu in the style of Alto Adige(NE Italy, Austrian/Swiss Border). It may seem very non-Italian to most people, yet one thing you'll find that is truly unique about Italian cuisine is that the closer you get to the borders, the more the food changes.

TT = to taste

For pasta:
2 1/2 cups Rye Flour
1 cup AP Flour
5 Lg. Eggs, Room Temp
1T sea salt
2T whole milk

combine all ingredients for pasta together
knead for a few minutes, then wrap in plastic and set aside for half hour
unwrap dough and cut into 4 pieces
wrap pieces not being used so they don't get dried out
Using a manual pasta roller, start on largest setting - #1
knead pasta through machine ten times
then roll out 3 times on largest setting - #1
then drop down 2 settings to #3, and run through 3 times
then drop down 2 more to second thinnest setting - #5
run through #5 one time, use flour as needed when rolling through the pasta machine, but try not to add too much or dough will get dry
Cut pasta into strips 3/4"-1"X8" with fluted cutter
set on parchment lined sheet tray dusted with some flour
cover with another sheet of parchment until ready to use

For Ragu:
2 flanken Beef Short ribs
6 oz pancetta or speck cut into matchsticks
6 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 onions, medium dice
1/2 can of whole peeled san marzano tomatoes with juices
1 bottle of beer (I like to use pale ale, but you can use whatever kind you like)
1 1/2 cups of veal stock
4 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of sage
1T caraway seeds
1 large carrot, peeled & med dice
1 large parsnip, peeled & med dice
TT salt
TT black pepper
Grated montasio cheese for garnish (substitute vecchio, parmigiano reggiano or grana padano)

in a dutch oven on med-low heat, add the pancetta and cook until crispy and fat has rendered
remove the pancetta from pan and leave the fat
season the short ribs all over with salt and pepper
turn heat up to med-high
add short ribs to pan and sear all over until nicely browned
once browned remove from pan and set aside
lower the heat to med-low
add the onions and saute for about 15-20 minutes until nice and browned
add the garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes
add the beer, tomatoes, stock, pancetta, short ribs, herbs & caraway seeds to the pan
cover and bring to a boil
place in 250F oven and braise for 2 hours
remove from oven
remove short ribs and cut into medium dice
skim any fat that rendered on top of braising liquid
add the carrots and parsnips to liquid and simmer until tender about 40 minutes
add the short ribs back to pan and bring up to temperature
most of the liquid should have completely absorbed into the meat.
should be thick and hearty, not runny. If so continue to reduce uncovered until thicker

Finish the dish:
bring 6qts of water to a boil
once boiling, add 2T of sea salt
drop pasta into boiling water in batches
scoop a little of the ragu into a large non stick pan and heat over low
once all pasta begins to float remove from water and add to non stick pan with the ragu and toss together
repeat with remaining pasta until it is all cooked off adding more ragu as needed
add a little bit of pasta water to non stick as needed if ragu becomes too thick
transfer finished product to serving plates and garish with some grated cheese
serve immediately