Thursday, October 29, 2015

Spezzatino di Vitello a Risi Piselli

     Italian Veal Stew With Peas & Rice! 
     There are several regional Italian veal stew recipes.  Some are very simple and they resemble an ordinary bowl of home style stew made with carrots, onion, celery and potato.  Some regional Italian veal stews require very few ingredients and they look elegant on a plate.  Often a key flavor combination, like lemon and sage, is featured in such a veal stew.
     Many traditional Italian veal stew recipes are made only with ingredients that were available before the Colombian Exchange.  This means that peppers, potato and tomato are not in the list of ingredients.  The recipes for some Italian stews that require no ingredients from the Americas actually date back to the days of the Roman Empire.  As the old saying goes, there is no use trying to improve a good thing.
     Today's Italian Spezzatino di Vitello recipe is one of my favorites.  Tomato is the only new world ingredient added.  The flavor of this simple veal stew is very nice!  Rici Piselli is a good accompaniment for this stew.
     Spezzatino di Vitello:
     This recipe yields 1 large portion of stew.  (About 2 1/2 cups)
     Step 1:  Cut 8 ounces of veal leg or shoulder meat into bite size stewing pieces.
     Lightly dredge the veal pieces in flour.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauce pot or sauteuse pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of pomace olive oil.
     Add the floured veal pieces.
     Sauté till golden brown highlights appear on all sides of the veal pieces.
     Step 3:  Drain off the excess oil.  Leave about 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan.
     Return the pan to medium/medium low heat.  
     Step 4:  Add 2 chopped garlic cloves.
     Add 1 thin sliced small shallot.
     Sauté till the garlic starts to turn a golden color.
     Step 5:  Add 2 or 3 small portobello field mushrooms that are cut into quarter wedges.
     Add 1/3 cup of thick carrot slices.
     Briefly sauté till the vegetables start to become aromatic.
     Step 6:  Add 1/2 cup of dry white wine.
     Add 1/4 cup of imported Italian canned crushed plum tomato.
     Add enough veal broth or beef broth to cover the ingredients.  (About 2 1/2 to 3 cups.)
     Bring the stew to a gentle boil while stirring.  (The flour on the veal will thicken the sauce to a very thin consistency.)
     Step 7:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of thin chiffonade sliced fresh sage leaves.  (chiffonade = cut into very thin ribbons.)
     Add 6 black olives that are cut in half.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of capers.
     Add 1 tablespoon of chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 8:  Gently simmer and reduce till the stewing sauce becomes a medium thin consistency and the veal is tender.  (about 40 minutes)
     Step 9:  Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon juice.
     Keep the stew warm over very low heat.

     Rici Piselli:
     This recipe yields 2 portions of peas and rice.
     I chose brown rice, because it has a nice natural nutty flavor.  White rice is traditional.
     Brown rice requires more water than white rice.  If you choose white rice, use a proportion of 1 part long grain white rice to 2 parts of liquid.
     Step 1:  Boil 2 1/4 cups of water in a sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1 cup of brown rice.
     When the liquid returns to a boil, reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Step 2:  Cover the pot with a lid.
     Simmer and steam the rice for 20 minutes till the rice becomes tender.
     Step 3:  Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of chicken broth.
     Add 3/4 cup of thawed frozen peas.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 4:  Stir the peas and rice together over very low heat, so the peas become hot.
     Spezzatino di Vitello a Risi Piselli: 
     Spoon 1 portion of the rici piselli onto a plate.
     Use a spoon to form a ring of peas and rice around the border of the plate.
     Spoon the spezzatino di vitello on the plate inside of the ring of peas and rice.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     The flavor of this spezzatino is delicious and comfortable!  The wine, sage, capers, shallots and garlic combine to give this recipe a classic flavor.  It does not take much time for the veal to be stewed tender, so this stew recipe can be finished in less than 1 hour.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Fettuccine Carbonara con Tacchino e Carciofi

     Fettuccine Carbonara With Turkey and Artichokes!
     Pasta Carbonara is rich beyond belief.  Pasta Carbonara provides enough protein, lipids and carbohydrates to keep an outdoor worker warm and happy in sub zero temperatures.  
     The old expression, "eating like an Eskimo," does have some validity.  Those who work endless hours outdoors on a daily basis do tend to prefer heavy rich food.  When the weather is unbearably cold, the body craves food that is rich with carbohydrates, fat and protein.  Pasta Carbonara satisfies these needs.
     Pasta Carbonara definitely sticks to the ribs and hunger is guaranteed not to return anytime soon.  The full tummy feeling that Pasta Carbonara provides, may even last till sometime the next day.  After eating a big bowl of Pasta Carbonara, sitting in a recliner chair while sipping on an Italian aperitif is just about the only thing that can be accomplished. 
     Today's Pasta Carbonara recipe variation is made with standard sugar cured bacon and there is no Italian pancetta in the recipe.  A food processor is used to mince the basic carbonara paste.  
     Turkey and artichokes were added to the basic Carbonara recipe.  In recent years, turkey has been a popular healthy meat choice in Italy and it replaces pork in many recipes.  Artichoke lightens the heavy sauce a little bit, but today's Carbonara is not light on the tummy by any means.

     Carbonara gets its name from the crushed black peppercorn garnish.  Crushed black pepper is added to the sauce and it is sprinkled over the finished pasta.  The black specks resemble carbon bits that landed on the pasta from charcoal that was stoked in a pot belly stove while the pasta was being prepared.  Some say this is how Carbonara got its name.  Others say that a pasta with pancetta cream sauce was a simple meal that charcoal kiln tenders liked to make on chilly days.  Either way, charcoal specks have something to do with the Carbonara name.   

     *This entire recipe yields 1 hearty pasta entrée!
     Artichoke Preparation:
     Boil 1 large artichoke in salted water with 1/2 of a lemon, till the artichoke becomes tender.
     Cool the artichoke under cold running water.
     Remove the outer leaves, the stem and the sharp choke from the artichoke heart.
     Cut the artichoke heart and bottom into bite size pieces.
     Set the artichoke pieces aside.
     Minced Bacon, Garlic and Onion Pesto:
     Place 2 1/2 strips of coarse chopped cured bacon in a food processor.
     Add 1/3 cup of coarsely chopped onion.
     Add 4 garlic cloves. 
     Pulse the food processor, till the mixture becomes finely minced and it looks like a thick paste.
     Set the mixture aside.

     Cook 1 portion of fettuccine pasta in boiling water over high heat, till it becomes al dente.
     Cool the pasta under cold running water;
     Drain the water off of the pasta.
     Toss the pasta with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and set it aside.

     Fettuccine Carbonara con Tacchino e Carciofi:
     Step 1:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of blended olive oil.
     Add the minced bacon, garlic and onion paste.
     Sauté the ingredients, till the onions start to turn clear in color.
     Step 2:  Add 4 ounces of raw turkey breast filet that is cut into small bite size pieces.
     Sauté the ingredients, till the bacon and onions turn a golden brown color.
     Step 3:  Add just enough flour to soak up the excess grease, while stirring.  (About 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) 
     Stir till the roux combines.
     Step 4:  Add 2 cups of milk.
     Bring the sauce to a gentle boil.  Stir occasionally.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add sea salt to taste.
     Add 1 teaspoon of crushed black peppercorn.
     Add a 2 1/2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiana Cheese while stirring.
     Add the reserved artichoke pieces.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce till it is a thin consistency that can barely coat a spoon.
     Step 6:  Reduce the temperature to very low heat.  (The temperature must be less than 145ºF when the egg yolk is added.)
     Add 1 egg yolk, while constantly stirring and gently shaking the pan.  Stir the egg into the sauce quickly!
     Gently simmer and stir for about 30 seconds, till the egg yolk tightens the sauce.
     Step 7:  Add the reserved al dente fettuccine pasta.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of minced Italian Parsley.
     Toss the sauce and pasta together as the pasta warms in the sauce.
     Remove the pan from the heat.

     Use a straight tine carving fork to mound the Fettuccine Carbonara con Tacchino e Carciofi in a shallow pasta bowl.
     Spoon any remaining sauce over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 1/2 of a fine grated hard boiled egg over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 2 to 3 pinches coarse ground black pepper over the pasta.
     Sprinkle 2 pinches of fine chopped Italian Parsley over the pasta.
     Serve with a ramekin of fine grated Parmigiana Cheese on the side.
     Viola!  This Turkey and Artichoke Carbonara version is good cold weather food! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles with Italian Brown Mushrooms and Crème Fraîche

     Plain Simple Pennsylvania Dutch Style Cooking!     
     Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles are wide ribbon noodles that are cut into 1" or 2" lengths.  These noodles usually have ruffled edges.  There usually is a large selection of Penn Dutch Egg Noodles at almost any grocery store.
     At home we usually served egg noodles with parsley butter or black pepper butter.  Sometimes we cooked these noodles with a Penn Dutch style chicken stew.
     A meatless dinner course is always a nice dietary option.  Mushrooms take the place of meat in many recipes, because mushrooms are a source of complex proteins.  I made today's pasta with small portobello mushrooms.  Portobello are also known as Italian Brown Mushrooms.  These field mushrooms have a rich mushroom flavor.
     Some produce clerks still label small portobello as crimini.  Shoppers were charged a higher price for crimini than portobello several years ago.  This turned out to be a deceptive marketing scheme and grocers are now required to not use the crimini name to justify a higher price for small portobello.
     Crème Fraîche is half soured cream.  In the old days, when I first started doing chef work, we would open cream containers and let them sit out in room temperature for a few hours.  Then we would refrigerate the cream till the next day.  The cream would be almost as thick as sour cream the next day and it had an authentic crème fraîche flavor.  The problem with this technique is possible contamination from airborne bacteria.
     The old crème fraîche making method has been replaced with a new safer method.  By simply mixing equal amounts of cream and sour cream together, you get crème fraîche that is much safer to eat.  The flavor is the same as making crème fraîche the old fashioned way.
     There are certain herbs and vegetables that go extremely well with creme fraiche.  Mushrooms are probably the best for creme fraiche.  This sauce is not rich or heavy like a stroganoff because no beef demi glace or mustard is added.  This is a nice comfortable egg noodle entrée that is perfect for a chilly day!
     Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles with Italian Brown Mushrooms and Crème Fraîche: 
     This recipe yields 1 large portion.
     Just forget about the Italian words al dente when cooking Pennsylvania Dutch food.  Noodles and vegetables are always cooked soft and tender!  Fully cooked meats are also a trademark.  Some people criticize Pennsylvania Dutch food for being bland and overcooked, but it is meant to be simple hearty food.
     Step 1:  Cook 1 large portion of Pennsylvania Dutch egg noodles in boiling water over high heat till they become tender.
     Drain the hot water off of the noodles.
     Cool the noodles under cold running water.
     Drain the cold water off of the noodles and set them aside.
     Step 2:  Heat a wide sauté pan over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add 2 tablespoons of chopped onion.
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.
     Step 3:  Add 8 to 10 small portobello mushrooms that a cut into thick slices.
     Sauté the mushrooms till they are tender.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of milk.
     Add 1/2 cup of cream.
     Add 1/2 cup of sour cream.
     Add 1 tablespoon of thin sliced green onion.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 5:  Bring the sauce up to gentle simmer.
     Add the reserved egg noodles to the sauce.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of thin sliced chives.
     Toss the noodles and sauce together.
     Gently simmer and reduce till the sauce can cling to the egg noodles.  (medium thin consistency)
     Step 6:  Mound the Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Noodles with Italian Brown Mushrooms and Crème Fraîche on a plate.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     This is a nice tasting plate of Penn Dutch Country noodles that is easy to make. 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Minestra di Indivia e Basilico con Midolline Pasta

     Italian Endive, Basil and Melon Seed Pasta Soup!
     Endive lettuce has a mild bitter flavor that mellows when it is cooked.  The combination of fresh basil and lemon adds a unique flavor contrast.  Midolline is melon seed shaped pasta.  Midolline is perfect for soups.  This is a great tasting Venetian style vegetarian soup!
     Minestra di Indivia e Basilico con Midolline Pasta:
     This recipe yields 1 large bowl of soup!  (About 2 1/4 cups.)
     Many Italian soups are a la minute (cooked to order).  This soup should be made shortly before serving and it should not kept kept warm in a soup warmer. 
     Step 1:  Heat a sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.  
     Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  
     Add 1 minced garlic clove.  
     Sauté the garlic, till it is a golden color.  
     Step 2:  Add 3 tablespoons of diced carrot.  
     Add 2 tablespoons chopped portobello mushroom.  
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced onion.  
     Sauté till the onions turn clear in color.  
     Step 3:  Add 1 cup of coarsely chopped endive lettuce.  
     Sauté till the endive starts to wilt.  
     Step 4:  Add 8 whole fresh large basil leaves.  
     Briefly sauté till the basil leaves wilt.  
     Step 5:  Add 2 3/4 cups of light vegetable broth.  
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 small pinch of oregano.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.  
     Step 6:  Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the soup to a boil.  
     Step 7:  Add 1/4 cup of midolline pasta.  
     Stir the soup occasionally as the pasta cooks.  
     Boil till the pasta is cooked al dente.
     Step 8:  Add 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice.   
     Remove the bay leaf.  
     Step 9:  Ladle the soup into a shallow soup bowl.  
     Float a thin slice of lemon on the surface of the soup.  
     Garnish with a basil sprig.  
     The midolline pasta does look like melon seeds in this soup.  The small amount of onion and carrot helps to "sweeten" the broth.  No celery is needed for the soffritto vegetable mixture in this soup.  The broth has such a refreshing light flavor!