Archive | November, 2012

Chicken with Bell Peppers, Pollo ai Peperoni

Chicken With Bell Peppers

Chicken With Bell Peppers

Chicken with bell peppers is a classic north Italian dish, or at least that is where I have encountered it — in Piemonte, and very fine eating it is.

  • A drawn chicken weighing about 2 1/2 pounds (1.2 k)
  • 3 meaty bell peppers of the colors you prefer
  • 3 medium onions
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 3/5 cups (400 ml) dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 F (200 C).

While it’s heating, season the bird inside and out with salt and pepper to taste and slip the rosemary and bay leaves into the cavity. Truss the bird and put it in a fairly high-sided baking dish.

Wash, stem, seed, and rib the peppers, and dice them. Peel the onions and slice them crosswise quite finely.

Distribute the onions and peppers over the chicken, seasoning them too to taste with salt and pepper, dot the vegetables with the butter, and sprinkle the wine over all.

Cover the pan and bake the chicken for 45 minutes to an hour (or until the juices from a skewer inserted into the wing joint run clear), basting the bird occasionally with the pan drippings.

When the bird is done, chop it and serve it with the cooked vegetables and the pan drippings to taste. In the winter it’s especially nice with polenta, and in terms of a wine I would think about a Dolcetto or an unoaked Barbera.

A note: The picture is from a restaurant in Barolo, and I think they may have chopped the chicken before roasting it. You could too if you want, though roasting it with the herbs in the cavity will infuse their aromas in the meat.

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Lasagna With Sausage & Squash, Lasagne Con Salsiccia e Zucca

Sausage and Squash Lasagna

Sausage and Squash Lasagna

Lasagna is an infinite universe, and while there are some universal standbys, there are also a great many seasonal variations on the theme. This lasagna with squash and sausages, for example, is perfect in the fall. I used Italian zucca gialla, which is a bright yellow with a green rind, but butternut squash will also work well.

  • 1/2 pound (about 200 g) sheets of lasagna
  • A leek, green part and roots trimmed away and discarded
  • 2/3 pound (300 g) squash pulp, diced
  • A little more than 1/2 pound (250 g) fresh mild Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/4 pound (115 g) Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup (50 ml) béchamel sauce
  • 1 1/3 cups (70 g) freshly grated Parmigiano
  • Olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Set pasta water to boil, salting it when it begins to bubble.

While it is heating, wash the leek well, cut it in half lengthwise, and chop it finely. Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet over a medium flame and cook the garlic clove for a couple of minutes, until it begins to color. Fish it out and discard it, and add the leeks. Salt them to taste and wilt them for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Crumble the sausages into the leeks and brown them for a couple of minutes, stirring, then add the squash and simmer the mixture for 10 more minutes.

While the sauce is simmering cook the lasagna per the instructions on the package, and preheat your oven to 380 F (190 C).

Butter a lasagna pan proportionate to the volume of the ingredients, and line the bottom with the béchamel sauce. Cover it with a layer of pasta, followed by some of the squash mixture, some of the cheeses, and then more pasta, until all is used up; finish with Parmigiano and dot it with the butter.

Bake the lasagna for about a half hour, or until it is nicely browned.

A wine? This is fairly rich, so I might go with something zesty along the lines of a Bardolino.

How to make Lasagna Alla Bolognese, Illustrated

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Grinzane Cavour

Grinzane Cavour

Grinzane Cavour

Greetings from Piemonte! This is the castle (and town) of Grinzane, where Count Camillo Benso di Cavour served as mayor for a time — his father bought him the castle since he needed a place to live — and also dabbled with winemaking, following the lead of the Marchesa di Barolo, who was engaged in developing one of the world’s finest reds (Barolo) at the time.

Count Cavour later said that he got his grasp of politics — this is the man who sent Piemontese troops to Crimea to gain the support of the English, and also managed to convince the French to join forces with the Piemontese to force the Austrohungarians to relinquish their hold on much of northern Italy, thus paving the way for the reunification of Italy under the House of Savoy — from his dealings with the farmers and townspeople of Grinzane. Grinzane later thanked him by changing its name to Grinzane Cavour.

His castle is now a fascinating museum, with an enoteca downstairs, and the vineyards he planted are still there, and still producing Barolo.

A great place to visit if you happen to be in Piemonte!

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Greetings from Piemonte! This is the castle (and town) of Grinzane, where Count Camillo Benso di Cavour served as mayor for a time — his father bought him the castle since he needed a place to live — and also dabbled with winemaking, following the lead of the Marchesa di Barolo, who was engaged in developing one of the world’s finest reds (Barolo) at the time.

Count Cavour later said that he got his grasp of politics — this is the man who sent Piemontese troops to Crimea to gain the support of the English, and also managed to convince the French to join forces with the Piemontese to force the Austrohungarians to relinquish their hold on much of northern Italy, thus paving the way for the reunification of Italy under the House of Savoy — from his dealings with the farmers and townspeople of Grinzane. Grinzane later thanked him by changing its name to Grinzane Cavour.

His castle is now a fascinating museum, with an enoteca downstairs, and the vineyards he planted are still there, and still producing Barolo.

A great place to visit if you happen to be in Piemonte!

Grilled Radicchio Rosso di Treviso, Radicchio Rosso di Treviso alla Griglia

Grilled Radicchio: Enjoy!

Grilled Radicchio: Enjoy!

One wouldn’t necessarily think to grill a leafy vegetable, but Radicchio Rosso has the texture and body necessary to stand up to the dry heat of a charcoal or stove top grill, and also a pleasing bitterness that will contrast nicely with the olive oil used to keep it from sticking and burning. Grilled radicchio rosso di Treviso also benefits from the slightly smoky flavor it acquires during cooking.

To serve 6:

  • 6 nice bunches of Radicchio Rosso di Treviso that are well closed, firm, and about 6 inches (15 cm) long
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • If you are cooking over the stove, a cast-iron griddle with a ridged bottom of the sort shown in the picture.

Though one can use Radicchio Rosso Precoce in a pinch, the Tardivo variety, which has more pronounced ribs and thinner leaves, will work best. The round headed radicchio such as Chioggia will not work.

Wash the radicchio, trim the tips of the leaves and the tap roots, and quarter each bunch in lengthwise. Season the radicchio with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let it rest a few minutes.

If you are cooking it over the coals, cook it  gently (the coals shouldn’t be too hot), using a folding wire-mesh grill of the kind that allows you to turn the food without disturbing it if you have it, brushing the leaves with a little more oil every now and again, lest they blacken or char. They’re done when they’re thoroughly wilted and have lost the bright red color, but still display some crunch.

As a variation, some cooks add a few drops of vinegar to the oil.

If you are instead cooking your radicchio on a griddle, lay them out on the griddle and cook, turning them often, until they look like the radicchio in the picture above.

In addition to being a tasty vegetable that will nicely accompany other grilled meats, including flavorful fare such as sausages, grilled radicchio works nicely as a bed upon which to place other foods, and can go into other dishes.

Yield: 6 servings grilled radicchio rosso di Treviso.

This recipe, with photos to illustrate the steps

About Radicchio Rosso di Treviso

How to Grill Radicchio, Illustrated

Grilled Radicchio: Enjoy!

Grilled Radicchio: Enjoy!

Radicchio is a leafy vegetable, and as such one wouldn’t think it suited to grilling. However, it is flavorful, the leaves have considerable body, and its texture is such that if properly oiled it can easily withstand the dry heat of a charcoal fire or stovetop griddle. Therefore, it is a tasty if unusual (for non-North Italians) addition to a winter grigliata mista.

The griddle in question is Judy Francini’s; as she justly points out few modern cooks have access to hearths of the sort traditionally used to grill radicchio, but most everyone has a stovetop griddle that can give equally good results.

Though one can grill either radicchio tardivo or radicchio precoce, I prefer radicchio precoce of the sort shown here because it holds its shape better.

How to proceed?

Set Your Radicchio On Your Grill

Set Your Radicchio On Your Grill

Wash the radicchio, trim the tips of the leaves and the tap roots, and quarter each bunch lengthwise. If you want you can season the radicchio with the olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let it rest a few minutes.

Or simply lay the quarters on the griddle, like Judy did. Cast iron will work best, and a bistecchiera of this kind is ideal.

Drizzle Your Radicchio with Olive Oil

Drizzle Your Radicchio with Olive Oil

Without oil the radicchio will simply dry out and burn. After turning on the flame Judy gave our radicchio a healthy drizzle of Extravirgin olive oil and seasoned it with salt and pepper.

Turning the Radicchio

Turning the Radicchio

After 3-4 minutes at a moderately brisk flame (the griddle should not be searingly hot), turn the radicchio. Note the score marks left by the griddle.

Note the Score Marks...

Note the Score Marks…

Continue cooking and turning until your radicchio looks like the first shot. Done.

In addition to being a tasty vegetable that will nicely accompany other grilled foods, including flavorful fare such as sausages, grilled radicchio works nicely as a bed upon which to place other foods, and can go into other dishes.

Enjoy!

About Radicchio di Treviso

This recipe, without the photos