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Peperoni alla Goria, Marinated Grilled Peppers

A reader recently wrote to ask, “I am harvesting my Asti peppers and want to make peperonata. I have several recipes, including yours, that use tomatoes. Are there any without tomatoes in them?”

Peperonata is stewed bell peppers, and I do include tomatoes in them. Always have, and never thought about why. So I looked through a bunch of cookbooks, and discovered that so does everyone else: Some call for less, and others more, but  tomatoes are a constant presence peperonata.

I did however find a couple of other uses for peppers that I’m going to try, and we’ll begin with Italian food writer and historian Giovanni Goria’s Peperoni alla Goria,  which are Marinated Grilled Peppers.

The recipe has been quoted in a number of cookbooks, as well as appearing on the web in several places. In other words, it’s good!

You’ll need:

  • Sweet bell peppers, ideally of the Astigiano variety, cut into broad strips
  • 2 canned anchovy fillets per strip (you could reduce this some if you want), rinsed and patted dry.
  • Finely sliced garlic, 2 slices per strip (optional)
  • Salted capers, well rinsed
  • Extravirgin olive oil
  • A mixture of finely chopped fresh herbs of choice; possibilities include:
  • Parsley, sage, mint, celery leaves, tarragon, thyme, and marjoram
  • A bunch of basil leaves, shredded

Begin by stemming, seeding, and ribbing the peppers. Cut them into broad strips that will lie flat, and either grill them skin-side down or broil them skin-side up to blister the skins. When the skins are well blistered, remove them under cool running water and pat the peppers dry.

Put the peppers on a serving platter and lay an anchovy fillet or two, a couple of slices of garlic, and a few capers on each.

Mix sufficient olive oil to season the peppers (enough to oil them, though they shouldn’t be swimming in oil — say a half cup for 3-4 peppers) with the chopped herbs — Italian recipes don’t say how much, but I would figure a tablespoon of chopped herbs per pepper (not strip!) — and spread the mixture over the peppers. Turn the slices to make sure they are coated on both sides, sprinkle the shredded basil over all, cover, and let the peppers marinate for several hours before serving them.

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Peperoni in Brusco, Marinated Bell Peppers

A reader recently wrote to ask, “I am harvesting my Asti peppers and want to make peperonata. I have several recipes, including yours, that use tomatoes. Are there any without tomatoes in them?”

Peperonata is stewed bell peppers, and I do include tomatoes in them. Always have, and never thought about why. So I looked through a bunch of cookbooks, and discovered that so does everyone else: Some call for less, and others more, but  tomatoes are a constant presence in peperonata.

I did find a couple of other uses for peppers that I’m going to try, including Peperoni in Brusco, Marinated Bell Peppers. This is a Piemontese recipe, and rather than have you marinate the peppers in the olive oil most recipes call for, has you marinate the peppers in vinegar before serving them. A tasty antipasto!

To serve 6:

  • 6 bell peppers of the color you prefer
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • A heaping tablespoon of minced parsley and basil
  • A clove of garlic, minced
  • 3 anchovy fillets, boned and rinsed
  •  1 tablespoon pickled capers, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar

Begin by stemming, seeding, and ribbing the peppers, before cutting them into broad rectangular strips that will lie flat.

Heat the oil in a broad skillet, and briefly cook the peppers, turning them once or twice; they should be done but not soft. Sprinkle the remaining ingredients over them and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove them to a platter, spooning the pan drippings over them, let them cool, and they’re ready to serve.

Yield: 6 servings marinated bell peppers.

Carne All’Albese or Carne Cruda, I.E. Chopped Raw Beef Alba Style

Carne Cruda All'Albese

Carne Cruda All’Albese

In other parts of the world finely minced raw beef is called steak tartare, and in many places they crack an egg into it. In Piemonte they don’t, preferring lemon juice and olive oil, and you should try this even if you think you don’t like raw meat, as it can be a rare treat indeed.

To serve 4 you’ll need

  • A pound (450 g) of top quality beef (see below note on meats)
  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • Two cloves garlic, crushed flat
  • Salt and pepper
  • A white truffle (optional)
  • A rinsed, boned and minced salted anchovy (optional)

Continuing with the introduction, The quality of the meat is of course paramount to the success of the dish, and, considering the horrid bugs that occasionally strike those who use commercially slaughtered meats, selecting it properly is very important.

You have several choices. Piemontese recipes suggest beef filet, and if you follow their lead you will want a thick, whole piece of beef filet. Filet because it’s tender enough, and whole because the bacteria that can cause food poisoning can’t penetrate a whole piece of meat — they stay on the surface. When you get it home, quickly sear it on all sides — you’re just killing what ever’s on the surface, not cooking the meat. Then remove it from the flames, trim away the seared sections, and you’re ready to proceed.

At the Trattoria alla Palma outside Verona, where I had the good fortune to watch them prepare steak tartare, they used cuore di scamone, which is an individual muscle from the heart of the rump, and both flavorful and tender.

Though many cookbooks say to grind the meat for steak tartare, the results will be superior if you chop it extremely finely with a very sharp knife, because grinding ruptures and crushes the fibers, with an adverse effect on the texture of the dish.

Once you have chopped the meat, put it in a bowl and mix the lemon juice into it, together with the garlic, and season abundantly with olive oil (as much as the lemon juice or perhaps more), salt and pepper. If you are using the anchovy add it now.

Let the meat sit, for between 10 minutes and two hours — the longer it sits the more the pinkness will fade, as the lemon juice cooks the meat. Purists prefer shorter sitting times. In any case, once it has sat, mix it again, removing the garlic when you do, put it on a serving dish, dot it with finely shaved truffle if you’re using it, and serve it as an antipasto. Some people also serve it with tiny pickles, and others dot it with thinly sliced wild mushrooms if they don’t have a truffle.

Chicken Marengo, Pollastri alla Marengo

Chicken Marengo is said to have been first prepared for Napoleon on the eve of June 14, 1800, following his victory over the Austrians near the Piemontese town of Alessandria. As one might guess, the situation was fairly chaotic, and the cook used whatever he was able to scrounge.

This is probably why no two Chicken Marengo recipes are alike, and many are quite fanciful. Giovanni Vialardi’s is actually tame by modern standards, and this is probably because he compiled it just a few decades after the battle took place.

Clean two chickens and cut them into 6 pieces each, in other words three from the breast, the thighs, and the backs, plus the wings and the drumsticks, which should be boned.

Mr. Vialardi says to put the pieces in a pot with a quarter cup of oil and a half cup of unsalted butter – you can, if you want, reduce the amount of fat, and I likely would — and add to them 2 onions, a carrot, and a stalk of celery, all sliced finely.

Cook until the meat has colored and the onions are golden, then stir in 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 cups of broth or water, check seasoning, and simmer until the chicken is tender than the sauce is reduced. Transfer the birds to a heated platter, deglaze the sauce and either strain it or blend it, pour it over the birds, and serve.

Carne Cruda All’Albese

Carne All'Albese

Carne All’Albese

In other parts of the world finely minced raw beef served at table is called steak tartare, and they crack an egg into it. Piemontesi instead prefer lemon juice and olive oil, and you should try this even if you think you don’t like raw meat, as it can be a rare treat indeed.

The quality of the meat is of course paramount to the success of Carne Cruda all’Albese, and, considering the horrid bugs that occasionally strike those who use commercially slaughtered meats, selecting it properly is very important. You want a thick, whole piece of beef filet. Filet because it’s tender enough, and whole because the bacteria that can cause food poisoning can’t penetrate a whole piece of meat — they stay on the surface. When you get it home, quickly sear it on all sides — you’re just killing whatever’s on the surface, not cooking the meat. Then remove it from the flames, trim away the seared sections, and you’re ready to proceed.

Assuming your trimmed piece of meat weighs a pound (about 450 g), you’ll need:

  • The juice of 2 lemons
  • Olive oil
  • Two cloves garlic, crushed flat
  • Salt and pepper
  • A white truffle (optional)
  • A rinsed, boned and minced salted anchovy (optional)

 

Chop the meat very finely with a long-bladed knife. Don’t use a grinder, because the texture will suffer.

Put the meat in a bowl and mix the lemon juice into it, together with the garlic, and season abundantly with olive oil (as much as the lemon juice or perhaps more), salt and pepper. If you are using the anchovy add it now.

Let the meat sit, for between 10 minutes and two hours — the longer it sits the more the pinkness will fade, as the lemon juice cooks the meat. Purists prefer shorter sitting times.

In any case, once it has sat, mix it again, removing the garlic when you do, put it on a serving dish, dot it with finely shaved truffle if you’re using it, and serve it as an antipasto. Some people also serve it with tiny pickles, and others dot it with thinly sliced wild mushrooms if they don’t have a truffle.