Archive for the 'Italian' Category



Mock Porchetta

Mock Porchetta Served

Ever since I had heard of porchetta, I have lusted after it. A whole pig stuffed with garlic, herbs, and other seasonings? Yes, please! It’s almost like an Italian version of barbeque.

Despite my pretensions, there’s no way I’m going to cook a whole pig, particularly in my small apartment kitchen. I don’t think it would fit in my oven for one.

Mock Porchetta Cooking

This isn’t a real porchetta. Given I have no baseline for real porchetta, I don’t even know how it compares. It is, however, good and I think it might be a good approximation.

I waited to make this until I had a “special occasion” (a.k.a. when it would be more than just Angela and I for dinner). The opportunity presented itself when my parents came to visit.

This is actually a great meal to make when having company. While it takes a long time to cook (and does require advanced preparation), it requires little in the way of real work. Most of the cooking is done unattended and only needs to be checked on once every hour or so. Having a whole meal in one dish doesn’t hurt.

The only proof you should need that the mock porchetta is good is that my mother asked for a copy of the recipe.

I served the mock porchetta with a homemade baguette and a bottle of 2004 Dopff & Irion Riesling Schoenenbourg. Dessert was homemade orange ice cream.

Mock Porchetta seasoned and tied

Mock Porchetta
Adapted from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook: A Compendium of Recipes and Cooking Lessons from San Francisco’s Beloved Restaurant

1 2-1/2 to 3 lbs. pork butt roast
salt
1 tbsp capers, rinse, soaked, dried and chopped
1 tsp chopped lemon zest
3 garlic cloves, coarsley chopped
12 fresh sage leaves, crushed and chopped
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped and chopped
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 lbs. peeled and sliced potatoes, carrots, and red onions
olive oil
2/3 cup pork stock or chicken stock
2 tbsp dry vermouth

  1. In a bowl, combine the capers, lemon zest, garlic, herbs, fennel seeds, and pepper in a small bowl. Mix well.
  2. Trim all but 1/4″ of fat off the sides of the pork butt. Cut into the pork butt to open up as much surface area as possible while only opening up natural seams in the meat. (If you use a portion near the bone, the natural pocket left by the bone may suffice for this portion).
  3. Season the inside of the pork with salt evenly. Rub the herb mixture all over the inside of the pork. Season the outside of the pork.
  4. Tie the pork to form a uniform shape.
  5. Cover the pork and allow to sit in the refrigerator for 1 to 3 days.
  6. Remove the pork an hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  8. Toss the vegetables in a minimum of olive oil, so that they are barely coated. Season with a few pinches of salt.
  9. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat until hot. Add the pork roast and surround with the vegetables.
  10. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour.
  11. After an hour, turn over the meat and rotate the vegetables.
  12. Bake for 1 hour more.
  13. Add 1/3 cup of the stock, return to the oven, and bake for 15 to 30 minutes more, to 185°F.
  14. Remove from the oven. Remove the pork and vegetables, cover with aluminum foil.
  15. Deglaze the dutch oven with the vermouth and remaining stock. Bring to a simmer and scrape any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Simmer to reduce the sauce slightly.
  16. Slice the pork and serve garnished with the vegetables and sauce.

Serves 4 to 6.

Sanguinaccio (Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding)

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Chocolate pudding invariably brings back memories of childhood. I doubt that there have ever been children that dislike pudding. It’s got a cream texture and it comes in so many flavors that there has to be one that you enjoy.

During my childhood, I didn’t get the pudding in the now familiar pudding snack form (which my wife still likes). My mom would make pudding from the Jello box (and never the generic brand).

Every few months, I’d notice that there was a bowl of pudding chilling in the refrigerator and I knew it would appear on the table after dinner for dessert (which, despite the fact that he rarely made it, my dad insisted on presenting). Or better yet, I’d get to eat it for breakfast.

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This, however, is not the pudding of my childhood. It’s much richer and more chocolaty. The spices also make it a bit different. But, at it’s core, it’s still chocolate pudding.

I failed to properly melt all the chocolate in the pudding so there were small chunks floating around. Personally, I enjoyed having a bit more texture to the pudding but it isn’t the intended effect so, assuming you want smooth pudding, make sure to stir until all the chocolate has melted.

I liked the pudding, both for dessert and breakfast. It went particularly well with some whipped cream.

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Sanguinaccio (Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups whole milk
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, and sugar. Slowly whisk in the milk until it forms a paste than whisk in the remaining milk.
  2. Transfer the milk mixture from the bowl into a sauce pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  3. Remove the milk mixture from the heat and return to the bowl. Stir in the chocolate, vanilla, and cinnamon and whisk until the chocolate is completed melted.
  4. Allow the pudding to cool to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator.
  5. Serve the chilled pudding topped with whipped cream.

Makes 10 servings.

Pollo al Diavolo (The Devil’s Chicken)

Pollo al Diavolo

Some recipes manage to surprise me. Pollo al diavolo is a fairly common recipe for Italian (and Italian-American) cookbooks. Usually, it’s just a spicy chicken that’s either sautéed or braised. It’s rarely bad but it’s become normal and expected.

This recipe was not at all what I was expecting. To be honest, I was sold on this recipe merely because the picture of it looked good (unfortunately, I don’t think my pictures turned out as well). I saw the name and recognizing that it implied spicy food, I figured it’d make a good dinner.

Except, this was significantly different than any version of Pollo al diavolo I had ever had. Most are spicy through red pepper flakes; this is spicy through the black pepper it’s cooked with as well as a spicy oil (olio picante) that you can optionally drizzle over top (I chose to, Angela didn’t).

Despite the relatively short period of time that the black pepper mixture is on the chicken, the pepper taste is absorbed by the chicken. Unlike my experiences with steak au poivre (which I would happily accept as mistakes in my cooking), the pepper did not overpower the taste of the chicken but merely complemented it. I found that the olio picante also complemented the chicken but it tastes primarily of jalapeños with a surprisingly muted heat.

The brining of the chicken is my addition to this recipe (it wasn’t in the original). It did help to make the chicken nice and juicy. If I were to make it again (and I probably will so this can be considered a note to myself), I’d probably add crushed black pepper corns to the brine.

I enjoyed the parsley salad although the parsley portion of it was my least favorite. I’d be happy to substitute a different leafy green for the parsley and I can’t imagine it wouldn’t improve the outcome. The vinaigrette nicely contrasts with the spiciness of the chicken.

As I said, my overall impression of this was surprise. It was less spicy than I expected and the spice was completely different. It’s a much more elegant version of a normally pedestrian dish.

Roast Pollo al Diavolo

Pollo al Diavolo (The Devil’s Chicken)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

Brine:
1 gallon water
1 cup/225 grams kosher salt
1/2 cup/125 grams sugar

1 three-to-five lbs. chicken
1/4 cup ground black pepper
6 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 red onion, thinly sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
olio picante

  1. In a sauce pan over high heat, combine all the brine ingredients. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Put the brine in the refrigerator and allow to chill. Add the chicken and brine for 8 to 12 hours. Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry with paper towels. Allow the chicken to rest in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  3. Truss the chicken and baste it all over with the olive oil.
  4. Place in a roasting pan and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
  5. Combine the 1/4 cup black pepper, a pinch of salt, and the mustard and whisk together. Drizzle in 1 tbsp of olive oil, whisking until blended.
  6. Remove the chicken from the oven and brush the chicken with the pepper-mustard mixture all over. Return the chicken to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  7. Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, combine the parsley, onion, tomatoes, vinegar, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl and toss well.
  9. Carve the chicken and serve it with the parsley salad and drizzle it with the olio picante.

Serves 4.

Parsley Salad


Olio Picante (Spicy Oil)
Adapted from
Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

1 cup olive oil
4 jalapeños, seed and diced
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tbsp Spanish smoked paprika

  1. In a saucepan, combine all the ingredients and heat until the oil reaches 175ºF.
  2. Remove from the heat and allow to stand overnight.
  3. Strain the solids out of the oil.
  4. The oil will keep for up to 3 weeks in a cool, dark place.

Makes 1 cup of oil.

Gnocchi di Patate (Potato Gnocchi)

I think they tasted better than they look (aka one of those foods)

I owe it to a college roommate to make this recipe. He loved gnocchi and would order them in any Italian restaurant that he could. When I went to Italy, I was determined to try them but, for whatever reason, I didn’t like the ones that I had. In retrospect, I don’t think it was the gnocchi that I disliked. But I did send him an email with my conclusion and he was incredulous. I figured gnocchi deserved another chance.

And, while I hate admitting I’m wrong, I was and my roommate was right. Gnocchi are good. They remind me most of dumplings. I like the lightness and fluffiness of them.

They also seem to be the ultimate poor food. When you can’t afford flour for pasta, you have to substitute potatoes. But, given that they’re good, who am I to complain?

There are a number of possible sauces to use with the gnocchi but I settled on a simple tomato sauce. This one is particularly good (and easy).

Unfortunately, the gnocchi really liked to stick together

Gnocchi di Patate (Potato Gnocchi)
Adapted from Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home

3 lbs. russet potatoes
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 tsp kosher salt

  1. Put the potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a low boil, and boil for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain the potatoes.
  2. Peel the potatoes and then run them through a food mill onto a flat work surface.
  3. Make a well in the center of the potatoes and sprinkle the potatoes with the flour.
  4. Add the egg and salt to the well in the potatoes.. Use a fork to slightly beat the egg.
  5. Using the fork, slowly incorporate the potato into the egg.
  6. Once the potato is fully incorporated into the egg, knead the dough until it forms a ball. Continue kneading for 4 minutes.
  7. Divide the dough into sixths. Roll each piece of dough into a rope 3/4″ in diameter. Cut the rope into 1″ lengths. Roll each piece down the back of a fork to create the ridges.
  8. Boil the gnocchi in copious salted water until the float, about 1 minute. Drain the gnocchi.
  9. Toss the gnocchi with warmed sauce and serve.

Serves 4.

Piadena (Griddled Flat bread from Romagna)

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When the Atkin’s diet became popular and low-carb was all the rage, flat bread began showing up everywhere. Any place there was a sandwich previously, there now was a wrap. They even showed up at my work’s cafeteria.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the low-carb mythos. In reality, I’m only on the eat-what-I-want diet (this one is a lot of fun, you should try it out). But, I do like flat bread where appropriate (how can you say no to tacos?).

As soon as I saw this recipe, I knew that I had to make it. It was simple enough to be lunch but interesting enough to not be a throw away meal.

And it was, on both counts. It’s a simple and fast recipe. But it’s also quite tasty. I dressed up mine with prosciutto, arugula, and olive oil. Angela went a bit less Italian and piled her’s with turkey, ham, and swiss cheese (and, for the curious, it really ended up being too much meat for her to eat). It also was good drizzled with honey later (credit goes to she-who-must-be-obeyed for discovering the combination).

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Piadena (Griddled Flatbread from Romagna)
Adapted from Enoteca: Simple, Delicious Recipes in the Italian Wine Bar Tradition

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup water, or more
1/4 cup milk, or more

  1. In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
  2. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil. Add most of the water and most of the milk.
  3. With a fork, slowly incorporate the flour into the liquid. Add the remaining water and milk to the bowl. Continuing mixing until it forms a dough. Add more water and milk if needed.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a floured surface until smooth, about 10 minutes.
  5. Divide the dough into 6 pieces.
  6. Heat a cast-iron skillet or griddle over high-heat.
  7. Roll out one pieces of dough until it’s 1/8″ thick. Place the dough in the skillet or griddle. Cook for 30 seconds on one side, turn it over and cook for 30 more seconds. Remove from the skillet and set-aside. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  8. Stuff with meat or cheese or vegetables and serve immediately.

Makes 6 flat-breads.

Hot Italian Sausage

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Sausage has a reputation as a pedestrian food. You eat it at a cook out, at a baseball game, or while camping. It’s something you eat to satiate your hunger, not because it’s good.

But why can’t sausage, in the words of Rodney Dangerfield, get no respect? When it’s good, it should. Most are based around pork with enough added fat that it isn’t dry. And you can do things with seasonings in a sausage that just wouldn’t work in a whole cut of meat.

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If you can’t tell, I rather like sausages. But every since I realized that some sausages from the grocery store contained high fructose corn syrup, I’ve decided to stick with the homemade variety. It doesn’t hurt that they taste significantly better. It’s also particularly rewarding to cook up a sausage and realize that you made it.

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While I tend to like authentic ethnic recipes whenever possible, this is much more Italian-American than Italian. I’m going to let it slide as it’s pretty tasty. When I make it again, I’d probably use less (or possibly no) coriander seeds. It dominates the flavor a bit too much for my taste. It’s particularly good when sautéed and served with good Dijon mustard and grilled onions.

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Hot Italian Sausage
Adapted from Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing

2 kg boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
225 grams pork belly, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes
100 grams pancetta, cut into 1 1/2″ cubes (optional)
40 grams kosher salt
32 grams sugar
16 grams fennel seeds, toasted
8 gram coriander seeds, toasted
16 grams smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
24 grams fresh oregano leaves, chopped
24 grams fresh basil leaves, chopped
12 grams red pepper flakes
6 grams coarsely ground black pepper
3/4 cups ice water, chilled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, chilled
10 feet hog casings

  1. Combine all ingredients except water, vinegar, and casings in a large bowl. Toss to distribute the seasonings evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Place the hog casings in a bowl of water and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Several hours before grinding, place the food grinder, mixer bowl, paddle attachment, and any other attachments in the freezer.
  4. Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator and place in a bowl of ice and salt. Grind the mixture through the small die into the mixer bowl set in a bowl of ice and salt.
  5. Add the water and vinegar to the mixture. Beat the mixture with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 1 minute. Mix until the mixture is uniform. Refrigerate the bowl until ready to stuff.
  6. Sauté a small portion of the sausage in a small bit of oil and taste for seasoning.
  7. Remove the hog casings from the refrigerator and rinse both the inside and outside of the casings in running water.
  8. Setup the sausage stuffer using the largest stuffing attachment. Place meat in the sausage stuffer and turn on to low speed until the meat is just at the end of the attachment. Slide the opening in the casing onto the stuffer and then push the remaining casing onto the stuffer until there is about an inch hanging off. Tie off the end of the casings. Slowly push the meat mixture into the sausage stuffer while holding the casing and letting the meat fill it (this is a two person job). The speed is determined by the speed of the meat being putting into the stuffer not the speed of the mixer. When there is no more casing, tie it off and repeat this step with the remaining casing.
  9. Twist the sausage into 6 inch long segments and cut with shears.
  10. Cook the sausage to an internal temperature of 150ºF.

Makes 5 lbs. of sausage.

Rigatoni con Prosciutto, Pomodoro, Panna e Peperoncino (Rigatoni with Prosciutto, Tomato, Cream and Hot Chile Pepper)

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One can not have too many simple pasta recipes.

I’m certain that will one day be a universal truth. I find few things more satisfying than pasta. Doublely so when it’s uncomplicated.

I subscribe to the Italian idea that when eating pasta, it’s all about the pasta and not about the sauce. The sauce merely accents the natural flavor of the pasta, not overpowers it.

This recipe is almost too simple. The prosciutto is cooked slightly in butter to release its flavor into the sauce. Then, tomatoes and a bit of cream are added to make the actual sauce. It’s cooked quickly so that the fresh flavor of the tomatoes shows through. A little bit of red pepper gives it a little bit of bite. And it’s served with enough cheese for it to be noticed but not so much that it’s feature attraction.

I love recipes like this partially because they’re simple and fast but more so because the flavors meld together well. It’s balance and perfection.

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Rigatoni con Prosciutto, Pomodoro, Panna e Peperoncino (Rigatoni with Prosciutto, Tomato, Cream and Hot Chile Pepper)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy’s family-style restaurants

4 tbsp butter
2 oz. prosciutto, diced
pinch of red pepper flakes
28 oz. canned tomatoes run through a food mill
1/3 cup heavy cream
salt
1 lbs. rigatoni
1/2 cup grated parmesan

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the prosciutto and red pepper flakes and cook for 30 to 40 seconds.
  2. Add the tomatoes and cream to the skillet. Season with salt to taste. Cook uncovered at a low simmer for 7 to 8 minutes or until the sauce has a medium-thick consistency.
  3. Cook the rigatoni in boiling water for 1 minute less than the instructions list.
  4. Drain the rigatoni and place in the skillet. Simmer for 1 minute stirring to coat the rigatoni completely.
  5. Serve immediately with the cheese sprinkled on top.

Serves 4.

Spaghetti alla Carrettiera (Spaghetti with Fried Bread Crumbs, Garlic, and Anchovies)

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Some pasta dishes can only be described as strange. Perhaps I should explain that a bit better. There was a time when, to me, pasta meant tomato sauce (as further proof, I almost called it “spaghetti sauce”). And the tomato sauce came in a can and got mixed with sautéed ground beef. Then I discovered alfredo sauce and had multiple choices for my pasta. But, I then went to Italy and realized that there were nearly an infinite number of choices of pasta sauces. This is still the strangest.

I’m probably one of the three people in the United States who likes anchovies. I think they can add a unique flavor to foods. However, I’m still a bit hesitant about any food that tastes primarily of anchovies. And that’s what makes this strange.

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I was hesitant to even post this recipe here but, when I thought about it, I rather liked Spaghetti alla Carretiera. It’s strange but then again so am I (as my wife will most certainly corroborate) and I consider my strangeness to be an endearing quality. It’s the same with the pasta.

Yes, it tastes primarily of anchovies. But it’s not objectionable (well, it was to Angela but that’s beside the point). It’s different but that’s why I like it not in spite of it.

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Spaghetti alla Carrettiera (Spaghetti with Fried Bread Crumbs, Garlic, and Anchovies)
Adapted from Trattoria Cooking: More than 200 authentic recipes from Italy’s family-style restaurants

3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp bread crumbs
1 large clove garlic, finely diced
1 salt-packed anchovy fillet
1/4 cup milk
pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and black pepper
1/2 lbs. spaghetti
1 tbsp finely diced fresh parsley

  1. De-bone the anchovy fillet and soak in the milk for 10 minutes. Discard the milk and dry the anchovy well. Chop the anchovy.
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling, salted water for 1 minute less than the directions. Drain the pasta and reserve at least 1 cup of cooking water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring, for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add the anchovies, garlic, and red pepper flakes to the skillet and stir for 20 seconds.
  5. When the pasta is finished, add 1/2 cup of pasta water to the skillet. Add the spaghetti to the skillet and bring to the simmer. Cook for 1 minute until the sauce is thick and coating the pasta well.
  6. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the parsley.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Risi e Bisi

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The entries on here always run at least several days behind when I actually make things. If I’m good, it’s only the night before. Other times, it may be weeks. I don’t think I’ve made it to a month before. But this time, I have an excuse! We were on vacation last week (in France and Germany). And I’d post pictures now but they’re still sitting on my camera. And there are lots of them to go through. The vacation was fun but has very little do with Risi e Bisi. Risi e Bisi is apparently a signature dish of Venice. While I’ve been in Venice, I didn’t try this there. It was the wrong time of the year (I was there in June which is not really pea season). So I have no idea how authentic this version is (outside of the claim from the title of the cookbook). I thought it was good but the real news is that Angela liked it. This is surprising because she a) doesn’t usually like risotto and b) doesn’t usually like green vegetables. So, apparently, I must really have a winner here. It’s typical of much Italian cooking in that it is rather understated. None of the flavors are particularly strong or overpowering. However, they end up well balanced without being bland.

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What really drew me to this recipe (outside of the fact that I’ve liked other cookbooks in the series), was the fact that it used the pea pods to make a stock. This actually ended up delaying me by a day for when I could make the risotto (I ended up making the pea pod stock a day in advance) but my experience is that anything that has a stock specifically made for it is better. It really helped for the flavor of the peas to permeate the entire risotto. You could, however, just replace the pea pod stock with 2 cups of meat broth. And, speaking of meat broth, I’ve found that at least for risotto, using a combination of chicken and beef stock produces a better flavor than either of them alone. This also applies to rice pilaf. And if you happen to have duck stuck lying around, try it in a simple risotto.

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Risi e Bisi Adapted from Veneto: Authentic Recipes from Venice and the Italian Northeast 1 lbs. peas, shelled, pods reserved 4 cups meat broth (I used half chicken and half beef) 5 tbsp butter 1 tbsp olive oil 1 onion, diced 2 oz. pancetta, diced 3 tbsp diced Italian parsley 1 1/2 cups arborio rice 1/2 cup dry vermouth salt

  1. Rinse the pea pods in running water. Place the pods in a pot and cover with cold water by 3 inches. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer, and simmer for four hours. Then run the liquid and the pods through a food mill fitted with the fine disk. Combine with the meat stock and place over low heat to keep warm. Season with salt if needed.
  2. In a large skillet, melt 3 tbsp of the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta and sauté until the pancetta is browned and the onions are soft, about 4 minutes.
  3. Stir 1 tbsp parsley and the rice into the skillet. Cook the rice for about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add the vermouth and simmer until the alcohol has evaporated, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add a ladleful of the broth and the peas and stir regularly until most of the broth has been absorbed. Add more broth and continuing stirring until all of the broth is absorbed and the rice is cooked through, about 25 minutes.
  6. Remove the risotto from the heat. Season to taste with salt. Stir in the remaining butter and parsley.
  7. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.

Aristà di maiale alla fiorentina (Florentine Roast Pork Tenderloin)

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I regularly run into a bit of a problem: all of the best roast pork recipes call for pork loin. Now, my problem isn’t with pork loin per se but with the fact that there are only two of us. And while I do enjoy leftover pork, I try to keep it to a manageable amount. So I end up either discarding the recipe or adapt it to a smaller piece of pork.

Why such an interest in roast pork? Growing up I didn’t find pork all that tasty. My mom’s pork chops with sauerkraut ended up with pork chops that were more closely related to shoe leather than actual food. And don’t let me talk about how dry they were. It didn’t get particularly better when I started cooking for myself. My pork chops ended up rather dry and flavorless.

My first real introduction to good pork was in college with Dinosaur Barbque’s pulled pork. It was very good but it ended up being more about the sauce than the pork itself. I started making a variation of pulled pork that was good (although it wasn’t authentic; I make mine in a crock pot) but not to die for.

And then I made the Zuni Café House-Cured Pork Tenderloin and I had found nearly the perfect pork. It become the benchmark for all other pork.

And then I managed to successfully adapt this recipe (my first attempt ended up in something edible if not particularly enjoyable). I’m not saying it’s better. The Zuni Café version has a definite porkier taste. This recipe just seems to be in better harmony than the other.

The flavor of the rosemary and garlic are most pronounced but the other seasonings provide pleasant nuances. This may be my new go-to pork recipe.

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Aristà di maiale alla fiorentina (Florentine Roast Pork Tenderloin)
Adapted from Enoteca: Simple, Delicious Recipes in the Italian Wine Bar Tradition

1 lbs. pork tenderloin

Brine:
2 1/2 cups water
6 juniper berries, crushed
3 allspice berries, crushed
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs fresh thyme
6 coriander seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 clove of garlic, crushed
3 cloves
2 dried chiles
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp kosher salt

  1. Place all of the brine ingredients except for the salt and sugar in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and allow the herbs to infuse for 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in the sugar and salt until dissolved. Allow to cool.
  3. Pore the brine over the pork and place in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days.
  4. Remove the pork from the brine and dry with paper towels. Rub the pork with olive oil.
  5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  6. Place an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Brown the pork on all sides.
  7. Place the pork in the oven and cook until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F.
  8. Remove the pork from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  9. Slice the pork and serve with rosemary potatoes and a Sangiovese wine.

Serves 2-3.