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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with chicken stock

14Aug 12

Pumpkin and Sage Crisp Risotto

pumpkin and sage crisp risotto
The delicious sweetness of ripe pumpkin combines deliciously with the crispy sage and Parmesan cheese to create this sublime dish from Northern Italy. Pumpkin and Sage Crisp Risotto is simple to prepare, and wonderfully filling, so you don’t need to think about side dishes.

If you can’t find fresh sage leaves, you can mix dried sage into the rice mixture. It’s not the same, but it still gives you the aromatic flavour that enhances the traditional pumpkin risotto. Other fantastic rice meals include this delicious asparagus risotto and my tempting game Pigeon Risotto.

As an accompaniment, I recommend a crisp Sauvignon Blanc, served ice cold.

Pumpkin and Sage Crisp Risotto
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
The sweetness of the pumpkin combined with aromatic sage is divine.
Ingredients
  • 400g ripe pumpkin, deseeded and cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
  • 200g risotto rice, preferably Arborio
  • 1 small glass of white wine
  • 50g butter
  • 50g Parmesan, freshly grated, plus shavings to serve
  • 8-10 sage leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, add the pumpkin and cook gently until just softened, around 10 minutes.
  2. Stir occasionally, making sure that the pumpkin doesn’t brown. When the pumpkin is tender, add the white wine and stir until it has evaporated.
  3. Set aside one-third of the cooked pumpkin.
  4. Put the rest of the pumpkin into a food processer and whiz until smooth. If necessary, add a touch of hot water to get the mixture moving.
  5. If you are using a ready-made stock, you will need to heat it in a saucepan, keeping it at a gentle simmer. Or prepare your stock-cubes in boiling water and put to one side.
  6. Next heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan and add the rice. Cook, stirring frequently, for one minute, to ensure that all the rice is coated in the olive oil.
  7. Add a small amount of the hot stock, enough to cover the rice, and stir until it is almost all absorbed. Repeat until you only have a few ladles of stock left. Check the rice to see if it is ‘al dente’. If not, you can add more stock.
  8. Add the pumpkin purée and cooked pumpkin, stir through the rice mixture and season to taste.
  9. Stir in the butter and the grated Parmesan. Put to one side, covered to keep warm.
  10. Finally heat a little olive oil in a small frying pan until hot. Fry the sage leaves for a few seconds until crispy and drain on kitchen paper.
  11. Ladle the risotto onto warm plates. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with the Parmesan shavings and sage leaves.

 

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25Jul 12

Bacon and Borlotti Soup

Bacon and Borlotti Soup

 

I’ve called this bacon and borlotti partly for the benefit of English readers, and partly because I like the alliteration. You could of course use bacon instead of the pancetta I suggest, but of course thin rashers of bacon aren’t rustic, authentic or, let’s face it, macho! (For a vegetarian recipe using similar kidney beans, try this cheesy chilli sin carne.)

This recipe calls for “small soup pasta”. We have terms like ‘pasta in brodo’, which translates as pasta in broth, or ‘pastina’, the latter meaning literally, little pasta. Such pasta comes in many forms including, amongst the smaller types suitable for this recipe, annellini, grattini or stellini, the last of which are, as the name suggests, little stars! Nowadays many stores sell bags of small pasta in mixed sizes and shapes specifically for soup, so you can you have fun seeing what you can find.

Once the pasta is ready, take the soup off the heat and let stand to cool off a little before serving. Nobody wants to scald their mouth; we like to taste our food after going to the effort of cooking it!

Have a nice crusty loaf of unsliced bread and some butter handy, so you break off nice chunks and dip them in the soup. The Parmesan shaving, parsley sprigs and olive oil are all optional extras, and you may not feel you need them.

Bacon & Borlotti Soup
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A hearty and savoury soup with Borlotti beans and small soup pasta
Ingredients
  • 100 ml water
  • 15g dried porcini
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 200g canned borlotti beans, drained and washed
  • 100g small soup pasta
  • 75g pancetta, cubed
  • 100ml red wine
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato purée
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan shavings, parsley sprigs and extra virgin olive oil, to garnish
Instructions
  1. - Dried mushrooms need reviving, 'ravvivare' as we say: boil the 100ml of water, pour into a heat-proof bowl or container, and plop your porcini in, making sure they're all taking a proper hot bath! Soak for 15 minutes, drain (reserving the flavoured fluid), gently squeezing out any excess moisture.
  2. - Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan, over a low heat, adding the cubed pancetta, carrot, onion and celery. Cook for ten minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up to medium and add rosemary, garlic and porcini, allowing to cook through for a minute or two.
  3. - Add the borlotti beans and red wine, turn up the heat and boil off the wine. Stir in the tomato purée, followed by the chicken stock and the liquid from soaking the mushrooms. Bring back to the boil, before reducing the heat and simmering the soup gently for about ten minutes.
  4. - Bring the soup back to the boil again and add your pasta, keep stirring the whole mixture, cooking it till the pasta is al dente. Small pasta is best for this recipe, as it keeps the soup kind of rustic and manageable, and also, importantly, will cook quickly.
  5. – Let cool just a bit before serving.

 

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15Jul 12

Rabbit Emilia-Romagna

Rabbit Emilia RomagnaI’m crazy about rabbit! (As you can probably tell by my post on braised rabbit.) If you liked my previous post, here’s another dinner party friendly dish with rabbit. This time it’s a regional speciality from the wealthy Emilia-Romagna, the ‘administrative region’ of northern Italy, home not only to some great food, but also to some other modest home-grown Italian successes like Lamborghini, Ducati, and Ferrari.

This goes well with rice, potatoes or polenta. Last time we had it, we had the potatoes dauphinoise style, – rich and creamy – and we loved it!

As for wine, you could go red, rosé or white with this fairly richly flavoured rabbit dish. We had Cuvée Mythique with it last time, a French red wine that I’d remembered as being very smooth. It was a bit sharper than I had remembered, but we still liked it. Nevertheless, perhaps next time I would try a different wine pairing for this delicious rabbit.

 

 

Rabbit Emilia-Romagna
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This is a dinner party friendly dish with rabbit.
Ingredients
  • 1 medium-sized rabbit (about 1.5kg), cut into 8 pieces by your butcher
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 125ml passata (tomato sauce)
  • 50g butter
  • 100g lard
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. In a casserole dish, melt the butter and lard. Over a medium heat, cook the onions and celery and sauté for 3-4 minutes until the onions turn golden. Add the rabbit pieces and continue to cook, turning the meat over to cook evenly. A couple of minutes on either side should be enough.
  2. Add the wine, cook for 2 minutes, and then add the passata. Stir thoroughly to coat all the meat with the tomato, and then add half the chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper, reduce the heat, cover and cook for about 1 hour, turning the meat every 15 minutes and keeping an eye to ensure the food doesn’t dry out. If the sauce is disappearing, top up with some more stock.
  3. Mix the chopped garlic and parsley and add to the casserole, stir well, and cook for a further 10-15 minutes. At this point remove the lid, and depending on the level of liquid sauce, either serve immediately or cook for 5-10 minutes more to reduce the sauce even further.

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12Jul 12

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

 

 

Once a year or so, I like to visit a vineyard and do a wine tour or tasting. It is always interesting the differences that each company uses in their wine production. There are a lot of decisions made throughout the process that changes the body and flavour of a wine, making each one really distinct. I wouldn’t say that I am a connoisseur, by any means. However, the more tastings you go to, the more you learn and can appreciate the difference between wines.

Many vineyards have gift shops to buy the wines you liked or other paraphernalia. I once saw a ceramic that tickled my fancy, and now it hangs in my kitchen. The slogan goes, “I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food.” In my household, this is most certainly true! This chicken marsala recipe is just one example of when I enjoy a glass of wine while cooking, and use just a bit in the process as well.

I use red wine here, but if you prefer white, try this chestnut spaghetti with chicken livers.

 

Chicken Marsala
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A great way to cook with wine
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 150g flour
  • 2 tablespoons seasoning of choice
  • 8 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 200g mushrooms
  • 1 small yellow onion
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 200ml marsala wine
  • 150g spaghetti
  • 1 pinch of parsley to garnish
Instructions
  1. Take your chicken breasts and wrap them in clingfilm. Pound them flat.
  2. In a shallow bowl, mix the flour and your seasoning of choice.
  3. Remove the clingfilm and dip the chicken into the flour until heavily coated on both sides.
  4. Heat up 4 tablespoons of the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken for 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate, covering with aluminum foil.
  6. Heat up the remaining oil and sauté the onions and mushrooms for approximately 5 minutes.
  7. Add the marsala wine and let it reduce a bit.
  8. Next add in the chicken stock and start to stir. Wait a few minutes until you notice the sauce begin to thicken, and sprinkle in some salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Add the chicken breasts once again to the mixture.
  10. Cover the frying pan, and let it all simmer together for approximately 10 minutes.
  11. Whilst you have the chicken going, prepare the spaghetti according to the packet instructions.
  12. After the allotted time, remove the cover on the frying pan and check to see if the chicken is cooked throughout.
  13. If so, drain the spaghetti and divide it equally onto two plates.
  14. Scoop the chicken on top of the pasta, making sure to get lots of the sauce as well.
  15. Garnish with parsley and serve.

 

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29Jun 12

Salsiccias with Polenta and Spicy Tomato Salsa

Salsiccias with Polenta and Spicy Tomato SalsaIn Italy there’s a plethora of sausage varieties; but here in our neck of the woods, the easiest salsiccias to get hold of are simply known as… ‘Italian Sausages’. You can generally take your pick between ‘hot’ and ‘sweet’, the hot variety containing hot red pepper flakes in the mix of spices. The other magical ingredients which bump up the distinctive flavours of Italian sausages are fennel and anise. You may discern one, or a mixture of both.

It goes without saying that I’m talking Italian salsa di pomodoro here (tomato sauce), and not the Mexican salsa we often associate with the word. And as a twist from my usual tack of making everything up from scratch, I’m suggesting for once that you buy a really good quality ready-made tomato and chilli sauce. And the reason for this tangent? Well, sometimes you have all the time in the world to do it all yourself; and sometimes well, you just don’t.

So this recipe is here to offer you a delicious Italian inspired meal that’s simple to put together and is still going to dance a salsa on your taste buds. If you want to stick to making your own sauce, which as you know, I always prefer when time allows- find my basic tomato sauce recipe and spice it up with a little chilli.  For another quick to make,  Italian-inspired meal, take a peek at this mushroom lasagne with mozzarella and tomatoes.

Salsiccias with polenta and spicy tomato salsa
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Italian sausages piled onto polenta, swimming in a sauce that will dance a salsa on your taste buds
Ingredients
  • 4 -6 Italian sausages
  • 10ml chilli oil
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 tbsp Marsala
  • 1 large jar of top notch tomato and chilli sauce
  • 100ml water
  • Chicken stock, sufficient to cook the polenta
  • 175g instant polenta
  • A little olive oil
  • A sprinkling of fresh oregano to garnish
Instructions
  1. Fry the sausages in the chilli oil over a medium to high heat in a frying pan. Seal and colour them for around 5 minutes then add the Marsala and the garlic, and leave to bubble for a couple of minutes more.
  2. Add the tomato and chilli sauce and the 100ml water and simmer the sausages in the spicy juice for around 15 minutes or until cooked throughout.
  3. Meanwhile prepare the polenta in hot chicken stock rather than water; it will give it a wonderful flavour. Follow the preparation instructions on the packet. Remember, we’re talking easy for this meal.
  4. Swirl the olive oil over the polenta when it is cooked, stirring it in with a fork.
  5. Serve the sausages over the polenta and cover with the spicy sauce and a sprinkling of fresh oregano.

 

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.