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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with Italian food

22Jul 12

Chilli Crab Spaghetti

Chilli Crab SpaghettiCrab is obviously just one of the many delicious and varied ‘frutti di mare’, or ‘fruits of the sea’ commonly found in Italian food. And, given that almost all of Italy’s regions have stretches of coast, it’s no wonder our rich seafood is omnipresent in our cuisine.

And, of course, feel free to switch out spaghetti for any other similar pasta like tagliatelli or fettucine. Any of those options would work.

A similar-tasting meat is crayfish meat, which are only found in fresh water. If you want to try out a recipe using crayfish, try this crayfish rice with mango recipe.

Like some other of my recipes in the blog, you can start off with the pasta, as the whole meal is done very quickly, whilst the pasta cooks.

A light, leafy green salad, using something like iceberg lettuce or Romaine (also known as Cos) lettuce, makes a good accompaniment to this dish, as would a dry white wine. A floral French Bordeaux wine would be one option, whilst the more flinty taste of Chablis, from Burgundy, would be another. Despite the differences, either type of wine pairs up nicely with crab, I think.

Chilli Crab Spaghetti
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
This is also yet another example of simple and quick pasta that is light and delicious
Ingredients
  • 50ml olive oil (extra virgin is best)
  • 1 fennel bulb, sliced into thin strips (set aside some fronds for use as garnish)
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced paper-thin
  • 1 red chilli (fresh), deseeded and finely chopped
  • 6 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • A handful of roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 50ml dry vermouth
  • The juice of ½ a lemon
  • 150g fresh crab meat
  • 200g spaghetti
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cook according to the packet instructions, in a large pan of lightly salted water, till the pasta is al dente.
  2. Heat half the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed frying pan over a low heat. Add the garlic, chilli and fennel, and sauté for 5 minutes. Stir in the crab meat, and cook for a minute or so before adding the vermouth. Turn up the heat, bringing the liquor to the boil. Reduce for a couple of minutes, until most of the liquor has evaporated.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the remaining oil, the juice of half a lemon, and season. Stir well to combine all the ingredients.
  4. Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Add the chilli/crab mixture and stir it all together. Serve to warm plates, garnished with the cherry tomatoes and fennel fronds or parsley.

 

 

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18Jul 12

Porcini Papardelle

Porcini PappardellePappardelle is a broader version of tagliatelle, usually about an inch (2.5/3 cm) wide. It’s a delicious form of pasta, and reputedly gets its name from the verb “pappare”, which translates as to ‘scoff’ or ‘gobble’ up. Very appropriate!
Porcini mushrooms, whose Italian name is derived from ‘piglet’, belong to the genus Boletus, and are unquestionably the emperor amongst fungi, at least as far as we in Italy are concerned. (In England, they are called ceps.)You could use other mushrooms in this dish, but why do that? This recipe is really all about the particular flavour of the porcini, which is a blend of creamy, meaty and nutty flavours, a literal taste of their symbiotic relationship with the wooded areas where they grow (at least the wild ones).
I also recommend my mushroom risotto. Delicious! (If I do say so myself!)

It doesn’t take much to modify this dish. You could add bacon, chicken, courgettes, or all three. Or some cream, or a little dry white wine. We enjoyed a version of this we once tried where we used a little leftover roast rabbit. A green leafy salad, some crusty bread, and a dry white wine will all complement this dish perfectly.

Porcini Papardelle
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
It’s a delicious form of pasta, and reputedly gets its name from the verb “pappare”, which translates as to ‘scoff’ or ‘gobble’ up.
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 25g butter, cubed
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced paper-thin
  • I red chilli (fresh), deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
  • The juice of ½ a lemon
  • 200g porcini mushrooms, cleaned
  • 200g papardelle pasta
  • 50-100g Parmesan cheese shavings
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Start by making the sauce. After cleaning the porcini, slice them quite thinly (2 or 3 mm). Bring the oil in a heavy based frying pan up to a low heat, add the garlic and chilli, allowing them to infuse the oil, but being careful to ensure they don’t burn or get at all scorched.
  2. Turn up the heat and add the mushrooms, cooking them until they are tender and have taken on some colour, caramelizing very slightly. Turn off the heat and add the butter, stirring it in as it melts. Add the parsley (set a little aside for garnishing) and lemon juice.
  3. Now you can get on with the pasta. Cook the pasta in a large pan of lightly salted boiling water, until al dente. Reserve a cupful of the cooking liquid and drain the pasta.
  4. Mix the pasta with the mushrooms and sauce, and return to a medium heat, adding the reserved cooking liquid. When it’s all combined, and the pasta is unctuously coated, serve onto warmed plates or bowls, adding salt and pepper to taste, generous amounts of Parmesan shavings and the remaining chopped parsley.

 

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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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11Jul 12

Colomba Pasquale: ‘Easter Dove’ Cake

Colomba pasqualeAlso known as Colomba di Pasqua, the dough used is similar to that which makes Panettone (flour, sugar, eggs, yeast and butter), but with candied peel instead of raisins. For an authentic Italian Easter celebration, the cake is made in the (often very approximate) shape of a dove.

If you’ve only got ordinary round cake-baking tins don’t worry. This tastes equally delicious whatever shape you choose! And I know I’m a bit late for Easter, but maybe it was because I ate too much over the holidays that I didn’t feel like posting this at the time! So here it is, a recipe for one of the many delicious things I just couldn’t give up for Lent!

Don’t be put off by the long preparation time – most of this is just allowing the dough to rise, the main part of which is best done overnight. The kneading is the only really demanding part, and there are machines you can buy that will do that for you if you can’t face it!

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I was once told that there was a law passed to control and regulate the production of this cake. Judging from the varieties I’ve had over the years, the law isn’t being rigorously enforced!

Ingredients:

  • 450g flour
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 30g baker’s yeast
  • Some warm water
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 75-100ml milk
  • 75-80g candied fruit peel, to choose between lemon, lime and orange peel (diced)
  • 20g white hundreds and thousands for extra decoration
  • 75g almonds
  • A pinch of salt

Preparation:

1 – Crumble the yeast into a small amount of warm water, and allow it to dissolve. Then mix in 60g of flour. Roll a compact ball of dough and cut an ‘x’ into the top. Roll the dough-ball in flour, and then place it in a bowl along with a cup-full of warm water. Leave for half an hour, occasionally turning the dough over in the water, when it floats to the surface.

2 – Mix the rest of the flour with the egg yolks and just over half the butter (approx 110-115g), and the sugar, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and the milk (which should be warmed first). Knead this mixture together, then add the already leavened dough and knead for 15-20 minutes (good kitchen exercise!). The smooth dough that results from all this effort should be placed in a covered bowl somewhere warm and allowed to rise for as long as required to increase the volume by roughly 30 per cent, which will probably be a minimum of 4-8 hours (it’s best left to rise overnight).

3 – Knead the dough again, slowly adding about half the remaining butter, in small chunks. Let it rise again, this time doubling in size, which will take up to six hours. Finally, knead one more time, this time adding all the remaining butter and the candied peel. (Set aside some of the candied peel to top the cake with later.) If you’re going for the dove shape, now’s the time! Otherwise place in a cake baking tin, lined with greaseproof paper to stop the cake sticking.

4 – Preheat your oven to 190ºC. Brush the remaining egg yolk over the cake mix (you could add a drop of vanilla essence to the glaze if you feel like it), and press the almonds in, so they won’t fall out as the cake bakes. Sprinkle over the sugar and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 160ºC and bake for a further 20 minutes.

5 – Top it with any candied peel you have set aside along with the hundreds and thousands.

Makes at least 8 generous servings
Total Time – Approx 24 hours (preparation, 20 hours; cooking time, 40 minutes)

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05Jul 12

Mozzarella and Tomato Calzone

Mozzarella and Tomato CalzoneA calzone is a folded pizza. I’ve had some that are literally a pizza folded over, and others that are like an English ‘pasty’, folded over and joined along the edge to for a self-contained pie. Calzones have often been used as a way of clearing up tasty leftovers, with tomato and mozzarella added to bind the whole lot together.

With today’s recipe, I’m keeping it ultra-simple, and sticking to just those two essentials: tomato and mozzarella, and a little shredded basil: red white and green, the colours of Italy!

You can obviously make as many as you need, and they actually taste fantastic cold, as well as hot, so you can make a few and store them in the fridge for those times when you just need to grab and go.

Eat with a peppery rocket and watercress salad and some nice cold beers. This stuff makes good couch eating; as it cools off, you can dispense with the cutlery and pick the pizza up and munch away, while you chill in front of the TV. It’s not all sophisticated living!

Ingredients:

  • Approx 250g of pizza dough, divided into two (Check out this gluten-free option for pizza crust.)
  • Flour, for dusting
  • 150-200g chopped tinned tomatoes (or half a jar of store-bought pizza sauce)
  • 250g mozzarella, sliced or chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn up or shredded
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation:

1 – If using tinned tomatoes, simmer for 15 minutes in a pan to reduce and thicken. If using pizza sauce, skip this part. Divide the pizza dough into two balls, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out two discs of between 20-30 cm in diameter.

2 – Divide the tomato sauce between the two pizza bases, leaving a 2.5 cm edge around the base. Add the garlic and mozzarella to one half of each pizza-base, before sprinkling over the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper.

3 – Brush water around the edge of the base, fold over and seal, pressing your thumbs into the dough. Place on some baking foil, in a baking tray, prick in a couple of places with a fork, and cook at 200ºC for between 10-20 minutes. Basically keep an eye on them and remove them when the dough turns a beautiful pale gold.

Makes: 2 calzone pizzas
Total Time – Approx 45 minutes (preparation, 25 hours; cooking time, 20 minutes)

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03Jul 12

Borlotti Bean and Tuna Antipasto

Borlotti Bean and Tuna Antipasto
Do you ever make time to cook up a three course meal at home just to share some special time with your other half? It’s hard for all of us to make time for that, I know, but it’s something that Teresa and I like to prioritise. Because we find cooking relaxing and fun, some weekends find us together in the kitchen – glass of wine in hand, and conversation flowing, chopping knives doing their work in between sips of the red, or the white stuff. We can catch up on our week together this way.

On these days it’s a regular pleasure for us to put together a borlotti bean and tuna antipasto as a warm up to a plate of clam linguine (if we’re having a seafood night) followed by some home-made tiramisu. On these special nights, we lay a beautiful table, light a few candles, and get the music flowing. Ah, the simple pleasures of life.

Borlotti Bean and Tuna Antipasto
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Borlotti beans, tuna and red onion dressed with Parmesan and lemon
Ingredients
  • 1 can of borlotti beans
  • 1 can of cannellini beans
  • The juice of a lemon and a little zest if you fancy it – I usually do
  • ¼ red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
  • About 100g drained tuna fish from a can – choose a really good one
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic or olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper to season
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan shavings
  • 1 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, squeeze the lemon and sprinkle the zest over the chopped onion and let the flavours mix and absorb.
  2. Drain and rinse the beans, then turn them into a separate mixing bowl.
  3. Open and drain the tuna, arranging it in flakes over the beans.
  4. Cover the beans and tuna with the lemon and onion mix, grind over some salt and pepper and drizzle over with the balsamic vinegar.
  5. Toss the salad to coat the tuna and beans with the dressing, before spooning it out in the salad bowl.
  6. Lightly drop over the Parmesan shavings and sprinkle over the fresh parsley.
  7. Serve with love.

 

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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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27Jun 12

Spinach and Rabbit Tortelli

Spinach and Rabbit TortelliniIn Italian, this dish is ‘tortelli di coniglio e spinaci’. Tortelli is, like ravioli, a variety of stuffed pasta, only more generously proportioned. As this is a bit more of a complex dish, perhaps the kind of thing you might cook for guests at a dinner party, my ingredients this time cater for a larger gathering. This is delicious and impressive handmade pasta with rustic rabbit appeal! (For a vegetarian-friendly filled pasta, why not give this pumpkin ravioli a go?)

 Ingredients:

  •  1 medium-sized rabbit (about 1.5kg), cut into 8 pieces*
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • A generous handful of spinach (250g), finely chopped (no stems!)
  • 1 small sprig of rosemary
  • 6 sage leaves
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 50g butter
  • 1 small glass of dry white wine
  • 1/2 a nutmeg seed kernel, freshly grated
  • 150g freshly grated Parmesan (or similar) cheese
  • Salt and pepper

* I almost always ask my butcher to do this for me!

Preparation:

1 –Melt half the butter in a large casserole or cast iron frying pan, and add the rabbit, carrot, onion, celery, bay leaves, and most of the rosemary and sage, setting a little of each aside (finely chop what remains, for later use). Season lightly with good quality sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Gently cook over a low heat for 20-30 minutes, occasionally turning the rabbit pieces: it’s nice if they’ve taken on a bit of colour before before adding the wine. Add the wine and cook till the rabbit is tender, which should take another 10-20 minutes.

2 – While your rabbit cooks, get your pasta ready: I’m assuming you’re using dough you made earlier (if not see my previous post about making pasta dough). Whether you’re rolling your pasta by hand or with a machine – and you really ought to use a machine for thin filled pasta – you need a thickness of about an 1/8th of an inch, i.e. not thicker than 3mm. What you want is a strip of pasta about 50cm long, and at least 15cm wide.

3 – Once the rabbit is cooked, remove the meat from the bones and set aside. Keep the bones and vegetables; we’ll need them later! Purée the meat in a food processor, pop it in a bowl, and mix together with the cheese, spinach and nutmeg, adding a little seasoning.

4 – Dollop 8 generous teaspoonfuls, evenly spaced (each tortelli should be about 6cm long) and just off-centre, along your strip of pasta, bearing in mind that you’ll be folding over the sheet, and that each little portion needs to be sealed around the three non-folded edges. Using the ‘heel’ of your clenched fist, thump the pasta dough between the portions of filling. Then, with as crinkly-edged pasta or dough cutter, first cut along the length of the pasta opposite the folded edge, before cutting width-wise, i.e. between each portion of filling (and don’t forget the ends!), to separate the individual tortelli. Set aside your pasta on a floured dish or tray as you make up the batches. *

5 – In your original dish, put 350ml of water and the bones and vegetables. Simmer for 10-15 minutes and then strain the liquid into a bowl and discard the bones and veg. Melt the remaining butter in the same pan, add the chopped parsley, sage and rosemary. Cook on a low-medium heat for a minute or two, then add the liquid stock you made earlier and a pinch of salt, and simmer until reduced to a third of the original amount. Remove from the heat and keep covered/warm.

6 – Check that your tortelli are all sealed and there are no ‘air pockets’, pressing the pasta lightly together with your fingers if need be. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, and cook the tortelli in several batches (3 or 4 is about right). The pasta should only need 2-3 minutes per batch. Add the batches to a large warm earthenware bowl (I cover it with a tea-towel to keep the pasta warm). When all the pasta is cooked, pour over the sauce, toss together to combine, and serve immediately.

* Confused? Admittedly this is a more complex recipe than most I’ve posted so far. There are videos of chefs making this on YouTube!

Makes: 6-8 servings.

Total Time – 2 hours (preparation, 40 minutes; cooking time, 1 hour 20 minutes)

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25Jun 12

Pigeon Risotto

Pigeon risottoOne species that’s learned to live alongside us pretty well is the pigeon. In our towns and cities, they’re hardly an endangered species! They’ve often been seen as pests, and they certainly can be something of a nuisance. But, seriously, if you can get hold of pigeon, then why not try this delicious risotto recipe? (For a veggie risotto, try this asparagus risotto recipe.)

Ingredients:

For the risotto:

  • 600ml stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • 50g butter
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 small/medium onion (or half a large onion)
  • 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
  • 200g Arborio rice
  • 1 medium glass of dry white wine
  • Salt and pepper
  • 60g grated Parmesan cheese

For the pigeon ragout:

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 Pigeon (prepared by your butcher)
  • Half a medium sized onion, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, sliced very thinly
  • 2 sage leaves
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 glass of red or white wine, according to preference
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1 – Since it’ll take significantly longer than the rice, start with the bird. In a casserole or similar type dish, combine two-thirds of the olive oil with the wine and some salt and pepper. Place the pigeon into the liquid, and put in an oven preheated to 180°C. Cook for 25 minutes, then remove, place the meat in a bowl to cool and reserve the cooking liquid.

2 – With the remainder of the olive oil in the casserole dish, fry the herbs gently over a low-medium heat for a few minutes before adding the garlic. Gently sauté the garlic for a couple more minutes before adding the pigeon. After a few minutes, pour in the wine mixture and gently simmer for up to an hour to reduce the liquid and cook the bird.

3 – Once the pigeon’s simmering, make a start on the risotto: heat the stock in a pan. Melt about one third of the butter in another deep pan over a low heat. Add the olive oil and then gently sauté the onion, before adding the garlic. In 5-10 minutes the onion and garlic will be ready; add the rice and fry gently for a couple of minutes.

4 – Pour in the white wine. When the wine has cooked off, start adding stock, a ladle-full (or two) at a time, stirring all the while. Risotto rice should be a little like al dente pasta: soft, but with some bite. When the rice is cooked, add the remaining butter and the Parmesan cheese.

5 – Hopefully, if you’ve timed it right, your pigeon and risotto are now both ready. Risotto rice needs to sit for a few minutes before serving: once it’s rested a little, mix in the pigeon ragout, and serve in warmed bowls.

Pigeon is sufficiently robust; it can be paired with lighter red wines, rosés, or more obviously, dry whites like pinot grigio. But I like the peppery Gruner Veltliner grape, associated more with Austria than Italy, I know, but very versatile with food!

Serves: 2
Total Time – 1 hour 30 minutes (preparation, 15 minutes; cooking time, up to 1 hour and 15 minutes)

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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.