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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with white wine

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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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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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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07May 12

Braised Rabbit

Braised Rabbit

Nowadays you don’t have to go out with a gun to bag your own bunny; local farmers sell it at market or in their increasingly common farm shops. Most butchers can get it easily if they don’t already have it, and some of the bigger stores might have it on the meat counter.

Farmed rabbit tends to be plumper, whilst wild rabbit is leaner, darker, and might have lead shot in it, depending on how it was killed (make sure you find out!). It’s most convenient to buy rabbit prepared. Cooking a whole rabbit should feed four modestly or provide enough for two meals if cooking for just two. (Also try this English rabbit pie.)

Ingredients:

  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 100ml white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of vinegar (balsamic is best!)
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 rabbit (prepared by your butcher), chopped into nugget-sized serving pieces
  • 300ml stock (can be vegetable, chicken or lamb)
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary*
  • 1 teaspoon thyme*
  • 1 teaspoon oregano*
  • 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

* These herbs can be fresh or dried.

Method:

1 – Season the rabbit with salt and fresh ground black pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large cast iron casserole dish (or similar), at a medium setting. Once the oil has heated, brown the rabbit in batches, turning to ensure that both sides are cooked. Remove the rabbit and place on kitchen towel in a bowl.

2 – Put the onions, celery and garlic into the casserole, checking that enough oil remains, and add a drop if need be. There should be some delicious residue left from browning the rabbit, so scrape it from the casserole into the veg mix. An optional pinch of salt can be added at this stage if desired. Sauté over a low heat for several minutes.

3 – Add the wine and vinegar and stir. Increase the heat to a high-medium, and bring the wine and vinegar to the boil for a couple of minutes. Next add the stock and all the herbs, save the parsley.

4 – Finally, add the rabbit, stirring it into the vegetables and broth to combine everything. Take the casserole off the heat (and remember to turn it off!), cover with the lid, and place into a preheated oven (180°C). Cook for between an hour and an hour and a half, or until the rabbit is tender. Taste, and if necessary, adjust the seasoning, finally adding the parsley. Let stand for 15 minutes, to let the rabbit meat rest, and then serve.

Serves: 2-4

Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes (15 mins prep; 1 1/2 hrs cooking)

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25Apr 12

Osso bucco alla Milanese

Osso Buco alla MilaneseI can clearly remember when and where I first tasted Osso bucco, which literally means “bone in a hole”. This absolutely flavourful dish was the first meal I ate when I went to the Italian city of Milan to visit one of my aunts. After that, I just had to get the recipe from her.

I enjoy cooking it, but you have to take into account that normally it’s a dish you might prepare for more than two servings, and is traditionally served with rice and vegetables on the side.

The ingredients are very simple, but the flavours are quite intense because of the gremolada, which is a mix of garlic, parsley and lemon zest, added to the dish a few minutes before serving it. The outstanding part of this dish is given by the bone marrow of the Osso bucco veal steaks that melt while cooking. (If you like veal, try this rib of rose veal with a honey and soy glaze.)

It’s not a difficult recipe; however, there is a lot of prep involved, so give yourself some time.

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 veal shanks cut thick
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 1L beef stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the “gremolada”:

  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped or pressed with the garlic press
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 1 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped

 Method:

  1. Put the butter and onion in a large pan and let it cook on a very gentle fire until the onion becomes transparent.
  2. Cut the steaks along the outer membrane so they don’t curl while cooking and coat them with a bit of flour.
  3.  Add the steaks, onion and butter and brown them on both sides.
  4.  Add the white wine. You will burn the alcohol off by increasing the flame.
  5.  Pour in some of the beef stock.
  6.  Cover and cook until the meat is very tender. Make sure to add more beef stock as required and to turn them over occasionally, so that the steaks don’t stick to the pan.
  7.  To prepare the gremolada, chop the parsley and the garlic and grate the zest of 1 lemon.
  8.  Mix together and sprinkle on top of the osso bucco steaks a few minutes before turning the fire off.
  9.  Season with salt and pepper depending on taste.
  10. Serve with a side of vegetables and rice.
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11Apr 12

Risotto alla parmigiana

Risotto alla ParmigianaRisotto alla parmigiana translated to English is Parmesan risotto. This is one of the first dishes I learned to prepare before I got married, and has worked very well for me because my wife just loves it! After a hard day at work, risotto is perfect if you don’t want to cook for too long but always enjoy a tasty meal.

You may also remember my affection for my wife’s mushroom risotto, and you can find the recipe on this same blog. But risotto alla parmigiana is the original Italian classic – the Father of all risottos and is also the basic risotto recipe from which all others have been and are developed, such as this British asparagus and pea risotto.

Ingredients:

  • 35 g butter (1 knob of 20g and 1 knob of 15g)
  • 200g Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • ½ onion (finely chopped)
  • 50ml white wine
  • ½L of hot beef stock
  • 25g grated Parmesan cheese

Method:
1. Put 20g of the butter in a big pan and melt it.
2. Add the chopped onion at medium heat for about 2-4 minutes until soft.
3. Add a spoonful of stock and leave it for 1 minute.
4. Then add the rice and stir until the rice is completely mixed with the butter. Keep stirring for about a minute.
5. Add the wine and keep stirring to evaporate it.
6. Add the stock and turn the heat down to low. You should add the stock at the rate of 2 spoonfuls at a time, and when this is absorbed, add more. Continue doing this for about 10 minutes. Stir continuously.
7. Taste the rice every minute until you feel the rice is tender outside but a bit hard on the inside. Stir regularly so that the risotto doesn’t stick to the bottom part of the pan.
8. If you see that the stock has evaporated, add a bit more, but be careful not to add too much to avoid the risotto being watery.
9. When you feel the rice is tender on the outside but slightly hard in the middle, add the Parmesan cheese and stir for few seconds.
10. Then turn the cooker off, add all the remaining 15g of butter and stir until it is completely melted.
11. Don’t serve immediately – the risotto should rest for a couple of minutes.

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24Mar 12

Pancetta and Pea Penne

Pancetta and Pea GemelliHam, peas and mint are a classic Italian combination, and after a cold winter, and with spring in the air, they have a fresh, zingy lightness, whilst packing a flavoursome punch. I like this dish with a number of different pastas. I suggest penne here, but you could also use fusilli, gemelli or rigatoni. Dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc brings out the spring zing, whilst cream softens that transition out of winter.

Ingredients

• Olive oil: as needed (2 or 3 tablespoons should be about right)
• 20g butter
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 small onion, or better still 2 shallots
• Small glass dry white wine
• 75-100g pancetta, in little chunks or strips
• 200g peas
• 1 small handful of mint: 1/2 chopped for cooking, and half to garnish the finished dish
• 150-200ml single cream
• 200-300g penne pasta – 200g is for a leaner, lighter meal, 300g if you’re really hungry
• salt and pepper
• Parmesan shavings

Method

1 – This is quite a quick and easy dish, so the first thing I do is get the pasta pan and water started. In a decent sized pan, pour in sufficient water for the amount of pasta you’re cooking, add a little salt, and bring to a boil.

2 – Meanwhile, crush the garlic with the flat of your knife to release those oils, and chop finely. Chop your onions into chunky pieces. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan and add the olive oil. Toss in your garlic and onions and cook on a low-medium heat till the onions become translucent. Add the white wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce.

3 – Put the pancetta in with the onions, turn the heat up a fraction, and in two or three minutes that lovely pork should start to crisp and caramelize a little. Be careful not to overdo the heat; the onions and garlic might turn a little bitter if burned.

4 – Keeping watch over your pasta, add the peas and chopped mint to the onions and pancetta. Remember, fresh peas will need a bit longer than frozen. Season with salt and pepper, and check that the flavours are just right. Add the cream and simmer gently for a couple more minutes.

5 – Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it over your peas and pancetta, mixing it all up. Garnish with Parmesan shavings and the remaining mint and serve immediately.

6 – Eat and enjoy with the rest of that dry white wine!

Serves 2

Time: 30 mins – about 15 mins prep and 15 mins cooking

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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.