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Michele Carbone

Pan-fried Pheasant with Grapes and Walnuts

A couple of weeks ago, while I was in the Lake Tahoe area, I went to my local grocery store to buy food for dinner. As I was looking at their selection of meats and foul, I found two frozen pheasants. I’ve never cooked pheasant before, so I bought it.  

I looked through some of my favorite Italian cookbooks (Il Grande Libro della Vera Cucina Toscana by Paolo Petroni, La Cucina Regionale Italiana by Gualtiero Marchesi, and Il Cuoco Gentiluomo by Livio Cerini di Castegnate) and discovered there are many ways to prepare pheasant. I combined some ideas and came up with two different recipes to try. While the pheasants thawed, I went back to the store to buy a few more ingredients, and then got to work. I made both recipes at the same time and asked my family to tell me which they preferred: it was an even tie, so I’ve decided to add both recipes to my food blog.

This recipe is for pan-cooked pheasant. It’s flavored with a rich combination of chopped walnuts and green grapes.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • Flour to coat the pheasant
  • 1 cup Vin Santo (no substitutions – I tried this recipe a second time with Sautern wine and it was not as good)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 60 grams of chopped walnuts
  • 25 green grapes, sliced in half

How to make this recipe

  • Cut the pheasant into 8 pieces.
  • Coat with a light layer of flour and place it in a heavy-bottomed pan (I prefer a large enameled cooking pan).
  • Sauté it on medium-high heat in olive oil until it’s golden.
  • Keeping the heat on medium-high, add a glass of Vin Santo (no substitutions!). Allow the Vin Santo to evaporate for 2 minutes.
  • Add the milk, chopped walnuts, and the grapes to the pan. Mix gently, then add salt. Cover the pan.
  • Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low (depending on your cooktop’s flame). Cook for about 12 minutes, keeping the pan’s cover on to retain moisture.
  • Add freshly grated black paper and serve.
  • Buon appetito!

Suggested Wine Pairing

Try a good Cirò, Chianti, Barbera, or Pinot Noir, but stay away from Merlot and Cabernet!

Italiano:

  1. Tagliare il fagiano in 8 pezzi, infarinare e soffriggere in olio finche` non e` dorato.
  2. Sempre a fuoco forte, aggiungere un bicchiere di vin Santo (niente sostituzioni!) fare evaporare 2 min, aggiungere 1 bicchiere di latte, un paio di pugni (60 grammi) di noci a pezzettini e circa 25 chicchi d’uva bianca tagliati a metò, mischiare, aggiungere sale e coprire.
  3. Abbassare il fuoco a medio o basso – depende dalla vostra cucina – e cuocere coperto circa 12 minuti.
  4. Spolverare di pepe nero.
  5. Buon appetito.

Vino: Un buon bianco giovane e freddo, Arneis, Gavi, Greco di Tufo,, etc.  Per chi preferisce il rosso: Barbera, Cirò, Chianti, Etna rosso, Pinot Nero vanno benissimo. Meglio evitare cabernet e merlot.

Michele Carbone

Zuppa di Pesce, Seafood Stew (or Cioppino)

I was in San Francisco at a famous Italian restaurant many years ago and saw a menu item called Cioppino. I had never heard of it. Out of curiosity I ordered it. It was a variation of a classic Southern Italian fish soup in a tomato base, but they had put too much tomato!

You can use just about any combination of seafood you would like, but the essential ingredients are the squid, mussels, and shrimp. Fisherman recommend using small fish, but these are full of bones. So, the recipe I use has no bones, nobody chokes, and it is delicious.


This recipe is best when prepared a day before you wish to serve it because the flavors blend together over time. So I suggest you make it in abundance since it will be good for a couple of days.

Ingredients

  • ½ bunch fresh, flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/3 chopped onion, red
  • Hot small Calabria or Hawaiian or Thai peppers (1 or more)
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes and fish broth (see below) or water.
  • 1.2 pounds of squid (tubes and legs; slice the tubes into ½ inch segments)
  • Two large shrimp per person, shells on, but with the backs sliced
  • 1 and ½ pounds of fresh mussels
  • ¾ pound fish steak, such as swordfish, Marlin, tuna, Ono, or any fish that has a firm texture and is cut at least 1 inch thick. Cut in cubes of about 1 inch.
  • ½ pound of sea scallops
  • 2-4 soft shell crabs (if in season) or whatever fish you like (except octopus)
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups fish broth (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make this recipe

  • In a large heavy-bottomed pan with a cover, gently sauté the cloves of crushed garlic in about 3/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Remove the garlic cloves as soon as they take on color. 
  • Add the squid to the skillet together with the chopped parsley, hot pepper, and chopped red onion. Cook for 2 minutes, mixing often.  

 

  • Add the rest of the seafood to the pan and cook for 2 more minutes, mixing often.
  • Add 1 cup of dry white wine. Cover the pan for 1 minute.
  • Remove the cover and allow the wine to evaporate for about 30 seconds.

 

  • Add 1 full box of Pomi chopped tomatoes, along with an equal amount + half (i.e, fill in the box of pomi with water, and next time fill it to half) of water, or better, fish broth that you should always have in your freezer. Also add the rosemary.
  • Gently stir all the ingredients together.  Cover the pan and allow the ingredients to come to a light boil.
  • Immediately turn the heat to low or medium depending on the power of your stove, keeping the cover on. Cook for another 10 minutes. Be sure it does not boil during this time or the fish will become hard and dry.  
  • After 10 min, turn off the fire and move the pot to a cool burner, add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and let sit for at least 20 minutes.


Buon appetito!

  • Suggested Wine Pairing.  Arneis, Gavi, Greco di Tufo, no more than 2 years old, cold.  Some people recommend red wine with a fish soup. Taste is taste! If you like a red wine, try a good Ciro` Chianti, or Barbera, or Pinot Noir, but stay away from Merlot and Cabernet!

How to Make Fish Stock: Use only fish from the sea, not from rivers and lakes.  You can use anything you like. For example, you can use 1 pound of sardines and/or fish heads (say salmon, grouper, Mahi Mahi, shirimp, or the “skin” of the shrimp. Always use some, say 10 or so mussels or clams, etc. and their spines. Do not use small fish. Then, you do not have to deal with their small bones that will choke some guests not used to eating fish).

In a pot (really big),  add the fish; it should occupy about 1/3 to ¼ of the pot.  Add 1-2 glasses white wine –depending on how big your pot is, 1 red onion cut in 4, 4 cloves of garlic crushed, 1 bunch of parsley, 1 sprig of rosemary, 1 celery cut in pieces, water up to 2 inches to the top, black peppercorns, and salt. Let it boil lightly for 2-3 hours or three, until the water is about half then what you started with. Drain the broth, set aside until it reaches room temperature, and then freeze. When you need it, you will defrost it.

 

Zuppa di Pesce

Italiano:

 

  • Soffriggere in olio (quanto basta da coprire il fondo della padella per circa 3-4 mm, aglio.  Togliere appena prende colore
  • Aggiungere prezzemolo tritato, 1 pugno, 1 o piu` pepperoncini piccanti, 1/3 di cipolla rossa tritata, e le seppie, tubi tagliati a rondelle tentacoli interi.  Soffriggere (fuoco forte) 2 min
  • Aggiunger il resto del pesce.  Girare spesso, soffriggere 2 min.
  • Aggiungere 1 cup di vino bianco secco, coprire 1 min, scoperchiare e fare evaporare 30 secondi.
  • Aggiungere 1 box di Pomi “crushed” o “meglio” stessa quantita` di conserva di pomodori fatti in casa, e un una quantita` e mezza di acqua, o meglio di brodo di pesce fatto in casa e un rametto di rosmarino. (riempire il box di pomi d’acqua e poi riempirlo a meta e versare sul pesce)
  • Mischiare coprire e fare cuocere per dieci minuti a fuoco basso o medio-dipende dalla cucina- l’importante e`che non bollas enno` rovinate tutto.
  • Spegnere il fuoco, aggiungere sale e pepe e muovete la padella su un fornello freddo e lasiate riposare 20 min o piu`. (meglio farla il giorno prima ha piu` sapore).

 

Buon appetito!

 

Vino: Un buon bianco givane e freddo, Arneis, Gavi, Greco di Tufo,, etc.  Per chi preferisce il rosso: Barbera, Ciro`, Chianti,Etna rosso, Pinot Nero vanno benissimo. Meglio evitare cabernet e merlot.

 

Brodo di pesce:

Potete usare tutti i pesci che volete, meglio grossi cosi` non hanno spine e naturalmente pesci di mare e non di lago o fiume che sono troppo delicati.  Per esempio, sardine, teste di pesce tipo cernia, dentice, salmone ecc, gamberi o I loro gusci e sempre qualche cozza.  Procedure come segue.
In una pentola grande, la piu` grande che avete, e se non avete una pentola veramente grande e` ora di comprarla!, mettete abbastanza pesce da occupare circa 1/3 o 1/4 del volume della pentola, poi 1-2 bicchieri di vino bianco secco –dipende da quanto e` grande la pentola! 1 cipolla rossa tagliata in 4, 1 sedano a pezzi, 1 rametto di rosmarino, un mazzo di prezzemolo, 3-4 spicchi d’aglio schiacciati, pepe nero in grani.  Riempire d’acqua fino a 3-4 cm dall’orlo, salare.  Bollire 2-3 ore, finche` il liquido si e` ridotto a circa la meta`. Filtrare e surgelare.  Dovreste sempre avere in freezer surgelati brodi di: pesce, vegetale, pollo e carne.  Cosi` quando vi servono sono li che vi aspettano.

Michele Carbone spaghetti

Spaghetti with Bottarga

This is a simple dish to make and delicious, but some people don’t like it because “it tastes too much of fish!”


Bottarga is the dried, salted, pressed roe of various fish, mostly being the gray mullet and yellow fin tuna (also sold under the name of Amberjack and Hamachi, which to be precise [since fish names are often not precise] is the tuna type that is known as “Ricciola” in Italian).  I have used the bottarga of gray mullet and various tuna.

In my opinion, the bottarga of Ricciola is the best, but it is very difficult, and almost impossible to find in America. If you can find a source and send it to me, I’ll be very grateful!

The recipe uses the same “original base” that I use to cook the spaghetti cacio e pepe and those with ricotta cheese: I mean, for those simple recipes (such as pecorino or ricotta, or in this case bottarga), you want to leave the ingredients the chance to shine in their natural flavors. I learned this Bottarga recipe from a friend of mine, a Sicilian Chef, Giancarlo Gottardo.

Ingredients

  • 1 box of spaghetti
  • Zest of 2 fresh lemons
  • ½ cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • A handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus 2 tablespoons set aside to be used at the end of the recipe
  • 1 spicy Calabrian or Hawaiian, or Thai pepper (optional—use it if you like a little bit of a “kick” to your pasta)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 200 grams of bottarga. Keep the bottarga in the freezer until the last minute, then you will grate or (better) shave about 200 grams of it into the pasta bowl immediately before serving.

How to make this recipe

    1. Start by boiling the water for the pasta.  You can start the rest of the preparations as soon as you put the spaghetti in the boiling water.
    2. Grate the 2 fresh lemon peels, putting the zest into a saucer and setting aside.
    3. Finely chop a bunch of Italian parsley.
    4. Get out a large pasta bowl and warm it up (I run hot water into it, then pour out the water before adding the pasta).  
      1. All the ingredients are mixed into the bowl at the end of this recipe and you will need to move quickly.
    5. In a large skillet, gently sauté a couple of cloves of crushed garlic in about ½ a cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Remove the garlic cloves as soon as they take on color.
    6. Turn off the heat, add half of the handful of chopped fresh Italian parsley (about two tablespoons) and 1 or 2 minced peppers to the pan. (Remember to reserve about 2 more tablespoons of parsley just prior to serving).
    7. A soon as the spaghetti tastes ready (al dente), reserve about 1 cup of the hot water from the pasta pan before pouring the pasta into a colander.
    8. Moving quickly, pour the pasta from the colander directly into the skillet (which should still be hot, but the fire is off). Gently mix the pasta with the oil and other ingredients in the pan. Add a little bit of the water that you reserved from the pasta pot (about ½ cup) and continue to mix. It should be a smooth mixture, not too “wet” but not too “dry,” either.  
    9. Transfer to the warm pasta bowl.
    10. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley and gently mix.
    11. ” Shave” or grate the bottarga directly into the spaghetti (which, of course, you keep in the freezer until the last moment. I use a vegetable peeler to shave the frozen bottarga).
      1. How much bottarga? Everyone has different tastes. I like a lot of it, but some people find it too fishy! So grate enough to suit your own taste. I’d suggest about 200 grams for 1 box of spaghetti.
    12. Add the lemon zest, mix very well.  
    13. Serve immediately.
    14. I suggest to bring the bottarga to the table and allow guests to shave additional bottarga on their plates at will.  

 

Buon appetito!

Suggested Wine Pairing

A fresh Rosé is a wonderful pairing; or use a cold, dry white wine like a Gavi.

 

Italiano:

Spaghetti con la Botarga.
Piatto semplicissimo da fare, buonissimo, ma a molti non piace perche` “sa troppo di pesce”!

Ci sono due tipi di Botarga, almeno che io sappia, una di cefalo (muggine) e l’altra di Ricciola o altro tipo di tonno. Quella di Ricciola secondo me e` la migliore, ma trovarla, almeno in America, e` molto difficile, quasi impossibile visto che non l’ho MAI trovata-se la trovate e me la spedite ve ne saro` molto grato!!!.

La ricetta, semplicissima usa la stessa “base iniziale ” che uso per cucinare gli spaghetti cacio e pepe e quelli con la ricotta, cioe` per quelle ricette semplici dove vuoi lasciare al pecorino (per la cacio e pepe), ricotta, e in questo caso alla botarga la possibiita di farsi apprezzare nella loro naturalezza. Finita la filosofia procedere come di seguito secondo quanto ho imparato da un mio amico Chef siculo Giancarlo Gottardo:

1 box di spaghetti
Grattate la buccia di 2 limoni freschi e mettetela in un piattino (Lemon zest, possibly from 2 lemons you just picked up from the tree)

Riempite di acqua calda una bowl (ciotola, piatto di portata, cioe` dove metterete la pasta per servirla a tavola) e fatela intiepidire.

Soffriggere delicatamente, un paio di spicchi d’aglio schiacciati in circa 120 ml olio d’oliva (1/2 cup). Toglierli APPENA prendono colore, SPEGNERE il fuoco e aggiungere un mezzo pugno di prezzemolo tritato (about 2 spoons) e un peperoncino calabrese piccante tritato (o di piu` se vi piace mangiare piccante).

Intanto state cuocendo gli spaghetti. Quando la pasta e` al dente, dovete muovervi rapidamente!:

Prendere 1 cup di acqua, dalla pasta che sta bollendo appena prima di scolarla, scolare la pasta e mischiarla nella padella con l’olio e aggiungere un po’ dell’ acqua che avevate preso, circa 1/2 cup, cioe` quanto basta perche` sia vellutata, ne` secca, ne` liquida. Aggiungere un altro po di prezzemolo tritato, (2 cucchiai). Mischiare e trasferire in una “bowl” (piatto di portata), che avete precedentemente intiepidito riempendola di acqua calda e poi asciugandola.

SUBITO, “shave” o grattare RAPIDAMENTE sopra gli spaghetti la botarga che naturalmente terrete nel freezer fino all’utimo momento (io uso un “vegetable peeler”). Quanta botarga? I gusti so gusti. A me piace tanta botarga, ma alcuni storceranno il naso dicendo che sa troppo di pesce! Percio` fate a gusto vostro. Io suggerirei circa 200 g. Aggiungete la buccia grattata di due limoni, mischiate molto bene e buon appetito. (suggerisco di portare la botarrga a tavola e grattarne altra sopra il vostro piatto a piacimento)

vegetables-1880980_1920

Funghi Trifolati and Fricassee of Mushroom

(For 4 people, or for 1 very hungry person)

I’m in the mountains alone with my Bullmastiff and my Boxer, and tonight I cooked the “mushrooms in fricassee,” a delicious recipe that you will never find in a restaurant.  

Now the “fricassee” is just one more step after you prepare the “Mushrooms trifolati”, so the first part of this recipe will give you an excellent dish, called mushrooms trifolati, then when you want to try a variation of it, you add the fricassee.

Ingredients

  • 14 to 16 ounces of mushrooms (preferably a medley of mushroom types) sliced about 1/3 cm tick
  • Juice from ½ or 1 fresh lemon (depending on how much juice it makes, and how you like it)
  • 3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

How to make this recipe

Part A: Mushrooms trifolati:

  1. In a large non-stick skillet, gently sauté the cloves of crushed garlic in about 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil. Remove the garlic cloves as soon as they take on color.
  2. Adjust the heat to medium-high or high (depending on the intensity of your burners – for a family stove, high, for a professional stove, medium-high).
  3. Add the mushrooms to the skillet together with the chopped parsley. Cook on high heat for about 4 minutes, mixing them often.  
  4. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. At this point, the funghi trifolati are ready to eat!

Part B.  “Fricassee”

    1. Remove the skillet from the flame, add egg yolks, mixing them well.  Immediately add the lemon juice and mix well.
    2. Serve immediately.

Buon Appetito!

 

Suggested Wine Pairing.  A good Chianti or Barbera.

Funghi Trifolati e in Fricassea

Italiano:

Sono in montagna, da solo con il mio Bullmastiff e la mia Boxer, e stasera mi sono cucinato i “Funghi in fricassea”, ricetta buonissima che si mangia molto raramente. Per cominciare,la Fricassea non e` altro che una modifica della ricotta di base dei Funghi Trifolati,percio` di seguito entrambe le ricette:

Procedere come segue: Per circa 4 persone 400 grammi di funghi freschi. Meglio misti: naturalmente migliori sono i funghi migliore e` la riuscita.

1 soffriggere 3 spicchi d’ aglio schiacciati in olio (2/3 di tazzine di caffe`, circa 1/4 of a cup), in una padella antiaderente da circa 20 cm di diametro. Appena dorato togliere aglio.

Funghi trifolati:

  1. Aggiungere i funghi tagliati a fettine e mischiate con circa 1/3 cup di prezzemolo tritato. Cuocere a fuoco forte circa 4 minuti girando spesso.
  2. A questo punto aggiungere sale e pepe nero e I funghi trifolati sono pronti.

Oppure: “Fricassea”:

  1. Togliere la padella dal fuoco, aggiungere 3 rossi (tuorli) d’uovo mischiare bene e aggiungere subito 1/2 limone (se e` sugoso o 1 limone se e` secco/rachitico). Mischiare bene.
  2. Aggiungere sale e pepe e buon appetito.
Grilled Lamb Steak

Grilled Lamb Steak

Lamb Steak (for 2 people, or for 1 hungry person)
When I need to cook something quick and delicious, I buy a lamb steak (or several steaks if I plan to come home with friends), and a mixture of mushrooms. See also the accompanying recipe for Mushrooms Trifolati or Mushrooms in Fricassea, also on my website.

Ingredients

  • 1 lamb steak with the bone in
  • 1/8 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed (optional, I like it)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

How to make this recipe

  1. About a ½ hour before you plan to cook, or 10 min if you just got home and you are in a hurry, take the lamb steak from the refrigerator. On a large plate, marinate it in a light coating of olive oil, (garlic, optional) and rosemary sprigs to marinade, sliding your fingers down the sprigs to break off the leaves for the marinade. (Discard the woody stems of the sprigs).
  2. Sprinkle salt and freshly-ground black pepper over the lamb.
  3. When you are ready to cook, use a cast-iron skillet or grill.  Heat it on high so that it is “smoking” before you add the lamb steak. (Make sure you have your stove’s ventilator on so that it will pull the smoke from the intense heat out of your kitchen).
  4. Place the lamb on the skillet/grill and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side, depending on your preferences and how thick the meat is.  
  5. Turn off the flame, remove the skillet from heat, and serve immediately.  This recipe is great with the fricassee of mushrooms.
  6. Buon appetito!

Suggested Wine Pairing

A good Chianti or Barbera.

Italiano:

Bistecca di agnello con osso, alla griglia. Piatto ottimo e particolarmente utile quando tornate a casa stanchi e volete mangiare qualcosa di buono in 15 minuti, o se tornate a casa con un gruppo di amici e volete preparargli qualcosa da mangiare rapidamente.  

Marinare lagnellos con olio, rosmarino, (aglio, se vi piace), sale e pepe, minomo 10 min, meglio ½ ora.

Scaldare la graticola sul fuoco finche` non fuma.  CUocere l’agnello 3-4 minuti per lato (dipende dallo spessore della bistecca).

Rimettere nel piatto con la marinata e buona appetito.

Vino: un rosso generoso e felice, per esempio un buon Chianti o Barbera.

Photo from http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/whole-roasted-sea-bass-potatoes-and-olives

Roasted Sea Bass with Potatoes, Olives, and Tomatoes

Recipe from foodandwine.com

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and slices ½-inch thick
  • 1 lb. tomatoes, cut into large chunks
  • ¾ cup pitted green olives
  • ¼ cup torn basil leaves
  • ½ cup plus 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 3lb. Sea bass, cleaned
  • ½ cup pine nuts

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a very large roasting pan, toss the potatoes, tomatoes, olives, and basil with ½ cup of the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Next, make 3 shallow slashes in both sides of each fish, and rub both with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, seasoning them with salt and pepper. Place the fish in the roasting pan, nestling them within the vegetables. Roast for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender, and both fish are cooked through.

Photo from http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/whole-roasted-sea-bass-potatoes-and-olives

Photo from http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/skillet-bruschetta-with-beans-and-greens

Skillet Bruschetta with Beans and Greens

Recipe from bonappetit.com

Ingredients

  • 8 ¾-inch thick slices crusty bread
  • 6 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 15oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 bunch kale or mustard greens, ribs removed, leaves cut into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preparation

Brush the pieces of bread on both sides with 4 tablespoons of oil total, and place in a large preheated skillet over medium heat. Working in 2 batches, cook the bread, pressing occasionally to enhance the crispiness until golden brown, which should take about 3 minutes per side. Season the toasted pieces of bread with salt and pepper, and set aside.

Now, increase the heat to medium-high and heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same skillet. Add the thinly sliced garlic and red pepper flakes, and stir until fragrant. Then, add the cannellini beans, stirring occasionally, until they begin to blister, which should take about 3 minutes. Using a spoon, lightly mash half of the beans, and add kale and broth, tossing frequently until the kale has been wilted. Add lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Serve the now finished beans and greens mixture over the toasted bread.

Photo from http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/skillet-bruschetta-with-beans-and-greens

Bell Peppers

Bell Pepper Pasta

Ingredients

  • 10 mixed bell peppers, red, green, yellow, and orange
  • Dried Italian oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Black olives, chopped (preferably not canned)
  • ½-1 cup parmigiano cheese, grated (high quality product, from Whole Foods or Italian importer)
  • Capers (optional)
  • Italian plum tomatoes, chopped (Pomi tomatoes preferred)

Preparation

Start by washing and deseeding the bell peppers, remove the pits, and cut them into chunky pieces. As they dry, pour Italian extra-virgin olive oil into a large, heavy pan, and heat on low. Add the garlic to the pan and saute gently until golden, then use a fork to remove the garlic clove. Once that is done, add the bell peppers to the pan and toss, making sure they are evenly coated. Partially cover the pan and cook on low until the peppers are soft, which should take 45 minutes to an hour. After that, remove the cover and turn the heat up to medium high. Be careful not to evaporate all the water in the pan. Add about ½ a container of Pomi chopped tomatoes along with a few tablespoons of dried Italian/Mediterranean oregano, salt, and pepper to taste. Continue cooking for about 10-15 minutes uncovered at medium high heat.

Once the mixture is to your liking, add as many chopped black olives as you prefer. Only cook for a few more minutes to avoid having the olives become bitter, and add a few teaspoons of capers (optional). Now that it’s finished, add the grated parmigiano cheese, stir, and taste for flavor. Remember, the parmigiano adds saltiness to the dish, so you may want to reduce the amount of salt initially used.

Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe

This is a very simple pasta, and it’s probably one of the best pastas you can eat. It is sad that in many restaurants, it is often messed up terribly.

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • ¾ of a box of spaghetti (a box of spaghetti serves 5 people so adjust accordingly)
  • .45 lbs of pecorino romano (I’m looking at what I have in my refrigerator)
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Leaves from 1 small bunch of basil (optional)
  • Large pinch of freshly grated black pepper

Preparation

  • As the pasta is boiling, grate the pecorino cheese (I use a Cuisinart for this, but you can also hand grate the cheese. Do not use pre-grated cheese because it changes the consistency and flavor. Also, this recipe requires pecorino romano – no other cheese will work.
  • Put the grated pecorino cheese into a medium bowl and set it aside.
  • About 3-5 minutes before the pasta is ready, put the olive oil in a 12-14 inch skillet and warm it up. It should be warm, not hot.
  • Use a ladle or a cup to scoop some of the boiling water from the pot where the pasta is cooking.
  • Add a little bit of the hot pasta water to the cheese, and mix it with a fork until it becomes smooth, creamy, but not liquid.  It should have a thick, smooth consistency, almost like a cream.
  • Drain the pasta (not too well), and add it to the pan with the warm olive oil.  Mix it with a wooden spoon or fork for 30 seconds.
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Move the skillet to a cool burner and add the cheese. Mix it well.  If it is too thick, add a little more of the water you had reserved. Add black pepper to taste.
  • If you have fresh basil, add it to the dish.
  • Serve immediately.
Image source: http://www.salepepe.it/ricette/secondi/di-carne/animali-da-cortile-volatili/pollo-cacciatora/

Hunter’s Chicken (Pollo alla cacciatora) for 6 People

Image credit: www.salepepe.it

(Note I wrote the recipe in English and in Italian, see below).

English:  Pollo alla cacciatora is a delicious, classic Italian recipe that everyone loves, including kids. It’s easy to make, and you can serve it for a dinner party, or just make it at home for a quick, simple dinner. It takes about 30 minutes to prepare.

Ingredients

  • 12 chicken drumsticks or legs (thighs and drumsticks) – use organic, free-ranging chicken if you can find them in your area: this recipe is best with great quality chicken
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (Italian or a good one from California)
  • 3-4 leaves of fresh sage or 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (it depends which you have in your house: I always try to have potted rosemary and basil in my kitchen window)
  • ½ of a red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 box of Pomì chopped tomatoes
  • ½ cups of white wine
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make this recipe

  1. Combine in a large skillet—so the chicken fits without piling up—the olive oil, smashed garlic cloves, red onion, and the sage or rosemary and put it on medium to medium high heat for only 1 minute.

Note that the “heat” is a term dependent on your stove. For example, on a small family gas stove, you will use “high,” and on a professional stove, say, a Viking Stove with burners with 20,000 or so BTU, you would use medium. An electric stove, I do not know. So use your best judgment based on the type of stove you have.

 

  1. After 1 min, add the chicken and fry on medium-high heat for another 10 minutes: 5 minutes per side. Pay attention to this part of the cooking process, because this is the part where recipes you find on the Internet or in cookbooks (often written by people who don’t cook) are typically misleading. You want the onion, garlic, and sage/rosemary to cook for only one minute, then add the chicken to the hot skillet. Otherwise, if you cook the onion too long (i.e. until they become soft) and then you add the chicken, the onion will get burnt by the time you finish cooking the chicken! Also, to taste better, the chicken needs to be well-browned (don’t exaggerate!), so don’t move it around in the pan as it browns, and let it “stick” a little bit:
    • Let them cook for 5 minutes on each side without succumbing to the temptation to keep flipping them over
    • If after the first 5 minutes when you turn them they have not become golden brown, or even a little bit burnt, it means your heat is too low, and you should increase it.
  2. After the chicken is browned 5 minutes per side, add ½ cup of white wine, and allow it to evaporate for 30 seconds.
  3. Add the box of chopped Pomì tomatoes.
  4. Add salt to taste and stir. Cover and lower the heat to medium. Cook for another:
    • 10 minutes (5 minutes per side) if you are using only drumsticks
    • 20 minutes (10 minutes per side) if you are using the chicken legs.
  5. Remove from heat and serve with a lot of good, fresh bread.
  6. Buon appetito!

Suggested Wine Pairing

A Cirò Librandi Red or Rosè, is great with this recipe. If it’s summer time, a fresh Rosé is a wonderful pairing. If it’s winter, a red that’s been open for an hour or two. If you don’t have Cirò, I suggest a Rosso di Montalcino or a Chianti Classico. But honestly, it depends on your mood, because the Pollo alla Cacciatora is also great with a cold, dry white wine like a Gavi.  

Italiano: Pollo alla Cacciatora per 6 persone (o 2 affamati)

  1. 12 gambe di pollo (drumsticks) o 6 gambe con cosce (Drumsticks and thighs).  Padella grande che ci stiano tutte lezampe comodamente, non una sopra l’altra.
  2. Soffriggere in 1/2 cup (circa 120 ml) olio di oliva in una padella grande, 3 spicchi d’aglio schiacciati e mezza cipolla rossa a pezzettini (minced) con 3-4 foglie di salvia o con un rametto di rosmarino (dipende da cosa avete a casa e cosa vi piace di più). 1min!
  3. Aggiungere il pollo, soffriggere altri 10 min, cinque per lato. Attenzione qui è dove sbagliano in molti-non per colpa loro ma perchè le ricette che si trovano su libri e internet sono scritte spesso da gente che non le ha mai cucinate: Primo dovete aggiungere il pollo dopo solo un minuto, perche siccome continuerete a soffriggere pollo aglio e cipolla, se aspettate che la cipolla si ammoscia per mettere il pollo, intanto che cucinate il pollo bruciate la cipolla e l’aglio! Poi perchè sia buono il pollo non deve solo indorare deve pure bruciacchiarsi un po (poco poco, non esagerate!), perciò non bisogna muoverlo, cinque minuti per lato fuoco medio/forte, padella scoperta.
  4. Aggiungere 1/2 bicchiere di vino bianco, fare evaporare 30 secondi e aggiungere 1 scatolo di pelati (Pomì a pezzetti, chopped), aggiungere sale, coprire abbassare il fuoco a medio. Cucinare per 10 minuti (5min per lato) se sono solo gambe (drumsticks) oppure 20 min (10 min per lato ( se avete gambe e cosce, drumsticks and thighs).
  5. Spegnere il fuoco e servire con tanto buon pane fresco.

Vino: un Cirò Librandi ci sta benissimo, se è estate un Rosè  fresco, se è inverno un Rosso aperto almeno un’ora prima, meglio due. Se non avete il Ciro, suggerirei un Rosso di Montalcino o un Chianti Classico. Ma sinceramente, dipende dall’umore perche con il pollo alla cacciatora anche un bianco secco, e freddo, un Gavi per esempio, ci sta a meraviglia.

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