Sunday, October 2, 2016

Pasta con Sugo di Carne (Meat sauce), Calabria

Brutti ma buoni, is the perfect description for this pasta sauce.   Translation?  Ugly but delicious, is what you call Pasta that breaks apart, but would never be thrown away.  Especially when it's covered in a flavorful meat sauce, that doesn't have to cook all day long.
After a trip to Calabria, to visit cousins,  I was told, this Ragu' has it's roots in Calabria. Traveling about in Italy, you might find similar versions.   In Calabria, it is always served with "Pasta fatta in Casa," or Home made pasta made in a tubular shape.
In much the same way, my Mother made this dish, I found a few sausages and a pork chop in the freezer.  Lucky for me, I have a good memory.   A little onion for garlic, some olive oil is all you need.  I am sure this dish has it's roots in Naples too , as my Nonna Barbara, would often throw together Ragu's in much the same way.   The browning of the meat, directly in the pan, creates a richness to this Ragu' all it's own and it doesn't have to cook,  all  day long.   
Make some this weekend.  
Buon Appetito!
Ingredients:  4 servings
14 ounces of chopped, fresh tomatoes (or store bought)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 small cloves of elephant garlic or 1/2 sweet yellow onion diced
One handful of chopped Parsley or Parsley torn apart with your hands.
One teaspoon of salt
One teaspoon of pepper
One pork chop
2 sausages
1/4 red wine
Optional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, sprinkled on right before serving.
One pound of Rigatoni or any Tubular pasta.  Works well with Buccatini too.
A large pasta pot, filled with water brought to a rolling boil.  Add 2 tablespoons of Sea Salt.
Large open skillet
Method:  Heat your olive oil to low/medium and  Add your meats, turn up your heat and brown on both sides.  This should take about 5-7 minutes.   The meat does not have to be cooked through, just browned.  It will continue to finish cooking in the tomatoes.  Remove them to a separate plate to cool.  Add a drop more olive oil if the pan looks dry and add your garlic or onion, mixing until fragrant. 
Turn your heat down some and add your wine, carefully scraping your brown bits out of your pan.
Once you have loosened them up with a wooden spoon, add your tomatoes, salt, pepper and carefully slip your meat back in.   Cook on a low, steady simmer until your oil separates from the pan, about 20-25 minutes.  Carefully cook your pasta and remove al dente.  Toss to coat with your sauce and serve.

. Serve with a sprinkle of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese!
Buon Appetito!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Savory Taralli (Puglia Region, cookies)

These delicious Savory Taralli can be made up in a hurry. Who does not remember growing up with these cookies during Holiday time?  With a little practice, they can be ready in an hour.  A few simple ingredients is all you need. This recipe can be made in several ways.  The sweetened version is the most common here in the States, typically made during holiday time.  
 Had lots of fun this past month with Mom around.  She hadn't made these in so many years.  Her mother made these typically around Easter time, so we did too.  Thank you to the Academia Barilla cooking School in Parma, Italy  for their video recipe and
reminding us all that Traditions are a very important part of today's kitchen and should remain that way. 
Here is my variation. 
I used the food Processor.   Traditionally made by hand and still made my hand today.  So don't worry if you don't have a food processor.  Will take some extra kneading.

Recipe:  Makes about 2 dozen or so
16 oz of unbleached flour
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of dried fennel (one teaspoon per cup of flour)
(Optional teaspoon of black pepper)
In the food processor or standing mixer, combine all the above ingredients.   Mix for a few minutes until your dough begins to come together.   There will be crumbs.  Place onto a board  or counter and combine into a ball.   Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest approximately 15 mintues to 20 minutes.
Line 2 baking pans with Parchment paper.  (A kitchen towel will not work well as lint may be an issue while your taralli are draining).
Cut a small piece of dough off and roll out.  It will be oily some.  Do not worry.  You need it pliable and workable.  If it's to dry, add some warm water to your hands.  You can roll out between your hands if that works.  Working quickly, roll out your Taralli in a a tubular fashion.   Then wrap in a circle and tuck the ends under and pinch.

In the meantime, put a pasta pot of Water to boil.  Add a tablespoon of salt to the water.  When the water comes to a hard boil, carefully drop your Taralli into the water for a few minutes.  This cooking method, plumps up your Taralli and helps to give them that beautiful shine when they are done, as they will dry out in the oven.

After a few minutes, they will rise to the top.   Carefully remove to a parchment lined baking sheet.   Transfer them again to a dry Parchment lined baking sheet.  You don't want to use a towel as you don't want lint all over your Taralli.  Don't drain them in a colander as they might stick together.  This is the safest way to do it. 
Preheat your oven to 365 degrees bake.  If you are using convection, plese lower your oven accordingly.   Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.  Don't worry if they are not all exactly the same size.  They will still require the same cooking time.

They will be a light golden brown.  Your kitchen will smell like fennel, an added bonus.  Buon Appetito!
They won't last!!!   Serve before dinner or as a snack.   Traditionally, these savory treats were dipped in a glass of wine and eaten.   Buon Appetito!