Tagliatelle with fava beans, peas, guanciale, and pecorino means spring is officially here.
TAGLIATELLE WITH FAVA BEANS
4 oz shucked and blanched english peas
3 oz shucked and blanched and peeled fava beans
2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 T sage, julienned
4 oz guanciale, diced
4- 4oz portions Tagliatelle
In a saucepan, cook the guanciale on med high heat in oil. Slowly caramelize and brown. Add the English peas, favas, garlic and slowly saute. Add the sage and crushed red pepper. Saute for another 2 minutes.While cooking, boil salted water for pasta. Add tagliatelle to pasta water. Add 2 cups pasta water to the guanciale mixture. 2 T of butter, 1 cup grated pecorino, salt and pepper. Drain pasta, and add to this mixture. Finish with more pecorino, EVOO and black pepper.
White truffle flan is a great way to start off a holiday meal and represents everything that is great in Italian regional cooking. A simple preparation, with relatively few but pristine and highest quality ingredients and the perception of a difficult undertaking that none of your guests need to know about. The magic of white truffles.
Yields 8 – 4oz. souffle cup portions
WHITE TRUFFLE PARMIGIANO SFORMATO
1 quart Heavy cream
2.5 Cups Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
½ teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 T white truffle paste (optional…but preferable!)
4 whole eggs
4 T all purp. Flour
Salt to taste
White truffles, fresh (avail. at Via Umbria) to garnish
Heat Cream in a saucepan, add the cheese and blend. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, crack eggs, whisk, add the flour and whisk some more until combined. Add the truffle paste to cream mixture and slowly pour cream into egg mixture. Add the nutmeg and adjust seasoning with salt.
Meanwhile, get souffle cups, and spray with non stick spray. Ladle in the mixture. On top of stove, pour approx. ¾ ” of water into a shallow stove top-ready baking dish. Place souffle cups in the water bath and cover the whole pan in plastic wrap. Cook on stovetop at medium high heat for about 30 minutes, steaming the flans. They are done when the mixture does not jiggle like jello. Serve warm. Unmold from dishes if desired.
Shave white truffles on top of the sformato and serve with crostini and aged Balsamico.
There’s nothing like a hearty soup to keep your belly full and spirits high as the weather gets chillier. With Via Umbria’s grab-and-go stock of pantry essentials and dinnertime lifesavers (we’re looking at you, oven-roasted chicken!) it couldn’t be easier to get dinner on the table. This week, tuck into a humble but delicious chicken farro soup bolstered by flavorful parmigiano and garlic.
SUZY’S CHICKEN FARRO SOUP
1 c farro
3 c water
1 small onion diced
1 carrot diced
1 celery stalk diced
1 garlic clove
1 c cooked chicken diced
2 T tomato sauce
In a medium saucepan add farro, water, onion, carrot, celery and garlic. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until farro is soft.
Add more water if necessary. Add chicken, tomato sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a shaving of Parmesan
Bill’s Whole Snapper Garlic Ginger recipe may seem seem out of place in an Italian recipe blog, but this Asian recipe shares a lot with Italian preparation. First, the fish should be fresh, which in our case was beyond doubt, having purchased it from Robert, our local fishmonger at the daily harbor fish market in Georgetown, Grand Cayman. Robert cleans and filets all manner of fresh catch with an uber sharp machete right in front of your eyes. Second, the accompanying flavors are understated and elevate rather than overwhelm the fresh fish.
This is a favorite of Suzy and mine when we, like we are now, spend time at our vacation home in the Caymans (no money laundering jokes, please). After a grueling day under the sun, there’s nothing quite like this flavorful fish dish and a little (or a lot of) white wine to wash it down.
[recipe courtesy of taste.com.au]
Whole Snapper with Garlic and Ginger
1 whole snapper, gutted and scaled
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Ginger, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced
2 or 3 dried chili peppers crushed
1 bunch coriander
Preheat oven to 400 deg.
Rinse and pat dry 1 whole red snapper. Line baking dish with aluminum foil (you may have lay 2 sheets side by side) and place wax or parchment paper on top. Lay snapper on paper and liberally salt and pepper. Sprinkle garlic and ginger over entire surface.
In a small bowl, mix well soy, fish sauce, rice wine and sesame oil. Pour over snapper allowing it to penetrate the skin. Baste several times.
Close aluminum/parchment paper to form an airtight pouch with snapper inside. Place in oven (in baking dish) and bake for 30-45 minutes. The snapper is cooked when the flesh flakes and displays no opacity.
Unwrap fish and transfer to a serving plate or bowl being sure to pour the liquid over the fish. Garnish with a liberal amount of sliced scallions and some sprigs of coriander.
Serve with lots of white wine, preferrably a crisp, acidic wine such as Falanghina, Greco di Tufo or anything from Campania.
A trio of summer salads that are easy to prepare and pair easily with your favorite grilled meat, fish or veggies. Light and refreshing and sure to brighten up your plate.
ASPARAGUS AND RHUBARB SALAD
10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off
3 stalks rhubarb – slightly shaved
2 cups pea shoots
¼ cup lemon juice
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender. Slice into 1” pieces. Slice the rhubarb into matchsticks. Whisk together the vinegar, olive oil and honey. Toss asparagus and rhubarb with dressing in a serving bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with pea shoots and lemon zest.
STRAWBERRY AND ASPARAGUS SALAD
1 pint strawberries sliced
4 cups baby arugula
10 stalks asparagus – ends broken off
Goat Lady Chevre
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Lightly brush asparagus with olive oil and roast until tender. Slice into 1” pieces. Put arugula in a serving bowl and add strawberries. Whisk together vinegar and olive oil – season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the arugula and strawberries. Top with dollops of goat cheese and almonds.
FAVA BEANS AND PORTOBELLO MUSHROOMS
1 pound fava beans shelled
3 Portobello Mushrooms cleaned
¼ pound aged pecorino shaved
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
Steam fava beans for 1-2 minutes (should still be bright green) remove from heat and put on ice to quick chill. Slice portobellos. Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and mustard. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss together mushrooms and cooled favas. Top with pecorino and serve.
This recipe for whole-baked fish with olives comes to us from Elizabeth Minchilli, who enlisted a team of Italian mammas and nonnas to perfect it. After tinkering with her method and recipe for 25 years, she says she’s finally nailed it. The result is a tender roasted fish, flavored with briny green olives and bright, bursting cherry tomatoes. Spoiler alert: this might be our favorite recipe from her new book.
WHOLE-BAKED FISH WITH OLIVES
2 whole fish with the head on, cleaned and scaled (you can ask the fishmonger to do this for you)
1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 cup briny green olives, unpitted
Olive oil (about ¼ cup)
Freshly ground black pepper
–Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
–Oil one fish generously, seasoning the cavity with salt and pepper. Stuff parsley and a few olives into the cavity and scatter half of the olives and tomatoes around the fish. Place fish on parchment or aluminum foil and repeat with the other fish.
–Wrap each fish, creating a seal so steam won’t escape. Bake for about 25 minutes, then let rest for 10 minutes
–To serve, place on platter, open the packet, and debone the fish. Pour the juices from the parchment paper along with the olives and tomatoes on top of the fish.
Be warned: arrabiata means “angry” in Italian, hinting at this sauce’s surprisingly fiery kick. While it may look like your classic Pomodoro, Arrabbiata Sauce is made by infusing peperoncini into a garlicky olive oil, imbuing a subtle heat that punctuates each bite. Served over your favorite pasta, it’s a welcome change that’s quick to make and faster to eat.
1 small yellow onion (small diced)
2 t peperoncini or crushed red pepper flakes
2 cloves of garlic
2 quarts of Tomato puree (San Marzano tomatoes, whole, pureed)
2 bunches of basil
2 T chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
-In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add olive oil, add the diced onion and slowly saute till clear and soft on Med-High heat
-Add the garlic, gently sauté, add the peperoncini, and 1 T of parsley and sauté quickly
-Meanwhile cook your pasta of choice
-Add pasta water from the pasta cooking liquid to the arrabiata sauce
-Drain pasta, and toss into the arrabiata sauce, add basil, and the remaining parsley
-If necessary add a cup of pasta water and adjust seasoning
-Serve with Pecorino Romano, Fiore Sardo or Ricotta salata
Not too long ago, I had my first experience with frenching a rack of lamb. For those of you who don’t know what that means – frenching is a technique in which you “beautify” the meat by exposing the rib bones, thereby making the chops more attractive. Nearly every rack of lamb in the grocery store, as well as beef ribeye, and pork loin goes through this process. While it does indeed make the chops more attractive for plating, and removes quite a bit of fat from the dish, as I was removing the “extraneous” meat from the lamb bones, I felt a pang of sadness. How much goodness we were wasting! Succulent layers of meat and flavorful soft fat was all going to end up in the trash can just for the sake of appearance.
Flash forward a few months and I found myself eating in a small restaurant (the where and when of this meal isn’t important) and noticed a framed article from the Washington Post Food section on the wall. The article was an interview with the restaurant’s chef and included a recipe for a lamb roast, the photo of which looked more like a porchetta than any lamb roast I’ve ever seen. But something seemed familiar about it and I couldn’t shake that feeling. When I got home I opened up a few of my meatiest cookbooks and butchery books and found that same recipe in a pop up in few different places- one of which went so far as to call it a lambchetta. This particular roast was a rack of lamb, but rather than remove the meat from the bones and waste pieces of perfectly good lamb, this roast was based on the premise that only the inedible part of the lamb should be discarded: basically, cut out the bones rather than the meat. What this leaves you with is a “flap” of meat, which is essentially the lamb’s belly, which you then season and roll around the lean loin (the part you are used to seeing as the lamb chop). The first time I made it for myself I kept the seasoning simple, using only salt, pepper, red wine, garlic, and rosemary, but you can really go wild with flavors here. The simple seasoning created flavors that were out of this world, but next time I have visions of testing out a yogurt and feta marinade on the inside.
Lambchetta love story aside, this isn’t the end of frenching meats for my case but I am intrigued by and committed to trying out new ways to avoid waste. With this track record, I think that I may be able to stumble into some pretty incredible flavors this way. So why not join me? Stop by the counter and let me know what unique recipes and preparations you’ve tried and love, let’s brainstorm new ways to create amazing dishes, or just give me a call and I’ll make you a lambchetta that will change the way you eat lamb forever. Either way, I have a feeling that the next few months are going to be pretty tasty.
Well, folks, it’s getting to be that time of year again–that time of year when it’s almost too cold to go outside and grill and we start craving foods that combat those cold temperatures. While this doesn’t mean that we have to say goodbye to our nice steaks (there are many ways to cook them inside in the kitchen) it does mean that the season of soups and stews, of braising and roasting is coming. As a butcher, this is an exciting shift. We’re moving from the cuts of meat that are well-known and easy to recognize, to the cuts that are not as familiar, often overlooked, but are packed with more flavor. The problem with many of these cuts is that they are typically tougher pieces of meat and require special methods of cooking to prepare. One of these methods is one of my all-time favorite ways to cook: braising.
Braising is, in simplest form, is slow-cooking in liquid. It is a method that is nearly universal in practice; ranging from a variety traditional dishes in northern China, to a Jewish brisket, certain preparations of Mexican carnitas, and ossobuco–Italy’s famous preparation of a crosscut veal shank. The common denominator between all of these different recipes is that they are all pieces of meat that have substantial amounts of fat and connective tissue. It takes time to break that stuff down, rendering the meat edible. But by the end of the process the meat is tender enough to be eaten without a knife, and having both absorbed and contributed to the flavor of the gravy that remains of the cooking liquid.
As with any cooking method that results in such “simple” foods, there are some very important steps to braising that, when left out or minimized can prevent your cooking from reaching its full potential. The most important, in my opinion, are:
Sear the meat. This is definitely one of the most misunderstood steps of the braising process. Most recipes will all on you to brown your meat before you begin to cook it but nearly always the neglect to specify why. Contrary to popular belief this step isn’t done to to capture moisture, but rather to deepen the flavor of the dish as a whole. By altering the chemical nature of the outer layer of meat (a process referred to as the Maillard reaction) you are adding a carmel/roast-y flavor to the meat that goes miles in improving your dish.
After searing the meat, recipes often call for the sautéing of vegetables and spices. It is very important that you do this in the order that the recipe calls for. For example, if you were to add onions and garlic at once, in the time it takes to sauté an onion to desired softness, any flavor that the garlic would have added has been lost. Make sure to add your aromatics and spices later in the process.
Choose your liquid wisely! Any liquid can be used, but the most common are wine, beer and stock. Any will work, just make sure you use something that will complement your spices and the meat that you’re using.
Skim the fat! While not the most crucial, this prevents your dish from being overly greasy when finished. This especially matters for fattier meats, such as the short rib.
Patience! Braising is a method of low and slow cooking and it takes time. Don’t rush it.
Don’t worry about it! Braising can, and probably should, be made a day in advance. That extra time, with all the ingredients sitting together let flavors to continue to blend. That’s also what makes it great for entertaining. Make it the day before and all you have to do when your guests arrive is warm it up.
When done properly, braising yields some of the most succulent, delicious meat possible without an overwhelming amount of effort. Don’t just take my word for it though- stop by the counter to pick up your favorite cut and see for yourself.
Growing up, I always hated chicken. It was almost invariably dry and tasteless, unless of course it came battered and fried with a side of biscuits. I rarely ordered it in a restaurant, and rued the days when my parents would make some for dinner. As I grew older I developed an appreciation for the dark meat, which lead to the realization that the thing I was most opposed to was the dryness and blandness of the chickens of my youth. Now, having had access to and experience with great chicken I have realized that there are many other factors that go into cooking the perfect chicken, but for the sake of brevity let’s focus on the two major issues and breakthroughs that led me out of this dark, chicken hating place and into a brand new food world where we would want a chicken in every pot.
Well, not in a pot, necessarily. In fact, that’s probably my least favorite way to cook it but that’s neither here nor there. There are a myriad of things you can do to a chicken to help it along, beginning with a good brine, but again, that’s an issue for another time. For now, let’s talk cooking. You may have heard of spatchcocking, where the spine of the the bird is removed and the whole chicken can be laid out flat on the grill for cooking. Most food blogs bring up this method in the months of October and November as a quicker way of preparing a Thanksgiving turkey. This also has the added benefit of keeping the moisture in the meat, preventing your Aunt’s usual dried out turkey. Before I had even heard this word, however, I had come across a very similar method in a cookbook by celebrity chef Sean Brock. What he refers to as “Chicken Roasted Simply In a Skillet” comes there alongside garlic confit and pan sauce, is easily modifiable and made even simpler than the recipe says. All it requires is a cast iron skillet where halves of chicken are seared skin-side down for several minutes, flipped skin-side up and finished in a preheated oven. While his recipe is delicious, I’ve come to find that you can modify the seasoning to whatever you like, skip the step of weighing down the chicken, forgo the pan sauce–and as long as you stick to the technique of searing the skin you’ll have a hit on your hands. Cooking chicken like this traps the juices in the meat and, keeps it so moist and flavorful that it rivals the dark meat in tenderness. This is of course, not to defame your traditional roast or your barbecue grilled chicken, but why not try something new? It takes less time than a roast and is harder to mess up!
I close with the second thing that makes a big difference–the quality of your chicken. As with everything, you get out of a dish what you put into it, and if you start with a high quality product you’ve already won half the battle. In terms of quality of meat, there are a lot of buzzwords that get thrown around and associated with chicken. Organic, free range, hormone free, local, are incredibly common descriptors, but comprise only the tip of the classification iceberg. While I will say that no chicken is ever grass feed (so don’t count on that one) most of the words are actually relatively meaningless. Local can come from hundred of miles away, organic is a certification many producers can’t afford, hormone free chickens may have eaten feed that is laced with hormones or pesticides. That being said, in the grocery store it is relatively easy to see the difference between the factory chicken and the farm chicken. The factory chicken will undoubtedly be huge. The farm chicken will likely not be broken down–it will be available only whole until the butcher breaks it down for you. Our chickens are relatively local, coming from a cooperative of farms in Pennsylvania and upstate New York, and labeled as “naturally raised.” Almost intentionally meaningless, this phrase is in this case meant to communicate a commitment to letting the chickens live good lives. This means that while they don’t have the organic certification they eat mostly organic food, they may get some antibiotics when they are sick, but not as a part of regular life. And all this pays off, they are some of the best chickens I’ve ever been able to eat.