DUCK BREAST, ALCOHOL and EMBELLISHMENTS

The greatest component in my diet has always been vegetables, but now and again there is a definite main dish, and duck is what I cooked one night last week for dinner.

Most of my cooking is about “using up” something and I chose duck because I had some left over cumquats in the fridge. Last year when it was cumquat season I preserved some in vodka, and some in brandy. When I remember that I have them I sometimes present them at the end of a meal when I have guests. There were a few cumquats in vodka left over from a dinner with friends recently.

Duck breast does not have to be a dish for important events. It is very quick and easy to cook especially if it is pan fried and the cost is very similar to free range chicken.

An advantage of pan frying duck is that you can quickly and efficiently drain off the fat either to keep for another time or to pan fry potatoes, cooked beforehand and browned in the fry pan.

Pan fried duck is versatile, and you can alter and enhance its taste with the addition of small amounts of other ingredients like pulses, nuts, fruit, herbs and vegetables. Different liquids (alcohol, flavoured stocks) used to deglaze the pan will make delicious sauces.

What is added to the duck is the embellishment and not the vegetable sides. When I cook a protein main (meat, fish, cheese, eggs), I always present it with large quantities of vegetables. On this occasion the accompaniments were sautéed spinach cooked in a little extra virgin olive oil and garlic, and some steamed green beans.

I use mostly wine, vinegar or stock for deglazing but I also like different-tasting alcohols perhaps because there are many bottles left over in my cupboard from past times when serving a nip of spirits instead of a simple aperitivo before a meal or as a digestivo after, was fashionable.  I particularly like to use different flavoured grappa, vodka, vermouth, brandy, Pernod and dry marsala. I prefer the sweeter liqueurs for desserts.

I am almost embarrassed to show you this photo but in some ways the “‘using up” priciple applies.

As well as playing around with alcohol, I am a great user of herbs and spices and I greatly enjoy selecting what could pair well with the ingredients I am using.

The recipe below may help clarify what I am discussing above.

I use a non-stick pan, to prevent the duck from sticking during cooking. I used another frypan to cook the potatoes.

INGREDIENTS

Duck – 2 pieces of breast, a couple of spring onions, a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cumquats in vodka, star anise and some blood orange juice.

Fresh herbs were parsley and thyme.

PROCESS

Score the skin, forming a grid of fairly deep cuts. This assists the speed of cooking and the fat to melt and escape.

Heat a smear of oil in the pan and place the duck pieces on top and always skin side down first, so that the fat melts.  I added thyme.

Keep the duck on that skin fat side first and drain the fat off at least a couple of times as you are cooking that side of the duck. This may take about ten minutes.

Turn the meat over, seasoning with salt and pepper and continue cooking for another 6-8 minutes. I like my duck pink and you may wish to cook your duck for longer.

Remove the meat from the pan and rest it while you deal with the sauce and complimentary ingredients. At this stage you may notice that there is still some blood running off the meat but the duck will be added to the sauce once it is made and this will finish the cooking.

Make sure that there is still some grease in the pan (or add some oil) for the next part of the cooking. Begin with some finely chopped shallot or a spring onion or two and toss them around till softened. I then added some parsley.

Now is the time to add some partly cooked vegetable, fruit or pulses to the pan and as you see in my recipe, I added the comquats and I drained them first.

Add a glass of alcohol and on this occasion, mine was vodka, paying close attention to the height of the flame and safety issues. The vodka  had some star anise and some blood orange as flavouring I had used for the cumquats.

When the alcohol has completely evaporated, return the duck breasts back in the pan to flavour for a few minutes.  Slice the meat and serve them in the sauce.

 

It looks so elaborate for a weekday dinner, but it was quick and easy.

Preserving cumquats in alcohol is super easy:

Wash and dry cumquats well, prick each one several times with a fine skewer or a thick needle.
Place cumquats into sterilised jars, add spices, for example – star anise, cinnamon, vanilla beans; pour liqueur or spirit to cover cumquats completely. I rarely add sugar and in most cases the liqueur I add is sweet enough. If I add sugar I dissolve it in a little hot water.
Stand the jars in a cool, dark place for at least 2 months before using.
See also:

Other duck recipes:

RIGATONI CON RAGU; ANATRA (duck ragout)

DUCK AND MUSHROOM RAGÙ

DUCK AND MUSHROOM RAGÙ

Sicilian Duck with green olives and anchovies; Anatra a Papparedda cu ulivi

LEFTOVERS, PAN FRIED DUCK WITH DRIED CHERRIES, PARSLEY OIL recipes

 

 

OVEN COOKED KID (capretto)

I am writing about kid, not goat. Unlike goat, there was very little fat and the meat did not exude that characteristic, heavy smell of game that is present when cutting goat and mutton.

Capretto, Italians call it and it is a meat that is not cooked regularly, but is often cooked on special occasions. I bought it from an Italian butcher. I went in to buy  some pork sausages but when I saw what the Italian customers that were lining up at the counter were all buying, I did the same. I bought capretto.

The Italian word for goat is capra and like mutton, goat is not generally eaten in Italy.

I marinaded it overnight with extra virgin olive oil, red wine, fennel seeds, bay leaves, rosemary, onion and sage. As you can see in the photo there is plenty of marinade; I wanted the meat to be quite well covered and intended to use the marinade in the cooking.

Nothing is wasted, the herbs are discarded and replaced with fresh herbs. This is because I have herbs growing on my balcony and I can afford to do this. I added garlic when i ws ready to cook the meat.

The important thing to do in this recipe is to cook the usual soffritto base that is omnipresent in Italian cooking – onion, carrot and celery – in extra virgin olive oil and make sure that the soffritto vegetables are caramilised before combining it with the drained marinaded meat.The meat does not need to be browned before hand making the cooking process easier and quicker. I have a cast iron baking pan that is very convenient for putting directly onto the stove.

The soffritto took about 15 minutes to soften and caramilise the vegetables ad this process adds a much enriched flavour to the dish. A dash of passata or some peeled red tomatoes also adds to the taste and colour to the braise.

Once you have drained the meat  and removed the old herbs use the marinade to the capretto. Add fresh herbs and some stock. As you can see in the photo there is enough liquid to almost cover the meat.

Cover the pan with some foil or a lid and leave it to cook in a slow oven. Mine was set at 170C degrees  and because I have two similar baking trays the spare one made a good lid.

Remove the foil after an hour. Move the meat around and add more broth or water and cook it uncovered until the meat is separated from the bones. I baked mine for about two hours without the foil, but made sure that if I needed to add more liquid, I had some stock to use.

The results were delicious. The vegetables almost melted, the meat was easily detached from the bone, it smelled great and tasted even better. And yes, it was a special meal.

I presented it with baked potatoes and braised endives sautéed with anchovies.

The kid weighed 2 kilos. as you can see there was very little fat.

This is not the first time I have cooked capretto – kid/goat

BRAISED KID (capretto) in a simple marinade of red wine, extra virgin olive oil and herbs

RICETTE per capretto (e capra); Recipes for slow cooked kid and goat

RAGU` DI CAPRETTO; Goat/ kid ragout as a dressing for pasta

SPEZZATINO DI CAPRETTO (Italian Goat/ Kid stew)

KID/GOAT WITH ALMONDS (SPRING IN SICILY, CAPRETTO CON LE MANDORLE)

SLOW COOKED LEG OF GOAT WITH HOT MINT SAUCE

SICILIAN SEAFOOD COOKING, ITALIANICIOUS and READER’S FEAST Bookstore. Recipe for Slow cooked goat in Nero D’Avola

 

PASTISSADA (and Equine meat)

 

I first ate horse meat as a young child living in Trieste because I was anaemic.

Children were taken to a paediatrician, not a GP, and when my mother took me to see Dr. Calligaris he suggested that my mother buy horse meat steaks and singe them quickly in a hot pan and feed me this rare meat. I don’t know if the horse meat gave me rosy cheeks but it did put me off horse meat for a while. Horse meat tastes slightly sweet but flavourful and it is surprisingly soft and tender. It wasn’t the taste so much that I objected to, it was the look of disdain on my mother’s face as she cooked it that put me off.

Equine butchers in Italy are common and they not only sell various cuts of horse and donkey meats, but also sell smallgoods made of equine meats, especially salame. On my last trip to Sicily, I was invited to a BBQ where I ate female donkey meat; it is said that it is milder in taste than the male donkey meat. The people who invited us owned a small eatery in Chiaramonte (south eastern part of Sicily near Ragusa) and our hosts took us to a very famous butcher and smallgoods maker in Chiaramonte before we went to their place.

What is remaining of my father’s family lives/lived in Ragusa and knew all about donkey /ass salame which is delicious. Yes, I squirmed initially, but accepted the fact that in other countries and in this case Italy. Horsemeat and donkey meat is still is an important part of cuisine in many parts of Italy, including the Veneto and Sicily,

I have also had a few friends contact me recently about Stanley Tucci’s tour of Italy program on TV and these friends have all said that donkey meat was something he sampled in this particular Sicilian episode. I watched it. Nothing new, and I think that in recent years there has been a real resergence on eating donkey meat in Sicily.

The paragraphs above are my introduction to the recipe of Pastissada de caval, an ancient horse meat stew and still a specialty of the Veronese cuisine. Caval is horse, and pastissada is a stew cooked for a long time – it consists mainly of horse meat, onions, cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon, and nutmeg and red wine, preferably local wine from the Veneto region. I am always amused at the name: pastissada means fiddled with, messed up in the veneto dialect.

I did taste Pastissada de caval many years ago when my then husband ordered this in a restaurant in Verona (city in the Veneto region of Italy) and once again as the serving was placed on the table, I was reminded of its smell. I tasted some and it tasted sweet, the sweetness perhaps enhanced by the large quantity of onions in the recipe. As it should have been, it was presented with polenta.

In Adelaide recently I made pastissada with beef. In Australia we aren’t necessarily familiar with cuts of meat; usually for braising, those who shop in supermarkets may know it as ‘diced beef’. This is likely to consist of offcuts from – topside, rump, and chuck steak, gravy beef and bolar.

What we call chuck steak, gravy beef and bolar come from the forequarter of the animal consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, shin and upper arm. These parts have low external fat and high levels of connective tissue that is gelatinous in structure when the meat is cooked.

I actually had enough for 2 meals. We ate one with polenta (as it should be) and the other with potatoes: I added these towards the end of the cooking (about 30 minutes before).

If the stew is made in advance and stored in the fridge, the fat in the stew will harden and can be lifted off the top before serving.

Ingredients:

 2 k beef cut into rather large chunks

2 large onions

2 cloves of garlic

1 stick of celery and some leaves

5 cloves, 1/2 cinnamon stick, black pepper, salt

½ cup of a mixture of /lard/butter/extra virgin olive oil (or at least butter and oil)

fresh herbs: bay leaves, thyme, rosemary

1 bottle of flavourful red wine

Process:

I marinaded the meat overnight. And if possible rest the cooked Passistada for 1 – 3 hours (with the lid on) before eating. This matures/enhances the taste.

The Marinade: Place the herbs and spices, crushed garlic and a little salt in a container with a lid that will hold the meat and the 1 bottle of wine.  The wine must completely cover the meat. Add water or more wine if necessary. I tested the container before I used it.

Drain the meat in a colander and save the wine. Remove the herbs and spices and return these to the wine.

Add some lard, butter and oil in a saucep, add the 2 coarsely chopped onions and celery. Toss the vegetables around the pan till coated and beginning to brown.

Scrape the vegetables out and place them in the marinade and in the same pan, add more lard, butter and oil and get ready to sear the meat.

When browning any meat, sear it in batches and don’t overcrowd the pan.

As soon as the meat has browned, pour in the wine, vegetables, herbs and spices.

At this stage because I had many fresh herbs I refreshed some of them, but this is optional. Cover the pan with the lid and simmer gently for 2-3 hours depending on the quality of the beef. Poke it and taste it after two hours and if the meat is not tender extend the cooking time. Check the contents periodically, turning the meat occasionally and if it needs more liquid add wine, water or stock.

Remove the spices and herbs from the braised meat in the pan, turn off the heat and leave the pastissada to rest. If there is too much liquid at the time of serving, heat the pastissada, remove the meat and evaporate some of the juice. I always add pepper at this stage and pastissada likes a bit of pepper.

Do look at:

CHIARAMONTE in South-Eastern and the best butcher in Sicily

IOTA recipe for SBS ITALIAN (a thick soup from Trieste)

Those who read Italian can tap into the link below for SBS Italian. The link also allows anyone who would like to listen to me discussing the recipe briefly with the SBS Presenter Massimigliano/Max Gugole). This is also spoken in Italian.

Recipe and podcast SBS Italian:

https://rb.gy/50uxy

The following is a rough translation of what is on the SBS Italian website and what Max and I discussed.

Jota /Iota is a very ancient preparation much appreciated in Trieste (Friuli-Venezia Giulia), a territory with a complex history, it was first part of of the Austrian Empire and later of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

When you look at a map of Italy and find Trieste, you see that the location of this city is close to Slovenia, Croatia and further north is Austria and the cuisine of Trieste has been influenced by these countries.

This thick soup is made with borlotti beans, “capuzi garbi” (the local name for sauerkraut), potatoes and smoked pork. For the latter component, sausages or a piece of cooked ham can be used. For meat on the bone, you can use ribs, a hock or ham on the bone.

It is a typical winter dish, rustic and full-bodied, which is eaten as a stand alone dish.

Jota is typical and is eaten not only in Trieste but throughout Friuli.

Like all ancient recipes, every family has its own recipe and there are many variations. Some put barley, polenta or a soffritto of a little oil sautéed with a little flour to make it thicker. Many also add a teaspoon of German cumin seeds (caraway seeds in English) and not to be confused with what we call cumin.

Experiment with this recipe. Feel free to add more meat or more beans or more sauerkraut, depending on your taste! And with a few more potatoes, the soup will be even thicker.

Ingredients (6 people)

400g sauerkraut, drained
400g of dried borlotti beans
400g of potatoes
4 – 6 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic
Smoked pork: 2-3 sausages or a whole piece of cooked ham (about 400g), or a hock (about 1k) or ribs, or bone-in ham
extra virgin olive oil or lardpepper and salt to taste2 tablespoons flour (optional)

The night before, put the well-covered beans in a bowl to soak in cold water.

The next day, cook the beans in a saucepan with 2 bay leaves over low heat for about 40 – 50 minutes. Peel and cut the potatoes into pieces, add them to the broth with the beans and continue cooking for 20 – 30 minutes until everything is cooked.

Place half the potatoes and beans in a bowl with the broth, reducing everything to a puree/ mash. Then add the rest of the whole beans and pieces of potatoes.

In another pot, brown the crushed garlic cloves in a little oil or lard. When they are golden, add the sauerkraut and cover them with water. If you want you can add some bay leaves and/or caraway seeds.

Add the hock and/or smoked meat on the bone, and when it is almost fully cooked, add the whole sausages and cook for another 15-20 minutes. Remove the sausages and meat from the pot and slice everything, removing the bones.

Combine the vegetable broth with the beans and potatoes with the sauerkraut, the sliced ​​smoked meat and its broth.Season with salt and pepper to taste.

OPTIONAL: In a small separate pan put two tablespoons of oil or lard, adding a little flour. Stir to avoid lumps. Once the flour has been toasted, add this sautéed mixture to the rest of the soup, mixing carefully.

ADDITIONAL NOTES

This soup should be quite thick. Add more broth or water if it is too thick.

It is even better if prepared a day in advance.

The beans and potatoes can be cooked days beforehand and kept in the fridge.

 To cook a Jota with less fat you can cook the broth with the smoked meat in the water and the bay leaves. When the meat and the broth are cooked, if you have used meat on the bones, remove the bones and when the broth is cold remove the fat.

Sauerkraut can be bought either in jars or glass jars in delicatessen shops and supermarkets.

Smoked meat is part of German, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, Slovenian and Croatian gastronomy.

Pork hocks, ribs and cooked ham are readily available and can be found in supermarkets. Sausages can be bought in produce markets, some continental delicatessens and butchers or food specialty shops. In some supermarkets you can find commercial sausages: Polish sausage, Kramsky, Cabonossi and Kabana. I keep away from those wrapped in plastic.

Commercial cooked bacon if cured and smoked properly is cooked first and then smoked, but unfortunately, some manufacturers inject the meat with liquid smoke. (Use a reputable brand).

 N.B. There are smoked products that are made with free-range pork and smallgoods/charcuterie manufacturers that use no artificial additives or preservatives.

There are other recipes for making Iota on my blog. For the SBS recipe I thought that I would simplify the recipe and write it  more in keeping with the many variations of how to cook Iota in Trieste, so I suggested using two saucepans, one to cook the beans and potatoes and in the other the sauerkraut and pork.

Other recipes on All Things Sicilian and More blog:

Pork Hock, Polish Wedding Sausage, Borlotti and Sauerkraut =IOTA (a lean version)

IOTA (Recipe, a very thick soup from Trieste) Post 1

IOTA FROM TRIESTE, Italy, made with smoked pork, sauerkraut, borlotti beans 

 

 

RISOTTO made with Radicchio

These are the ingredients for a very simple risotto, but you have to like the bitter taste of radicchio that is accentuated by cooking and ensure that you have good quality Italian sausages on hand if you wish to add them.  Some northern Italians use speck or pancetta cut into solid little pieces, but the addition of meat is optional.

Above, in the photo are 4 sausages – 2  chilli flavoured and 2 pork and fennel.  Pork sausages are very versatile, especially when making  pasta dishes or risotto. You can use less, or more sausages, or omit them altogether.

You may also notice in this recipe that I do not stir the risotto continuously, nor add hot stock by the ladle full as I stir ii, this being the most traditional way of making risotto.  I needed to make this risotto quickly; it tastes good and I often make it when I am away camping as radicchio keeps well. The taste and creaminess that is said to come with the common, traditional method of  making risotto can be compensated for and enhanced by adding more butter.

My stock is generally always home made. On this occasion I made a small quantity and used chicken bones with some meat on them, fresh bayleaves, one small onion and a little celery.  When making brodo/stock carrots are also part of the base. When the stock is cooked, I drain it of all solids and degrease it.

INGREDIENTS for 2 people:

4 Italian pork sausages, sliced radicchio (650g), 1 cup of Carnaroli Rice (or Arborio), 600ml chicken stock, 1 cup of red wine, 1  chopped onion, fresh bay leaves, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and butter.  Grated Parmesan to add after the risotto is served.

Although I had picked some fresh parsley, I decided not to use it. My intention was to add it in the final stages of the cooking to add some green colour, but I changed my mind because I liked  the  pink colouring the radicchio gave to the risotto. A little bit of grated beetroot enhances the colour.

Red radicchio, can also be the long shaped variety. Use either type of radicchio.

As you can see by the photos making this is easy and quick.

Place chopped onion with a little extra virgin olive oil  in a saucepan. Soften the onion before adding sausages( I just sliced them, but you can squeeze them out of their casings and separate the sausages into bits).

Once the sausages have coloured, toss in the radicchio. add more oil if it needs it, but take into consideration that sometimes sausages release some fat.

You will need space in the saucepan so that the rice can toast slightly. Make a well in the centre and add the rice and stir it around to coat  before adding the red wine and evaporating it.

Estimate the risotto to cook in 15-20 mins.

Add half of the stock (hot),  the seasoning  and fresh bayleaves.

Cover with a lid and let it cook for 7 mins or so. Add the rest of the stock, stir it through, cover it once again and cook it till it is done to your liking , but check it and stir it now and again to ensure that it does not dry out. Add more stock if necessary (or water if you have run out) and if there is too much liquid and it needs to be evaporated, remove the lid and stir the rice till it is cooked.  My risotto did not need more stock or evaporating , as it happened it was the amount I had made. As Italians say: Risotto  should be all’onda….wavy… so that your spoon can easily shape the rice into soft, slightly sloshy waves.

Add butter, as much as you like.  I like the taste of butter and it makes the risotto taste creamy.

I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to grated cheese. This is a northern Italian dish so I serve it with grated Parmesan, but for southern Italian food I use Pecorino and sometimes salted ricotta for Sicilian dishes. Certain bits of me are still very traditional.

RISOTTO AL RADICCHIO ROSSO

There are also other recipes on the blog that suggest using pork sausages in pasta dishes:

PASTA with ‘NDUJA, CIME DI RAPA and PORK SAUSAGES

PASTA con cavolofiore, salsicce di maiale e ceci (pasta with cauliflower, pork sausages and chickpeas)

BIGOLI NOBILI (Bigoli pasta with red radicchio, borlotti and pork sausages)

The Ugly Ducklings in Italian Cuisine (Scarrafoni in cucina)

Late last year, I was contacted by Massimiliano Gugole from SBS Radio and asked if I would like to contribute to an SBS program on Season 2 of The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine.              

The idea of the program is to showcase nice tasting but nasty looking Italian dishes. Massimiliano wanted to interview me about a particular dish from South Eastern Sicily that starts out looking gruesome but ends up tasting glorious. I think he must have found me through a recipe I posted on my  blog about this particular dish, which one of my aunts used to make when we visited Ragusa for our Sicilian summer holidays.

My recipe and the Ugly Duckling interviews in English and Italian are entitled Zuzzu, described on the SBS website as an ancient, pork terrine that uses everything of the pig, but the oink!

I mentioned to one of my friends in Canberra that I had been interviewed for this program and with his wicked sense of humour said: “Surely the ugly duckling reference has got nothing to do with you!”

Here’s what SBS had to say about Season 1 followed by Season 2:

About Season 1

SBS has today launched its first ever bilingual podcast series – The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine (Scarrafoni in cucina) in English and Italian – celebrating the most delicious, non-Instagrammable Italian dishes that might never have come across your plate.

Over the course of six episodes, the series will follow some of Australia and Italy’s most well-known chefs and food critics, including acclaimed restaurateur and food personality Guy Grossi, celebrity chef Poh Ling Yeow, and food blogger and author Emiko Davies, as they explore and celebrate Italy’s least appetizing specialties.

Podcast host Massimiliano Gugole, from SBS Italian, said: “Italy is a country of beauty, with its food celebrated all over the world, but this podcast will introduce listeners to some of our lesser-known culinary treasures, with a healthy dose of irony thrown in for good measure.

About Season 2

SBS’s first bilingual podcast is back for seconds! Season Two of The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine (Scarrafoni in Cucina) returns in Italian and English to introduce six new dishes for the adventurous eater such as sea urchin gonads, stew with chocolate and wild boar, and risotto with a stinging weed.

A line-up of new guests will share their expertise in the world of Italian food including award-winning Melbourne chef Alberto Fava, Sicilian food truck owner Pino D’Addelfio, TV chef, author and former Food Director of Australian Women’s Weekly, Lyndey Milan, and the inimitable queen of TV cooking, Nigella Lawson.

SBS Italian Producer Massimiliano Gugole said the podcast started from a love of weird and wacky food.

“During the first season I talked about a typical dish from Verona – pearà. Not even people from neighbouring cities knew about it. When they saw a picture, they thought it looked like vomit but I, like all Veronese, love it!” said Gugole.

Looking past the superficial, Season Two of The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine will delve deeper into how these unique, local dishes became a proudly acquired taste.

“These dishes are not the celebrities – the pizzas and pastas – but they have strong links to families, towns and history. My intention is to tell their stories,” Gugole said.

“On Instagram, all food is perfect: perfect framing, perfect garnishes, but my research shows that’s not what makes food delicious. Nigella Lawson even once said, ‘brown food tastes the best’.”

Episode three in English features TV cooking royalty Nigella Lawson, who talks about stinging nettle risotto and her special relationship with 98-year-old Italian-British food writer Anna Del Conte. Lawson cites Del Conte as her only culinary influence, apart from her mother. In the Italian version of this episode, we hear from the doyenne herself, Anna Del Conte.

Conte and Lawson join guests including blogger and Instagram sensation Emiko Davies, environmental scientist and sea urchin expert Dr Paul Carnell, Italian food writer Chiara Cajelli, and research scientist Dr Maurizio Rossetto from the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney, as well as restaurateurs from Italy and Australia, university professors, medieval food fanatics and more.

The podcasts in both season 1 and Season 2 are worth listening to and are very entertaining.

BS Italian Executive Producer, Magica Fossati, says differences between the Italian and English episodes on the same topic are an interesting by-product of having the same conversation with bilingual guests, but both versions are worth listening to as they complement each other.

“I heard some Italian language teachers recommended our first season to their students because it’s easier to understand and study Italian with English context,” she said.

Both English and Italian speakers can look forward to hearing a fresh perspective on the world of lesser-known Italian dishes in season two, available on the SBS Radio app and SBS Italian website. Episode one launches on February 1, recipes for the dishes featured in the series can also be found on SBS Food.

My recipe of Zuzzu and is in Italian and English.

I have listened to both podcasts about Zuzzu.
The Italian version is different to the English. One happened before anyone ate it, the other after people tasted it. The Italian version is probably more amusing and includes commentary from Lisa Ferraro, who used to live in Melbourne and one of the two who instigated Bar Idda, a Sicilian restaurant in Brunswick East, Melbourne. Lisa now lives in Rome and organises travel tours in Sicily.

Compliments to Massimiliano Gugole who did an excellent job interweaving other speakers in the interviews.

Listen or follow The Ugly Ducklings of Italian Cuisine in the SBS Radio app or your favourite podcast app, to hear all episodes in the series.

Find a collection of recipes featured in the first series on the

SBS Food website, including this recipe for my Sicilian pork terrine (Zuzzu)

Here are some photos about the preparation of Zuzzu:

The head

The head in the pan

The boiled meat drained

The different parts of meat, separated (2 photos above)

Dealing with the jelly (2 photos above)

Dealing with the terrine (2 photos above)

A tasty sauce to pour on top of the Zuzzu or to serve with it, can be made with a mixture of chopped parsley, extra virgin olive oil, some lemon juice, salt and either pepper or chili flakes. At times, I also like to add a few chopped leaves of fresh garlic or mint in mine, but this is optional. The dressing can be as thick or as thin as you wish to make it.

Links:

https://www.sbs.com.au/language/italian/en/podcast/the-ugly-ducklings-of-italian-cuisine

https://www.sbs.com.au/language/italian/en/podcast-episode/zuzzu-an-ancient-sicilian-pork-terrine-that-uses-everything-but-the-oink/okrixs5gn

The recipe has been called Pork Terrine…. not quite right, but maybe no one would look at a recipe mad with pig’s head. Brawn may have been a better title.

https://www.sbs.com.au/food/social-tags/ugly-ducklings

My original posts about this dish:

GELATINA DI MAIALE. Pork Brawn

GELATINA DI MAIALE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY BAR IDDA (Buon Compleanno Bar Idda).

VITELLO TONNATO MADE WITH GIRELLO (cut of meat)

Vitello Tonnato was a festive dish in my childhood home and it has remained so in mine.

In my childhood home, it was presented as an entrée when we had guests.

Nowadays, of course, very few of us have definite first and second courses. Anything goes! I am smiling as I write this – doing away with some conventions isn’t a bad thing. But years back, I would never have ordered a risotto, soup or pasta as my main course! Never.

When my mother made Vitello Tonnato, she always pot roasted the veal. The veal was cooked slowly with the usual broth vegetables – an onion cut in half, a carrot and a stick of celery. There were also herbs – bay leaves, a bit of rosemary and mainly sage. Sage always with veal and pork, my mother said. The moisture was supplied by some white wine and stock, or a little water and a stock cube. The vegetables were blended into a little home-made ,egg mayonnaise, some of the very flavourful and naturally jellied gravy/sauce, 2-3 hard boiled eggs, capers and some anchovies. This was the Tonnato sauce; tonno is ‘tuna’ in Italian.  My mother did not use a Girello because she thought that cut of meat would be too dry. She preferred a boned leg of veal. This was yearling beef in Australia.

The finely sliced meat was placed in 4 to 5 layers, each topped with some of the sauce and placed into a serving dish with sides. On top there was a layer of the yellow egg mayonnaise with some sliced hard-boiled eggs and maybe some giardiniera a colourful decoration of Italian garden vegetables pickled in vinegar, that added texture and sourness. Sometimes there were anchovies or capers, or sliced carrot as was one of an earlier versions of Vitello Tonnato.

And it always tasted very good.

Vitello Tonnato originates from Piedmont, but it has become a widely eaten Italian dish.

If you have eaten Vitello Tonnato in an Australian restaurant, you may have had it in a single layer with the tonnato sauce on top. My taste buds and sense of smell are pretty sharp, but rarely have I tasted complex flavours in the Tonnato sauce. There have, however, been a few good ones.

There are many recipes both in the Italian language books/web and many available in English. In most recipes the meat is what I would call boiled or poached. The cut of meat suggested in recipes is mostly Girello, the long, round, nut or eye cut of silverside that is extremely lean that is perfect for slicing. It is found outside of the rear leg.

Even though you may poach the Girello in liquid it can be dry. My mother was sometimes right.

But there is a way to keep it moist, and that is to poach it on a gentle simmer rather than on medium or high heat. The other trick is not to cook it for long and then leave it in the poaching liquid to finish off cooking. If you follow this process, the meat will remain pink and firm. I leave the meat in the poaching liquid to keep it moist until I am ready to slice it.

These days I do use a Girello and I like to sear the meat lightly before I poach it to add colour and taste. Interestingly enough, I have not found many recipes that sear the meat first and perhaps it is why I like and identify with the recipes for Vitello Tonnato from Guy Grossi and Karen Martini. Even Ada Boni just poaches it.

Most recipes add anchovies to the poaching liquid, but I prefer to add them to the Tonnato sauce.

The Meat

1.5k – 1.8k veal/yearling Girello,

1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 celery stalks and some of the tender light green leaves, all thinly sliced,

6 fresh bay leaves, a few sage leaves and whole peppercorns and if you wish, add about 3 juniper berries, or cloves or a teaspoon of fennel seeds and a little salt,

600 ml dry white wine, 250 ml (1 cup) white wine vinegar, 250 ml (1 cup) of chicken stock: this quantity should just cover the meat when it is poaching. Add more of the liquid if necessary.

Extra virgin olive oil for searing the meat and the vegetables.

The Tonnato sauce

4 anchovy fillets, 4 hard boiled eggs, 2 tins (each 425g) of drained good quality, tinned tuna in oil, 2 tablespoons of capers (in this case I don’t mind using the pickled capers), 200 ml of extra virgin olive oil, the juice of one lemon.

Sear the meat on all sides in some oil, remove from the saucepan and sear the vegetables by tossing them around in the pan for about 5 minutes.

 Add the wine, vinegar and stock, herbs, pepper and spices and bring to the boil.

Add the meat, make sure there is enough liquid, and simmer over low heat. Cook it for about 15-20 minutes. Switch it off and leave the meat to keep on cooking and cool in the liquid.

Store the meat in the liquid until you are ready to slice it and assemble it but remove a cup of the poaching stock to reduce to about ¼ of a cup. This is added to the Tonnato sauce.

For the Tonnato sauce, blend the tuna, anchovies, drained capers, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil, the reduced liquid and hard-boiled eggs. I also like to add some of the drained celery leaves and sage. I nearly always have some home-made egg mayonnaise in the fridge and also add some of this if the sauce is too thick, otherwise use a little more of the poaching liquid. The sauce needs to be the consistency of mayonnaise.

Slice the veal thinly across the grain. I like to make little mounds of meat for each person, spreading each slice of meat with a little sauce and repeating the process. Depending on the width of the meat each mound will have 2-4 slices.

Top each mound with more sauce. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve it. Bring the Vitello Tonnato to room temperature and arrange some sliced boiled eggs and capers on top. A little bit of greenery around it is also good.

YEARNING FOR VITELLO TONNATO

VITELLO TONNATO

 

BRAISED KID (capretto) in a simple marinade of red wine, extra virgin olive oil and herbs

Marinating is an effective way to add flavour, moisture and to tenderize meat before cooking. I do this with all the large pieces of meat that are going to be slow cooked. Even steak, pork fillets and some fish get a short session of marinade, even if it is just a splash or rubbing of extra virgin olive oil with seasoning, garlic and/or herbs. For most of my large pieces of meat,  I often use an acid , like, wine, citrus juice or vinegar. This component of the marinade helps to tenderise the meat.  The herbs and spices enhance the flavour. Good olive oil has a multi-purpose function.  It adds a distinct taste, melds the different flavours of the marinade together and, after the meat is drained from the marinade , some of the oil that has adhered  to the meat assists in the browning process.

For this braise, I bought 3 legs of kid (capretto) and deboned it. This amounted to roughly 1.5 kg. The same marinade can be used for goat, lamb or sheep and would also be good for beef.

There were four of us for dinner and there were some leftovers that I converted into a Sardinian-flavoured sauce for gnochetti by adding a few, common Sardinian ingredients.

1.5 kg of kid, cubed
Marinade: 750g (1bottle) of red wine,1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, herbs – bay leaves, rosemary, sage, thyme, juniper berries
Leave meat in marinade for about 8 hours.

The meat is drained from the marinade before browning and braising.

For the soffritto: 1 onion, 2 carrots,1 stick of celery, all finely chopped.
Stock is added during cooking to ensure that the meat remains moist.

Pancetta or speck, about 50g bought as a whole piece and cut into small cubes, 
extra virgin olive oil to brown the meat,
salt to taste,
fresh herbs, peppercorns and juniper berries (as above) to replace the spent herbs and flavourings from the marinade.

Make the marinade, add the cubed pieces of meat and leave it to marinate for 8 hours.
When ready to cook, drain the meat, save the marinade and remove all of the herbs, peppercorns and juniper berries.

Use a heavy based saucepan for cooking.

Brown the meat, a little at a time. Do not overcrowd the meat. Remove the meat and set aside.

Sauté the pancetta or speck in extra virgin olive oil.

Add the onion first and  stir it around the hot pan to soften. Next, add the carrots and celery and slowly sauté the ingredients. This is the soffritto.

Add the browned meat.

Add the marinade, fresh herbs, seasoning and flavourings. Add some stock during the cooking process as the meat dries out. I added about 1 cup of stock. It is always easy to evaporate excess liquid at the end of cooking rather than cooking meat in too little liquid.

Cover the pan and braise slowly.

The meat I cooked must have been quite tender because it cooked in two hours.
Remove the meat and evaporate some of the liquid.

I presented the meat with braised Brussel sprouts, sautéd mushrooms and roasted, squashed potatoes. Baked polenta would have been good too.

What did I do with the leftovers?

Lamb and goat are often used in Sardinian dishes.

For the Sardinian style pasta, I sautéd a little onion in some olive oil, a added some saffron that had been soaking in stock, a little tomato paste and the meat with its leftover juices.

I used gnocchetti sardi – shaped pasta. I added shards of pecorino cheese when I presented the pasta and emulated Sardinian ingredients and flavours .

Other kid or goat recipes:

RAGU` DI CAPRETTO – Goat/ kid ragout as a dressing for pasta

RICETTE per capretto (e capra) – Recipes for slow cooked kid and goat

RIGATONI CON RAGU D’ANATRA (duck ragout)

Making a duck ragout/ragù with minced duck is not much different from making a good bolognese sauce.

It is the same cooking method, they are both slow cooked and have the same ingredients: the soffritto made by sautéing   in extra virgin olive oil minced / finely cut onion, carrot and celery.

I use the same herbs and add a grating of nutmeg.

Wine and good stock  are very much staples in my cooking, in this case I add white wine with the duck because it is a pale meat.

In this case the vegetables for the soffritto are not as finely cut as I would have liked, however my kitchen helper was in a hurry. I say this in a light tone, the sauce could have looked a little better, but it tasted good.

There are few little things that are different from making a bolognese and a ragù d’ anatra (duck ragout) to dress pasta:

The addition of a little milk or cream that is usual in the bolognese; this is because the duck is fatty. I watched the seller place  whole duck breasts into the mincer so the fat is to be expected.

Because of this abundance of fat I also skim some of the fat off the surface once the ragout is cooked.

I add is less tomato paste. When I make a ragout with duck or game, I make a brown sauce rather than red.

Sometimes, I also may add a few dried mushrooms to enhance the taste. The liquid also goes in.

And there you have it:

Rigatoni con ragù d’ anatra (duck ragout).

SEE:

PAPPARDELLE (Pasta with Hare or game ragù)

MAIALE AL LATTE (Pork cooked in milk)

A winter dish you could say!

Not so.  Even if it is pork, MAIALE al latte is a light, delicate and sweet tasting dish, a classic recipe from the Veneto region of Italy.

This is one of the easiest and most delicious recipes for cooking a lump of pork, either the loin or the neck. I prefer it not to be a fatty piece of meat and I trim most of the fat off.

Many like to prepare a pork dish for Christmas. Pork braised in milk could make a pleasant  change!

I always use full cream milk. The milk separates into flavourful and creamy curds that can be gently strained out and served on the side or under the succulent, cooked meat that has been sliced. The meat juices and whey are the fragrant sauce.

Fresh sage, garlic and lemon rind are the flavours. I  also like to use quite a bit of black pepper.

I used a boneless loin of pork. Ingredients for 1k.500g:

extra virgin olive oil and butter to seal the meat and brown
1 small head of  garlic,  cloves peeled and halved
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh sage,  about 10 large leaves
full cream  milk, a sufficient amount to cover up to three quarters of the meat.
lemon peel from one large lemon cut into thin, wide strips – use a potato peeler.

Trim the fat off the meat, rub salt and pepper all over the pork and leave for about 10 mins.
Use a heavy-bottomed pot that is large enough to hold pork and milk that will almost cover the pork.
Brown the pork on all sides in some oil and butter. Use medium-high heat. Add pork and cook until well browned on all sides.
Add garlic and sage and milk. Bring to a boil, add lemon zest, reduce heat to medium-low.
Cover and gently simmer the meat. Resist stirring. Turn over the meat a couple of times and cook for about 3 hours.  The milk will have reduced and golden curds would have formed. It will smell like caramel.

Transfer meat to a cutting board and let it rest while you lift off the curds gently and separate them from the liquid. The garlic will have dissolved into the sauce. Remove the lemon peel and the sage leaves. Skim off any fat (I did not need to do this as my meat was pretty lean).

Slice the meat.  Serve  on a bed of curds and the caramel meat juices poured on top.

Present with asparagus for a taste of summer.