Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Straccotto – Italian Pot Roast

So, I decided to be brave and try a pot roast recipe different from my mom’s New England pot roast that I have always made. I mean, I know we love it, so why risk doing something different that we might not like? But I decided it was time, and since our trip to Florence, Italy, last September, I’ve been more into Italian food than ever, so that’s the direction I went.

I looked online for recipes, and found several for Straccotto, or Italian pot roast with red wine and tomatoes. I didn’t really follow a recipe for this, but sort of combined elements of several. It turned out great. I served it over rotini pasta with a green salad and garlic bread.

I’m not a big fan of red wines, but I did want to use one for this recipe. So I went to Angry Adam’s, a local wine, beer and cheese shop, for a recommendation. Randy recommended a Guenoc Lake Country Petite Sirah. It was perfect – not too dry or tannic; nice and soft on the palate. You could also use Barolo or Chianti.

The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind is not strictly necessary, but I found it really smoothed out the flavor of the sauce. I buy it from D’Italia through – it’s a lot less expensive that way.

Straccotto – Italian Pot Roast

3 lb. chuck roast
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 cup red wine
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (I used shiitake, because I already had them)
1 cup hot water
1 14.5-oz. can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 bay leaf
1 2×2-inch square of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind (optional but gives great flavor)
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. water

In a small bowl, add hot water to 1/2 ounce dried mushrooms and set aside to rehydrate. Drain, reserving the liquid, and chop the mushrooms.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Sprinkle one side of the meat with salt and pepper, then place it in the Dutch oven, seasoned side down. Brown well, season the second side, then turn to brown the second side. Remove to a plate.

Add onions and garlic to the pot and saute till softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and deglaze the pan (stir to loosen browned bits on the bottom of the pan). Bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes, to cook off some of the alcohol and reduce the wine a little.

Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot, along with the reserved liquid, stewed tomatoes, rosemary, bay leaf and cheese rind. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add the meat back to the pot. Spoon some of the liquid over the meat. Simmer, covered, for 1 1/2 hours. Using large tongs, turn the meat over, cover, and simmer for another 1 1/2 hours.

Remove meat to a plate and tent with foil; let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix cornstarch and water in a small bowl; stir into sauce and bring sauce to a boil. Simmer for five minutes. Serve over pasta or polenta with garlic bread and a green salad. Delish!

Italian Pot Roast

GYO: Antipasto Pesto Pasta

I love the sound of that 🙂 And the dish was pretty good, too.

We had about 16 people over for Thanksgiving, and since we had spent two weeks in Europe, including a week in Italy, in September, naturally I wanted to serve antipasto for an appetizer.

But most people were holding out for the main event, so there was quite a bit left over. What to do with all these preserved meats and veggies? Put them in a pasta, of course! I found this great-sounding recipe and modified it for what we had and like, and it turned out great. I’ll definitely make it again.

This is my entry in Grow Your Own, the foodie event started by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and hosted this month by House of Annie. GYO celebrates the food we grow ourselves. We grew the basil and parsley for the pesto in this dish, and I froze pesto to use during the winter, since the basil was so prolific. The round-up of all the entries has been posted, so check them out!

Antipasto Pesto Pasta
1 medium roasted red bell pepper, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup marinated cocktail onions, halved
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
3 ounces salami, chopped
1/2 cup marinated mushrooms, chopped
1/2 cup marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/3 cup refrigerated pesto
8 ounces uncooked bow-tie pasta (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

Place the roasted pepper, onions, olives, salami, mushrooms, and artichokes in a large bowl and mix gently.

Cook the pasta according to package directions, omitting salt; drain. In a small bowl, mix together the pesto and 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese; add to bell pepper mixture, and toss to combine. Add pasta to bell pepper mixture and stir.

Sprinkle each serving with 2 tsp. remaining cheese and 2 tsp. pine nuts.

Antipasto Pasta

Parmesan-Rosemary Focaccia in a Bread-Machine

grow_your_own_logo-2009-bldgWow, where did October go? Oh, yeah – work, work, work. Come home and guess what? Don’t really want to hang out at the computer. So the blog has suffered a bit. Ah, well, maybe it will get better during the holidays 😉

Anyway, last night we went to a Halloween/Birthday party and I took a platter of sandwich bites made with homemade bread-machine focaccia. I let the bread machine make the dough, and then I spread the dough in a pan for the last rise and bake it in the oven.

A friend asked me for the recipe, so here it is. I’ll save the sandwich recipe for another post. This recipe is a hybrid of one from Cook’s Illustrated magazine and one in the cookbook that came with my bread machine. As it happens, I used fresh rosemary from the garden, so this qualifies as a long-overdue contribution to the food blogging event Grow Your Own, created and hosted by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes.

Bread-Machine Rosemary Focaccia

1 cup water at 80 degrees F
1/3 cup olive oil, plus 2 tbsp.
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups bread flour
1-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast, or 1 tsp. QuickRise yeast, or 1 tsp. Bread Machine Yeast
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped, or 1 tsp. dried rosemary, crumbled

Place the ingredients – except the Parmesan cheese, rosemary and 2 tbsp. olive oil – in the bread-machine pan in the order given. Turn to the dough setting and turn it on. Watch it for the first minute or two – you may need to use a spatula to make sure all the flour is incorporated into the dough ball. Then let the bread machine do its thing through the first rise time, about 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Generously oil a jelly roll pan – I use a Pampered Chef 9″x13″ stone baking pan. Remove the dough from the machine, wet your hands with water (to prevent sticking), and press the dough flat into the pan, pushing it into all the corners. If it resists, let it rest for 10 minutes and continue. Use your fingers or a pair of chopsticks to press dimples into the dough at even intervals – your yummy toppings will collect in these. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm, draft-free place while you heat the oven, at least 20 minutes. I put it in the microwave – no drafts in there.

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F. Press dimples into dough again. Drizzle with 2 tbsp. olive oil, then the cheese and rosemary. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 10 minutes. Cut into squares or wedges to serve immediately. To serve later, cool completely and reheat at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

Cooled focaccia can also be frozen for up to one month. To reheat, thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F, then heat directly on oven racks for 10 minutes.

There are lots of variations on this basic recipe: You can add garlic powder and/or onion powder and/or herbs to the dry ingredients, or add caramelized onions to the topping. Focaccia is great for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, or you can slice it lengthwise and use for panini.

Rosemary-Parmesan Focaccia
This is half the recipe.

Festa Italiana: Osso Buco

logo-festa-italianaI love all kinds of Italian food, and I’ve been wanting to try osso buco, aka Italian Braised Veal Shanks, for ages, so this blog event, hosted by Marie of Proud Italian Cook and Maryann of Finding la Dolce Vita, seemed like the perfect time to make it.

This is one of those long, slow-cooking dishes that I like to make on Sunday afternoons, when I have a lot of time for cooking dinner, and especially when it’s cold outside. Braised dishes are so satisfying on days like that, and this one was no exception.

Dan gave me a copy of “The Best International Recipe,” a cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen, for Christmas in 2007, so I made their recipe. OMG, it was so good – absolutely delicious. I made the classic saffron risotto to go alongside it and served it with a green salad and some crusty bread to sop up the juices. I hope everyone at the Festa Italiana enjoys it as much as we did!


Osso Buco

Veal Shanks
6 1-1/2-inch thick veal shanks (8-10 oz. each), tied around teh middle with butcher’s twine (so they don’t fall apart during cooking)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tbsp. vegetable oil
2-1/2 cups dry white wine
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 bay leaves

Gremolata (topping)
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 tsp. minced lemon zest
1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

Place an oven rack in the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees.

Season the shanks with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown half of the shanks on both sides, about 5 minutes per side, reducing the heat if the pan begins to scorch; transfer to a bowl and set aside. Off the heat, add 1/2 cup of the wine to the Dutch oven, scraping up the browned bits, then pour into the bowl with the browned shanks. Return the pot to medium-high heat and repeat with 2 more tbsp. oil and the remaining shanks. Add another 1/2 cup wine and transfer to the bowl.

Add the remaining 2 tbsp. oil to the pot and return to medium heat until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and lightly browned, about 9 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the remaining 1-1/2 cups wine, broth, tomatoes and bay leaves. Add the browned shanks with any accumulated juices, increase the heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven and cook until the meat is easily pierced with a fork, but not falling off the bone, about 2 hours.

To make the gremolata, stir together the garlic, lemon zest and parsley in a small bowl.

When the shanks are cooked, remove the pot from the oven and the bay leaves from the pot; stir in half of the gremolata. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let stand, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Remove the shanks from the pot, cut off the twine and place the shanks in six individual serving bowls. Ladle some braising liquid over each shank and sprinkle with the remaining gremolata. Serve.

Grow Your Own: Chicken Cacciatore

Grow Your Own 2008It’s been cool and rainy this week, with the Nor’easter we had, so I’ve been craving a nice braised dinner. I still have lots of tomatoes ripening in the garden, as well as pimento peppers, so chicken cacciatore came to mind. I searched around for recipes and finally found one that doesn’t include mushrooms, which are not a favorite of Dan’s or mine. And it’s by a real Italian – Giada de Laurentiis 🙂

It turned out very well, and I made enough to have leftovers at work the next day. It’s one of those things that improves with sitting in the fridge overnight.

Chicken Cacciatore

4 chicken thighs (I used 6 thighs and no breasts)
2 chicken breasts with skin and backbone, halved crosswise
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large red bell pepper, chopped (I used one small red and one small green bell pepper)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (I used 3 cups diced fresh garden tomatoes)
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons drained capers
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 1 teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour to coat lightly.

In a large heavy saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the chicken pieces to the pan and saute just until brown, about 5 minutes per side. If all the chicken does not fit in the pan, saute it in 2 batches. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside. Add the bell pepper, onion and garlic to the same pan and saute over medium heat until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juice, broth, capers and oregano. Return the chicken pieces to the pan and turn them to coat in the sauce. Bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering over medium-low heat until the chicken is just cooked through, about 30 minutes for the breast pieces, and 20 minutes for the thighs.

Using tongs, transfer the chicken to a platter. If necessary, boil the sauce until it thickens slightly, about 3 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat from atop the sauce. Spoon the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with the basil and serve.

With a side of spaghetti, a green salad and garlic bread, this was a delicious, warming dinner on a cool night.

Chicken Cacciatore

The peppers, tomatoes, oregano, and basil in this dish came from my garden. This is my contribution to Grow Your Own, a food blogging event celebrating the food we grow or raise ourselves, originated by Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes and hosted this time by Denise of Chez Us.

Dinner at Zio’s

I still go out to dinner with friends most Wednesdays, so I’m going to start keeping track again of where we go, what we have, and how we like it. Last Wednesday, April 25, we went to Zio’s, an Italian restaurant on Colley Avenue in the Ghent section of Norfolk. Good food, reasonable prices. Here’s what we had:

  • Barbara had one of her favorite Italian meals: chicken Marsala. It was quite good and a large enough portion that she took half home.
  • Keith had the lasagna – he also enjoyed it, but ate it all up 😉
  • I ordered the veal parmesan – it too was a large portion, plenty to take half home, especially with the side of spaghetti with marinara sauce. Very tasty. I also ordered crostini with roasted red peppers and fresh mozzarella – yummy.
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