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Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Rick Stein’s Venetian Bolognese Ragú

We ♥ Pasta!

Wine Suggestion: We often advise to serve food with wine from the same region as they tend to naturally complement each other. This is never more the case than with Italian reds and tomato-based sauces. Italian red wines, such as Sangiovese, are high in acidity and are a perfect match for acidic tomato sauce; so find a good Sangiovese as you’ll need one for this recipe anyway – and it would be plain wrong not to drink the rest.

Ragù Bolognese – serves 6-8 

  • 1 celery stick, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 300g beef mince
  • 300g pork mince
  • 100g lean smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 turns black pepper
  • 100ml Sangiovese wine
  • 60ml water
  • 500ml passata
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • cooked tagliatelle & freshly grated Parmesan to serve

In a heavy-based saucepan, fry the celery, carrots and onion in the olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Add the beef, pork and bacon and brown. Season with the salt and pepper, then add the wine, water, passata, tomato puree and rosemary. Cook, covered, over a low heat for about 2 hours.

Serve with the cooked pasta and freshly grated Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Venice to Istanbul, Penguin, 2015.)

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A classic recipe that we always find full of flavour and very satisfying. A good veggie dish for a cold night.

Spinach & ricotta cannelloni – serves 4

  • 60g butter, plus a bit extra
  • 300g spinach
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 425g ricotta cheese, drained
  • ½ tsp grated nutmeg
  • 16 dried cannelloni tubes
  • 45g plain flour
  • 450ml whole milk
  • 40g Grana Padano cheese (or use Parmesan)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Grease a medium-sized, shallow, oven-proof dish with a little butter.

Bring a large pan, containing 1cm depth of water, to the boil, add the spinach, and stir until wilted. Drain and press out the excess water, then chop.

Melt 15g of the butter in a medium pan and sauté the garlic for a couple of minutes. Stir in the spinach and season well. Take off the heat and stir in the ricotta cheese and nutmeg. Fill the cannelloni with the spinach mixture and arrange the tubes in a single layer in your buttered dish (use both ends of a teaspoon to help fill the tubes).

Meanwhile, melt the remaining 45g of butter in a large pan. Whisk in the flour over a low heat and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and cook, stirring, until thickened.

Reduce the heat to low and continue to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season the sauce generously with salt and pepper and pour over the filled cannelloni tubed. Sprinkle the cheese over the top, place on a baking tray and bake for 30 minutes.

(Original recipe from Family Kitchen Cookbook by Caroline Bretherton, DK, 2013.)

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Beef shin braised in Chianti

Take a shin of beef and braise it for hours in a bottle of Chianti until it can be carved with a spoon … what’s not to like!

Wine Suggestion: the obvious choice is Chianti but given the richness and depth in the food make sure it is one with a bit of depth; younger, or more basic Chianti is just too light. We tried one by Tenuta Sant’Alfonso which comes from a specific vineyard with clay-rich soils which was opulent and fuller structured. It had licorice, dark cherry and mocha flavours which was a great match.

Tuscan slow-cooked shin of beef with Chianti – serves 6

  • 1kg beef shin, off the bone
  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely sliced
  • 750ml Chianti or other robust red wine
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 150ml beef stock

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Season the meat, then brown in a large casserole with a little olive oil.

Remove the meat and cook the onions, celery, carrot and garlic until softened, adding a bit more oil if needed.

Pour in the wine and bring to the boil before adding the tomato purée, bay leaves & beef stock.

Return the beef to the pan and bring to a simmer.

Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours or until the meat falls apart.

When ready, pull the meat into chunks and stir through the sauces.

Serve with mash or fresh pappardelle pasta.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, September 2015.)

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Penne alla norma

We love Rick Stein’s recipes as everything seems to come from true inspiration and has been tested in a real world kitchen so it all works. This recipe is no exception and delivers in flavour and balance perfectly.

Pasta alla Norma is traditionally made with spaghetti but worked just as well penne pasta as a substitute.

Wine Suggestions: Aubergine tends to work with Southern Italian reds really well, but we had an unexpected burst of sunshine so opened a Provençal rosé, Chateau Vignelaure La Source, which is an old favourite. It worked a treat and  will definitely try it again with other aubergine dishes.

Pasta alla Norma – Pasta with Aubergines, Tomatoes, Chilli & Cheese – serves 4

  • 500g aubergines (2 large ones)
  • 500g well-flavoured tomatoes or top quality tinned plum tomatoes, drained (Italian brands are best)
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g dried spaghetti
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¼ tsp crushed dried chillies
  • A large handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
  • 100g finely grated ricotta salata or crumbled feta cheese

Trim the aubergines and cut into two across the middle, then cut each piece lengthways into chip-sized sticks. Toss with 1 tsp of salt and set in a colander over a bowl to drain for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile, if using fresh tomatoes, squeeze them over the sink to get rid of most of the juice and seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes and set aside.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil (about 4.5 litres) and season generously with salt (about 8 teaspoons).

Pat the aubergines dry with kitchen paper to remove the salt and any liquid. Heat 4 tbsp of the frying pan, add half the aubergines and fry until lightly golden. Lift onto a plate lined with kitchen paper  and leave to drain while you fry the next batch. After removing the second batch of aubergine, leave the oil in the frying pan to cool.

Put the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to the packet or until al dente. 

Before the pasta is ready, add the remaining oil and the garlic to the cooled frying pan and return to the heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle gently, add the crushed chillies and the tomatoes and cook over a high heat for a few minutes or until they have broken down into a sauce. Season well and stir in the aubergines.

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce with the torn basil and half the cheese, then toss well. Divide between warm bowls and serve sprinkled with the remaining cheese.

(Original recipe from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes, BBC Books, 2007.)

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River Café tomato sauce

 

We have two tomato sauces in our repertoire that we rely on; both are delicious but have a slightly different character. This is the one we have adopted from the River Café in London which is quicker (though we wouldn’t describe it as quick exactly) and incorporates a rich onion base. We keep a stack of takeaway tubs full of tomato sauce in the freezer for whenever pizza, pasta, or any other tomato-flavoured dish calls. Top quality tinned tomatoes are essential and we find the Italian brands are best.

Sugo di Pomodoro a Fuoco Lento or Slow-Cooked Tomato Sauce

  • 2 x 800g tins plum tomatoes, drained of their juices
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 medium red onions, peeled and sliced very thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into slivers

Heat the oil in a large saucepan, then add the onions. Reduce the heat and cook until very soft, at least 40 minutes. Add the garlic about 5 minutes before the end.

Add the tomatoes and stir to break up. Season with salt and pepper and cook slowly for at least 90 minutes, giving it a stir every now and again. The oil will eventually come to the surface and the sauce will be dark red and very thick with no remaining juice.

(Original recipe from The River Cafe Cookbook by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Ebury Press, 1995.)

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Chianti Beef

 

The technique used to cook the meat is quite clever as the amount of beef is small and is only quickly, flash fried which keeps the juiciness, adds the caramelisation flavours and gives great depth to the whole dish. It’s an expensive cut but the quantity required is so small that it won’t break the bank. It’s hard to believe a dish with so much flavour takes such a short time to prepare.

Wine Suggestion: we drank one of our favourite Tuscan wines: the Selvapiana Chianti Rufina which is refined and elegant and complements the beef fillet and provides a foil to the rustic black pepper background in this dish.

Rigatoni, tomato, beef and red wine – serves 4

  • 320g rigatoni
  • 200g beef fillet
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 600g top quality tinned tomatoes
  • 350ml Chianti wine
  • 1tbsp ground black pepper
  • 3tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Trim the beef fillet and cut across into 5mm slices. Cut the slices into 1cm strips.

Heat the butter in a thick-bottomed pan, add the garlic and fry gently until brown. Add the tomatoes and season. Cook over a high heat for 5 minutes, stirring to break up the tomatoes, then add half the red wine. Continue to cook on quite a high heat, adding more wine as the sauce reduces. Cook for 15 minutes in total, using up all the wine, then stir in the pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan until very hot. Add the beef pieces and fry very briefly, just to brown each piece on both sides. Stir the beef into the sauce with any juices from the pan.

Cook the rigatoni in boiling salted until al dente. Drain and add to the sauce.

Serve with the Parmesan.

(Original recipe from Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Random House, 2006.)

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From the geniuses at River Café is this deeply delicious and flavoursome pasta which keeps on reprising itself on our menus. We love that the ingredients list is simple and short and yet the dish is packed full of flavour and style. Don’t shy away from the generous quantity of butter – it’s what gives the dish its richness.

We’ve given a separate recipe for the tomato sauce. You will have too much for this recipe but it’s good served as it is with some tagliatelle and freezes well.

Wine suggestion: earthy, medium bodied red wines work well with this and we returned to an old favourite, the very smooth Selvapiana Chianti Rufina which is pure elegance in a glass. Really fine and supple tannins make this sing with a freshness that adds depth to the food.

Penne, tomato and dried porcini – serves 4 

  • 320g penne
  • 40g dried porcini
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 50g Parmesan, grated
  • 5 tbsp tomato sauce (see below)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • extra virgin olive oil

Soak the porcini in 200ml boiling water for 10 minutes.

Drain the porcini, straining the liquid through muslin or a paper towel, reserving the water. Rinse the porcini and chop coarsely.

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter and add the garlic. Add the porcini and fry until soft. Add a little of the porcini liquid and simmer until absorbed. Stir in the parsley. Add the tomato sauce and season.

Cook the penne in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and stir into the pasta sauce.

Drizzle with olive oil and serve with the Parmesan

Tomato sauce – serves 4

  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes

Heat the oil in a thick-bottomed pan and fry the garlic until soft but not coloured. Add the tomatoes and season. Cook over a medium heat for 20-30 minutes or, until the sauce is very thick and the oil comes to the top.

(Original recipes from Italian Two Easy: Simple Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, Random House, 2006.)

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