CONViVIUM

THE ART OF ITALIAN DINING

Never Old Enough

MANY friends ask me what does writing has to do with food. I always answer them that i enjoy writing about experiencing food as much as i love cooking it. The power of words, especially when it comes down to describe smells, tastes and colors, is a very challenging yet rewarding one.

Last month, while sipping a cup of coffee with my editor Christia, we came out with the idea of running a couple of my recipes in the December issue of her newspaper. So here we are with two wonderful traditional Italian recipes that brings along with a wonderful taste an equally interesting history: Cotoletta alla Milanese and Pappardelle alla Bolognese (videos and recipes below).

This is my gift to you. Now make it home. Change it. Add this and take out that! Let your immagination go wild and share the fuits of your labor with the people you most love. Let your creativity take over.

Because it is only when you let pleasure control your life and not your life control pleasure that you’ll find great passion.

Buone Feste e Buon Appetito

 

 

 

COTOLETTA ALLA MILANESE CON RADICCHIO

Cotoletta alla Milanese con Radicchi

Here I am presenting to you a classic of the Italian cuisine with a personal twist. Despite what one might think, cotoletta, one of the most famous dishes of Milan together with Risotto alla Milanese has ancient origins. As a matter of fact, it was listed as “lompolos cum panito” in the menu from the lunch offered by a abbot to the monks of S. Ambrogio in 1134.

Despite its ancient origins, in the 19th century the cotoletta alla Milanese was at the center of a debate between the Austrians, who at the time ruled Lombardy, and the people of Milan. The Austrians believed that the veal chop came from their Wiener Schnitzel, while the Milanesi thought just the opposite.

The debate quickly became a real patriotic dispute that was ended by Radetzky in a letter addresses to a man in the field of Emperor Francesco Giuseppe, the Count of Attems, in which he confirmed to have never eaten a similar dish in Austria. The people of Milan were happy to hear the news and legend has it that after having read the letter, the Count of Attems exclaimed: “A veal chop can hurt the empire more than my prisons of Silvio Pellico – all we need is a cotoletta to strengthen the spirit of the Lombardian rebel and to undo the victory of Custoza!”.

Like any dish of few ingredients and a straightforward cooking method, the key to success is the quality of your raw materials. The veal, of course, is key. The best veal for this dish is milk-fed veal, which has a lovely light pink flesh and an exquisitely delicate flavor. This young veal produces a thin chop that cooks rather quickly.

INGREDIENTS

  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 (8-ounce) veal chops pounded to ½-inch thickness
  • 1 cup plain fine breadcrumbs  (Panko breadcrumbs)
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter (better if clarified butter)
  • Salt

For the salad:

  • ½ pound of mesclun salad greens
  • ½ pound of teardrop tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 and ½ table spoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh thyme
  • Sea salt

For the fried sage

  • 5 Sage leafs for frying
  •  1/3 of coup of corn starch
  • 1/3 of flour
  • ½ coup of beer (or sparkling water)

Process:

  • Add a pinch of pepper to eggs and lightly beat to combine. Dip veal chops into beaten egg mixture, avoiding the bone and allowing excess egg to drip off. Dredge each chop in breadcrumbs and press between palms so that breadcrumbs adhere to meat.
  • Melt clarified butter in a large skillet over medium heat. As soon as butter begins to brown, add veal chops. Cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with sea salt. Serve immediately, or keep warm until serving.

For the salad:

  • Prepare a tossed salad by combining the mesclun and cherry tomatoes in a medium bowl.
  • Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice and fresh oregano leaves. Do not dress the salad until just before serving.

Fried Sage Leaves:

  • Whisk together the flour, corn starch, the beer, salt and pepper.
  • Brush the sage leaves off. Do not wet them. Pass the leaves in the dough and drop them in olive oil to fry them.
  • Once they are of gold color, place them on kitchen towels to let dry.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt.

Assemble:

Take the veal Milanese and place it on a plate. Place a small heap of salad on top of each chop, and garnish with the fried sage leaves.

PAPPARDELLE ALLA BOLOGNESE

Pappardelle alla Bolognese

 

I have countless memories of all my family eating Pappardelle alla Bolognese during Christmas. It is a classic first course that is often pair with Pappardelle pasta (a Tuscan type of pasta) rather than Tagliatelle which is what tradition would want.

The pride of the city of Bologna, tagliatelle are the most widely known shape of fresh egg pasta. In 1972, in order to preserve the authenticity of the pasta, the Accademia Italiana della Cucina placed a copy of the original recipe for tagliatelle from Bologna in a deposit box in the Chamber of Commerce. This recipe states that the ideal noodle is between 1/5th and 1/4th of an inch in width before cooking.

The most famous legend surrounding the origin of this noodle is the one spread by Augusto Majani, a humorist. According to his verion of the story, tagliatellewere invented in Bologna in January 1487 by Maesto Zefirano. This Bolognese cook created a special pasta for a banquet organized by the noblemen of Bologna in honor of Lucrezia Borgia’s engagement to the Duke of Este. The tagliatelle, in fact, were supposed to represent Lucrezia’s beautiful blond hair.

Ingredients

  • 1 (14-ounce) or 1/2 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes in juice, preferably San Marzano
  • ½ a can of puree tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste, preferably double concentrated
  • 1 celery rib, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 medium carrot, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 ounces sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 3/4 pound ground beef (not lean)
  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground veal
  • Fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • Red pepper flakes

For serving:

Fresh Pappardelle, or other pasta, cooked until tender in saltedwater & Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Instructions

Crash SanMarzano tomatoes by hand; set aside. Make a battuto (the foundation for many Italian soups, stews and sauces) by finely chopping together (by hand) celery, onion and carrot. Heat butter over medium-low heat until melted and foaming; add battuto and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the sausage, the beef, pork and veal. Increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the meat is broken into small bits, then continue cooking, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened (do not brown), about 25 minutes. Then season lightly with salt and pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring constantly for 10 minutes more. Add wine; bring to a boil and cook until wine and juices in pot are mostly evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add reserved crushed tomato, tomatoes juice and a ½ tablespoon of tomatoes paste. Add in the bay leaf, sage and rosemary. Cook ragù at the barest simmer, stirring occasionally (making sure to stir into edges of pot), until meat is very tender and sauce is thick (as sauce thickens, add water, bit by bit, if necessary, to keep sauce moist and just barely liquid), about 2 1/2  hours. Add milk and continue cooking for 30 minutes more. Stir in pinch nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve: Toss the ragù with pasta using 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups of sauce per pound of pasta. Serve immediately with cheese.

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