Cassoeula

Cassoeula is a traditional dish in the Lombardia region, which lies in northern Italy. It is a hearty stew of cabbage and three or four cuts of pork such as ribs, sausage, bacon and pork butt (shoulder), sometimes snouts, lips and feet. Typically around slaughter there will be pieces of meats used for stewing – very little goes to waste.

In my dish I will use pork country style ribs, bacon and pork brats. I will blanch the smoke flavor out of the bacon beforehand. I chose these meats for the different textures but also to create pork fond when browning them in a cast iron pan. A fond is that brown stuff that sticks to the sides of the pan and looks like it is burned on stuff but in fact it is where the entire best flavor is. By adding small amounts of white wine or in this dish sweet Marsala wine to the pan while the pan is hot and scraping the sides and bottom with a wooden spatula, the fond comes off and becomes a part of the gravy flavor in the dish. Typically this dish is served over polenta but I made a really good white wine and parmesan cheese rice risotto with the rice sautéed in butter and onions. The dish will also have carrots and celery along with cabbage. These stews are for cold days, like today.

For 2:
2 slices of bacon blanched in hot water for 10 minutes then dried to remove most of the smoky flavor then cut into lardons
1 small onion chopped
3 carrot sticks cut into coin
2 celery sticks, split in the middle and chopped cross ways
1 large clove of garlic and pressed into the dish
1 large bowl of cabbage
2 country style ribs deboned
2 port brats
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP butter
½ tsp dried Italian herbs
½ cup Sweet Marsala wine
1 cup of chicken stock
S&P

In a large Dutch oven heat the olive oil and brown the ribs
Remove the ribs and brown the brats
Remove the brats and add the onions, carrot and celery (soffritto) and sauté 8 minutes
Add the Marsala wine and deglazed the pan
Return the meat and add the bacon, garlic, S&P and herbs
Add the butter and combine
Layer the cabbage on top
Add chicken stock just to the top of the food
Cook on the small burner in the back on low for 2 hours.
Serve over polenta or risotto

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Chicken Tetrazzini

This dish is a little different than Turkey Tetrazzini in that I don;t make a traditional Bechamel Sauce.  If you want that you can substitute one cup of chicken broth for one cup of milk.

INGREDIENTS:
(SERVES 2)

Mirepoix
• ½ Onion (Chopped)

Veggies
• 8 oz. Portabella mushrooms (stemmed and sliced)
• 1 large garlic (pressed)
• 3 Serrano peppers (seeded and sliced into circles)

Meat
• 4 medium chicken breasts

Herbs and Oil
• Butter
• 6 Tbsps. Olive Oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
• Paprika

Other
• 4 Tbsps. flour
• 3 cups chicken broth (or exchange 1 cup broth for 1 cup milk)
• ½ cup white wine
• ½ lemon – juiced
• Mozzarella (shredded)
• ½ cup Romano cheese (shredded)
• ½ cup Parmesan (shredded)
• 1 round bunch of Linguine noodle the circumference of a 25 cent coin

PREPARE:

1. In a sauce pan boil water and boil Linguine noodles exactly 10 minutes and drain and add olive oil
2. In a non-stick fry pan add a little olive oil and brown the chicken. Remove and cut the chicken into bite size chunks
3. In a non-stick fry pan add 1 Tbsps. Butter and brown the mushrooms and remove
4. In a non-stick fry pan add butter and sauté onions and add a little white wine and remove
5. In a Dutch oven blend 4 Tbsps. Olive oil and 4 Tbsps. Flour and whisk on medium heat until the flour starts to turn light brown (a Roux).
6. Add the remaining white wine and whisk until it turns into a thick paste
7. Add the chicken broth ½ cup at a time whisking until you make a thick gravy
8. Add all ingredients except Mozzarella cheese and preheat oven to 350⁰
9. Add the Mozzarella to the top and then paprika, cook 30 minutes with lid and 15 minutes without a lid

Lasagna

Well worth the effort.

Tomato Sauce
5 Roma tomatoes (skinned)*
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 TBSP olive oil
½ cup dry red wine
1 can of tomato sauce

• (To skin a tomato cut an X on the top and bottom of the tomato, drop in boiling water until the skin starts to come off, rinse in cold water and pull off skin, chop tomatoes)

In a large cast iron skillet sauté tomato paste in oil, add the chopped tomatoes. Cook on low for 2 hours. Periodically mash the tomatoes with a potato masher. After an hour of cooking when the water from the tomatoes has evaporated, mash the pulp again add ½ cup of red wine. Later add the can of tomato sauce and flavored olive oil and warm a little on low then cool.

Pasta
In a food processor, several pulses don’t over work:
1 ¼ cups of flour
Pinch of salt
2 eggs
Tad bit of olive oil

Knead the dough. Cut into six quarters, run through a pasta machine on setting 3 then setting 6. This will yield 6 pasta pieces.  Boil in water 1 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Eggplant
Slice the eggplant ¼ inch – 6 pieces. In a baking sheet paint olive oil on both sides and cook in a 350ᵒ oven for 10 minutes.

Flavored Olive Oil
In a small sauce pan add:
2 TBSP EVOO
1 garlic clove sliced into coins
1 handful of fresh basil leaves

Sauté for ten minutes on low or until you can smell the fragrance of everything coming together.

Italian Sausage Meat
½ green pepper diced
½ red pepper diced.
½ onion chopped
1 lb. Fresh Mild Italian Pork Sausage (from sausage casings is good too)
1 TPSP olive oil

In a large cast iron Dutch oven sauté the peppers and onion then add the meat and slightly brown. Not too much as the oven later will finish them.

Ricotta
4 or 5 leaves of fresh basil chopped
1 – 15 oz. container of ricotta
1 cup parmesan cheese
2 eggs

In a large bowl mix all ingredients.

~~~

In a 2 ½ quart Corning Ware casserole dish layer as follows:

1st Layer – sauce, then pasta
2nd Layer – sauce, ricotta cheeses mix, pasta
3rd Layer – sauce, eggplant, pasta
4th Layer – sauce, meat mix, no-pasta on top
5th Layer – parmesan cheese, mozzarella cheese

In a 350ᵒ oven bake Lasagna, let rest for 10 minutes and serve.

Chicken Parmigiana w/Eggplant

This is a wonderful dish and easy to make.

• 2 large chicken breasts cut in half and pounded flat (~1/2 inch thick)
• 4 whole slices of eggplant
• 4 thick slices of Mozzarella (ask in the deli, mine comes from Wisconsin, not found in a bag)
• 4 large basil leaves
• Parmesan cheeses grated (for topping)
• Italian bread crumbs
• 2 eggs
• Thin spaghetti
• 4 Tbsp Butter and olive oil mix
• Audubon Ron Special Sunday Tomato Sauce or your special sauce
• Olive Oil (or Special Sunday Tomato Sauce olive oil, sauté 1 large garlic clove and several basil leaves in ¼ cup olive oil, let cool and strain)

Make your Audubon Ron Special Sunday Tomato Sauce before hand or use whatever sauce you like. It should be thick and full of tomato pulp. My sauce takes about 2 hours to make, mostly simmering.

Drag the chicken through egg and Italian bread crumbs and fry in butter/EVOO until golden brown on both sides. If you fry the chicken in batches, wipe the pan each time and add fresh butter. Set aside.

Place the eggplant on a baking sheet and paint EVOO on both sides and place in a 350ᵒ oven for 10 minutes. Care is needed not to overcook.

Stack the ingredients. On top of the chicken place eggplant, then the basil leaves, (pour a dash of Special Sunday Tomato Sauce olive oil) or olive oil, then add the tomato sauce, then the Mozzarella cheese and then sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.

Place on baking sheet and cook in 350ᵒ oven for 25 minutes or until the cheese melts. Serve over thin spaghetti.

 

Audubon Ron Special Sunday Tomato Sauce

The Sicilian’s call a rich tomato sauce a Sunday Tomato Gravy. I have futzed around with this sauce for a very long time. Fortunately, I have two very important cooking influences. One is Cajun Gumbo Roux based foods and the other is New York/New Jersey style Italian cooking tomato gravy based foods.

The idea here on the Italian side is to make thick rich tomato gravy separate from the other stuff. Usually tomato gravy is cooked with meats. But, I find good Roma tomatoes with a lot of pulp and go to work on the tomato gravy separate and apart.

First I cut crosses on the tops and bottoms of each tomato. Then I boil them in boiling water for several minutes until the skin starts to come off. I remove them from the pot with tongs and place them under cold water and peel the skin off. I cut them up and place them into a small food processor where I chop them maybe 10 pushes of the button.

I fry them in a wide hot cast iron skillet with one TBSP olive oil and two TBSP of tomato paste for several minutes and then I put the fire on simmer and let the tomatoes cook where the fluids evaporate (~1 hour). Then I mash them with a potato masher and add a cup of dry red wine. I then simmer them again for another hour in the wine and turn off the heat and let it sit for a while. No salt, no pepper, no sugar, I’ll address that later.

In a separate small sauce pan I sauté on low heat a large chopped clove of garlic and a bunch of fresh basil from my garden in a ¼ cup of olive oil. I cook on low until I can see a little bubbling on the sides (~20 minutes). Remove from heat, let cool and strain the oil, discard the basil and garlic. I then add 4 TBSPs of the strained oil to the tomato gravy and mix. THE BEST!!! Tomato gravy, no sugar, naturally sweet from the basil and wine and strong.

I add that sauce to any dish, mostly on pasta.

BTW, pasta is so easy make. Put 1¼ cups flour and two eggs in a food processor with 1 TBSP olive oil and pulse until you got a big ball of dough…You got pasta dough. Cut it and put it through a pasta maker. Boil it one minute and serve…