Category Archives: Prosciutto

PASTA E FAGIOLI…PASTA FAZOOL

001 There’s not much for me to say here that you don’t know already..that PASTA E FAGIOLI or the more Italian-American name, PASTA FAZOOL is one of the most Popular dishes from the Italian kitchen.  Let me add that no one’s recipe is the “RIGHT” one, here, or in Italy.   It is a loaded bowl of beans and macaroni, a dish of fuel to keep one going and when researching or learning about Italian cuisine one learns that Italy is 20something regions that are different from each other.  Their locations are varied and can be warm sundrenched seashore to frigid Alpine peaks. Basically the region will absolutely dictate what beans, pasta and other ingredients go into that pot. Let’s complicate this more with personal preferences ,thicker versus more soup-like.  Throw the monkeywrench of the Italian-American cuisine into the pot and now the versions are hybrids of different immigrant Italian styles and American additions.  My bottom line here is to never, never shake your head in disgust at someone’s version of Pasta e Fagioli because it doesn’t match your definition.  No one’s will, however some will probably come close or can even be exacty.  There is NO “authentic” original recipe for this so don’t even look for it.  So what am I blogging about then?  My most basic version to which you can add, subtract, but this is how I generally go about making my PASTA E FAGIOLI.

TIME: 1 1/2-3  hours     SERVES: 6

Let also just start off here saying..type of beans…tomato or not…type of pasta..cured pork or not…all personal preferences.  And here’s another one…this Idea of the al dente pasta and bean soup..again..just my taste so you take it from there…but this is soup, it’s not a plated entree/secondo. Somewhere along the line chefs with some influence decided that a soup should be something ripe with different textures from soft to chewy.  I disagree.  It’s soup.  That level of comfort I derive from it is because soup always had a well cooked load of pasta,meat, vegetables, beans  in it. I really don’t think that the  people we learned these dishes from who would probably be over 100years old now added pasta after the dish was cooked and then served it.  I’d bet more than likely, the pasta was a. cooked in the soup b. cooked separately then added.  but the soup was left to simmer, or sit for a bit,  or for the next day.  I’ll put my blinders up and let you and your tastebuds decide how you want to have your components cooked but i’m in the soft comforting “old school” soup camp.

1/4 finely diced Prosciutto rind or Pancetta

2 tbs. OliveOil

2 stalks small diced Celery

2 peeled carrots, cut into a small dice

2 onions small dice

2 GARLIC cloves, finely minced

Kosher salt

pinch of Peperoncino

pinch of Oregano, Sicilian is best if you can find it

1 lb of cooked beans (cooked yourself OR canned)LIKE Cannellini, Borolotti, Great Northern

1tbs Tomato paste

1 cup Italian Crushed Tomatoes

1/2 lb. cooked Al Dente TUBETTINI OR DITALINI PASTA

1 cup water or stock

OPTIONAL:  small Parmigiano cheese rind

 

In a soup pot…heat the olive oil and prosciutto or pancetta.  Once that’s taken on some color, add the onions, celery and carrots. Saute’ for at least 8 minutes on medium.  Now add the garlic, peperoncino, pinch of salt,oregano.  Let this saute’ for 2 minutes then add the tomato paste.  Stir this as you saute’ for 2 minutes.  Now add the cup of Crushed Italian tomatoes. Bring to a boil.  Now add the cup of stock /water.  Bring to a boil then reduce to simmer.  Add the beans at this point.  Let this simmer for 1/2 hour, stirring frequently. If you are using the Parmigiano rind, add it now before you start to simmer.  When the simmering is done, add the pasta.  Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn it off.  Taste for seasoning. If you are good with it, add a tbs of grated parmigiano or pecorino, a drizzle of olive oil and cover pushing it back on the stove.  Let this sit for at least 3 hours before serving.  Now PAY ATTENTION HERE…look at my picture..this is how it will look.  If you like it more loose, use more stock when creating it.  If you like it more on the creamy/thick side, puree’ 1/8 cup of the beans and stir that in before your simmer it.  Use extra cheese and olive oil AND ground black pepper or peperoncino and a pinch of oregano or a basil leaf (optional) before serving.  Also, TIP/HINT..taste the soup after you let it sit and before serving.  It may need more seasoning.

I like this whole deal better on day 2…just my opinion, now make this yourself and enjoy!!

 

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FILETTO DI POMODORO CON PROSCIUTTO, PASTA WITH TOMATO FILETS AND CRISP PROSCIUTTO

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Everyone loves PASTA.  I LOVE PASTA!  I love it in any cuisine too and of course in my own heritage cuisine, Italian.  Sometimes bad things happen to good pasta like bad sauce, incorrect recipes, oversaucing, undercooking.  The variety of shapes and sauces is endless and let me share one of my favorites with you, FILETTO DI POMODORO with PROSCIUTTO.  This sauce most probably based on one from Italy had a real day in the sun a few years ago. It showed up on every menu.  Too often I found that the sauce was nothing more than a cooked tomato sauce, sometimes with the actual “filets” of tomato visible with garlic or onion in the olive oil saute’ and many times with bits or pieces of Prosciutto.  Each kitchen has their own view of how this should be made.  I have no tolerance for ho-hum food that I’m paying for so I studied this dish and came up with a version of my own which sets it apart from just another tomato sauce.  I mean it’s CALLED Filetto di Pomodoro..shouldn’t that be the most notable quality?? If not why bother?  (Extreme? perhaps, however, it’s how I roll).  I think the type of tomato is important too and my choice is the San Marzano.  I also like the inclusion of sort of crisped Prosciutto, for taste and texture.  OH you will love this.  The ingredients are important, as always.  The Prosciutto should not be paper thin, but not thick either. Have it cut thin enough to fold it but not thin enough for it to come apart. Size of a food, shape, thickness will make or break a dish. Here’s the ingredients in my FILETTO OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGarlic, Prosciutto, San Marzano tomatoes from Italy seeded and cut into strips and fresh basil.

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Everything fresh!  That basil came out of my backyard.  Grow a pot or two at your own home if you don’t have room in a garden during the Summer months. Fresh picked is so much more fragrant.  And no pre chopped garlic.  It resembles real garlic about as much as a Tic Tac does.

SERVINGS:  4-6

TIME:      about 30 MINUTES

28 oz can San Marzano tomatoes (drain the can juices, reserve for some other use, seed the tomatoes and slice them into strips. then lay them on paper towels)
1 lb. IMPORTED ITALIAN TAGLIATELLE, FETTUCCINE, LINGUINE..oh, ok…that’s my preference, use whatever pasta shape you like..(but it will be better with the long and flat type…)
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
6 fresh Basil leaves
4 ounces prosciutto, sliced 1/8-inch thick, and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 tsp ground black pepper (or less to taste), 1/2 tsp KOSHER SALT
1 cup Pecorino Romano, grated

In a large heavy pan, heat 1/2 the olive oil and add the prosciutto.  Let the prosciutto saute for about 3,minutes per side.

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Cook the pasta according to the package instructions  (i love DeCecco or Delverde Imported Italian Pasta) till just at al dente.  Then drain. While the water comes to the boil, you can do the following:

Then add the garlic and let it cook for about 3 minutes longer.  Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate. Now add the tomatoes and cook for 4minutes per side letting them caramelize a bit. FLAVOR!!!  Concentrates the tomato flavor and absorbs the flavors of the already sauteed prosciutto and garlic.  Remove them,  Now add a few pieces of the prosciutto back till they are just crisp..it will not take long. Reserve and save to garnish the finished plates. Add the tomatoes, pinch of salt and remaining garlic,prosciutto back into the pan. Let this heat together for about 3 minutes.

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add 2 basil leaves.  Then gently add the drained al dente pasta, the rest of the olive oil and coat the pasta well letting it cook for no more than 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.  add 1/2 the grated cheese and mix in..Tear up the remaining basil leaves and use them to garnish everyone’s plate. Also, coarsely crumble the crisped prosciutto and top each plate with that.  Nice textures.  You can alternately the finished pasta to a large serving bowl and top with the basil and prosciutto.  A sprinkle of Pecorino over it all.  MANGIARE BENE!! EAT WELL!!

 

 

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TURN SOUP PASTA SHAPES INTO A SIDE OR MAIN DISH, TUBETTINI WITH PROSCIUTTO AND ZUCCHINI

atubettiniprosciutto  Pasta comes in many shapes and sizes and there are special ones made to be used in soups.  Tubettini, Tubetti, Orzo, Acini di Pepe, Stelline, Pastina, Seme di Melone, Funghetti, Ditalini, Farfalline are just some of the names and shapes that are created to go in Minestre or Zuppe.  The Pasta part of Pasta e Fagioli uses any of these shapes as one of it’s star ingredients.  I love using these shapes the same way one would use rice, couscous, barley, farro, etc.  Mixing it with a few ingredients will give you a hearty side dish, or a substantial main dish.  Your choice.  Here’s a recipe I developed and the family loved it so I have to blog it for you.  I think you’ll like it too.

 

TIME:   30 minutes                SERVES: 4-6

1 lb. TUBETTINI (COOKED AL DENTE, ACCORDING TO THE PACKAGE DIRECTIONS)

2 TBS. OLIVE OIL

2 MEDIUM ZUCCHINI, SMALL DICE

1/4 LB. SLICED PROSCIUTTO, THEN DICED, FOR THIS SMALL PASTA YOU WANT THE PROSCIUTTO TO BE SAME SIZE AS THE PASTA

2 SLICED GARLIC CLOVES

KOSHER SALT, CRACKED BLACK PEPPER

1/8 CUP GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PARMIGIANO REGGIANO, MORE FOR ADDING WHEN SERVED

 

Let’s start out with noting the absence of an herb here.  It’s superfluous.  You will loose the nuance of the prosciutto here, so let the cheese be the additional flavor with the garlic and oil.  Sometimes American Italian food is over “greened” with unnecessary herbs, especially that parsley garnish. Want to cook more “Italian”? Let’s start with the less is more approach.  Cook the pasta according to the package directions.  While that is happening in a wide heavy skillet/pan, add the olive oil and heat it on medium.  Add the zucchini, sprinkle with some salt and let this cook for a good 10 minutes.   Shake the pan a few times to move the zucchini around to cook on all sides.  Then add the prosciutto.  Make sure you’ve taken care to cook the pasta only to the Al Dente point, then drain, reserve 3 tbs of the starchy cooking water.  Cook the prosciutto for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic, cooking another 3 minutes. Now Add the drained Tubettini and coat well with the zucchini and prosciutto, Add the reserved water and cook for only 2 minutes. Remove from the heat.  Add 1/8 cup of the grated cheese now.  Blend well.  TASTE now and see if any more salt is necessary, If so, lightly add more, and add the black pepper as well.  Toss well.  We are ready to eat!  You may want to add just a drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the top…and more grated cheese.  That’s what I would do.. You do as you like and I hope you like this visit with me in my kitchen.  Happy Cooking!

 

 

 

POTATOES CREATE AN ELEGANT CAKE, THE GATTO’, NAPLES’ POTATO CAKE

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This blog post will take us again back to Naples, Italy.  I’ll admit that the cuisine of Naples just makes me happy.  In large part it’s the cuisine that I grew up on along with the other regions my grandparents came from, but Naples in particular just makes me happy.  So many associate potatoes with the Northern European cuisines like Irish, English, German, Russian, etc. but the winds of exploration brought potatoes as well as tomatoes over from the Americas many centuries ago.  Italian cooking throughout the boot and it’s islands incorporates regional potato dishes from simple to more complex, yet, as with most Italian cooking the complexities are layers of flavors, not intricate and difficult cooking techniques only a top chef can master.  This is what I think makes Italian cooking so popular, only a few ingredients, a little fuss or none at all and you have platters of outrageously fabulous food.  Take the star of this blogpost..the GATTO’ (gah-TOH)a Mashed Potato cake mixed with some savories and eggs and baked. It comes from the kitchens of Naples, handed down from the old days of Bourbon rule when the French imparted some of their skills and styles to the wonderful ones that already were in place.   For those of your who are familiar with the French language, GATTO’ is simply the Italian (Neapolitan) word for GATEAU, or cake.  This recipe is basically 2 recipes in one but I’m only going to focus on the GATTO’.  The mix can be turned into another Napoletana dish, PANZAROTTI DI PATATE also known as CROCCHE’ DI PATATE, breaded Potato Croquettes.  Let’s save that for another day.  My Mom made this in a springform pan which I used as well until Sandy took that sentimental relic from me so when I made this one I used a 9 inch cake pan.  The cake is rich as it’s a mass of eggs, cheese, potatoes and cured meats.  A little goes a long way.  It’s beautiful when cut and served on a plate.gatto 008  Love the “action” shot of the diced sopressata falling out of the cake slice (I cut it while it was too hot, but, it is what it is…lol).  If creamy potatoes dishes and Italian flavors excite you this is perfect for your palate.  It’s time to walk into my kitchen and cook with me, my mother, and my grandmother (virtually as they both have passed but are ALWAYS with me at my stove).

FOR A 8 INCH CAKE PAN which will serve 4-6 people

Time: 2 days (hold on you thought I said simple, well there’s 2 parts..i truly believe that the mashed potatoes need to be made a day ahead of time and chilled overnight in the fridge..why?  I’m going to get a little Alton Brown here, I could be wrong, just my opinion but it always works out..something about the moisture in the potatoes that just makes them easier to use when they are day old.  Maybe it’s an absorption by the natural starches?  Sounds good, I’ll stick with it.)  On actual day of cooking, it will take about 1 1/2 hours.

2 LBS. OF MASHED POTATOES, MADE A DAY AHEAD OF TIME AND CHILLED IN THE FRIDGE OVERNIGHT.   Make mashed potatoes using 2 lb. of peeled Russets.Simply mash with butter, salt, and pepper to taste.  Do not add liquids like cream, milk, half n half. You can either rice them if you have a ricer, or mash or whip them well.  Tightly cover and keep over night in the fridge.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup GRATED PECORINO ROMANO OR PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO (MY PREF IS ROMANO)

3 BEATEN EGGS

3 TBS. CHOPPED ITALIAN FLAT LEAF PARSELY

1/8 CUP FINELY CHOPPED SALAMI, OR SOPRESSATA (SWEET NOT HOT), OR PROSCIUTTO, OR PROSCIUTTO COTTO

1/2 CUP GRATED SMOKED SCAMORZA (IF YOU CAN FIND IT IT’S THE REAL DEAL)

1/2 CUP DICED MOZZARELLA (IF USING FRESH, PURCHASE IT A DAY AHEAD)

KOSHER SALT, FRESH GROUND BLACK PEPPER TO TASTE

2 TBS. MILK

BUTTER FOR GREASING THE PAN, 6 PATS OF BUTTER TO TOP THE CAKE

ENOUGH COARSE BREAD CRUMBS(PLAIN) TO COAT THE PAN

you can use an 8 inch SPRINGFORM PAN, or CAKE PAN.  Heavily grease the panwith Unsalted butter (definitely use butter for this for flavor). Then coat the pan with a light layer of the coarse breadcrumbs.  Set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

gatto 001 Add all the ingredients to the Mashed Potatoes and blend in well, MAKE sure all the cheeses, meat and parsley are not CLUMPED up.  Want to cook more professionally?  That is one of those details that many times causes a dish to fail.  Incorporating ingredients like this sometimes when not done carefully will cause all the flavors to clump up in spots and not be equally distributed throughout the mixture.. TAKE YOUR TIME, there’s no rush!! A well blended mixture should look like that picture above.  “PAGEENZIA” (Pazienza in proper Italian, PATIENCE) would be what my Mom would say…that was a common outburst of her’s dealing with us kids AND my father…Alright, back to work now, after the mix is done press it into the pan keeping the top smooth.. Top with breadcrumbs and some grated pecorino or parmigiano.  Today’s Naples will most likely use Parmigiano.  The world I learned to cook from which is the southern Italy of the very early 1900’s used Pecorino for most things so that’s the taste I expect when eating this.  Use either one, Pecorino Romano will always be a more sharp taste, Parmigiano will be somewhat nutty.  Now dot the top with a few pats of the unsalted butter.  Why unsalted all the time?  Because this dish contains 3 different cheeses and salted cured meats.  Nothing worse than OVERSALTED food, under is bad too, but you can always add more to adjust that, oversalted is a kitchen FAIL.  There is no going back. Now bake this GATTO’ for 30-40 minutes or until it looks like this:gatto 003 I’m sure you want a piece.  Well you can’t.  PAGEENZIA!! which of course I didn’t have.  No wonder why Mom kept saying that to me!!  Please, let this cool for 20 minutes in the pan on a rack.  Then remove it from the springform or gently remove it from the cake pan as you would remove a layer cake from it.  Then invert it back onto the plate for serving..see, Like this:gatto 004How great does that look!!??  On one of my Mom’s plate too…all is right with the world on this one. Now slice it into wedges for serving.  gatto 007   Some recipe writers out there refer to this as a sidedish, ok, it CAN be but it’s more of a main dish.  That’s the big difference with how us American eats and how they eat in Italy.   Much of what we pile onto a table is meant to be eaten as a standalone I mean, this is a hefty group of ingredients and you really want to enjoy the flavors. OR add it to a buffet service.  I like it being served on it’s own with some greens and tomatoes.  That will be up to you.  Either way, a great idea for something to be made ahead of time too.  It reheats really well. Most of all enjoy yourself while making this and of course while eating it.

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PASTA WITH RICOTTA, PROSCIUTTO AND ARUGULA..SIMPLE PASTA FOR A QUICK MEAL

001  One can never have too many PASTA recipes and ideas, it is just too easy to create a tremendous meal with a pot of water and some good pasta, fresh or dried.  Comforting and filling, PAPPARDELLE, a medium width long sheet of pasta from Tuscany is what today’s post is all about.  You may see this most commonly served with a long simmered Ragu’ of Wild Boar (Cinghiale) or Duck (Anatra) or Bolognese style sauces but let’s not limit ourselves.  Have a 1/2 hour to get dinner ready?  This may be of interest to you.  I know it will be.  I’m pairing it with wilted Arugula, Prosciutto and tossing it with a good ricotta and Parmigiano-Reggiano.  A hint of garlic and you are eating really well..where’s that crisp white wine or sparkling water???  Dinner is served!  A little about Pappardelle…I like to know all about whatever it is I’m eating.  Makes it taste better.  In Tuscan dialect the verb PAPPARE denotes eating with glee, having fun,  with the joy a child might have.  I’ll agree. Pappardelle make you happy and there’s an excitement at your plate.  Is that a little much?  I’m not thinking so, but maybe you are.  You’ll feel it when you eat this easy dish.

SERVES: 4                                                 TAKES: 40 minutes

1 LB. EGG PAPPARDELLE, FRESH IS BEST, BUT THERE ARE EXCELLENT EGG PAPPARDELLE THAT ARE DRIED

1 1/2 CUP RICOTTA

1/4 cup freshly grated PARMIGIANO-REGGIANO

1/2 TSP. BLACK PEPPER or PEPERONCINO

1 clove sliced GARLIC

2 CUPS CHOPPED BABY ARUGULA

1/4 LB. CHOPPED PROSCIUTTO

2 TBS. EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

Pinch of SALT

Cook the Pappardelle according to the package instructions.  While you are waiting for the water to boil you can get the “sauce” completed.

In a wide pan heat 1 tbs. of Olive oil.  Add the prosciutto and cook for about 5 minutes to melt the fat on it and lightly caramelize it.0002  Add the garlic and let it get fragrant (LOVE THAT TERM WITH FOOD, I’M STARVING AGAIN WHEN I HEAR THAT!!), this should only take about 1 to 2 minutes..do not let it burn.  Add the arugula and cook for no more than 2 minutes and pepper.           10965_1151469789308_1304531591_30356921_1242298_n  Remove from heat.  Season with salt if needed. Drain your Pappardelle retaining 2 tbs. of the water.004   Add the al dente pappardelle to the pan of prosciutto and arugula. Gently mix well.  Fold in 1 1/2 cups of ricotta and 1/8 cup of the Parmigiano Reggiano  Let it sit for 5 minutes then add the additional ricotta and DRIZZLE  with the remaining oliveoil. serve.  More Parmigiano and pepper if you like.  I like.20 Angelo-Brocato-New-Orleans  done.  Just a note here you may be thinking one clove of garlic is not enough.  I appeal to your senses of at least trying a dish in a more Italian fashion.  Too much garlic, in my opinion in this dish reduces it to a pile of garlic noodles.  Some Italian dishes do in fact have a real punch from garlic, others simply do not and are flavored with it, like this one.  Try it.