Salsa Friulana d’Ivana (Ivana’s Friulan Tomato Sauce)

November 17, 2017

My mother-in-law grew up in the town of Treppo Grande in the Italian province of Friuli. Friuli is in northeastern Italy. It is the major portion of the region of Friuli-Venezia Giulia.

Her father and two uncles lived with their families in three houses that wrapped around a courtyard. Her grandmother lived in the same complex. The extended family included numerous cousins.

Another uncle moved to the United States with his wife and their son early on.  Two more children were born to them in the US.


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At the age of 12, shortly after the end of World War II my mother-in-law, her brother (our Uncle Ray), and mother came to the States. Her father had been in the US working with the intention of bringing over the family but then the war broke out and the family could not be reunited until it ended.

One set of cousins stayed in Treppo Grande.  Another set of cousins moved to France.

In 1990 the “cousins,” as the US contingent called themselves, hatched a plan to organize a group trip to their hometown of Treppo Grande and to Digoin, France where the other set of “courtyard cousins” lived.

Naturally, planning for the trip required many “meetings” among the cousins; meetings that were fueled with copious amounts of food and alcohol interspersed with a little “business!”

The trip happened in August 1991. My husband and I went along with the “cousins” and their spouses.

The “United States” cousins and three of four spouses in Treppo Grande along with Carolina Fabbro, a friend of my mother-in-law’s mother.  She died a few years ago at more than 100 years of age.

We first met up in Paris for a day or two and did some sightseeing.

Afterwards, we were picked up in a small bus that had been arranged by Olvino, one of the original “courtyard cousins” who lived in Digoin. As I recall, the driver only spoke French. Among us we spoke English, Italian, Friulan (the language of Friuli), and a smattering of Spanish and German, but no French. Thankfully the driver knew where he was going and, for all other needs, we managed to communicate in some rudimentary, but effective, manner.

Interesting to me was that the vehicle had graph paper that kept a running record of the bus’s speed. Apparently the driver could be asked to produce the graph paper by the police and could be fined if it showed that he had exceeded the speed limit. Can you imagine that happening in the United States???

I was also fascinated when we stopped for lunch. The driver had a glass of wine. I will repeat that.  This professional bus driver had a glass of wine with lunch then got behind the wheel. Apparently, he was legally permitted to have one, just one, glass of wine and still drive.

Admittedly, one glass of wine is not going to get anyone’s blood alcohol level close to a level that produces intoxication but it pointed out that 1) the French are highly (overly?) regulated and 2) Europeans have a more relaxed approach to alcohol (probably to life in general, actually!).

I had a similar experience in 1994 when I did several consulting gigs in Europe. I frequently had lunch with physicians from the hospitals where I was consulting. Everyone (yes, everyone) had a glass of wine or beer with lunch and then went back to the hospital to work.

But I digress.

We spent several fun days in Digoin, where the local cousins had rented out a small hall, with a kitchen, because none of them had a house big enough to host all of us, and all of them, for meals.

There must have been six banquet tables shaped into a “U” around which we all sat. The crowd included not only those of us from the States, but the cousins who lived in Digoin along with their significant others, their children, and their children’s significant others.

Conversations frequently included four languages. The “cousins” typically spoke Friulan with each other. From there, the conversation would get translated into Italian, English, and French so that everyone could understand anything of interest to the group.

I don’t remember what we ate for dinner the first night except for the pasta which was sauced with a red sauce made by Ivana, Olvino’s wife.

I was transported by that sauce.

Tomato sauces in Friuli are different from the rest of Italy in that they have noticeable amounts of “warm” spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg.  My mother-in-law makes a sauce similar to the one that Ivana makes but there are differences. For example, hers includes only beef. Today’s recipe, however, is a tribute to Ivana.

This is my interpretation of Ivana’s recipe. Since the original recipe contained a list of ingredients but no quantities, I had to figure out what worked.


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Salsa Friulana d'Ivana (Ivana's Friulan Tomato Sauce)
There should be a little bit of red-tinged oil floating on top of the sauce to improve the mouthfeel of the pasta—just a little. If you cannot find lean ground pork, you may want to grind your own. An actual meat grinder will work better than a food processor but if you’re using a food processor be careful not to grind the meat too finely. For the beef, I suggest using 93% lean. This recipe makes enough sauce for approximately 4 pounds of pasta. Extra sauce freezes well.
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
cups
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. If using canned tomatoes rather than crushed tomatoes or tomato puree, pass the tomatoes through a food mill and reserve.
  2. Grind the pork if you cannot get ground pork in your market.
  3. Grind the garlic, onion, and parsley in a food processor. If you used a food processor for the pork, there is no need to clean it. Alternatively, chop them very, very finely by hand.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed Dutch oven.
  5. Add the garlic-onion-parsley mixture. Sauté until the raw smell is gone.
  6. Add the ground beef and pork and sauté on high heat until the meat is browned.
  7. Add the tomato puree or crushed tomatoes.
  8. Add all remaining ingredients.
  9. Sage
  10. Rosemary
  11. Basil
  12. Bay leaves
  13. Cinnamon
  14. Cloves
  15. Nutmeg
  16. Simmer gently, partially covered, stirring frequently for approximately 2 ½ hours.
  17. Adjust salt and pepper during cooking.
  18. Toss approximately 1/4 of the sauce with one pound of cooked pasta.
Recipe Notes

Copyright © 2017 by VillaSentieri.com. All rights reserved.

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Eduardo’s Chimichurri

October 20, 2017

We’ve been to Argentina at least three times. Once as part of a trip to explore wine country in Chile and Argentina, once as part of a trip to Antarctica for which the ship left from Tierra del Fuego, and once with my in-laws to visit relatives who lived in Patagonia.

Tierra del Fuego, the starting point for our Antarctic adventure!
Penguins
Icebergs really are blue!

On each trip we spent some time in Buenos Aires, some more than others. And on each trip we did the Argentine thing of eating copious quantities of meat.

Eateries abound selling meats of various types cooked over live charcoal. The less fancy, but no less good, ones are often outdoor affairs with pots of chimichurri on each table. Often, the maestro de parrilla (grill master) is standing just feet away tending several large parrillas (grills) brimming with various cuts of meat. One of our most memorable meals of grilled meats was at just such a place in the suburbs of Buenos Aires with a friend from the States who married an Argentine and moved to Buenos Aires.

I developed a true appreciation for the extent to which Argentines love meat, however, at several family dinners at my husband’s Great Uncle Duilio and Great Aunt Juliana’s house in Puerto Madryn, Patagonia. Duilio is Fidalma’s brother. I’ve mentioned Fidalma several times in this blog.

We spent a week in Puerto Madryn and had two Sunday dinners with Duilio’s family (daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren).

To accommodate large family gatherings, one of Duilio’s daughters converted an outbuilding to host bacchanalian feasts. There was a large indoor parilla with grill racks, an iron cross to hold an entire lamb near the charcoal, and a hook to hold a cauldron over the heat. There was another parilla just outside the door, in the courtyard. The rest of the interior space was given over to a very, very long table and chairs.

Indoor parilla with a whole lamb and sausages

When we arrived for the second Sunday dinner, Eduardo, one of Duilio’s sons-in-law was frying 15 kilos (that’s 33 pounds!) of calamari in a large cauldron set over a fire in the indoor parilla. This was just to keep us from getting restless and hungry as the rest of the meal was prepared.

Outdoor parilla with chicken and brochettes

When we sat down to eat, the first course was grilled chicken. The grilled chicken course was followed by grilled sausages. The grilled sausages were followed by grilled lamb. The grilled lamb was followed by grilled beef.

Yep, each course was a different meat!

Truth be told, there were some vegetables on the table. But that doesn’t mean they were eaten by most of the family and the quantity certainly paled in comparison to the herd of animals that made its way onto the table in succession.

The seating arrangement was in strict age progression. Duilio and Juliana sat at the head. On either side of them sat my husband’s parents. Next to them on opposite sides of the table was where my husband and I were seated. After that came Dulio and Juliana’s daughters and their husbands. The remainder of the table was filled with grandchildren.

The vegetables started at “our” end of the table. Duilio and Juliana, as well as my in-laws and the two of us actually put vegetables on our plates. Duilio and Juliana’s daughters took a bite or two, as I recall. The sons-in-law and grandchildren wanted nothing to do with anything that was suspiciously related to a root!

And there you have it. Course after course of meat, no veggies for the “true” Argentines, a bit of dessert, and the obligatory cup of mate passed around the table.

Eduardo cooked all the food magnificently. This is his chimichurri recipe. It contains a few ingredients that might seem unusual but since his family has been in Argentina for many generations who am I to argue?

In addition to serving as the typical condiment for grilled meat, chimichurri is also as a marinade for the same meat. It will keep a week in the refrigerator so be sure to make enough to both marinate the meat and serve as a condiment.


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Eduardo's Chimichurri
While a few of the ingredients may seem unusual, Eduardo’s family has lived in Argentina for several generations so I don’t doubt the traditional nature of this recipe. Make extra and use some to marinate the meat before cooking. Pass the remainder at the table. You can use either red or white wine vinegar but I prefer white as it does not dull the bright green color of the herbs.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 3 hours
Servings
cups
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid large enough to hold the finished sauce, combine the mustard and water.
  2. Allow the mustard-water mixture to stand approximately 7-10 minutes to develop the mustard’s flavor.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small blender jar, combine the garlic and one-half of the olive oil. Blend until garlic is finely minced.
  4. Add the basil to the garlic-oil mixture and blend again until basil is finely chopped but not pureed.
  5. Add the garlic-oil-basil mixture to the mustard mixture.
  6. Combine the remaining oil and parsley in the blender jar and blend until parsley is finely chopped but not pureed.
  7. Add the parsley-oil mixture to the herb mixture.
  8. Use the wine to rinse out the blender jar and then add it to the herb mixture.
  9. Add all other ingredients. Mix well.
  10. X
  11. Cover and allow the chimichurri to sit at room temperature for approximately three hours to develop flavor.
  12. The chimichurri can be refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to a week.
Recipe Notes

Copyright © 2017 by VillaSentieri.com. All rights reserved.

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Mom’s Ravioli

September 27, 2017

My strongest olfactory memory of childhood is gradually waking up on Sunday morning to the smell (perfume is a better characterization as far as I’m concerned) of garlic being sautéed in olive oil.

That was how most Sundays started.

My mother would get up early and start making her long-simmered Southern Italian Tomato Sauce (referred to as Ragu or Sugo if one’s Italian roots were close, “Gravy” if one grew up in New York or nearby, and often just “Sauce”). We unceremoniously called it “Spaghetti Sauce” though it was used on much more than spaghetti!

I think the better part of my culinary-cultural history is represented by that sauce. Every Italian family’s sauce is different, even if stylistic similarities can be identified. The sauces made by my mother and her two sisters that I knew, Aunt Margie and Aunt Mamie, were clearly related but also different. Each was good but it’s not as if they didn’t deviate from my Grandmother’s recipe. They were similar in that garlic and meat were browned in oil; tomato products, water, and seasonings were added; and the whole thing simmered for hours. The meats varied, the tomato products (tomato paste, tomato puree, whole canned tomatoes, etc.) and the proportions of them definitely varied as did the seasonings and other aromatics.

My mother’s “Spaghetti Sauce” to call it by its “historic” name, a name that I no longer use, is, without doubt, my most precious culinary treasure. I have only ever given the recipe out twice. In the 1970’s I gave it to John Bowker and his wife Margaret Roper Bowker. John was the dean of Trinity College in Cambridge, England. Recently I gave it to Robert Reddington and John O’Malley in Palm Springs after Bob lamented the loss of the recipe for the long-simmered tomato sauce he learned to make while living in Chicago.

With my mother’s sauce as the near-constant backdrop to our Sunday dinners, the rest of the meal varied. The sauce could be served with spaghetti or some other cut of dry pasta, or with my mother’s home-made fettuccine, or with ravioli. Although my favorite pasta is gnocchi, we never had those on Sundays as my father didn’t like them. Gnocchi (always home-made) were reserved for a weeknight meal during the times that my father worked out of town.

The sauce has an abundant amount of meat in it, pork, always cut in big pieces, never ground or chopped. Nonetheless, the pasta was often accompanied by my mother’s slow-cooked roast pork or maybe a roast chicken.

It seems incongruous now, but in the 1960s, before the widespread use of antibiotics, chickens were expensive! (I’m not in favor of the prophylactic use of antibiotics but I’m just saying that’s why chickens are relatively inexpensive now.) I still have a handful of my mother’s “City Chicken” sticks from the 1960s. They are round, pointed sticks slimmer than a pencil but thicker than bamboo skewers. Pieces of pork and veal would be skewered in alternating fashion on the sticks, breaded, and fried like chicken drumsticks. This was less expensive than chicken!!

City Chicken sticks

But back to Sundays…

Sometimes, after the sauce was bubbling away, my mother would make ravioli. Next to gnocchi, they are my favorite pasta, but manicotti and lasagna aren’t far behind.

We would eat our big meal around 1 PM on Sunday and my mother would get all of this done in time for that meal, including taking time to go to church, during which my Aunt Mamie, who lived upstairs, would be tasked with stirring the “Spaghetti Sauce.”

My mother’s (now my) ravioli mold.

Making ravioli in a group is a lot more fun. I also find that making the ravioli on a different day from the day they are cooked and eaten means that I am not as tired and I enjoy them more. The pictures in this post are from a Sunday when I got together with Rich DePippo, Susan Vinci-Lucero, and my in-laws, Marisa and Frank Pieri, to make ravioli. I think we made about 30 dozen ravioli!


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Mom's Ravioli
The filling can be made a day in advance and refrigerated, tightly covered. Ravioli freeze well. To do so, lightly flour a sheet pan that will fit in your freezer and put the ravioli in a single layer. Freeze about 30-45 minutes, until firm. Quickly put the ravioli in a zipper-lock bag and return to the freezer. Repeat with the remaining ravioli. My mother always made her dough by hand but I use a kitchen mixer and the beater, not the dough hook. Years ago, ground meat was not labeled with the percent fat. My mother would select a cut of sirloin, have the butcher trim off all visible fat and then grind it. I find that 93% lean ground beef replicates the experience.
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Prep Time 2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
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Prep Time 2 hours
Passive Time 30 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Filling
Dough
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Instructions
Filling
  1. Put the frozen spinach in a small saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is completely thawed.
  2. Pour the spinach into a large sieve.
  3. After the spinach has cooled enough to handle, squeeze handfuls of the spinach to remove as much liquid as possible.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a 12-inch sauté pan until shimmering. Add the beef.
  5. Cook over high heat until the liquid has evaporated, breaking up the meat while cooking.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper to taste. Continue to sauté for 2-3 minutes more.
  7. Add the spinach to the beef.
  8. Continue to cook over medium to medium-low heat while breaking up the spinach and completely combining it with the beef.
  9. When the beef and spinach are well combined and no obvious liquid remains in the pan, add the beaten egg. Stir well and cook two minutes more. The egg should completely incorporate into the filling and no longer be visible.
  10. Adjust salt and pepper.
  11. On low heat, add 1/4-1/3 cup of breadcrumbs and combine well to absorb any remaining liquid or oil. If necessary to absorb any remaining liquid, add another tablespoon or two of breadcrumbs. If you cooked off all the liquid when browning the beef, and used lean beef, 1/3 cup of breadcrumbs should be enough.
  12. Cool the filling to room temperature before filling the ravioli.
Dough
  1. Put the flour, egg, and egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer outfitted with a paddle.
  2. Mix on low until combined.
  3. Add the water, a little at a time, until the dough just comes together. The dough should not be the slightest bit tacky. You may not need all the water.
  4. Remove the dough from the mixer and roll into a log. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 to 30 minutes before rolling out.
Assembly
  1. Set up your pasta machine, either a hand crank version or an attachment for your mixer.
  2. Cut off a small handful of dough.
  3. Flatten the dough, dust with flour, and run it through the pasta machine on the thickest setting.
  4. If the dough is catching on the rollers it may be too wet. Sprinkle liberally with flour.
  5. Run the dough through the same setting one more time.
  6. Run the dough through the pasta machine narrowing the setting by one notch each time. If the dough is getting too long to cover much more than two lengths of the ravioli mold, cut off the excess and continue.
  7. When rolling out the dough, use slow, even motion. If the dough is not rolling out to the full width of the machine, or at least wide enough to cover the width of the ravioli mold, fold it in half crosswise and run it through the machine again on whatever the last setting was.
  8. If the dough is not rolling out smoothly, and the issue is not that it is too damp, run the dough through the machine again on the same setting.
  9. On most pasta machines with five settings for thickness, you will want to stop rolling out the dough on the next-to-thinnest setting.
  10. Put the rolled out dough on a lightly floured surface and cover with a kitchen towel. Repeat with 2 or 3 more portions of dough.
  11. Allow the remaining dough to rest, covered, while filling and cutting the first batch of ravioli.
  12. To fill the ravioli, take the rolled out dough and lay it across the ravioli mold.
  13. Add a slightly rounded teaspoonful of filling to each ravioli. Do not overfill or the ravioli may break when being cooked.
  14. Fold the dough over the top.
  15. Lightly pat the top sheet of dough.
  16. Using a rolling pin, cut the dough along the zig-zag edges. Be careful to fully cut through the dough around the edges as well as between each raviolo.
  17. Remove the ravioli and place on a lightly floured surface. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel.
  18. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
  19. Cook, refrigerate, or freeze the ravioli.
Recipe Notes

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New Mexican Green Chile Sauce

September 22, 2017

Those of you who haven’t spent time in New Mexico may not know that chile (definitely spelled with an “e”) has cult status in the state.

New Mexican food wouldn’t be the same without “red” or “green.” Chile, that is. Those are the standard sauces used in New Mexican cuisine.

When ordering most dishes in a New Mexican restaurant in Santa Fe, the first question from the server, if the customer hasn’t specified, is “Red or Green or Christmas?”

Just 70 miles away in Taos, the question is “Red or Green or Caribe?”

It’s not that you can’t get Christmas in Taos, which as you might have guessed is half red chile sauce and half green chile sauce, it’s that never, ever is Caribe an option in Santa Fe. It just isn’t. I believe this speaks to the development of related, but different, foodways in the historically isolated towns and villages of New Mexico.

The most famous of all New Mexico chile is Hatch. There are about six varieties of chile grown in Hatch but, if they’re grown there, they can all be labeled as Hatch Chile. The tiny village of Chimayó, just under 30 miles from Santa Fe in northern New Mexico, grows good chile, too.

When I buy roasted green chile at the Santa Fe Farmers Market, I usually head for the vendor selling chile from Chimayó. That’s exactly what I did last week to make a batch of Green Chile for this blog post (honestly, we don’t add the word “sauce” to the end as the context indicates whether one is talking about the sauce or the fruit. And, yes, chile is a fruit!). Chimayó has a multi-hundred year history of growing heirloom chile and I feel good supporting that history, if even in a very small way.

A typical chile-roasting set-up found throughout parking lots in New Mexico in the late summer.

I served that chile during a dinner party for a group of close friends. Among the ten of us, only one was born and raised in New Mexico, Pat Assimakis (aka Pat Paris if you’re a maître d’ and she’s ever made a reservation at your restaurant). I gave Pat a taste of my green chile, she thought for a second and said, “Chimayó?” She nailed it! It’s got a slightly different taste from Hatch chile.

New Mexicans have strong opinions about their chile, be it red or green. The usual divide is between those who put almost nothing but chile in their chile (see, you knew the first meant the fruit and the second meant the sauce, right?) except for a bit of onion and/or garlic and those who add herbs (like oregano) and spices (like cumin). I am firmly in the former camp. Onion and garlic help to round out the flavor but, to my taste, herbs and spices detract from the pure chile goodness.

The other divide is degree of heat. Back to the restaurant scenario above, a frequent question from the customer after the server says “Red or Green?” is “Which is hotter?” Restaurants stake out their territory, not only in how they make their chile, but in terms of which is hotter.

Since I’m a bit of a chile-head, given a choice between the medium-hot and the hot Chimayó chile at the Farmers Market, I opted for the hot. So, I was more than a little concerned when Doug Howe, one of the other friends at our dinner, and the first to ladle some green chile onto his plate, took three large spoonsful. Before I could warn him, he took a bite and was in agony. I relieved him of his green chile, putting it on my plate, instead. Pat and I sure enjoyed the chile, Doug not so much. As for the other seven diners, I’m not sure.

In case you missed it, here is my recipe for Red Chile.


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New Mexican Green Chile Sauce
This is classic New Mexican Green Chile. There are just a few aromatics and no herbs and spices to muddy the flavor. Removing the skin and seeds can be a chore as they want to stick to your fingers. Dipping the chile and your fingers in water makes the task a breeze however, you want to use that water as part of the sauce because all of the tasty liquid that collects inside the chile as it roasts would be lost otherwise.
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
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Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings
cups
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Roasted green chile ready to be cleaned.
  2. Put two cups of water in a small bowl.
  3. Holding the chile over a bowl to catch any juice, use your fingers to remove the skin of the roasted chile. Most of the skin should slide off easily. You may need to work on a few bits here and there. Remove as much skin as possible but a few bits of stubbornly sticking skin aren’t a problem.
  4. Shake whatever skin you can from your fingers (it has a tendency to cling desperately to your fingers) then dip your fingers and the chile in the bowl of water to remove the clinging skin.
  5. Still holding the chile over a bowl, remove the stem end. You can usually do this by pinching the top of the chile but a pair of kitchen shears works well, too.
  6. Discard the stem end and any seeds that cling to it.
  7. Split the chile in half lengthwise. Again, this is pretty easy to do with a fingernail.
  8. Dip the chile into the bowl of water and scrape away the seeds.
  9. Put the cleaned chile into a clean bowl and repeat the process with the remaining chile.
  10. Cut the chile into long strips.
  11. Cut the chile crosswise into small squares
  12. Add any liquid that has collected in the bottom of the bowl from the chopped chile to the bowl of water.
  13. Strain out seeds and bits of flesh from the water using a three step process. Strain the water through a large sieve.
  14. Strain the liquid through a fine, small sieve.
  15. Strain the liquid through several layers of cheesecloth or a paper filter.
  16. Chop the onion.
  17. Mince the garlic.
  18. Combine ½ cup of chopped chile, onion, garlic, strained water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
  19. Using an immersion blender or a regular blender puree the chile mixture. This will help to thicken the chile sauce without using a thickening agent.
  20. Add the remaining diced chile and two cups of water to the puree and simmer until the chile is soft to the bite, but not mushy, approximately 15-20 minutes, adjusting salt approximately 10 minutes into the simmer. If you used a regular blender in the previous step, use the water to rinse out the blender jar before adding it to the pot.
  21. The green chile can be refrigerated or frozen. It will become softer if frozen so best to cook it for a shorter time if it is going to be frozen.
Recipe Notes

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Angie’s Pickled Hot Peppers

September 13, 2017

With one set of grandparents and many relatives hailing from Southern Italy, hot peppers and foods containing hot peppers were staple features of the cuisine I grew up eating.

Hot sausage, with fennel seed, was frequently on our table and, since it was often homemade by Uncle Joe Medile, it could be as hot as we wanted. When it wasn’t Uncle Joe’s sausage, it would typically have been from Lopresti’s Market in Geistown, a suburb of Johnstown, PA.

Spicy foods more often showed up at lunch, though. There was spicy salumi, including Calabrese salami, capocollo (of which there are several types but in our house it was always the spicy one), and sopressata, among others.

There were hot banana peppers fried until tender, usually with onions. The fried peppers could be a condiment or they could be used as the filling for a sandwich. Fried hot pepper sandwiches are still one of my favorite lunchtime treats!

There were various pickled, spicy vegetables like giardineria and pickled peppers of various types. These were usually store-bought except for my cousin Angie’s pickled hot peppers.

Angie is the daughter of my mother’s oldest sister. Angie, however, was born six months before my mother. It’s kind of interesting to think about the fact that my grandmother was pregnant with my mother at the same time that my grandmother’s daughter was pregnant with Angie.

Despite their inverted ages, Angie always called my mother Aunt Theresa.

Angie’s mom, my Aunt Rosie, died at a young age. I never knew her. Aunt Rosie’s husband, Uncle Dominic lived with their other daughter, Marie.

Uncle Dominic grew vegetables, including hot peppers, in the back yard. He’s the one who taught me about fried hot pepper sandwiches for which I am eternally grateful!

Usually I would make Angie’s Pickled Hot Peppers with Italian Banana Peppers but fresh New Mexico Green Chile is far more abundant in Santa Fe than Banana Peppers and the substitution works just fine. Years past, when we lived in Chicago and grew lots of peppers, I would even make these with jalapeno peppers.

These peppers are a breeze to make, just some slicing and dicing and pulling together a quick pickle. No actual canning or processing is required. They will keep for months and months in the refrigerator.

The recipe calls for a peck of peppers. A peck is an interesting measure. It is eight dry quarts. A dry quart, however, is not the same as a liquid quart (unless you use the British Imperial system in which case a dry quart and a liquid quart are the same volume but not the same volume as any quart used in America).

Confused? Oh how I wish we used the metric system!!!

A dry quart is slightly larger than a liquid quart. Eight dry quarts equals 9 1/3 liquid quarts. If you go to a farmers market, chances are you’ve seen produce displayed in baskets that are one peck in size. Not to worry, though. First off, the measurements aren’t that critical for this recipe, so plus or minus a quart (dry or liquid) isn’t a big deal. Second, if you have any type of large container, pot, or bucket marked in liquid measure, just fill it up a little beyond the 9 (liquid) quart mark and you’ll be good to go.

If you’re buying peppers in the supermarket and don’t want to carry a bucket to measure a peck, I suggest buying approximately four pounds of banana peppers. I found that amount of New Mexico Green Chile came very close to a peck when I measured it out.


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Angie's Pickled Hot Peppers
Though usually made with hot Italian Banana Peppers, I made this batch with hot New Mexico Green Chile which is far easier to source in Santa Fe than are large quantities of Banana Peppers. Four pounds of peppers should come pretty close to a peck. A peck is 8 dry quarts which is the equivalent of 9 1/3 liquid quarts. If there isn’t enough pickling liquid to fully submerge the peppers, make a little extra following the proportions in the recipe. These peppers will keep well in the refrigerator for many months. Try to let them mellow at least a couple of days before eating them…if you can!
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Prep Time 75 minutes
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
quarts
Ingredients
Prep Time 75 minutes
Passive Time 8 hours
Servings
quarts
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Wash and dry the peppers.
  2. Cut off the stem ends.
  3. Cut the peppers crosswise into rings a little more than 1/8 inch thick.
  4. Cut the celery into ¼ inch dice.
  5. In a non-reactive container large enough to hold all the ingredients, combine the vinegar, water, oil, garlic, salt, and oregano. Mix well.
  6. Add the sliced peppers and diced celery.
  7. Mix thoroughly. Cover and allow to sit at room temperature for 8 hours or overnight.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, ladle the peppers and celery into clean jars.
  9. Once the jars are filled, ladle the pickling liquid into the jars. Mix the liquid well with each ladleful so that you get the right proportions of vinegar/water and oil.
  10. If there is not quite enough liquid to cover the peppers make a small amount more using the same proportions.
  11. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
Recipe Notes

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Fried Zucchini Blossoms (Fiori di Zucca Fritti)

August 2, 2017

Fried Zucchini Blossoms are one of the joys of summer at our house.

Simple, unadorned flowers, coated with a small amount of an equally simple batter (flour, salt and water), are addictive.

Stuffed zucchini blossoms are common and often quite good but in my estimation the stuffing does not pay homage to the blossom.  One really tastes the stuffing, not the blossom.  This is fine if one has such an overabundance of zucchini blossoms that one can squander them by stuffing them.

 

A zucchini blossom in our courtyard container garden.

Don’t get me wrong, I like stuffed zucchini blossoms but I’d much rather nibble my way through the crispy fried flowers with a cocktail.  Bourbon, did someone say bourbon?

On a summer trip to Italy a few years back, one of the pizzas that I kept seeing was topped with zucchini blossoms alternating with anchovies.  It made a striking presentation (which I suppose was the point) but there was no way the taste of the blossoms could stand up to the anchovies.  But taste isn’t everything.  I’ll admit that appearance is equally important.

When I was in college I ate fried food with abandon.  Most of it was fried in lard that I rendered.  My roommate and I would sometimes do an entire meal of fried food in the Italian manner, a frito misto.  These days I rarely eat fried foods except for fried zucchini blossoms and fried sage leaves in the summer.

Over my years of frying I have tried many different batters, with and without eggs (some with whole eggs mixed into the batter and others with the yolk used as part of the liquid and the stiffly beaten white folded in at the last minute to lighten the coating), with and without baking powder, and with club soda or seltzer in place of water or milk, among other variations.  In the end, I settled on the simplest of batters that I had at Great Aunt Fidalma’s house in Tuscany: flour, salt and water.

It works beautifully, turning out a thin crunchy coating.

You can use the batter on most any kind of vegetable though watery vegetables like zucchini and mushrooms are challenging.

My only alternate coating (when I’m cooking in the Italian manner… which is most of the time) is the one my mother used for cauliflower.  She would par-boil the cauliflower, cut it into florets, dip it in egg, and then coat it with fine, dry breadcrumbs.  Because some of the breadcrumbs come off during the frying, the oil has to be strained after every few batches of florets are fried otherwise the loose breadcrumbs start to burn imparting a burnt taste to the cauliflower.  It’s really pretty easy to accomplish as long as you’re prepared for it.

I set up a very fine mesh strainer over an empty pot and use it to strain the oil.  A quick wipe of the pot used for frying and the strained oil can be poured right back in and the pot put back on the heat.  The whole process takes less than 30 seconds.

I’ve always fried in a pot on the stove, never in a dedicated deep fryer.  I’ve never even used a thermometer to test the temperature of the oil.  I flick a drop of water on the oil and watch how it skitters across the top to judge when the oil is hot enough.  There’s a lot of trial and error learning involved in this method so I’d recommend you invest in a deep-frying thermometer (or even a dedicated deep fryer) if you’re not already skilled at frying.

My two favorite pots for deep frying are a Lodge cast iron pot and an Indian-style karahee.  The cast iron is better at holding the temperature steady but the karahee uses less oil because of its curved bottom.  A karahee can only be used on a gas stove, however.

This is the Indian-style Karahee that I brought back from Guyana in the 1970’s.  Fifty-one percent of the population of Guyana trace their ancestry to the Indian subcontinent.

Although I use lard for some baked goods, I don’t deep fry in in on a regular basis any longer.  I use corn oil.  I think it works a little better than other vegetable oils for frying.  Results are even better if one adds a small amount of oil that was previously used for frying to the pot with the fresh oil.

Fried zucchini blossoms are always served informally in our house.  Since they are best right after frying, with just a moment to cool down, everyone gathers in the kitchen, cocktails in hand.  When the first batch comes out of the oil, the flowers are put on absorbent paper while the next batch is battered and put in the oil.  The previous batch is then salted and passed around.  It’s about one minute from the time the flowers come out of the oil until they are being eaten.


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Fried Zucchini Blossoms
These zucchini flowers are coated with the simplest of batters. The amount of water needed cannot be determined precisely as it will depend on the flour to some extent. Refrigerating the batter allows the flour to fully hydrate, after which it will need to be thinned with a bit more water. Cold batter also sticks to food better than warm batter. Gently scraping the battered flower on the edge of the bowl allows for the amount of batter to be controlled. The flowers should just brown slightly otherwise they can start to taste bitter. Zucchini flowers are very delicate and do not stand up well to rinsing under water so only wash them if absolutely necessary. One cup of flour will make enough batter for at least two dozen flowers.
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Course Appetizers
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
persons
Ingredients
Course Appetizers
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Passive Time 1 hour
Servings
persons
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. A batch of flowers ready to be cleaned.
  2. To clean the flowers, remove the stem end by breaking the flower where it creases, about ½ inch above the stem.
  3. Pull out the stamen and stigma.
  4. Remove any green bits (calyx) at the base of the flower.
  5. Lay the flowers on a tray or plate, cover lightly, and refrigerate until ready to use.
  6. Mix the flour and the salt.
  7. Add the water, a little at a time to the center of the flour, stirring in a circular motion with a fork to incorporate more and more of the flour.
  8. Xxxx
  9. Keep the flour and water mixture thick until all the flour is incorporated. The stiffness of the batter will break up any lumps that might form. You can tell from the ridges in this batter that it is thick. Thinner batter will have a smooth surface.
  10. After a thick batter is formed, continue to add water, mixing well after each addition, until the batter thinly coats the fork.
  11. Cover and refrigerate the batter for at least one hour and up to one day.
  12. When ready to use, thin the batter with more water until it once again lightly coats a fork.
  13. Bring oil to frying temperature, approximately 350°F.
  14. Dip a flower into the batter, scraping off excess batter on the edge of the bowl.
  15. Drop the battered flower into the batter and continue to add flowers, without crowding.
  16. Turn the flowers frequently.
  17. Just as they begin to turn golden, remove the flowers from the oil allowing excess oil to drip into the pan.
  18. Put the flowers on absorbent paper. Batter the next batch and put the flowers in the oil.
  19. Salt the previous batch and serve while still hot.
  20. Repeat!
Recipe Notes

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Auntie Helen’s Roman Chicken Cacciatore

Pollo alla Cacciatora (Chicken Cacciatore, in English) means Chicken Hunter’s Style and there are as many styles as there are hunters and cooks.

I grew up eating a Southern Italian version in a red sauce with peppers and mushrooms.

This recipe, using anchovies and no vegetables, is from Rome and goes back to the late 1800’s at least.  I learned it from Auntie Helen.  Auntie Helen was actually the aunt of Eugene (Gene) d’Aquili, my undergraduate advisor at the University of Pennsylvania and the psychiatrist with whom I set up my psychiatric practice in Philadelphia many years later.

Gene’s grandparents left Rome around the turn of the 20th century and moved to Trenton, New Jersey with their four children, Guido, Helen, Louise and a fourth daughter who died shortly after the move.

Gene’s father, Guido, was an artist and part of what was sometimes referred to as the New Hope School after a town of the same name in Pennsylvania on the New Jersey border.  He painted a series of Old King Cole murals similar to the ones Maxfield Parrish painted for the St. Regis in New York City.

Those murals ended up on the walls of my dining room in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.  For several years, from early medical school until partway through my internship, I rented the carriage house on the d’Aquili estate in Berwyn.  The murals were installed in the dining room after the d’Aquili family purchased them from the social club in Trenton that had originally commissioned them.

Here are some pictures of the murals.

There is a blog that features the murals and information about them, if you’re interested.

Here is a picture of my parents, standing in front of one of the murals in my dining room.  I believe this was taken in May 1981 when I graduated medical school.

Auntie Helen and Auntie Louise never married.  They both became school teachers and lived in Morrisville, New Jersey until the early 1980’s when they moved into the carriage house on the d’Aquili estate that I vacated after I bought my first house.

Auntie Helen was a wonderful cook.  This recipe for pollo alla cacciatora came from her, and before her, from her mother.  Don’t let the anchovies put you off, even if you don’t like anchovies.  The “fishiness” cooks away leaving a savory, umami flavor.  I will bet you that none of your guests will guess that there are anchovies in this dish.

In addition to her other wonderful Italian specialties, including brodetto, panpeppato, and cheese bread, the last of which unfortunately I do not have a recipe, among others, Auntie Helen made some American dishes that were fashionable at the time including Impossible Tuna Pie!

I want to give a shout out to Julie Paradise for reintroducing me to Impossible Pies.  Julie is the master of the genre and her pecan version is going to end up on my table soon!


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Roman Chicken Cacciatore
As an alternative to cutting up a whole chicken, chicken parts can be used. Thighs work particularly well for the long, slow cooking technique. If using chicken parts, use about 3 pounds. This chicken goes well with polenta. I suggest using yellow cornmeal for a color contrast with the dark sauce. A link to my polenta recipe can be found in the Notes section following the recipe.
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Course Mains, Poultry
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Mains, Poultry
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Cut the chicken into pieces, legs, thighs, and breasts. You can cut the breasts in half crosswise if you like. Reserve the back and wings for another use.
  2. Remove the skin from the chicken.
  3. Bruise the garlic with the side of a chef's knife.
  4. In a skillet large enough to comfortably hold the chicken, and that has a lid, heat the olive oil until it is almost smoking.
  5. Add the chicken. Do not disturb the chicken until it is crusted and releases easily from the pan, 4-5 minutes.
  6. Turn the chicken over. Add the bruised garlic to the pan. Brown the other side of the chicken, adjusting the heat as necessary to prevent the olive oil from smoking.
  7. If the garlic starts getting dark brown, remove it before it burns. Reserve the browned garlic, however.
  8. When the chicken is well browned on all sides (legs don’t really have “sides” so you will need to turn them around a bit), add the anchovies and their oil. They will splatter a bit.
  9. Work the anchovies with a spoon so they start to disintegrate.
  10. Have the cover ready. Turn the heat to low. Add the water and quickly cover the pan to reduce splattering. Wait 2-3 minutes until the rapid sizzling has slowed down.
  11. Turn the chicken. Add the vinegar and return the browned garlic to the pan if you removed it earlier. If the water has evaporated when you remove the lid to add the vinegar, add another two tablespoons of water along with the vinegar and garlic. Add oregano and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  12. Braise covered for 1 ½ to 2 hours on gentle heat, turning every 20-30 minutes. Add water, two tablespoons at a time, whenever the liquid in the pan has evaporated.
  13. Add an extra grinding of pepper before removing the chicken from the heat. Adjust salt if necessary.
Recipe Notes

Here is my recipe for Polenta.

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Polenta

July 24, 2017

Polenta isn’t traditionally a Southern Italian food.  It is a staple of Italy’s northern provinces, however.

I didn’t eat polenta until I was in college; the time of my greatest food exploration and experimentation.

Granted, Northern Italian food isn’t as far afield from the Southern Italian food I grew up with as are the Sri Lankan, Chinese, Bangladeshi, Filipino, and West Indian food that were a large part of my food exploration in college.

Even when I stayed within the bounds of European food, I could move close to the edge.

For example, my roommate worked in an anesthesia research lab.  Rabbit blood was used for experiments, so rabbit ended up on our menu regularly (as it did on the menus of other lab workers).  Those rabbits became the impetus for learning to make Hasenpfeffer the traditional way.

Read any Hasenpfeffer recipe now, and you will be instructed to marinate the rabbit in an acidic marinade in the refrigerator.  But refrigeration is a recent invention in the history of Hasenpfeffer.

My culinary endeavors at that point operated out of a six-foot-wide Pullman kitchen with an under-counter refrigerator in a dormitory apartment.  My roommate and I turned out major meals every day of the week.  We had two shopping days, one to the open-air Ninth Street market in Philadelphia (aka the “Italian Market”) and one to the Pathmark Supermarket in Broomall, PA.  The supermarkets around the University did not have the best selection or quality at that time.

Our little refrigerator was always packed like a jigsaw puzzle.  (Just ask my husband about my ability to pack a suitcase and it will give you some idea of how I packed that little fridge!)

That meant, however, that there was never any room to refrigerate a marinating rabbit.  I turned to the age-old method and marinated it at room temperature for two days before cooking it.  By the end of that year of college I turned out a pretty decent Hasenpfeffer.

Then there was the Guyanese version of an originally Portuguese dish, called Garlic Pork in Guyana.  Versions of the dish can still be found in Portugal and in former Portuguese-controlled areas like Goa in India.  In Guyanese Garlic Pork, cubes of pork are marinated in vinegar seasoned with lots of Scotch Bonnet peppers and thyme.  As you can imagine, given our refrigerator situation, the marinating took place at room temperature.

All this marinating happened in what were then (in the 1970’s) vintage British apothecary jars that I brought back from Guyana.  Every household in Guyana had one or more of these jars and they were the standard vessel for marinating Garlic Pork.  They also work well for Hasenpfeffer!

I still have these jars and really prize them.

Vintage British Apothecary Jars

Meat marinating in a jar can be pretty unobtrusive.  Not so a duck, head and feet intact, strung up from an eye hook in the ceiling!

My roommate’s mother, of Chinese heritage, sent us a sheaf of her recipes that she neatly typed out on onion skin paper.  (I still have them.)  One of the recipes was for a home-style version of Peking Duck.  The duck had to hang at room temperature for a day, being periodically lacquered with a mixture of soy sauce and other ingredients before roasting.  The duck, hung right inside the door, greeted visitors to our dormitory apartment for the better part of a day.

By comparison, learning to make Northern Italian food was pretty tame.  Enter Marcella Hazan (via her first cookbook) to teach me the basics.  She was demanding when it came to making polenta, insisting that it be stirred non-stop for 45 minutes.

Honestly, I did it that way until sometime in 1996 when my mother-in-law convinced me that constant stirring was not needed.  It’s much easier to make polenta if one just stirs periodically.  And the best thing is, it WORKS!

On a trip to Italy with my in-laws I bought a traditional unlined copper polenta pot.  I don’t know if it makes better polenta than an ordinary pot but I love using it.

My Unlined Copper Polenta Pot

The traditional implement for stirring polenta is a round wooden paddle.  On the left, below, is the one my mother-in-law’s father made for her.  On the right is a paddle I picked up at the Otovalo market in Ecuador more than 20 years ago.  I prefer it to the stick as it provides more “action” in the pot.  (Truth be told, my mother-in-law prefers it too!)

Implements for Stirring Polenta

While yellow and white cornmeal are traditional, in New Mexico I can get blue cornmeal which I like to use for its dramatic color.

Cornmeal should be gently showered into the boiling water while stirring.  Fine cornmeal tends to develop lumps more easily than coarse cornmeal.  In this video, I am using coarse cornmeal and can therefore add it more quickly.


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Polenta
In Italy, cornmeal used for polenta is either white or yellow. In New Mexico I have access to blue cornmeal. The blue cornmeal turns purple when cooked in unlined copper. It provides a nice contrast on the plate. There really are not many purple foods! I find that it takes more water to cook polenta at high altitude. I use 5 cups of water for every cup of cornmeal. At sea level 4 ½ cups would work fine. Coarse cornmeal takes a bit more water than fine cornmeal. Both are traditional. It is a matter of personal preference which to use. Polenta is traditionally accompanied by a dish that has a sauce. Sausage with Cardoons is a good choice. See the Notes section for a link to the recipe.
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Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cornmeal coarse or fine, preferably artisanal
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Passive Time 15 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
  • 1 cup cornmeal coarse or fine, preferably artisanal
  • 4 1/2 to 5 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
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Instructions
  1. Bring water and salt to a boil in a saucepan that will give you plenty of room to stir.
  2. Slowly shower in the cornmeal, stirring all the while. You should basically be able to see the individual grains as you add the cornmeal. This will help to avoid lumps. If you notice a lump, stop adding cornmeal and stir vigorously to break up the lump. Using a wire whisk to vigorously stir the water while adding the cornmeal also helps to avoid lumps. After all the cornmeal is added, change to a sturdy wooden spoon.
  3. After all the cornmeal is added, cook at a moderately low boil for 45-60 minutes stirring often. Coarse cornmeal takes longer to cook than fine cornmeal. That said, 45 minutes should be the minimum cooking time. The flavor changes with extended cooking so don’t be tempted to treat polenta like grits and cook it briefly.
  4. If you find that the polenta is getting too stiff before the cooking time is up, add a little bit of BOILING water and stir well.
  5. When cooked, the polenta should be thick but pourable and definitely not runny.
  6. Pour into a shallow serving bowl or rimmed platter and serve immediately.
  7. A bowl of more traditional yellow polenta.
Recipe Notes

Click here for the recipe for Sausage with Cardoons.

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Carne Adovada (Pork Braised in Red Chile Sauce)

July 14, 2017

I am a chile head.

I also like coaxing a tremendous amount of flavor out of a small number of ingredients (though I don’t shy away from recipes with long ingredient lists either!).

I am a big fan of dishes that can be made in advance and warmed up for serving.  Carne Adovada actually tastes better if it is refrigerated for a day or two.

For all of these reasons, Carne Adovada is an ideal dish for me.  It is, bar none, my favorite New Mexican dish.

However, it isn’t necessary to use hot or extra-hot red chile.  If you’re not a fan of spicy foods, use mild or medium-hot chile.  What is critical is that you use actual New Mexico dried red chile.

New Mexican Red Chile Pods

Although I rode in a car along route 66 in the 1960s to visit an uncle in Los Angeles, I never spent any appreciable time in New Mexico until August 1991.   Just days into that week-long visit to Santa Fe, I had Carne Adovada at Maria’s Restaurant.

I was hooked!

I was also enchanted by Santa Fe, as was my husband.  By late 1992 we put in an offer on our first house in Santa Fe.  The offer was accepted and we closed in January 1993.  Thus began our love affair with Santa Fe.

We moved to Santa Fe full time in 2012 but we spent considerable time in Santa Fe every year until then (about ten times per year including all major holidays).

I was never happy with any Carne Adovada recipe that I tried, and I tried plenty, until I stumbled on a recipe from Al Lucero, the former owner of Maria’s Restaurant, in the program book for Santa Fe Wine and Chile Fiesta a number of years ago.

In times past, when a hog was butchered in the fall, some of the meat was preserved in red chile.  This chile-infused meat was later braised to become Carne Adovada.  I don’t know of anyone who cures pork this way any longer but many recipes for Carne Adovada call for marinating the pork overnight in the red chile.  This would seem to be closer to the traditional method, though simply marinating the meat would not produce the additional flavor that would come from actually curing the pork in the chile.  Some recipes, though a minority in my experience, call for the addition of vinegar to the marinade to try to achieve more of a “cured” or “fermented” flavor.

Al Lucero’s approach is different but definitely creates an extra layer of flavor.  The pork cubes are roasted first then braised in red chile.  Refrigerating the completed Carne Adovada for a day or two before serving improves the flavor even more.

What I especially like about Al’s method is that it does not introduce any non-traditional ingredients to the Carne Adovada.  Until I can taste Carne Adovada made from pork that is actually cured in red chile, I’m sticking with my tweaked version of Al’s method.

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Carne Adovada (Braised Pork with Red Chile)
The purity of the chile flavor is key to Carne Adovada so I avoid putting in other seasonings such as onion and oregano that are sometimes called for. This recipe, based on a recipe of Al Lucero, the former owner of Maria’s Restaurant in Santa Fe, roasts the pork first for a depth of flavor not obtainable otherwise. Remove any large pieces of fat from the pork but thin layers of fat between the meat are needed to ensure moist and tender pork, so don’t remove it all. I frequently buy a bone-in pork shoulder (aka pork butt) and use the bone to make broth.
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Course Mains, Meats
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pork
Red Chile Sauce
Course Mains, Meats
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Pork
Red Chile Sauce
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
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Instructions
  1. Cut the pork into one inch cubes.
  2. Toss the pork with the garlic powder, and salt.
  3. Put the meat in a wide shallow baking/roasting pan that has a lid and roast at 450°F, uncovered, until well browned, turning every 20 minutes or so, approximately 90 minutes.
  4. While the pork is roasting, make the red chile sauce using the proportions of ingredients called for above and following the directions in the Red Chile blog post. See the "Notes" section below for the link. There is some rendered fat in the pan. Do not discard the fat, it carries lots of flavor and improves the mouth feel of the sauce.
  5. Beginning to brown.
  6. Tossed after the top has browned.
  7. Almost brown enough.
  8. Browned and ready for the chile. Note that the liquid has all evaporated and created a brown fond in the pan. This gives extra flavor.
  9. When pork is browned, add all the red chile sauce without draining any of the juices out of the pan.
  10. Cook, covered, at 250°F for approximately 3-4 hours or until meat is very tender, stirring occasionally.
  11. Remove the meat from the oven. Allow it to cool to room temperature.
  12. Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.
  13. Reheat the carne adovada, covered, at 250°F for approximately 2 hours. If the sauce is not thick enough, reheat uncovered at a somewhat higher temperature until the sauce is thickened.
  14. This plate contains carne adovada, red rice, frijoles (beans), and calabacitas) (zucchini, corn, and roasted green chile).
Recipe Notes

Here's where you can find the directions for making Red Chile Sauce.

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Homemade Pizza

June 26, 2017

Before my bread machine it was my Kitchen Aid stand mixer.  Before my Kitchen Aid stand mixer it was my hands.  I have always enjoyed making bread.

Junior year in college was when my bead making got started in earnest.  That was the year that I lived in the International Residence Project at the University of Pennsylvania.  I was notified of my acceptance into the Project, a College House arrangement that occupied two floors of a high-rise dorm, late in my sophomore year.  Current and incoming residents of the Project met at a social event where I was introduced to the roommate to whom I had been assigned for the coming school year, Ray Hugh from Georgetown, Guyana.

Ray and I started hanging out together for the last part of sophomore year and found that we really hit it off.  Since we were both staying in Philadelphia for the summer, and since students could not stay in undergraduate dorms during the summer, we did what most undergrads did during the summer.  We sublet an apartment in Graduate Towers from graduate students who were not staying in Philadelphia for the summer but who, as graduate students, had year-long leases.

I had pretty regular hours working in a research lab for the summer but that left evenings and weekends free to explore cooking which Ray and I did together.  It quickly became clear that the kitchen in our apartment in the International Residence Project, which we would begin occupying in September, was going to need an upgrade.

At my request, my father made a five-foot long kitchen counter with a laminate top.  There was in integrated pull-out table that would seat two in the regular configuration but four when pulled out.  That counter became the epicenter of our cooking universe.  Set opposite the Pullman kitchen (three electric burners, an oven, an under-counter refrigerator, and an integrated sink) we had a very efficient kitchen set-up.  A deep shelving unit that I made housed equipment and several stacks of plastic milk crates held ingredients for which there otherwise would have been no space.

I made bread on that counter every week, kneading it by hand.

I made bread the way my Italian grandmother did.  Flour, water, salt, and yeast went into a big bowl.  The yeast was not proofed.  I mixed the ingredients by hand, adding more flour as needed.  Periodically I would rub the inside of the bowl with lard.  After enough flour had been added, I would put the dough on the counter and knead it for about ten minutes.  The dough would always rise twice, getting punched down and kneaded lightly after each rise, before being put in bread pans for the third and final rise before being baked.

Decades later I got my first Kitchen Aid stand mixer and started using that to make bread.  Good thing, too, because I was starting to have trouble with my joints from all the kneading necessary.

A few years ago I got my first bread machine, a Zojirushi BB-PAC20.  While I have no doubt that bread baked in an oven is better I also have no doubt that we would not eat anywhere as much homemade bread if I had to do all the mixing, rising, shaping, and baking unaided.

With less than five minutes’ work spent measuring ingredients, I can push a button and have bread a few hours later.  And I am completely at peace with the ingredients in my bread.  No sugar.  No high fructose corn syrup.  No dough conditioners.  No preservatives.  Nothing but flour, water, salt, olive oil and yeast!  The bread machine has more than paid for itself in savings.

My Zojirushi BB-PAC20 bread machine

I especially like the dough cycle.  As noted in a previous blog post, I use the dough cycle to make the dough for my focaccia.  A quick final rise after being shaped and the focaccia is ready for the oven.  The dough cycle also makes pizza dough in a snap.  I like to make it at least one day in advance and allow it to rise in the refrigerator.  Two days in advance is even better.

I still pretty much use the same recipe for bread dough that I followed in college though I’ve swapped out the lard for olive oil and modified the directions to suit mechanization instead of hands.  (Every now and then, I just get the urge to do it by hand, though!)

Usually I bake pizza in a wood-burning oven.  Since wood-burning ovens are not very common, the pizza featured in this post was baked in a conventional oven.  I don’t have a pizza stone since I don’t usually bake pizza in the oven.  All the better though, since I know few people who have pizza stones.   I simply went old school and used heavy aluminum pizza pans.  I didn’t even use the convection feature!

Our DoughPro wood-burning oven from Australia
Baking chamber above and fire chamber below

Until a few years ago I always cooked my pizza sauce.  Then I tried uncooked sauce as is often done in Naples and found that I really prefer it.  It has a fresher taste and it is really easy to make.  (Sorry mom!)

I usually use tomato puree because I like a smooth sauce but crushed tomatoes work well if you prefer a chunkier sauce.  You can also just whizz a can of whole peeled tomatoes in the blender or food processor to whatever degree of chunkiness or smoothness you want.

An array of tomato products

Print Recipe
Homemade Pizza
Make the dough at least one day before you plan to bake the pizzas. The dough will benefit from the slow rise in the refrigerator. Two days is even better. Be sure to put the balls of dough in containers that seal well to keep the dough from drying out and that are large enough to hold the dough after it rises. Remove the dough from the refrigerator the morning of the day you plan on making pizza. It will take 3-5 hours to warm up and rise. If you’re not ready to make pizza when the dough has doubled in bulk, just punch it down and allow it to rise again. The dough recipe makes enough for two 16 inch pizzas but the sauce is enough for four. Extra sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Since I make so much bread, I buy dry yeast in bulk. You can substitute one envelop of yeast for the two teaspoons of yeast called for in the recipe. For the sauce, use tomato puree if you prefer a smoother sauce and crushed tomatoes if you prefer a slightly chunkier sauce. In either case, really good tomatoes are called for. Buy genuine San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy, if possible. I find Cento to be a good brand and generally available in the markets in my area.
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Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes (for each)
Passive Time 24 hours
Servings
pizzas
Ingredients
Pizza Dough
Pizza Sauce
Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes (for each)
Passive Time 24 hours
Servings
pizzas
Ingredients
Pizza Dough
Pizza Sauce
Votes: 0
Rating: 0
You:
Rate this recipe!
Instructions
Pizza Dough
  1. One or two days before you plan to bake the pizza, prepare the dough.
  2. You can use the dough cycle of a bread machine, the dough hook of a stand mixer, or you can make the dough by hand following the directions in the blog post.
  3. If using a bread machine, follow the manufacturer’s directions for the dough cycle.
  4. If using a stand mixer, put warm, not hot, water in the bowl of the mixer. Add four cups of flour, the yeast, and salt and begin to mix. Gradually pour in the olive oil. Add enough of the remaining flour to make a slightly tacky dough. Chances are you will need all of it. Allow the dough hook to knead the dough for 8-10 minutes.
  5. If making the dough by mixer or hand, oil the dough and place in an oiled bowl. Allow the dough to rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, covered lightly with a kitchen towel.
  6. After the dough has doubled, or when the bread machine has completed the dough cycle, remove the dough and punch it down.
  7. Divide the dough in half and shape into two balls. Rub the surface of each ball with oil and put each one into a separate oiled bowl or LARGE plastic container.
  8. Cover tightly using plastic wrap if needed.
  9. Put the dough in the refrigerator until the morning of the day you plan to bake the pizza.
  10. On baking day, remove the dough from the refrigerator in the morning and allow it to sit at room temperature until doubled in bulk. This will take 3-5 hours (or maybe a bit longer if your refrigerator is really cold). If you are not ready to bake the pizza, just punch the dough down again and let it rest. It is better to err on the side of taking it out of the refrigerator too early rather than too late!
Pizza Sauce
  1. Mince the garlic.
  2. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce.
  3. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow the flavors to mellow.
  4. Some brands of tomatoes can be a bit tart. Taste the sauce right before you use it and, if necessary, add up to ½ teaspoon of sugar but no more. (Some people consider this heresy but it is a common Italian technique to counter tomatoes that are too tart. Remember agricultural products vary and sometimes you need to use your judgment to correct a situation that is not addressed by the recipe.)
Assembly of Pizza
  1. Shred the mozzarella on the tear-drop shaped holes of a box grater. Reserve.
  2. Lightly dust a 16 inch round pizza pan with cornmeal.
  3. Put the dough on a metal pastry "board" or a second pizza pan and gently stretch it by pressing on it and moving your hands apart. The dough will spring back. Each time it will stay stretched a little more. After six to eight stretching motions, allow the dough to rest for several minutes to permit the gluten to relax. This will make it easier to stretch. I usually allow two or three such rest periods.
  4. Stretch dough into a 16” round.
  5. Flip the dough over onto the cornmeal-dusted pizza pan. (OK, I don't have the skill to stretch the dough by tossing it in the air and putting it on the pan so this is my hack. If you can toss pizza dough in the air, please give me a lesson!)
  6. Spread the sauce on dough to within one inch of the edge.
  7. Add toppings of your choice, if desired.
  8. Evenly sprinkle with shredded mozzarella.
  9. Bake the pizza at approximately 450°F until the edges are golden brown and the dough is fully cooked, approximately 12-15 minutes.
Recipe Notes

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