Thursday, August 12, 2010

Butter and Cheese and Cheese and Butter - Nothern Italy

The Northern Italians have the opportunity to keep things like dairy chilled in the winter and of course they like food that keep them warm as well. Welcome to butter and cheese and cheese and

Last week we made dishes classic of Northern Italy; they consisted of Vitello Tonnato (Veal in Tuna Sauce), Osso Buco Milanese, Risotto Alla Zafferano (Risotto with Saffron), Panna Cotta, and Gnocchi Di Patate Salsa Di Parmesan Reggiano E Poire (Potato Gnocchi in Parmesan Cheese and Leeks). Phew! that was a mouthful and believe me the menu was nothing short of big dishes.

Veal Tonnato
The veal in tuna sauce was made by Peggy; and is made a nice size of veal, eye round or top round, seasoned with salt and pepper wrapped in cheesecloth and tied up like a salami. You then combine brown stock, wine and a bouquet of parsley, bay leaves and oregano; and bring to a boil. After it comes to a boil you add the veal; cover and remove from the heat. The meat will poach for about 10 -15 minutes and will be kept medium rare. Finish making the tuna sauce which consists of pureed anchovies (canned in oil - drained), tuna fish (canned in oil - drained), capers, olive oil, salt and pepper. Take out the veal and chill in the fridge or place in a bowl with an ice bath underneath. After the meat is completely chilled slice into very thin pieces, line on a plate with thinly sliced lemon and accompany with cornichons, capers, tuna sauce, etc. This was not a winner with most; but I thought it to be pretty tasty once you added the tuna sauce.

Osso Buco with Risotto alla Zaffron
I made the Osso Buco which was pretty easy to make; not intimidating at all. Start by lightly seasoning your veal shanks and then in a small amount of olive oil sear the meat in a rondeau (Picture of a Rondeau); set the seared meat to the side. Add some diced mirepoix (onion, carrot, celery) to the pan and deglaze; then add minced garlic until aroma is released. Next add some red wine to the pan (off of the heat - after pouring in wine place back on heat); add some diced tomatoes and replace the meat back into the pot. Make sure to add brown stock to the pot; halfway up the side of the shanks. Put some bay leaves, oregano, rosemary, etc into the pot for seasoning. Bring to a boil, place the lid on the pot and braise in the oven at 350 degrees for about an hour. The meat should be tender and falling off the bone; be careful to not let the meat boil, but rather simmer in the oven. You can also flip the meat once or twice while waiting for the final verdict. Our dish turned a=out great and I topped it with a Germalotta (minced - parsley, lemon zest, garlic & boiled micro-diced carrots).

Maria made the Risotto with Saffron; it was awesome...great compliment to the richness of the Osso Buco. She made it using the standard risotto procedure; pan frying the risotto in a pan with a little oil and then adding wine to the rice until absorbed. Always stir the risotto making sure it does not stick to the pan because it is very easy to burn. You then add a little chicken stock at a time to the risotto until absorbed; continue this process until the risotto is no longer crunchy. Halfway through the cooking of the risotto with the chicken stock; add the dissolved saffron. You dissolve saffron by placing a pinch of it in a couple tablespoons of warm water (or chicken stock). Finish the risotto off with a little butter, cheese and serve with the Osso Buco. Risotto is a Northern Italian short grain rice which becomes very creamy; and can served as an appetiser or main dish at times.

Fresh Fruit with Mint
Overall the night was great; except for a couple of unexpected hiccups...the gnocchi tasted great! However, it either overcooked or was placed in too many at one time; so they clumped up in the strainer. I stress this however, the gnocchi tasted great. It is not an easy pasta to make and if it remains wet before placing it in the boiling water, it will fall apart on you. Also our Panna Cotta did not have enough time to set up in the oven; so we improvised; Maria made a fresh fruit plate with fresh mint and light sugar coating (pictured to the left).This week was awesome and I look forward to making some of these dishes a little on the lighter side.

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