Pasta with ‘White’ Wild Boar Ragù (Pappardelle al Ragù Bianco di Cinghiale)

In Italy many recipes have a “rosso” version (with tomatoes) and a “bianco” version (without tomatoes). For instance, a “pizza bianca” means a pizza without tomatoes. This also goes for pasta sauces, amatriciana is usually rossa, but amatriciana bianca also … Continue reading Pasta with ‘White’ Wild Boar Ragù (Pappardelle al Ragù Bianco di Cinghiale)

Fit for a Board: Bistecca alla Fiorentina

Conor has invited me to join his board. He had commissioned four handmade chopping boards to be cut from the same block of walnut by his friend Terry from 2 Wooden Horses and has sent them as Christmas gifts to Richard, Nick and myself. As chairman of the board, Conor challenged us to use the board. And so all four board members are showing today what they have done with their boards.

The first thing that came to mind was a dish that is certainly fit for a board: Bistecca alla Fiorentina. This is a T-bone steak as it is served in the Tuscan city of Florence. I have prepared the Bistecca alla Fiorentina in the traditional way that doesn’t take into account the latest ideas on how to prepare a steak but is delicious anyway. A true Bistecca alla Fiorentina should be of a special Tuscan breed of cattle called Chianina. It should be about two fingers thick (4 cm or 1.5 inches, about 750 grams/26 oz). It should be cooked over a charcoal fire and otherwise as little as possible should be done to it: only salt and freshly ground black pepper should be added, strictly after cooking. Such a simple preparation with such a lot of flavor is certainly fit for a board of which Conor is the chairman.

And so thanks to Conor, Kees was building a charcoal fire in our back yard in the middle of January. Luckily the local hardware store still had some leftover charcoal from last season.
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Eggplant Parmigiana ‘Light’ (Parmigiana di Melanzane)

Eggplant Parmigiana is a very tasty oven dish, consisting of eggplant, tomato sauce, and cheese. Using fresh tomatoes for the sauce (rather than from a can) takes it over the top. Eggplant, tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil go very well together. This is a classic Italian dish that is clear evidence of how good simple Italian food can be. The main drawback of the classic preparation is that the eggplant is pan-fried with lots of oil, as the eggplant slices are like sponges. I’ve found a way around that: I roast the eggplant in the oven after only lightly brushing it with oil. Salting the eggplant slices helps to cook them. In this case I forgot to buy the mozzarella that I usually put on top, and made an even ‘ligther’ version. The parmigiano does not melt as nicely, but it still makes for a nice dish. It’s your choice whether you want to put mozzarella on top or not. Continue reading “Eggplant Parmigiana ‘Light’ (Parmigiana di Melanzane)”

Lepre alla Cacciatora (Hare Legs Stewed in Red Wine)

As I pointed out before, although both are furry and have long ears, a hare (“lepre” in Italian) is red meat and different from the white meat of a rabbit (“coniglio”). The recipe for Lepre alla Cacciatora (Hare Hunter’s Style, or in fact the wife of the hunter) is however quite similar to the recipe for Coniglio alla Cacciatora. Both are stewed in wine and tomatoes. The main differences are that hare is marinated and cooked in red wine with just a bit of tomato, whereas the rabbit isn’t marinated and cooked in white wine and tomatoes. I made this … Continue reading Lepre alla Cacciatora (Hare Legs Stewed in Red Wine)