June: Linguine Alle Vongole

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Linguine with White Clam Sauce

Clam-Sauce with script

Sounds like a big deal – linguine, clams, vongole. Hmmm… not so much. The only big deal here is the wonderful dish that awaits. LINGUINE ALLE VONGOLE or Linguine with White Clam Sauce is easy, light, and perfect to start the summer menu for outdoor dining. Yes – outdoors – On the Patio – is right where I would go with this one. This dish was just made for an outdoor spread. You are not going to believe how easy it is to create one of the most famous of Italian seafood dishes. I just saw some beautiful Littleneck Clams the other day and thought, “It’s time!”  It is time to share this fabulous dish with you.

Linguine Alle Vongole was pretty ordinary around our house growing up  in Binghamton, NY, because it was a favorite of my father, Attilio, a fisherman at heart, who loved to take to the sea in the summer with his family in tow.  As a girl, we spent many summers on Cape Cod with various wonderful cousins of my mother, Loretta. We all inhabited cottages next to each other. It was the Italian version of the Kennedy compound—without the trust funds!  During the day, when the time was right, the kids would head, with their buckets, to the areas where the clams would be found and commenced to digging up as many as they could carry home to my Dad. He would then prepare two extraordinary sauces with these clams – one red – one white. The aunts prepared homemade pasta while we were all at the beach. Later at dinner time, everyone emerged from the family cottages to  grab a dish and line up  for Attilio’s “red” or “white”  sauce – both delicious and fresh. Such a memory – I can almost taste the pasta, fresh clams, and the the salt air that accompanied.

Today we’ll tackle the simple and fresh preparation of the “white” in Linguine Alle Vongole. Just relax and let the clams do the heavy lifting. They will release flavor from their broth that you will not believe!

LINGUINE ALLE VONGOLE

Clam-Sauce with script 2

Serves: 4

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb. Linguine Pasta (thin, flat pasta)

1/4 c. Olive Oil

4 Cloves Fresh Garlic- chopped finely

1 c. White wine

1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes

Littleneck or other small clams (Manilas, cockles etc.) scrubbed a little to clean them. I like 3 1/2 lb for 4 people. Don’t be stingy with the clams. After all, they are the main focus here.

3 Tbsp. Butter

Salt and Pepper to taste.

1/2 c.  Italian Flat Leaf Parsley

1 Lemon for garnish

Extra Virgin Olive Oil  for drizzle

Instructions:

Put oil in pan with chopped garlic

Cook a couple of minutes over med. high heat just to let garlic permeate the oil. Sit and do not brown or burn the garlic

Add the wine and red pepper flakes – Cook a couple of minutes.

Then add the clams turning the heat to high. Cover the pan immediately and cook until the clams open – about 8 minutes. They will release a delicious broth which will flavor your sauce.

If larger clams are used –leave cover on a couple more minutes.

When ready – remove any unopened clams and discard them as they may be dead. Use only the clams which have opened.

TASTE and add salt and pepper as needed

At this point add 3 tbsp. butter. Let the butter melt and stir in.

Add the sauce to the drained pasta and toss. Taste again for seasoning.

Sprinkle parsley over the top.

Slice the lemon very thin into rounds and then cut the rounds in half  – like 1/2 moons and throw around on top of pasta – as many as you like.

Drizzle liberally with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Stick a fork in it – it’s DONE!

To Serve: Have some crusty Italian bread on hand with this dish. You’ll need it. It has great “dunkability”!  My father, Attilio, would surely have a small supply of red pepper flakes on the side to add to his dish – delicious – but not for the faint of heart.

Vino: As with most seafood , I recommend a Falanghina with the Linguine Alle Vongole , but a Pinot Grigio would  be lovely as well.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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MIXED ANTIPASTO

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All Mixed Up !

Antipasto_7

Buon giorno!

There have been some requests for a discussion of traditional Antipasto. Many of you who were born and raised on Mortadella and Provolone might scratch your heads and say “why”? Yes, it comes as second nature to us who may have teethed on pepperoni. However, there are many out there who really don’t know how to create one properly, and also many who might be intimidated by the elaborate designs of the Antipasti they have seen or sampled. Before all of the Italians start yawning and those intimidated non-Italians start to run for the hills  – ASPETTA!! (WAIT!) The Mixed Antipasto of today’s post is not quite what you might expect. It is easy, quick, and beautiful to look at.  So listen up!

A quick tutorial: In Italian, Antipasto is one. The plural is Antipasti. Very simply, it means “before the meal”.

Tradition: The traditional image is that of a platter of several different types of Italian cold meats, cheeses, olives, anchovies, and pickled or marinated vegetables, all lined up and served with crusty bread. Another visual is Antipasto served on a very special “relish” platter with separate compartments for each item kind of like that old Swanson TV dinner container we all remember which creates a kind of deconstructed arrangement. No two items touch or mingle. Other traditional forms include all sorts of elaborate flower or kaleidoscope-like patterns with meats rolled tightly, lined up like little tin soldiers, resembling the choreography of the Rockettes. I think this might be where the intimidation got started. If you didn’t have the time, the“knack” or better yet, a degree in Architecture, why would you bother to pursue it?

Types: Aside from the one described above which is the image we most often conjure when we think of Antipasto, there are other types. There is the one made entirely of fish – all types of seafood including octopus, calamari, shrimp, cuttlefish, sardines, mussels, clams, anchovies – I am out of breath… There is the Easter Antipasto of my youth which was the essence of spring with devilled eggs, basket cheese, spring green onions, olives, orange slices, fennel etc.

Universal item: If someone were to ask me what I thought might be the one item you would probably find in all good Antipasti, I would say… the olive! I can’t even imagine an Antipasto of any kind with some kind of olive. In this arena, there are no limits – ANY olive is great but you MUST have at least one type. Of course, the Gaeta, Cerignola, and the vivid green Castelvetrano etc are divine – but be prepared to pit them. This is definitely worth the trouble, if you have the time. Biting into an olive pit can be dangerous to one’s million dollar smile, and really lets the air out of the balloon, if you know what I mean in terms of an unpleasant experience. However, even pitted Kalamatas or regular old black olives are very acceptable. Just make sure you include the olives.

The Secret: Once again, the secret to making the best possible anything when it comes to Italian food including Antipasto is the ingredients. Always select the best and freshest ingredients, and even the simplest Antipasto will be heavenly. Look for good Italian cold meats. Use aged provolone or fresh mozzarella. Drizzle or marinate with the best of the Extra Virgins and Balsamicos .If you can roast your own peppers as in our post, Sovana and the Mystery Dish (LINK), all the better. Last but hardly least, always use fresh herbs and fresh lemon juice. The ingredients will be the difference between the bad fake and la cosa reale. Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing!

Shake it up, Baby: Keeping all of the do’s and don’ts in mind, the very best in Italian cooking was not carved into tablets and presented on Mt. Sinai. As long as your ingredients are good and true, you can tweak things once in a while and still keep the faith. We’ll take what we know, and just shake it up a little. It is in that spirit, that we will make a MIXED ANTIPASTO today. This is perfect for the cook who doesn’t have a lot of time but wants to serve something that looks like she/he does.  Our ingredients will be good, our herbs and lemons fresh, and our oils the best we can afford. Today, THAT is where we will depart from tradition and “mix it up”.

The MIXED ANTIPASTO feeds a crowd. We don’t have to labor over design with a set of blueprints. We can mix it ahead, and it will make incredible leftovers for sandwiches. Uh – don’t expect much in the way of leftovers. They usually can’t leave this one alone. You won’t have to worry about it sitting out as it does not have a tendency to spoil.  It is a conversation inducer: everyone gathers around talking and eating versus wandering about with a cracker. With just one spoon, you get a little of everything on your plate. It is great for a lunch, a buffet, a first course, an appetizer, and outdoors – On the Patio!

MIXED ANTIPASTO

Prep: 35-40 minutes

Serves: About 10  (just cut in half if you need less- but it keeps well for leftovers)

Ingredients:

Marinated Mushrooms: Marinate 3/4 lb fresh cremini or baby bella mushroom halves several hours ahead of putting your antipasto together. Marinate mushrooms with:  1/4 c. extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, fresh basil chopped, 1 clove garlic chopped and salt and pepper to taste. I like to add a small amount of red pepper flakes. Refrigerate until ready to combine with the rest of ingredients.

Antipasto_1

Meats: Any combination of the following meats can be used. Use all or a few. Cut all meats into pieces. I’ll show you some of them.

1/3 lb Genoa or Hard Salami

Antipasto_3

1/4 lb Mortadella

Mortadella-1

1/4 lb Prosciuttto

Antipasto_4

1/3 lb Capicolla

Antipasto_5

1/4 lb Pepperoni or Sopressata

1/4 lb Bresaola

 

Cheeses: Cut into edible sized chunks

1/2 lb Aged Provolone ( make sure to use aged – the one that smells like sox!)

1/2 lb Fresh Mozzarella

Other ingredients: Again, use any combination – best using all!

2 c. Cherry, Grape, or Campari tomatoes – cut in halves or quarters

Antipasto_2

3/4 c. Peperoncini cut up

1 c. Roasted Red Peppers (can be home roasted or from the jar)- cut into strips

1 c. Olives – Pitted Kalamatas were used for the demonstration here –Gaetas, Castelvetranos, Cerignolas all good – but make sure to pit them.

14 oz can rinsed and quartered artichoke hearts

2 oz. can anchovies cut up – or use just a few – you SHOULD use them – they melt into the dish when mixed, but the flavor they add is incomparable.

1/2 c. capers, rinsed and drained

Any other pickled vegetables such as carrots, cauliflower etc. are always welcome.

Dressing: Mix the following together:

Juice of 1/2 Fresh Lemon

1/3 c. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

3 Cloves Fresh Garlic – chopped

Instructions:

Gently toss all of the meats, cheeses, and other ingredients together. Then pour the dressing over and toss together well.

Garnish and mix again:

1/2 c. Chopped Fresh Basil ( or use whole leaves)

1/2 c. Chopped Fresh Parsley

Pinch of Red Pepper Flakes

At this point taste for seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Important: Refrigerate Antipasto until ready to serve. Just before serving taste for seasoning and add more of dressing, salt, pepper if needed. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Serving: This makes a beautiful and colorful presentation in a large glass bowl. Serve with small plates as an appetizer. The beauty of this is that everyone gets a little of everything quickly by spooning it onto their plate. Find a fresh loaf of Italian bread or Focaccia and have PLENTY on hand to serve with this dish.

Vino: Because of the dominance of meats and the earthy nature of the cheeses, I like a red wine and suggest a Ripassa Valpolicella, a Barbera D’Alba, Aglianico, or even a good Chianti Classico Riserva.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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GRILLED BUTTERFLIED LEG OF LAMB

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How to Prepare a Great Butterflied Grilled Leg of Lamb

Hunka – Hunka Burnin Love!

1303_Easter 2019_006

Buon giorno!

Today we’re dishin Butterflied Grilled Leg of Lamb and you don’t want to miss a thing! I must share with you my recent experience opening my refrigerator door and what I found waiting for me. There he was, the “hunk” of my dreams. Such rapture! I had been musing about just this moment, and the anticipation was almost more than I could stand. Overjoyed and ever so slightly blushing, I uttered, “Well, hello, Lover!”  Looking back at me was the most handsome, tanned specimen of musculature with a come hither stare. Heart fluttering, I thought perhaps it could be one of those Steven Tyler moments. Ahhh – Sweet Emotion. Would I have my way with him, or would I fold like a cheap suit? I was in trouble now. Whatever, shall I do, Scarlett? Suddenly I knew. No Love in an Elevator necessary. I threw this “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love” down on a cutting board and went after him with a blade!

Whoa! Before you think you hit the wrong key or received a “naughty” email – Relax!  Now you know I am passionate about food, but you probably weren’t expecting my fervor to reach this level. Think again. This is more than just another pretty piece of meat. I am crazy about this dish.

OK – down girl! Take a breath. Get it together, and let’s talk about this amazing lamb preparation. Walk This Way

Tradition: Traditionally found at the Italian Easter table, Leg of Lamb has been the “go-to guy” for many Italian families throughout the years. We always had Roasted  Leg of Lamb at the Calabrisi Easter feast — unless, of course, we were having goat. However, that is a story for another day. The lamb was always very young, milk fed, the most tender. It was thought that once the little critters started eating grass, it affected the flavor of the meat – negatively. The classic preparation is “al forno”  or roasted, with garlic, olive oil, and rosemary. Lamb is so tender and tasty – much more so than beef or pork loin. The lamb leg used to be difficult to get and had to be specially ordered in advance. However, now with the introduction of the delicious Australian and New Zealand lamb, it is usually found in good supply. It is not to be confused with mutton or older meat which has a stronger and not altogether pleasant flavor in my estimation.

To Butterfly or not to Butterfly: Of course, there is the traditional preparation of the Leg of Lamb with bone-in, found either whole or in halves, and roasted in the oven. However, my favorite way to make it is butterflied, marinated, and grilled. Butterflies involved??? No, not the fluttering type. The term “butterflied” refers to the way the meat is cut. The bone is removed and the meat is “opened up” almost like a steak. Haven’t seen one of these at your grocer recently? Uh – you probably won’t. No worries! All you have to do is find a nice leg of lamb, boneless or bone-in, at your grocer. Then present it to your butcher or “guy behind the counter” and ask HIM to take the bone out and butterfly it for you. While you’re at it, ask him to trim the fat a little for you as well. You’ll want some fat left on it, but a little trim is nice. Easy enough!

Serving: The great thing about this beautiful way of serving Leg of Lamb is that it is not just for Easter anymore. It makes a great “anytime” grilled meat entrée served, of course, On the Patio. It is easy to make and serve – and it is always the center of attention. It is flavorful and melts in your mouth. I have to say, that it is soooo much tastier than a grilled steak. You’ll find that it feeds a crowd, and you can build so many side dishes around it. Wait – so maybe you won’t want to feed the crowd once you taste it and find that it is so delicious. For those of you who do not share well, this dish is GREAT leftover and cold. It makes delectable sandwiches the next day or days.

How easy is it: When I said easy – I meant it. I bone and butterfly my own, as my dad, Attilio, taught me how to do it years ago. You can leave your “butterflying” to your butcher. First, you’ll cut little slits in the meat and insert fresh garlic slices. No technique or surgery required – just slit and insert. Next, you make a scrumptious marinade in one bowl. Pour it on your meat, and let it sit overnight. Grill and you are DONE! You will then be crowned King or Queen of the day as everyone will be thanking you.

Now where is my olive oil…

GRILLED BUTTERFLIED LEG OF LAMB

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 30-35 minutes

Serves: up to about 8

Ingredients:

5-6 lb Leg of Lamb – boned and butterflied – fat trimmed

4 fresh cloves garlic – slice thinly

MARINADE:

3/4 c. olive oil

3 additional fresh garlic cloves – chopped finely

1/2 c. Country Dijon Mustard

1/2 c. red wine (Cabernet is good here)

Juice of 1/2 of a Fresh Lemon

2 Tbsp. Fresh Rosemary – chopped

1 Tbsp Fresh Thyme leaves – chopped

1 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley – chopped (Italian Flat Leaf always preferable)

2 Tsp. Fresh Mint Leaves – chopped

1 Tsp Kosher Salt (or to taste)

Freshly ground black pepper – to taste

Instructions:

Cut small slits in both sides of the lamb and slip a slice of garlic in each slit. Set meat aside.

Lamb_02Lamb_03

Make the marinade by putting all remaining ingredients in a bowl and whisk well so all are incorporated. The result will be a beautiful deep raspberry colored marinade.

Lamb_01

Put 1/2 the marinade in a large baking dish.

Lamb_04

Place the lamb into the dish.

Lamb_05

Pour the remaining marinade over the top of the lamb.

Lamb_06Lamb_07

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

The next day take the meat out of the refrigerator and let sit out on the counter about an hour before grilling to bring down to room temperature.

Fire up the grill to very hot and place the lamb on the grill.

Lamb_08

Sear both sides on high heat 3-4 minutes. You might even want to close the cover to do this. Then lower your heat and let each side cook about 15 minutes. If using a charcoal grill, just move the meat to a part of the grill that is getting less intense heat. Now, this cook time will vary depending upon how hot your grill is – how thick your meat is – how done you prefer it. So, be vigilant, and keep an eye on this little fella. When ready, it should be pink in the middle. Lamb is best served medium rare to rare. To overcook it or dry it out is a waste of great lamb in my book. Hockey pucks are best kept on the ice and not served to your guests. Some thinner parts of the lamb will cook faster and be more done. You’ll see from the photos that I like my lamb on the rare side. My best advice here is to watch the meat, and be the judge according to how you like it. If you use a meat thermometer – 140 is a good gauge.

1303_Easter 2019_005

The next step is VERY IMPORTANT! After removing the meat from the grill, let it rest for 15 minutes. It will continue to cook a little during this time and should be just perfect after resting. After this little nap, you can then slice it. This process will keep the meat moist as it retains the juices.

Slice the meat against the grain, and garnish with Fresh Basil or Fresh Mint if you like. Drizzle with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I especially like Olio Carli Extra Virgin Olive Oil. The flavor is sweet and memorable.

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Vino: As for wine pairing: I like a good Cabernet Sauvignon with the lamb. You might also like a Barbaresco. I like the fuller bodied reds with my lamb. I know that some recommend something lighter with milk-fed lamb or spring lamb like Zinfandel or Pinot Noir, but they are a little light for my taste here. It is always a preference and personal. But…No Surprise – You really can’t go wrong with a nice Cab!

So, share my excitement. Fire up that grill, uncork a good one, and you won’t be Cryin! Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lambwhat a great presentation!

PARLA COME MANGI!

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January: Stuffed Shrimp

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I like to serve my Stuffed Shrimp with Lemon Pasta, a green salad, and a Crisp Orvieto Classico. It has enough star power to serve as an entree serving four, but also is light enough to tease as an appetizer serving eight.

1 1/4 lb Large Shrimp, peeled, cleaned and butterflied – see photo (at least 10-15 count)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon juice (Meyer if available)
2 Tsp Limoncello
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper – about 3 twists of the grinder

Butterfly shrimp: take a sharp knife and carefully cut up the back where you have removed the vein about halfway – open the top of the shrimp with your fingers and place in oiled baking dish. See below:

Butterflied Shrimp

Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the fresh lemon juice, and Limoncello. Sprinkle the shrimp with the Kosher salt and pepper. Set aside while stuffing is made.

STUFFING

2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cloves finely chopped garlic
1/2 Sweet onion chopped
1/2 c. Fennel chopped
Juice of 1/2 Lemon (Meyer if available)
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper – about 4 twists
Dash of Red Pepper Flakes

2 Cups Fresh White Breadcrumbs – preferably Italian Bread
1/4 c. Fresh Basil chopped
3 Tbsp. Fresh Flat Leaf Italian parsley
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 c. Toasted Pignolis (pine nuts)
2 Tbsp. Limoncello

2 Tbsp Butter in small bits
Chopped Fresh Italian Flat Leaf Parsley for garnish
Small Drizzle Limoncello if you like

In Olive Oil, saute garlic, onion, fennel for a few minutes on Medium heat just until tender. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and cook one minute more and remove from heat.

Add this vegetable mixture to the fresh bread crumbs, basil and parsley. Mix together and then add the Parmigiano and Toasted Pignolis. Mix again and add the Limoncello. Stir again.

Distribute the stuffing loosely over the top of the shrimp completely covering. I find that my clean hands rather than a spoon achieves a better result. Sprinkle the parley over the top, followed by the bits of butter dotting the top. One last SMALL drizzle of Limoncello if you like completes this lovely dish.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. Top should be golden.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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November: Gorgonzola Sauce

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Recipe of the Month — November 2010

Makes enough Gorgonzola Sauce for 2 lb gnocchi (or pasta). If left over, it’s great on chicken or save it for another pasta meal! Gnocchi are available to purchase at specialty food stores and most grocery stores now. Subscribe to my blog and check out my homemade gnocchi recipe with step by step instructions.

GORGONZOLA SAUCE

Fry 1/4 lb pancetta chopped into small bits. Drain and set aside. 3 tbsp. butter 1 large clove garlic chopped finely 3 tbsp. flour 1/4 c. white wine 1 1/2 c. heavy cream warmed 4 oz Gorgonzola Dolce broken into bits ( The Dolce makes for a milder creamier sauce .) 1/4 tsp Kosher salt Freshly Ground black pepper to taste Chopped Fresh Basil for garnish. Melt butter in saucepan and add chopped garlic. Cook for about a minute. And add flour and saute in butter for a couple of min. to cook the flour a little. With heat at medium add white wine and stir for about 3 minutes.   Then add the warmed cream and stir constantly until smooth and flour is cooked in and has disappeared (about 3-4 min).  Add Gorgonzola and stir until until Gorgonzola has melted into sauce.  Add salt and black pepper to taste. Thin with a little cream or milk if sauce becomes too thick.  Pour over prepared gnocchi and sprinkle the crispy pancetta over the top. Garnish with chopped fresh basil.

PARLA COME MANGI!

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Makes Me Want To Cluck!

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THE ROASTED CHICKEN THING –

Buon giorno!

Don’t know about you, but every year when the weather changes and heads down the Autumn Road to Winter, I get this craving – hankering – whatever – for Roasted Chicken. Just “got to have it”! This is one of those times when I indulge my desire to salute the new season with a naked bird stuffed with something ambrosial from nature’s garden. I feel that first cold wind and see the leaves turning those beautiful earthy colors, and I long for a fire in the fireplace, a glass of good wine, and those appetite teasing aromatics from the oven when a well seasoned chicken is roasting there. So it is that we begin our adventure to satisfy my annual fall yearning with Roasted Chicken with Orange, Fennel, and Orange Pesto!

 Today my musings take us to the Grosseto area of Tuscany, an area rich in great recipes for roasted meats and poultry. Cooks from this area are known for their use of fennel seed with their Roasted Chickens particularly rubbed under the skin. I am such a fan of fresh fennel that I thought I might use it instead of the fennel seed. There is something about the power of that sweet anise aroma that seduces my senses when it permeates the house as it cooks. Yes, THAT and an orange just might do it!

To serve this lovely bird, I recommend making my easy and very fresh Orange Pesto that makes eating Roasted Chicken a new and more flavorful experience that will ZAP the tastebuds! Pestos, which are mainly Genovese (from Genoa) in origin, are vibrant in color and inherently full of fresh flavors. This pesto, with its sweet essence of orange, gets an added dash of excitement with a touch of Orangecello. The Orangecello is optional in both the chicken and the pesto and can be omitted if you like and substituted with orange juice. I like to use these sweet syrupy Italian liqueurs, like Orangecello as much as possible, as they add a subtle kick to the flavor of whatever you are cooking. In addition to the element of surprise with the addition of orange, this pesto can be used with so many other dishes. I plan to introduce other recipes later on, which will refer back to this particular pesto and offer new ideas to use it. Some of these dishes are meatless which will be of interest to my Vegetarian readers!

Now for the bird!!

ROASTED CHICKEN WITH ORANGE AND FENNEL

4-5 lb chicken (rinsed well inside and out and patted dry)

3 cloves garlic

1 Fennel Bulb

6 sprigs Fresh Tarragon

1 Orange

1/4 c. Olive Oil

1/4 c. Orangecello (or substitute orange juice)

Kosher Salt

Black Pepper – freshly ground

Place the chicken in baking pan. I always line with foil for easy clean up. Rub the chicken all over with 1 clove garlic – split in half. When finished, throw this garlic in the chicken cavity along with the other 2 cloves . Sprinkle a little Kosher Salt inside the cavity also.

Fennel: See photos for the ”step by step” on this. Slice off the stems and the hard bottom.

Cut the bulb vertically (lengthwise) into wedges, (You would slice the fennel crosswise for salads etc.) and remove center core.

Take a couple of the stems and lay them next to the chicken on either side in the pan. I am always tempted to take a bite out of the fennel while I am preparing it because it smells sooo good.

Stuff 3 sprigs of Tarragon inside the chicken and lay the remaining 3 on top of the bird.

Tuck the fennel wedges inside the cavity.

Cut the orange into wedges with skins on and stuff inside the chicken.

Drizzle olive oil on top of chicken and follow with a drizzle of the Orangecello or Orange Juice. Sprinkle a little Kosher Salt and fresh black pepper on the chicken.

Get ready for your home to fill with the intense aroma of fennel, orange, and tarragon! MMMMM!

Roast chicken at 400 degrees for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours til done. If chicken starts to brown too fast towards the end, you can tent it with foil. When done take the chicken out of the oven and immediately Tent it for 20 minutes. This is important as the chicken will continue to cook during this time and should bring it up to proper eating temperature. I take mine out when the temp. reads about 145.

Now for the pesto! This is EASY!

ORANGE PESTO

1 fresh garlic clove, quartered

Zest of 1 Orange

1/2 c. Toasted Walnuts

2 c. Fresh Basil

3/4 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Salt and Pepper to taste

1 Tbsp Orangecello (can substitute orange juice for this)

2 Tbsp Orange Juice (use the orange you used for zesting – the juice is better fresh)

1/2 c. + 2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Put all of the above ingredients in a blender and process until smooth and bright green.

It will smell fresh and wonderful! If dry, you can add another Tbsp Olive Oil. Check for seasoning at the end. You will love this part as the fresh flavors burst on your tongue!

Slice the chicken and spoon the Orange Pesto over it and serve warm or cold! It is so delicious and the brilliant color is so attractive on the plate. Troppo Bella!

This Orange Pesto is also delicious on Grilled Sea Bass or Branzino, over a vegetable, or pasta!

I like a crisp Pinot Grigio with this or even Prosecco: Rustico would be my choice!

PARLA COME MANGI!

**Also: See the November RECIPE OF THE MONTH on LINDA’S ITALIAN TABLE !

Food Photos by Tommy Hanks Photography

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October: Sausage and Figs

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Recipe of the Month — October 2010

(SALSICCIA SALTATA E FICHI)

I call this a Hunter’s Dish as it reminds me of game dishes my father used to make with the quail, rabbit and duck that he would hunt and then prepare for us “agrodolce” or sweet and sour. The dishes always contained some kind of fruit. He surely would give a special nod to our use of his beloved figs in this dish.

2 cloves garlic finely chopped
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Medium Purple Onion cut into 1 in. pieces
1 c. wild mushrooms assorted
1 1/2 lb Italian Sausage browned separately and sliced ( duck or lamb sausage is good also)
1 tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves
1/2 c. red wine (preferably what you will be drinking with meal)
2 Medium-Large Yukon Gold Potatoes – Cooked- skins on and cut into 1 1/2 in. pieces
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to taste
8 oz. Fresh Figs quartered  (about 8)
1 1/2 Tbsp. Fig Preserves
1 1/2 Tbsp Fig Vinegar

PREPARATION
Sauté garlic and onion in oil about 5 min. Add mushrooms and cook on med. heat for about 5 min. Add sausage and thyme – then add red wine and cook down on Med. High for about 5 min. Lower heat to Medium and add preserves and vinegar and cook about 2 min. Add potatoes and toss to coat all.  Season all with Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and stir. Add figs just before serving and toss to coat.
I like to serve this with a crusty bread and a good Barbaresco which stands up to the hearty and earthy nature of the sausage and mushrooms.

Serves 4.

TROPPO BELLA!

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