Thursday, January 29, 2009

Trippa alla Romana

As Pierino likes to point out, honeycomb tripe is the second stomach of "your favorite ruminant." And it tastes good so why not eat more of it? Marcella Hazan had this to say on the subject:

“At one time tripe was so popular that restaurants used to specialize in it, preparing it in a score of different ways. One of reasons it has become such a rare item may be that people no longer know how to prepare it. When you know how to go about it, tripe rewards you with tenderness so succulent, and a fragrance so appetizing, that more expensive cuts of meat cannot match.” ----ESSENTIALS OF CLASSIC ITALIAN COOKING

While Pierino has been off on one of his visits to Purgatory---he seems to like it there. Apparently they have a bootleg satellite set up so he is able catch the Italian football---Pasquino has been doing the cooking. This time it's a Roman classic.

Trippa alla Romana includes a number of favorite Roman flavors: celery (lots), hot pepper, mint, pecorino and parmigiano, and of course "trippa."

Because it's Roma there is plenty to argue about. But the basic recipe goes like this: take one to two pounds of honeycomb tripe, rinse it off and cut it into strips about 3" long. Cover it in cold water and simmer for about 2 hours. Meanwhile saute some chopped onion, some whole cloves of garlic lightly smacked, and some chopped celery in olive oil. Have that ready for when your tripe has finished its initial cooking.

To your soffrito of onion, celery etc add one or two dried red peppers or hot chili flakes to your liking. Add the drained trippa and raise the heat to medium. Add one cup of tomato sauce along with any leftover celery leaves. Partially cover and cook until tender. Grate equal amounts of pecorino romano and parmigiano cheese into a bowl. To the cheeses now add a lot of chopped mint and mix thoroughly.

Serve your tripe in bowls and finish each portion with a generous amount of cheese and mint.

Pasquino purchased 1 pound of tripe for about $3.00. And Roma beat Palermo 1-2 upon the return of Totti to the starting team.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

il poeta e il diavolo e il pollo, Part Two

Pierino woke up with the blessing of beautifully smoke flavored leftovers from his wood roasted chicken. What to do?

One solution was to think about the oak wood flavor that still lingered in the chicken flesh. We went with our Tortilla Flats Enchilada Pie. Simple.

Buy a bag of corn tortillas, one ten ounce can of red enchilada sauce (Las Palmas is pretty easy to find),gruyere or jack cheese shredded on a box grater, red onion chopped. You are in business.

Begin by pulling off nice pieces of meat from the chicken carcass---still carrying its smokey residue. Shred by hand and set aside in a bowl. Into another bowl pour the enchilada sauce. Have an oven ready deep cooking dish handy.

Take a tortilla and drag it through the sauce and place it in your cooking dish. Add chicken, cheese a bit of onion and repeat until the dish is full or you run out of either chicken or tortillas. Pour over any remaining sauce. Top with more chopped onion. That jar of Spanish pimento stuffed olives that has been lurking the refrigerator comes in handy now. Slice them across the equator and scatter over the top.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Optional garnish could be chopped cilantro or sliced, grilled scallions.

Pierino is missing Pasquino's trippa alla romana but he'll have to tell you about it.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

il poeta e il diavolo e il pollo, Part One

Pierino is still in seclusion reading the poet and thinking---about how Roma will finish in the Champions League. From his seasonably warm location on Wednesday he did watch AS Roma defeat Sampdoria 2-0 in a make up game.

During the afternoon Pierino grilled a whole, spatchocked chicken over a wood fire. First Pierino cut out the back bone and saved it for stock. He also saved that little package of inards. This is basic Roman il diavolo cooking. Pierino placed his chicken in a large zip-lock bag; but before doing so he rubbed the chicken all over with olive oil, coarse salt and coarsely ground black pepper. Into the bag he added the juice of four Meyer lemons. That went into the refrigerator (il frigerifero)for 2 1/2 hours.

Outside, over a wood charcoal fire Pierino grilled and roasted his whole bird. It came out beautifully with enough leftovers for la cucina recessionista.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rapini with Penne

This is less recipe than a lesson in frugal cooking. It wasn't so very long ago that the only form of "broccoli" you could find in the market had fat woody stems and smelled like sulphur when you cooked it.

In Italy the term "broccoli" covers a multitude of sins---but also varieties, especially in the south. Today broccoli rabe/rapini is readily available. Pasquino and his nephew suggest you try this sometime. Typically a dish like this would be made with orecchiette (little ears) but most short pasta forms such as mezze penne will work.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Trim the rapini and when the water is boiling add a handful of salt and plunge the rapini into the pot. Meanwhile have a large bowl of cold water standing by. After about a minute remove the broccoli rabe from the pot and plunge it in the water to shock it and set the color. Wrap it in towels to dry. SAVE THE WATER YOU'VE BLANCHED THE RAPINI IN.

Take one or two links of hot Italian sausage and remove the sausage from casing and break it into pieces. In a fairly deep 12" pan heat a thin layer of olive oil.Add the sausage to brown, add some chopped garlic to color.

In the same water in which you cooked the broccoli rabe (it should be nice and green)cook your pasta for maybe 9 minutes. Meanwhile add a good splash of red wine to the pan in which you have cooked the pasta and reduce until it almost disappears. Using a long slotted spoon, or ideally a Chinese wire "spider" scoop the pasta and add directly to the pan with the sausage. Add perhaps a splash or two of the water the pasta was cooked in and taste the pasta. If it's ready, season with salt and pepper and a most generous grating of pecorino cheese.

Serve with crusty bread.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Zio Pasquino

Pierino had to take some down time but welcomes his uncle Pasquino to take his place. Pasquino is an authenic romanaccio whose name comes from the talking statue near Piazza Bramante. The word "pasquinade" is derived from the snarky invectives against authority posted on the statue. It has a venerable history in Roma going back to the 17th century.

A pasquinade from Hitler's visit to Mussolini

"Povera Roma mia de travertino!
T'hanno vestita tutta de cartone
pè fatte rimirà da 'n'imbianchino
tuo prossimo padrone."

Zio Pasquino felt that his beloved nephew was straying too far from Roma, and cooking fancy French and American dishes. So Pierino will be away for awhile reading the "Purgatorio".

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Blog in Black

Remembering Glenn Goldman

Friday, January 2, 2009

Pierino's New Year's Resolution

2008 for Pierino was a year of wandering or wobbling around trying out everything from any cuisine that caught his eye like a shiny toy in front of a child. Going back to basics and fairly massive historical research we produced a Hoppin John for New Years Day that was completely traditional but a bit too earthy and not for the contemporary palate. Sometimes history gets in the way.

So our resolution is that for 2009 we will be continuing basics but cooking the things that we are already best at and understand well, regional italian, tapas style Spanish, and Southern French (sort of). Stick to what you know. We will still do some wild experiments but you won't hear about 'em. Much.

Buon Anno