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Kevin72

The Cooking and Cuisine of Basilicata and Calabria

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Franci, that is a lovely blog. So the 'tool' is only used to make an impression on the dough, right? I love these old 'tools'!

Mr Big: I went looking thru my books and I can't even find polenta and Basilicata in the same recipe. I'll keep looking. How did yours turn out? I'd cook the elements separately and then unite them for serving. (my english is starting to sound like my bad Italian! sorry!) But according to my Basilicata book, almost every single recipes calls for pepperoncino, so go for it!

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Saturday, I recreated one of my favorite meals from my 2005 cooking project.

First I started with a new appetizer. Ever since our Central Market started making and selling its own mozzarella, I can't get enough of it. So I did and antipasto of mozzarella with marinated grilled striped bass:

gallery_19696_582_78814.jpg

I wanted a strong, oily fish to contrast with the mild mozarella, but no dice at the fish counter. Not too bad, however.

Then we had bucatini with chili paste:

gallery_19696_582_38862.jpg

This had a long, slow heat build to it. Didn't seem hot at first, but you got a whallop a few seconds later.

We then had homemade grilled "lucania" style sausage and potatoes with spicy mushrooms:

gallery_19696_582_133576.jpg

Bah, I should've gotten a picture of it in one nice long coil before I cooked it off.

I used de Blasi's recipe, which calls for garlic, ginger, and chilies. Even though I used three Arbol chiles, the heat wasn't as pronounced as I was briefly worried it would be.

To cool the palate after the meal, orange and mint granita.

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Great meal, Kevin. That chili bucatini was one of my favorite drool pastas from your 2005 thread. Thanks for reminding me of it. What are the long skinny bits that are in with those beautiful mushrooms?

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Mr Big: I went looking thru my books and I can't even find polenta and Basilicata in the same recipe. I'll keep looking.

well, all i needed to do was come to work and look in my browser history.

turns out it was calabrian. or at least that's what the site said it was -- i don't know how reputable this site is. here's the recipe.

(edited to add: that photo is kind of disturbing, which is kind of why i wanted to make it)

How did yours turn out?  I'd cook the elements separately and then unite them for serving.  (my english is starting to sound like my bad Italian! sorry!) But according to my Basilicata book, almost every single recipes calls for pepperoncino, so go for it!

i did cook the elements separately. grilled the sausages, made polenta, sauteed rapini with chilis and garlic. i made a chili garlic paste as well from some recipe i found, but the ratio of oil to chilis and garlic was too high, and it was just enough to be too little for the stick blender, but too big for my mortar and pestle. so it was a little chunky. tasted good though.

(the sausages were from martin's meats in the reading terminal market. they're great)


Edited by mrbigjas (log)

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What are the long skinny bits that are in with those beautiful mushrooms?

Thanks for the compliments. The skinny things are another kind of mushroom, but I can't remember what their name is. They are all attached together at the base and then you lop that part off and separate them. They stay chewy despite the long cooking time.

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Beautiful meal Kevin! Oh, and does this mean that granita season is officially open? Mint and orange....mmmm......

Mr. Big: that recipe looks good to me, but I think I would like the way that you made it. I like it when the elements retain their individual flavors instead of all melding together. And, of course, there was that bit about resting the polenta for 15 minutes on a board....

This was lunch today, and I thought it had all the elements of Basilica-Calabria:

small pieces of meat: oxtail

olives, chili peppers, parsley

dried pasta made with hard, durum wheat

gallery_14010_2363_138715.jpg

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Fantastic information so far. I'd say this series is coming to a close with a bang!

Thanks for the MArio link Pontormo. I had not seen it before.

Chufi-

This honestly is the best looking eggplant parm dish I have ever seen. Very nice.

Kevin-

Your dinner looks excellent as well. Especially the Bucatini. So you like CM's own mozzarella? I have not tried it. Ever since starting to work in downtown, CM is so out of my way...:sad:.

Final note. I am glad someone clarified what the hell Lucania is. In Ada Boni she also lumps Calabria and Lucania to gether and I was planning on googling that name.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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What are the long skinny bits that are in with those beautiful mushrooms?

Thanks for the compliments. The skinny things are another kind of mushroom, but I can't remember what their name is. They are all attached together at the base and then you lop that part off and separate them. They stay chewy despite the long cooking time.

Enoki Mushrooms if I am not mistaken. Click Here.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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can any of you help me?  the other day i was looking through the interwebs for basilicata recipes, and i found one for green polenta, where somehow the polenta was cooked with broccoli rabe, and then served with grilled lucanica sausages.  well, i have polenta, i have broccoli rabe, i have the local version of lucanica sausage... and i just spent like 20 minutes googling for that damn recipe and i can't find it. 

I believe you, honest, but no, I haven't come across many references to polenta for the region, just one for a simple recipe (in Italian) with tomatoes, no picture.

As Franci knows from direct experience, Puglia and Basilicata share many culinary traditions, so the broccoli rabe makes sense. However, I have seen lots of recipes that call for grana (translated as "wheat berries" sometimes, though one site refers to farro. I dimly recall someone once saying "grana" is "grana" and not quite the wheat berries found in the States...) to be served with a ragu or lamb or sausage...

* * *

I promised to add links last week, but never completed a categorized compilation of recipe titles and synthesis of information. (Ludja's neat lists are extremely useful.) I won't bother since so much information has been posted thus far. Thank you, Franci, especially! So good to hear from you again!

Once I catch up with recent posts here, I will simply provide links with minimal commentary.

And, yes, Elie, I agree. Maybe it's the long delay of the growing season this year and the fact that it is now fully underway. Maybe it's the great weather or premature nostalgia now that the regional cooking threads are drawing to a close, but this thread seems to have energized us.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Mrbigjas: Okay, I see you solved your own mystery.

Kevin: the plate of sausage, potatoes and mushrooms :wub:

What kind of chilis did you use?

Judith: Same question. (I like the "little meat" as a conceptual link to these two Southern Italian regions.)

There are a couple of Italian-American grocers in the area I've never gotten around to visiting since they don't supply the exotic ingredients we've been after. However, now's a good time to look for alternative, local sausage. I don't think I've seen extensive coils. As for the sausages from Basilicata that are said to prized beyond the boundaries of the region, it's interesting to see that one of the two major types is seasoned with the fennel seed and red chili flakes that Americans expect when they buy Italian sausage. They are then aged for nearly a month, according to this site which lists the "typical" products associated with Basilicata, including those classified as DOP and IGP.

Regarding DOP & IGP, apparently, we English-speakers switch the letters of the acronyms around. Here's a good, brief explanation that distinguishes between the two designations: click.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Kevin-

Your dinner looks excellent as well. Especially the Bucatini. So you like CM's own mozzarella? I have not tried it. Ever since starting to work in downtown, CM is so out of my way...:sad:.

This may be unique to our CM. There's the one kind they make, in the plastic tub with liquid in the cheese section. But last summer they brought some Italian guy in to make it at some little display for guests on the weekends. He must've trained the rest of their staff because now they have it done daily. It's that much better than the other kind.

Hey, at least you can bury your misery at Spec's on the way home!

Enoki Mushrooms if I am not mistaken. Click Here.

They aren't enoki. Too big.

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I went to my big Culinaria book: "Specialita` d'Italia. Le Regioni in Cucina" to see what they say about "Lucanica"

Here's my very rough translation:

Typical Lucanica sausages come in two basic varieties: both use choice pieces of pork, fillets and leg or haunch meat. One type of sausage calls for the removal of all fat and nerves and is seasoned with salt, pepper and fennel seeds. The other type requires the addition of pork fat, and then is seasoned with salt, pepper, pepperoncino and fennel seeds.

Then there is a long passage about the origin of the long, coiled sausage. Those in Basilicata claim it was their invention, but the Lombardia also claim it and claim that the recipe was a gift from Teodolinda in the VII century to the people of Basilicata. But the people from the Veneto say that's not true, they invented sausages. And finally there is a Latin passage from a contemporary of Cicero: "Lucania a lucanis populis a quibus romani milites primum didicerunt". And all I can get from that is the comon name of Lucania come from Lucanis. So, there you have it. A nice, neat, clear explanation of why long, coiled fresh sausages have fennel seeds are called Lucanica.

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BASILICATA

Before listing internet sites, I have to say that I'm more of a fan of Fred Plotkin's understated enthusiasm than rhapsodic prose, Mike :wink:. My copy of Italy for the Gourmet Traveler is of the first edition, so readers new to this forum should note there is another thread in this forum that announces a newly revised edition that I'll just have to wait and see if Amazon's pixies emphatically underscore to link pinkly. The other night, I consulted it as bedtime reading and found the description of Basilicata a little less than soporific: thrilling, even. The stuff of nightmares:

Matera is like no other city you will ever see.  The center of the city is a giant bowl surrounded by a newer city.  This 'bowl' is made of soft rock in which caves (called sassi)* were hollowed out centuries ago and used for habitation...connected by narrow paths [to] form a labyrinth not unlike a Moroccan souk.  There are young boys whom you can (perhaps should) hire to lead you around, because it is very easy to get lost....You should not walk around the sassi at night, because you will never find your way out, and it can be rather frightening.

The author describes the pleasure of dining on a terrace overlooking the caves which include frescoed cells or churches as well as dwellings, occupied or not. However, he also maintains that the passeggiata--evening stroll or form of civic ritual--is the most magical in all of Italy, lasting for hours. Great way to prolong a meal, moving from bar to table and on to gelato.

*the word is also used for stones (pl.).

* * *

Italianmade has a good short list of 15 dishes, succinctly described with links to detailed information on DOP products, all in English. Most of these are stews or braises, though there are also calzones stuffed with greens, focaccia and a cheesecake made w prosciutto. (Use the link for Calabria and note on the the bottom, to the left a link to quizzes that test just how much you've learned by participating in these regional threads.)

Cucina Italiana has perhaps the best in-depth English survey on Basilicata, though if you scroll all the way down to the bottom, you'll find the sections devoted to two geographical areas somewhat repetitive. The long, unbroken paragraph does not inspire reading, and if it proves of interest to either you or me, I may post a synopsis later. My original post in this thread concerning baked eggplant drew primarily from the linked text. The site offers further recipes, but only in Italian.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Basilicata, continued:

Mangierebene offers a few recipes in English.

Here's Kyle Phillips of about.com (not his best section; the link provides richer material for Calabria).

Cavatelli are pictured here at The Italian taste as softened triangles more than cylinders. This recipe for the pasta is followed by one for cavatelli w turnip greens, a dish you'll find on many Web sites. Anyone know what is done with the turnip bulbs? The farmers markets around here have wonderful small, white turnips at this time of year.

I believe I've linked this genealogical site before: My Italian Family; there are four recipes.

Tangoitalia refers to the controversy over the regional origins of sausage that Hathor addresses. You can also find a recipe for preparing a baby goat's head.*

Here's Micol Negrin's Rustico with recipes and announcement of a cooking tour to Potenza and Matera in September.

Cookaround's recipes in Italian only. not so with Cibochepassione which includes pictures for the recipes in Italian, linked here. Translated into English, sans photos: here. N.B. The English text describing regions for these two sites is identical, I seem to recall.

Barilla lists local food festivals.

I noticed many recipes that called for these particular small, bitter onion found throughout Southern Italy: lampascioni.

Finally, the most interesting--or unexpected link I came across is a scientific paper on foraged greens in Basilicata. Here's the Journal of Ethnobiology & Ethnomedicine.

*I don't know about US regulations governing the slaughter of goats. However, sheep are vulnerable to a disease that is related to "Mad Cow" if something else entirely, according to the lamb specialists who sell at my farmers market. Thus, prohibitions at licensed facilities where saleable body parts are limited.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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As Franci knows from direct experience, Puglia and Basilicata share many culinary traditions, so the broccoli rabe makes sense.  However, I have seen lots of recipes that call for grana (translated as "wheat berries" sometimes, though one site refers to farro.  I dimly recall someone once saying "grana" is "grana" and not quite the wheat berries found in the States...) to be served with a ragu or lamb or sausage...

Grano is wheat berries. Yes, a ragu' with grano is cooked in the same way in Puglia too.

Grana means something different.

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Basilicata, continued:

Tangoitalia refers to the controversy over the regional origins of sausage that Hathor addresses.  You can also find a recipe for preparing a baby goat's head.*

This is another dish in common, here is how it is done

capuzzelle


Edited by Franci (log)

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My only defense, Franci, is solidarity:

I made some Ragu with pene

:blink::shock: ....Ah! Penne. And there I was thinking about Lorena Bobbit :biggrin: .

* * *

Tonight I prepared a Calabrese dinner, if in Italian-American fashion, i.e. without multiple courses. The following recipe was something I recalled while grocery shopping, so the main course was Costolette alla Calabrese with a few modifications. For example, chops browned first, two small bulbs of green garlic from the farmers market with scallion greens... I very much liked the green olives and the sauce in general as an accompaniment to the lamb, however, I think a few more adjustments might be made to the recipe to avoid cooking even thick lamb chops all the way through which is not my preference. Not dry, but.

Contorni were inspired in part by this blog by a transplanted American who plated salad next to potatoes that looked just right if not unique to Calabria. And while I found this recipe for asparagus, it didn't seem quite right, so I prepared some fresh fava beans simply, drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled on a little pecorino to complete the meal.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Pontormo, we've said it before, but your writeups need no pictures to make us see the food you make. The chops sound lovely. On the otherhand I overcompensate for my lack of prose with pictures.

Last night's very quick (not counting the ricotta I made the night before) Calabrian dinner:

Snacked on this while waiting for the pasta to cook, my interpretation of a Calabrian bruschetta. Well at least my slice was, topped with the excellent ricotta, tomatoes, herbs, capers, chile flakes and olive oil. My wife hates capers and does not eat spicy stuff.

gallery_5404_94_59520.jpg

Dinner was Maccheroni Alla Pastora in this case Penne. The recipe, so easy it should not be a recipe, is from Ada Boni's book. It can be done in the time it takes to boil the pasta. Just cook the pasta and toss it with a mixture of ricotta, homemade cooked sausage, salt and pepper.

gallery_5404_94_480502.jpg

gallery_5404_94_478271.jpg

Served it garniched with some more fresh tomatoes, basil, Pecorino and chile flakes

gallery_5404_94_78140.jpg

gallery_5404_94_114602.jpg

I think my pasta was a bit more heavy on the 'sauce' than it should be, but it was so creamy and delicious I did not mind...and it has no cream.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Elie: That looks delicious! Do you ever make ricotta with ewe's or goat's milk?

I hope you'll take Basilicata as a source of inspiration for your next batch of homemade sausage, though I guess fiery hot ones are out of the question.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Making it with Ewe's milk? sounds interesting if I have access to some I love to give it a shot. As for goat milk, that might be trickier to make. Making 'ricotta' like I do is based on curdling milk and if I am not mistaken goat milk does not curdle easily. That is why in many old middle eastern recipes (like Laban Ummo for example) goat yogurt is used for cooking...it needs no stabilizing agent like starch or egg albumin.


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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FoodMan, that is a very tasty looking pasta. It's also very unsual. I kept thinking about it today. You would need to have a really nice ricotta to use.

Interesting what you say about goat's milk not being able to easily curdle. I have been wanting to make your ricotta recipe using goat's milk. It sounds to me like the curdling issue might pose a problem...

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Shaya, Elie, I just found this: from Erica de Mane. She notes that in Campania, it's traditional to use the whey produced from making mozzarella di bufala. She finds a mixture of whole cow's milk and goat's milk (2:1) to produce something of the taste of Southern Italian ricotta. Perhaps the smaller amount of goat's milk makes the process feasilbe.

I asked because the name of the pasta dish reminded of Hathor's rhapsodic posts about ricotta produced with sheep's milk.

* * *

P.S. Someone in the Dinner Thread recently contributed a Calabrian dish (Seagal, I think).


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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At least I'm consistent.... I'm still waxing rhapsodic about sheep's milk ricotta. :laugh:

Elie, that pasta with ricotta looks like something that I would really enjoy. It has all the elements, sausage, ricotta, ease and speed!

Pontormo: are costolete ribs or chops? I thought they were ribs, but it might depend on which part of Italy you come from. I love the sound of your fave beans, that is something else that I can't get enough of. Little pecorino, little olive oil, and all is right with the world.

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Pontormo: are costolete ribs or chops? I thought they were ribs, but it might depend on which part of Italy  you come from.

Ahhhhh! That explains a lot since I don't buy lamb very often. I had simply remembered "lamb chops" from about.com while shopping and picked some up since they were on sale. I wondered a bit about the word "cutlet" that appears later in a recipe called "Lamb Chops Calabrian Style" and does not specify which kind of chop to buy--just "bone in". I even did a google image search at one point when the 15-minute braise seemed a bit odd.

* * *

ETA: I just figured out that I purchased loin chops.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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