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Cooking and Cuisine of Piemonte and Val d'Aosta


Kevin72
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Thanks to Alberto for the thread change, and thanks to everyone for their input on taking this project in new directions.

Minor point of clarification: the next thread for February will be "The Cooking and Cuisine of Lombardia". Let's also get the region for March sealed over in the next week, also.

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Without wanting to put my weight as a moderator behind one region or the other, I have to say that personally I prefer Friuli. It might be a great choice to experience how eclectic Italian regional cuisine can be and how "foreign" culinary influences have been assimilated into a region's cuisine.

Both Friuli and Trentino show a strong Venetian influence in their culinary tradition, but they are also quite different. Friuli is a mix of alpine cuisine, Mediterranean coastal cuisine, with Austrian and Slavic influences playing a big role. Trentino (especially when taken with Sudtirol) has two of these elements (alpine and Austrian), plus some very unique cooking from the local Ladino speaking community, but lacks a coast and a border to a Slavic-language speaking land.

Il Forno: eating, drinking, baking... mostly side effect free. Italian food from an Italian kitchen.
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My final meal from Piemonte: I prepared just three simple dishes, again from Matt Kramer's book. I was too tired to take photos last night, so the photos are actually of my leftovers for lunch today, re-heated and tarted up for the camera. The only antipasto was just some homemade bread with a bit of olive oil and garlic. For the primi, I was enticed by Pontormo into preparing the Stradette (cornmeal pasta) with Sugo di Porri (Leek Sauce). I had thought that the pasta would be difficult to handle because of the conrmeal, but in fact it held together well and had less tendency to stick to itself than other pastas that I've made. I couldn't get the dough any thinner than #5 on my pasta machine because of the coarseness of the cornmeal. Here's the uncut pasta sheet:

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Here are the noodles with the creamy leek sauce:

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The noodles had a rustic texture and a nice "bite" to them. The leek sauce was wonderfully subtle and creamy.

The main course and two sides consisted of Faraona in Cartoccio (guinea in an envelope) with its stuffing and Risotto with sweet red peppers and prosciutto.

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The guinea is stuffed with a ground mixture of its own liver, heart and gizzard, along with pancetta, one garlic clove and a little dried hot pepper. Then the whole bird is placed in a packet of foil (traditionally parchement was used) and roasted at fairly high heat for one and a half hours. The bird turned out to be perfectly cooked. It was very juicy, even though about a cup of liquid had collected in the foil packet. The flavor of the garlic from the stuffing permeated the flesh. If I were to serve this to guests, I would take the added step of unwrapping the bird and roasting it in the oven for a few minutes to crisp the skin and give it some color.

I really liked the contrast of the soft, sweet peppers with the prosciutto in the risotto. It's now my new "favorite" recipe for risotto.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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Great looking meal April. Is the Stradette a blend of corn and wheat flour? If so what is the ratio and how course of a cornmeal did you use. I am unfamiliar with this pasta but corn and leeks go great together so I will have to try this in the future.

Kevin- Nice final write-up on your thread, who makes the cotechino you use. I have seen a Molinari product in my area but have not tried it yet. If you have extra Mostarda sitting in your cupboard I have a recipe for squash/mostarda cappellacci from Cremona if you want to use it in the Lombardy section.

I think that is the kind of cheating we all aprove of Marco_Polo, except for your crazy use of multiple herbs :laugh:

I maintain my minority vote for Trentino/AltoAdige next.

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Great looking meal April.  Is the Stradette a blend of corn and wheat flour?  If so what is the ratio and how course of a cornmeal did you use.  I am unfamiliar with this pasta but corn and leeks go great together so I will have to try this in the future.

The stradette had of 2/3c white flour and 1/3c cornmeal. I used Hodgeson Mill cornmeal, which is fairly fine, but has coarser bits mixed into it. The lighter sections on the pasta sheet in the first photo are larger chunks of corn. I don't know how traditonal the flour ratio is for this recipe. I want to try using more cornmeal next time, to see how it comes out.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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I attempted a similar dish to the stradette one time using a high percentage of cornmeal in the mix and they came out very fragile, even though it was a fine cornmeal as well. I had to cut them into short, wide noodles instead of long thin ones to get them to work. Then I sauced them with a spicy boar ragu. Good stuff.

The meal looks great. Again, it's so great to have this collaborative effort going because other posters invariably get to recipes that catch my eye but I didn't have time to try--the guinea hen, in this case. Wonder if salt-crusting would work as well?

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Kevin- Nice final write-up on your thread, who makes the cotechino you use.  I have seen a Molinari product in my area but have not tried it yet.  If you have extra Mostarda sitting in your cupboard I have a recipe for squash/mostarda cappellacci from Cremona if you want to use it in the Lombardy section. 

Thanks. I have an unbelievable amount of my homemade mostarda left from Emilia Romagna; hopefully that stuff keeps a while. I didn't get the brand of cotechino I use but it's got to be some industrial maker like Molinari, I'm sure. Good stuff; you should check it out soon.

I maintain my minority vote for Trentino/AltoAdige next.

What about another combo region? There's a number of similar recipes between the two. Doing twofers each month isn't something I want to trap us in; however, I'm worried that there may not be enough out there on T-A-A to sustain a whole month's worth of cooking and it may feel a bit redundant with Friuli, or vice versa.

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Goodnight Piemonte/Val d'Aosta.

As Kevin mentions in his section on these regions, Piemonte is the traditional home of Vermouth with Carpano being a leader there. This bottle is their Antica Formula which is supposed to represent the way vermouth used to taste. Stronger spice/herbal notes with a touch of bitterness and less sweet than the MartiniRossi I have on hand. And in a perfect transition to next month they are now owned by Fernet who, I think, are headquartered in Milan.

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I've actually been eating semi-Piemonte food for the last couple of days. Dinner has consisted of non-Piemonte canneloni stuffed with my leftover agnolotti stuffing and topped with balsimella. On the side I gratineed my leftover sformatto with olive oil and parmigiano. Lunch has been very tasty truffled pork sandwiches.

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Fellow eG'er Swiss_Chef had a number of interesting threads posted on his experiences in Piemonte this past month:

Grasping Grappa

Continued Cooking and Eating in the Piemonte

Changing Times in the Piemonte

Returning to Piemonte

Hi Guys,

I would have loved to contribute to this thread but I found myself with a 36k dial-up connection in Italy and it took me 20 minutes just to read a few e-mails so reading and posting here was out of the question. I did manage to write a few articles which I have posted. I hope you enjoy them. As it happens, we found ourselves in love with the Piemonte and a couple of days ago we bought a little house in Zanco near Asti so you will hear more from me on the subject of Piemonte. By the way, once we have it restored, our doors are open at "Casetta Lumaca" (it means "snail house", in honor of the slowfood mascot) and you are all welcome to stop by for a bite and a sip.

Ed

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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Complimenti on the new casa! And may you have lots and lots of patience during the restoration/renovation!

I'm just catching up on all the good stuff I missed while I was away from the internet. Beautiful, beautiful food...just amazing.

Makes a girl mighty hungry.....

Sorry to be away so long and miss all the organizational stuff, but obviously everything is completely under control.

See you'all in Lombardia.

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As I looked at the recipe though, it calls for cooked salami.  I am familiar with cotto and crudo in hams but have not seen this term applied to salami.  Anyone know the scoop?  I used a sopressata from Molinari which my butcher carries. 

Sorry, I am playing catch-up now that I have broad band....

Salami cotto is moister and cheaper than normal salami. The flavor is very mild. I bought some for the first time in a little shop in San Martino Alfieri. Paid about 9 euros a kilo. We ate some as an anti-pasti and even used it on a pizza.

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Foodman, all of your dishes looks really tasty!

I did agnolotti del "plin" this sunday. I had some wonderful agnolotti at the Osteria dell'Arco in Alba a couple of years ago and now was the time to have a try on these small meat-stuffed ravioli.

Agnolotti comes with many different types of filling, but most contains some combinations of leftover brasised or roasted meats. Most common are combinations of roasted veal and pork shoulder, sometimes sausage meat, rabbit or even chicken are also used. ]

The butcher (OK mart) in Villa San Secondo just north of Asti is famous for his agnolotti. We have tried about seven or eight different agnolotti from artisanal producers and his are by far the best. Not cheap but very good. His are mostly meat almost no filler.

Edit: By the way, if you go there, he only makes it on thursday when he is closed and sells it on friday, but get there early because he sells out fast. You can also order it in advance to be sure you get some.

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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The carbonada that I made last week was similar, and rather pricey, as I used dried beef and a nice Barbera.  So for the brasato, I used chuck roast and cheap cabernet that I'd purchased awhile ago.

I had this conversation with my friend Paolo Fererro, a long time restaurant owner and Piemonte native. He tells me the Nebbiolo wines are much better for cooking than Barbera. Also Dolcetto is a good alternative to Nebbiolo. Aparently the Barbera has too much acid and causes the sauce to be unbalanced. It does not have to be an expensive Barolo of Barbaresco any good Nebbiolo will do.

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Well truffle hunting was easy... Head outdoors, grab a dog, look for some trees, sniff around a bit and Bobs your uncle.

I plan to do some sniffing with my Chesapeake Bay this Fall. I am told you train the dog by planting Gorgonzola rinds in the garden. When the dog finds them he is ready for the field.

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The carbonada that I made last week was similar, and rather pricey, as I used dried beef and a nice Barbera.  So for the brasato, I used chuck roast and cheap cabernet that I'd purchased awhile ago.

I had this conversation with my friend Paolo Fererro, a long time restaurant owner and Piemonte native. He tells me the Nebbiolo wines are much better for cooking than Barbera. Also Dolcetto is a good alternative to Nebbiolo. Aparently the Barbera has too much acid and causes the sauce to be unbalanced. It does not have to be an expensive Barolo of Barbaresco any good Nebbiolo will do.

Thank you so much! It's nice to know this. The sauce for the carbonada wasn't too bad, I actually liked it better than the sauce for the brasato.

Congratulations on your new home. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the food of Piemonte.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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A couple of quick things to post before I read Swiss Chef's & Azureus's new posts thoroughly. The photos look gorgeous.

I never got around to making the corn pasta, but I did find a number of recipes for bagna caoda (or cauda) that are virtually fool-proof.

One way to avoid burning the garlic is to cook the cloves of garlic (slivered, or whole, the latter being easiest) in milk. I boiled half a head in milk for 20 minutes, then drained them and tossed them into the blender with my beloved Sicilian salt-cured anchovies that had been filleted after washing off salt, then cooked on low heat with butter and olive oil. Melted armies of anchovies, green olive oil, tons of garlic, butter...what could be better?

With a glass of Dolcetto, crusty bread, a good, runny Piemontese cheese, slices of fennel, red and yellow peppers and celery, this made a heavenly meal for a cold winter night.

Roberto Donna's mother's favorite, foccacia de ceci, I have decided is a peasanty nursery food most treasured by those who grew up on the stuff. Fresh out of the oven, I found it rather blah, though unusual since it is composed primarily of mooshed chickpeas, sauteed onions, grated cheese, eggs and sage. It's more of a dry custard than a bread. Leftovers, however, acquired a more distinct taste, especially when heated up by frying wedges in a pan...like leftover polenta. This I found nourishing with a bowl of carrot-tomato soup (not very Italian, though the tomato came from one of Batali's sauces).

Please note that Roberto Donna has been hired by NBC to travel back home to Piemonte during the Olympic Games in Torino. He'll be speaking about food on a number of broadcasts.

I am sure other newspapers are running features related to the Games that concern food. While I don't have time to add the links now, I am sure you can find the The Washington Post online. On Sunday, February 5, there was a story in the Travel section by Daniela Deane who sought white truffles in vain since they are not in season. Yesterday, in the Food Section, Roberto Donna provided a few recipes in an article written by Candy Sagon.

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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  • 2 weeks later...

I know the subject of "which rice for risotto" has been covered a hunded times here in one forum or another but I have a little to add...

I have eaten in several Piemontese houses since I have been down there and I keep asking which rice do you prefere for risotto...

Almost everytime they tell me Roma.

Only once have I even heard Carnaroli mentioned and I have never heard a Piemontese mention Valone Nano or Arborio.

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I can't talk about Piemont specifically, but Aborio is more a class of rice, rather then a specific strain (although this was not always the case). As such it seems to be the least consistant.

Valone Nano is more of a Venato rice is it not?

Regarding the other common Superfino rice (Arborio, Volano, Roma, Baldo, Carnaroli, Silla, Bonni). I think that it is very interesting that there is a preference for Roma over Carnaroli, I wonder what the origin for this preference is.

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I can't talk about Piemont specifically, but Aborio is more a class of rice, rather then a specific strain (although this was not always the case). As such it seems to be the least consistant.

Valone Nano is more of a Venato rice is it not?

Regarding the other common Superfino rice (Arborio, Volano, Roma, Baldo, Carnaroli, Silla, Bonni). I think that it is very interesting that there is a preference for Roma over Carnaroli, I wonder what the origin for this preference is.

A chef whom I respect and consider wise, told me he uses Roma because the grains are smaller and cook more evenly. Interestingly though, the other chef that insisted on Carnaroli hardly stirred her rice at all. She first fried shallots and some tomatos, then added the rice and fried it some more.... added water and let it cook, covered, without stirring. Then in the end she added a mixture of Parmesan and goat's cheese, basil and olive oil which she blitzed in the blender... (edit) and she let it sit, covered for about 4 minutes ....and I must say it was fantastic, perhaps even the best risotto I have ever had!

Edited by SWISS_CHEF (log)
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