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Kevin72

The Cooking and Cuisine of Lazio

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For April, we take a jump midway down the Italian peninsula to Lazio and of course the capital city of Rome. Another favorite region of mine: I love the staightforward, robust cooking style and the honest trattoria food of Rome. It's a perfect match for Easter month, as well as the peak of artichoke season in the U.S. They are consumed with abandon in Rome and two classic artichoke dishes were popularized here: carciofi alla guidea and carciofi alla romana, both of which I can't wait to make.

In cookbook literature at least, "Rome" seems to have become almost interchangeable with "Lazio" and in fact an Amazon booksearch for cookbooks on Lazio or Latium (the English name) turned up no exact hits. However, a booksearch for "Rome" turns up these books:

Roma: Authentic Recipes from In and Around the Eternal City, by Julia Della Croce

In a Roman Kitchen: Timeless Recipes from the Eternal City, by Jo Bettoja

Williams-Sonoma Rome: Authentic Recipes Celebrating the Foods Of the World , by Maureen B. Fant

Rome, At Home : The Spirit of La Cucina Romana in Your Own Kitchen by Suzanna Dunaway

Diane Seed's Rome for All Seasons: A Cookbook

A Thousand Bells at Noon : A Roman Reveals the Secrets and Pleasures of His Native City by G. Franco Romagnoli

A Taste of Ancient Rome by Ilaria Gozzini Giacosa

Cooking the Roman Way by David Downie

Of these, the only one I have experience with is Downie's book, and that's more than enough for me. His is one of my favorite regional cookbooks, combining all of my requirements: history, personal anecdotes, dish origins, and a wide range of recipes.

Other dishes created or popularized in Rome: fettucine Alfredo, pasta carbonara, bucatini all'Amatriciani, pizza bianca, spaghetti cacio e pepe, saltimbocca alla Romana, gnocchi alla Romana, pollo alla Romana, lamb scotaditti, puntaralle (bitter endive) en salsa, and finally, the "quinto cuarto" (fifth cut) dishes from the slaughterhouse district, including oxtail stew, tripa alla Romana, and pajata, spicy veal intestines and pasta.

And we're off!


Edited by Kevin72 (log)

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Last month I didn't come to around to cook anything from Friuli Venezia-Giulia but I'll hope to contribute a little bit more this month.

Lets start this month with a real classic: Pasta Carbonara. Pasta Carbonara have previously been discussed here. This is a dish that I often make for a quick lunch or after work dinner. This is really good simple comfort food.

Guanciale is unfortunately impossible to find here and it is also rather hard to find any good pancetta that's good for cooking. I usually substitute with bacon but this time I used a brined pork belly.

Of course I don't include any cream in my carbonara. To lighten up the egg yolks I add 1 egg white to every 2 egg yolks.

gallery_26014_2731_294921.jpg

Simple real comfort food as always.


Christofer Kanljung

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The perfect inaugural dish.

Calvin Trillin argues carbonara should replace turkey on Thanksgiving in the US.

In Cooking the Roman Way, David Downie discusses controversies surrounding the origins of the dish and in his recipe, offers two simple strategies for making perfect carbonara.

1) After sauteeing the guanciale, pancetta or bacon in olive oil, turn off the heat and let it rest for three minutes. At that point your pasta should be done.

2) Pour the pasta and egg (already mixed with cheese) into the sautee pan, combine and cover for a minute.

I love this method, especially the degree to which the egg clings to the pasta while retaining a sauce-like quality.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Searching for regional cookbooks in online catalogs led to results that Kevin reports.

While Rome also casts a shadow over Web sites, some acknowledge other areas in Lazio.

Here are a few, including the familiar and what may be new:

Accademia Italiana della Cucina--The recipes are in Italian only, but short and plentiful. The Home Page of the site supplies an introduction in English.

Lazio, Region

Cook Around, Lazio

Delicious Italy

Ancient Roman Recipes online

Roman Jewish Cooking--I am including only the first link I found on a topic that is richly represented online.

Rome--About Italian Food

Mario Batali show list

Edited to remove and replace one link. I've discovered that there are quite a few Web sites that promise recipes, but are really created to display ads and encourage potential tourists to use the services they post. The link to the recipe tends to be "under construction" indefinitely.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I wish I had waited! Until last week I had never had carbonara and the recipes I read all sounded rather dull and uninspiring - too plain I thought. But last week I thought all the world can't be wrong - there really must be something to this dish. So I made some for my lunch. I too had to settle for bacon but the result was truly an epiphany - so easy, so fast, so inexpensive, SO GOOD! I jumped the gun on this region but found a dish that will remain in my repertoire. (My small attempt to play (as well as read and drool) along!).


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Does this mean I can jump in with ancient roman recipes? I love cooking from apicius! and I've never quite perfected my must cakes from Cato.

Of course I'm looking foward to learning more about modern Roman cooking too.

Spaghetti alla carbonara = pure unadulterated comfort food! and I really need to perfect my saltimboca, the last round was OK but not stellar.


Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Absolutely feel free to jump in with ancient Roman recipes if you have access to 'em.

I was considering making carbonara myself as the inaugural dish but now I'll go in a different direction, I think. It's definitely on tap for the month, though.

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A modest start to Lazio for me this evening. I made a Batali recipe of zucchini stuffed with ground lamb and mint. Not the most exciting dish but decent enough after I added the extra mint after I took the pic. I served some radicchio simply dressed with lemon and olive oil as a contorno.

62904863-O.jpg

I also made a simple antipasti to start the meal. Under the theory that anything with artichokes fits into Lazio, I made a simple raw artichoke salad with lemon, shaved fennel salad and some ham.

62904856-O.jpg

The ham was, unfortunately, Spanish but quite tasty. The other day I was given a gift wrapped in butcher paper and told it was Bresaola which I planned to serve with the raw artichokes. Right before dinner, I unwrapped the package and what I found inside was....

62904864-O.jpg

What timing, Guanciale just in time for Gricia, Amatriciana etc.... :biggrin: I am also going to try and stock up on fresh artichokes at my farmers market on Wed. I'll take a few pics if it is not raining.

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Arrgh! What kind of market are you going to that you have to "worry" about getting guanciale by mistake?!

I once again got caught off-guard this year and didn't take the steps to order Guanciale for this month's cooking.

Foodman, any chance you're gonna try curing a batch?

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I once again got caught off-guard this year and didn't take the steps to order Guanciale for this month's cooking.

kevin, dibruno bros. here in philadelphia carries it. i think it's the same niman ranch guanciale that everyone carries, but the key is they have it in stock at any given time. i don't see it on their website www.dibruno.com, but i know they have it in the case--maybe you could call and order?

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Arrgh! What kind of market are you going to that you have to "worry" about getting guanciale by mistake?!

I once again got caught off-guard this year and didn't take the steps to order Guanciale for this month's cooking.

Foodman, any chance you're gonna try curing a batch?

No luck finding fresh pork jowls here Kevin or I would've already cured some :sad:. Luckily, IMHO, my homecured pancetta kicks butt and will replace guanciale whenever it is needed!


E. Nassar
Houston, TX

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

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I love what you all are doing with these regional-focussed threads. Italian cuisine has definitely been my focus in recent years since my children were born; for some reason it has those qualities that match being home and nurturing my family - it's comforting and fulfilling to me.

But until now, I have not been able to distinguish the differences from one regoin to the next. You have inspired me to focus more on this.

Last weekend I made a typical Roman dinner which I posted in the Dinner thread but thought I would add it here as well.

Started with a pasta course, my favorite - tortiglioni al'Amatriciana made with pancetta and bacon - no access to guanciale here.

gallery_41870_2503_156899.jpg

Followed this up with veal Saltimbocca - scallopinis topped with sage and proscuitto and fried in butter and olive oil, and two contorni - (1) discs of zucchini sauteed with onion, and (2) green beans - blanched and shocked, then sauteed with onion and tomato sauce - kept on the heat until the tomato sauce has caramelized, almost turned into a paste.

gallery_41870_2503_468855.jpg

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The quote below is what I was told when posting a query about guanciale on my local forum. Inspired by Henry Lo's food blog in Seattle, I may actually try knocking on the door of a neighborhood restaurant to find out if the chef would let me buy a little when he makes it again.

I don't know of any source for guanciale in the Washington area, but you can get it shipped to your door. BUON ITALIA in New York (in Chelsea Market) sells magnificent, glorious guanciale. My guess is that they get it from Biellese Brothers, but I've never asked them.  Their shipping charges are slightly astronomical, but you'll love the guanciale. I suppose you might also get Biellese Brothers to ship to you, but I think they're more geared to shipping to other businesses. There's certainly no handy ordering option on their rudimentary WEBSITE.

And Shaya, it's great to see someone new post here! I actually made your primo late in March, using perciatelli and Mario Batali's recipe...so it was VERY hot. A favorite dish, too.


Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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Welcome Shaya! Great-looking meal there; Amatriciani is one of my all-time favorite pasta dishes/sauces.

Thanks Kevin, it's one of my favorites too. It's so easy to make and the kids just love it, it's my go-to dinner for them.

Tonight a simple meal of spaghetti carbonara made with bacon. I mix the cheeses (parmigiano reggiano and pecorino romano)in with the eggs, pepper and a touch of cayenne, add the hot, cooked spaghetti into the bowl with the eggs and toss the bacon in at the end.

So simple my 2-year-old made the "sauce" himself.

Yummy.

Question for you - are artichokes in general a Roman tradition or just carciofi alla guidea and carciofi alla romana?

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No, several cookbook authors and food writers have noted the particular affinity Romans seem to have for artichokes, and when I was there a year ago, they were at every vegetable stand and were on most of the menus at places I went to. I believe that there is a region just outside of Rome, still in Lazio, that is reputed for the quality of artichokes it produces, but the name escapes me at the moment.

In Downie's cookbook there's also marinated artichokes, fire-roasted or grilled artichokes, another version of fried artichokes that are dipped in eggs, and then Mario Batali did two pasta with baby artichokes in his Roman shows; I'll be doing a variation on one of them next week, probably.

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No, several cookbook authors and food writers have noted the particular affinity Romans seem to have for artichokes, and when I was there a year ago, they were at every vegetable stand and were on most of the menus at places I went to.  I believe that there is a region just outside of Rome, still in Lazio, that is reputed for the quality of artichokes it produces, but the name escapes me at the moment.

In Downie's cookbook there's also marinated artichokes, fire-roasted or grilled artichokes, another version of fried artichokes that are dipped in eggs, and then Mario Batali did two pasta with baby artichokes in his Roman shows; I'll be doing a variation on one of them next week, probably.

Thanks for the info Kevin. I really need to wrap my head around the specialties of the different regions. Would you say the differences are defined mostly by ingredients or by preparation type? I understand if this is too broad a question to answer simply - don't worry if it is.

I just love artichokes. Growing up we had them on the table every night as an appetizer, simply boiled in salted lemony water and that's it, no dip no sauce no nothing. So when I made these for my Mom and sister last week when we were all visiting at my sister's place, they were wowed, to say the least:

Carciofi Fritti Dorado- dipped in egg and flour

gallery_41870_2503_514107.jpg

I have two large artichokes waiting patiently in my fridge while I decide what to do with them...will report back.


Edited by Shaya (log)

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  I really need to wrap my head around the specialties of the different regions.  Would you say the differences are defined mostly by ingredients or by preparation type? I understand if this is too broad a question to answer simply - don't worry if it is.

Ciao Shaya!! Mind if I jump in here? Regional Italian cuisine is most certainly defined by ingredients. Preparation comes into play in terms of social issues: cosmopolitan urban cooking reflects the influences from other cities and countries, while rural and coastal cuisine reflects the generally poorer population that needed to work outside, so you have the slow braises and stews. And that's a very short answer to a very complex subject. :wacko:

What a gorgeous and drool inducing beginning to this region! Carbonnara. Artichokes. What could be better??

I have easy access to Belle Italia...if someone one wants me to send off some guanciale, PM me. I ride my bike over, so the shipping charge is very nominal...just what UPS wants! :biggrin:

Woo-hoo...now that I'm home again I can get back in the kitchen. :biggrin:

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Jumping into the fray tonight (I wish, I wish, I wish I'd taken photos!)

I had to go to a potluck this evening, and having some lamb on hand, I poked around on the link to Mario Batali's Food network recipes & found a roman Lamb & Artichoke Tart a very unusual concoction with bits of lamb & artichokes browned w/oil garlic & parsley then deglazed with a bit of white wine, and layered with hard boiled egg and a raw egg/yoghurt mixture topped with pecorino romano. Very nice and interesting flavor combo, but even though I made my pieces smaller than called for in the original, I got a complaint that it wasn't really cohesive as a dish, it was like the lamb & artichoke were both in the pie, but didn't have much to do with one another. Personally, I though the artichoke had taken on a wonderful level of flavor from the lamb, but obviously opinions varied... Of course I don't think you can go wrong with lamb and artichokes :rolleyes:

I'm guessing that the yoghurt was a substitute for some italian ingredient that's hard to find here? it worked very well, but I'm curious what my theoretical original ingredient would have been.

So while I was at the Whole Paycheck picking up fresh parsley for the tart I noticed that, wonder of wonders, they actually had cardoons in stock - a real rarity here - which meant I HAD to buy some :biggrin:

Since I had the Food Network website up anyway I poked around a bit & found Mario's Baked Cardoons alla Romana which are just simmered till soft & then gratined under a besciamella sauce. They tasted OK but they were really stringy cardoons, so it didn't work as well as it might.

How DOES one judge cardoons?


Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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I got a complaint that it wasn't really cohesive as a dish, it was like the lamb & artichoke were both in the pie, but didn't have much to do with one another. 

At a POTLUCK?! Grrr. Don't get me started on potlucks . . .

I'm guessing that the yoghurt was a substitute for some italian ingredient that's hard to find here?  it worked very well, but I'm curious what my theoretical original ingredient would have been.

This is from an ep where he did dishes more in the style of "older" Rome, and in fact yogurt is what he used when he did it. He may have spoken to why it was used, but then again, anything goes in Rome!

Since I had the Food Network website up anyway I poked around a bit & found Mario's  Baked Cardoons alla Romana  which are just simmered till soft & then gratined under a besciamella sauce.  They tasted OK but they were really stringy cardoons, so it didn't work as well as it might. 

How DOES one judge cardoons?

I think I'm about done with cardoons. I think part of it is that you have to get them younger, not the big monsters we get here, and more fresh out of the soil so they're not so old. But beyond that, I'm just not a fan. They have this faint metallic flavor to them I don't like.

But, you do have to cook them alot longer than most recipes say to avoid the stinginess factor: I poach them 30-40 minutes usually. Hell, maybe that's why they don't taste good then.

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Thanks for the info Kevin.  I really need to wrap my head around the specialties of the different regions.  Would you say the differences are defined mostly by ingredients or by preparation type? I understand if this is too broad a question to answer simply - don't worry if it is.

Hathor answered this pretty well. Preparation and ingredients play a role. And really, it can't be emphasized enough that it's just a matter of where you are and what's growing around you and what can be supported by the terrain. Too, look at what's nearby, what borders the region, who's ruled them, etc: Puglia, on the heel, is closer to Greece than it is to Rome, so there's a definitive Greek influence to the food and cooking and even ingredients, since the Greeks ruled this region extensively and brough their own foods and specialties. Then came the Spanish, who left their own imprint. Sicily is an even better example of this. But part of the fun of looking at regional Italian food is that just when you think you know it, you don't.

Pontormo posted a quick summary of each region and its specialties on the Friuli thread (here).

If you're looking to get an understanding of the regions, the big three books I'd really recommend are either Culinaria: Italy, Claudia Roden's Food of Italy Region by Region, or Ada Boni's Italian Regional Cooking as a good start.

I just love artichokes.  Growing up we had them on the table every night as an appetizer, simply boiled in salted lemony water and that's it, no dip no sauce no nothing. 

Yeah, they are my favorite vegetable. When I was growing up we'd do either the lemon butter sauce or a homemade, ranch-type sauce I think to dip them in. And then there was the ceremony of cutting out the heart, the best part, when we were done.

It took me forever to figure out the "Italian" style of ripping off the leaves and paring it away to nothing! :biggrin:

Carciofi Fritti Dorado- dipped in egg and flour

gallery_41870_2503_514107.jpg

I have two large artichokes waiting patiently in my fridge while I decide what to do with them...will report back.

The dorado prep is pretty much the same recipe in Downie's book, then.

I recommend doing the two you've got left Romana-style: braised with white wine, mint, parsley, garlic and sometimes a dish of chilies. If you haven't tried artichokes and mint yet it'll send you into orbit. Right up there with tomatoes and basil and potatoes and rosemary for great veg/herb pairings.

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I think I'm about done with cardoons. I think part of it is that you have to get them younger, not the big monsters we get here, and more fresh out of the soil so they're not so old.  But beyond that, I'm just not a fan.  They have this faint metallic flavor to them I don't like. 

But, you do have to cook them alot longer than most recipes say to avoid the stinginess factor: I poach them 30-40 minutes usually. Hell, maybe that's why they don't taste good then.

I agree. I grew cardoons in my garden for the first time last year, because I thought that they might taste more like artichokes. They were either horribly metallic or completely bland. I didn't blanch the plants while they were growing, so I'm going to give it a try this time, and see if it changes the flavor.

I had a bit of good luck yesterday: the used bookstore had a good copy of David Downie's book. Now, I just need time to cook.

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 agree.  I grew cardoons in my garden for the first time last year, because I thought that they might taste more like artichokes.  They were either horribly metallic or completely bland.  I didn't blanch the plants while they were growing, so I'm going to give it a try this time, and see if it changes the flavor.

Hmm. Well, there goes my "fresher out of the soil" theory. It'll be interesting to see the difference in blanching them, but I wonder how it'll impact the bland factor . . . ?

I had a bit of good luck yesterday:  the used bookstore had a good copy of David Downie's book.  Now, I just need time to cook.

Awesome! I love that book. Really transports you. I get lost in it everytime I pick it up.

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And, finally, while we're listing guanciale sources, let's not forget Mario's dad's place in Seattle, as it was pointed out to me last year when I was lamenting my predicament.

For those living in europe (not including Italy of course :smile: ) there is Savoria in UK. If I remember it correctly, it is run by the people who ran the UK part of Esperya. The products are shipped from Italy. I've not tried it myself yet, though.


Christofer Kanljung

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