Sausage Ragù and Polenta for a Potluck Supper

My mother is from Frascati so half of me is a local yokel, as I like to say.  But Frascati has an English-speaking international school which our children attended and through which I met so many lovely people from all corners of the earth.  The sad thing is that most of them, unless they were married to an Italian like me, had to leave Frascati after a while, and the good thing is that many of them return regularly to visit.  It was mainly via these expats that I got to know all about potlucks and have come to love them so much.   Potlucks are a staple when we ‘do’ a girls-only get together.

I don’t know about you but I think potluck suppers are super – everyone gets to contribute something and the total menu ends up being so more than the sum of its parts.  Potlucks often end up being veritable feasts and leftovers to take home are the proverbial icing on the cake.   True, those who don’t like,  or are are shy, about cooking are probably those who don’t relish the idea of having to ‘compete’ with the more accomplished home cooks – but in my experience of over twenty years, these same people soon get over it and look forward to really enjoying what their peers can produce.   Look: if you can’t cook you can always bring a rotisserie chicken (that’s my go-to contribution when I’m too busy to cook), or some good quality cured meats (think breasaola seasoned with olive oil and balsamic vinegar topped with a scattering of rocket/arugula leaves and thin wafers of parmesan), or various kinds of pizza, or a great salad, or a shop bought dessert.  No excuse, in other words.

For last night’s potluck, I decided I’d forgo the chicken routine (done that too often recently) and actually cook something, however strapped I knew I’d be for time.  Hence the idea of making polenta (easy peasy, just follow the intructions on the box) and topping it with a meat sauce that would not take hours and hours to cook.  As it so happened, I had half a jar of truffle butter in my fridge – a precious ‘leftover’ from a potluck that took place last May, that friend Sandy from Vancouver had bought. I decided it was high time that ingredient got used up, and what better way than to add it to the polenta.  If you like truffle, yum yum and more yum.

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The other night was a very ‘Antipodean’ gathering of girlfriends.  Leanne, our hostess who lives in the nearby town of Marino, is from South Africa.  Liz (who like me lives in Frascati) and her daughter Simona are from Sydney, newbie Donna is also from Australia, and recently retired Alison is from New Zealand.  Michelle who sadly couldn’t join us for work reasons is a Brit but she was born in Australia too.  So Susy (also a Brit) and I were the only two gals from the northern Hemisphere.  Another friend who couldn’t make it was Debra, American, who was catching an early plane for Hong Kong the next morning (her Italian husband works there).  So you see how lucky I am.  Other great and regular potluck girlfriends include Irish Margaret, American Victoria, Danish Charlotte, the above -mentioned Canadian Sandy and last and certainly never least American Libby.  Who knows, maybe one day I’ll get around to writing a potluck-meal cookery book, based on our experience?

Anyway back to the recipe(s).

INGREDIENTS: Italian sausages (skinned), fresh tomatoes and tomato sauce (passata), some wine, an onion, some black pepper, some coriander, a couple of cloves, salt and pepper, a bayleaf, parsely.  For the vegetable stock: a carrot, a stick of celery and any other veggie of  your choice.

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Start by making the vegetable stock – any veg you have in the fridge and simmer for at least 20 minutes in plenty of water.

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I used six sausages – and skinned them before cooking them.

4An onion, the coriander, the pepper and the cloves.

5I had some red wine.  You could use white if you preferred.

6-e1570951256597.jpg7I had three tomatoes and I processed them.

8I also got to use some passata.

9A nice big heavy bottomed saucepan and enough olive oil to cover the entire surface.

LET’S GET COOKING

10Turn the heat on and use a potato masher to mash up the skinned sausages.

11The sausage meat tends to get caught up in the potato masher – so help untangle the meat with a sharp knife.

12Keep mashing the meat and swish it around too with the wooden spoon.  Cook it over a high heat for about 10 minutes.

13Add 1 ladle of the vegetable stock.  Cook it down – i.e. keep cooking until the stock evaporates. The whole idea of the stock is to keep the meat soft.

14Now add a splosh of red wine – and again, keep cooking so that the alcohol evaporates.

15We can turn the heat down now.  Add the minced onion , the spices and the bayleaf.  I sprinkled lots of salt over the onion before I mixed it in with the meat.

16I quickly added the fresh tomatoes and the passata.

17I combined all the ingredients and then added a couple of ladles of the vegetable stock. I placed the lid on the saucepan and let the sausage ragù stew/simmer over a low heat for about an hour.  I checked on it now and then and added a little bit more of the stock when necessary.

18I let the stew reduce to a very thick consistency, as you can see in this photo.  When the ragù reached room temperature, I added some minced parsely.  Just because.  Don’t ask me why.

It was now time to make the polenta.

19I followed the instructions on the packet. Basically, polenta requires five times the volume of water per polenta.  For instance: 100g polenta will require 500 ml of cooking water.  I added the truffle butter to the cooking polenta towards the very end.  Those specks you see are bits of truffle.

HELPFUL TIP WITH POLENTA:  Bring the water to the boil and then add the salt (10 g per liter of water).  When the salt has dissolved, take the pan away from the heat.  Use a wooden spoon or spatula to creat whirls in the water, i.e. go round and round with the spoon, quite fast so that a kind of ‘well’ is created in the middle.  Pour the polenta into this ‘well’, all at once, and get mixing as fast as you can.  Get rid of lumps if they should form. And then place the pot back on the heat again to finish cooking it.   I chose the quick-cooking polenta that requires less than 10 minutes.  Also, I added a teensy bit more water than technically required to make a more looser, ‘runnier’ texture.  And that was because I knew we would be reheating the polenta later on, just before serving, and I didn’t want to create a monster thickness.

20I used a ladle to put the ragù over the polenta at the beginning and then poured the last amount straight from the pot, scraping every little bit out with a rubber spatula.

21When everything had cooled down enough, I enveloped the pyrex dish with loads of clingfilm and placed it on a tray to help  me carry it to the car and up the steep flight of steps to Leanne’s house.  You need strong thighs to get to her home !

We placed it in a hot oven for a few minutes before serving it.  Freshly grated pecorino was served as a topping for those who wanted it.

I was having such a good time I didn’t take any photos, which is quite rare for me.  What a shame.   We started off with Alison’s delicious bresaola.  I had also made an emmer wheat/spelt salad seasoned with olive oil and lemonjuice and studded with cherry tomatoes and rocket/arugula.  Leanne made a delicious Indonesian soup, called Laksa. Liz and Simona brought a fab beef slow-cooked curry served with steamed rice.  We did not go hungry that’s for sure !

I asked Alison to kindly forward me a photo of some leftovers she took home.

KNRX9733I know it sounds as if I spent a lot of time cooking this polenta concoction but in reality it was a lot less.  Let me break it down for you.  It took me less than 5 minutes to get the vegetable stock going.  While that was simmering, I had to peel the onion and mince it (I used an electric blender for that).  Ditto for the tomatoes.  I had to gather the rest of the ingredients.  Pour the oil into the saucepan.  Skin the sausages.  By the time I actually got to cook the sausage meat, less than 15 minutes had gone by.  The initial cooking that required stirring and supervision did take about another 15 minutes.  So, in terms of ‘real’ time, it took me only half an hour to get the ragù going.  For the rest of its cooking time, about one hour, I was able to get on with other activities.  I checked on it about three times in all.

The polenta took me a total of about 20 minutes from start to finish.  I could have speeded things up by using an electric kettle I suppose.

The great thing about this polenta recipe is that you could freeze it in advance?

Sharing is Caring – Tomatoes and Hurrah for Box Graters !

I came across this article and simply have to share its wisdom.  Anything to make life easier in the kitchen!

N.B.  You can read the entire article on the following link: https://link.bonappetit.com/view/5cb4df6224c17c34e5575805aqcaf.m5iu/1cbf631f

It’s time to get saucy

We ran this genius method for grated tomato sauce in 2016, and I have been grating tomatoes ever since. No dicing, no slicing, no pulsing in a food processor. You can debate the best tomato to use in your marinara—plum, beefsteak, Campari, heirloom, canned?!?—but thanks to chef Ashley Christensen, who shared this trick with us, we know definitively that the easiest way to turn the flesh into sauce-ready pulp is with your 4-sided box grater. You know, the thing that you normally use to shred cheese.

Why is grating so great? (Sorry, not sorry.) First of all, it eliminates the need to find a knife sharp enough to cut through the tomato skin without smashing it to smithereens, which—let’s be honest—most of us don’t have. The curved cutters on the grater mimic the shredding action of an old-fashioned food mill, but with a lot less equipment clean-up involved. Plus, you can set the grater right into a big bowl to catch all the tomato flesh and juices and keep your cutting board free of all tomato liquid that inevitably runs onto your counter, and then down the front of your cabinet doors. (That’s not just a me thing, right?) Even better, as you scrape the tomato back and forth against the grater’s little blades, the skin will just split apart and peel back in your hand. When the skin is flattened and you’ve arrived at the stem end, you’re done.

But truly the most wonderful thing about grated tomatoes is how quickly they can be transformed into sauce, which preserves their bright, summery, fresh flavors.

Carla Lalli Music

Food director

Want more puns?! Follow Carla on Instagram @lallimusic

Polpette di Tonno – Tuna Fish-balls

I wrote this post on 18 September 2011 – Golly ! that is eight years ago.  And my feelings for September continue to be roughly the same.  Not my favourite month.  End of Summer.  Sigh.  The recipe, too, continues to be the same.  Reassuring.  Easy to make, and that’s a good thing.  And good for parties.

Sabaudia

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An Indian summer … although we’re half way through September … it’s so easy to enjoy the heat but too late to pretend not to notice that the days are getting shorter … and busier … and that any day now it will get brrrr-cross-your-arms-and-slap-your-shoulders-nippy and we’ll start having to wear sweaters and what have you and don slippers indoors instead of traipsing about bare foot.  It is as if a whisper of seasonal melancholy were subtly knocking at my front door. For someone who loves summer as much as I do, September is a very challenging month and can see me veering towards a moany-groany, want-to-run-away frame of mind.

This year I decided I would be grown up about it and do my best to stretch the summer’s feel of freedom as much as I could.  I tried to organise myself so that I could work in ‘chunks’ … and thus it was that a few days ago, I was able to scamper off to the beach at Sabaudia for most of the day.  It took us one and a half hours to get there but, as always, it was worth it. There were very few people about, now that people are back at work and children back at school.  The breeze was caressing as only a zephyr can be, the sea was still warm enough for me to swim in (I am such a wimp about cold water!) and it was all I could do to tear myself away and head for home as the sun began to set.  Aaaah.  Sigh …. isn’t the sun setting over the sea one of the most compelling sights to behold?

Ultra-organised, smug lady had prepared some vegetables the day before (a potato and celery purée and roasted bell peppers), had bought gorgeous fruit on the way to the beach, knew that wine was cooling in the fridge, so it was only a question of buying some chicken or meat on the way home and dinner was going to be a snap.  But, repeat, I had a very hard time of wrenching my body and soul from the siren call of the sea with the result that all the shops were naturally closed by the time we finally did drive past them.

I didn’t feel quite so smug then, as I took on the slim prospect for our main course that evening, knowing that just like Mother Hubbard, I was going to find the cupboard woefully ‘bare’ when I got there —  the ‘cupboard’, these days, naturally being the fridge and the freezer.  But thank goodness for Nursery Rhymes because I realised that there was indeed one food in my cubbyhole cupboard that was going to save the day: tuna fish packed in oil! Polpette di tonno … i.e. meatballs made out of tuna fish (technically the tuna doesn’t qualify them as ‘meat’-balls … but what else can one call them in English? croquettes? ugh).  How about … fish-balls?

The ingrdients: salted capers (which need to be rinsed and drained a few times to be rid of the excess saltiness), lemon zest (the zest you see came out of the freezer), parsley, two tins of tunny fish packed in oil (and please note that it wasn’t the top quality kind but still, a good kind), and last, and in the case of any kind of polpette, never least … the moistened bread (again, as I wrote in the other post on meatballs, ‘plastic’ white bread serves very well). You will also need an egg to bind the polpette mixture, bread crumbs to coat them and, optional, some grated parmesan cheese.

The tuna is drained of its oil and gets plopped into the blender …

Add the other ingredients.  Ordinarily, I would have chopped up the lemon zest before adding it for a ‘finer’ and more understated taste.  But that evening I was in too much of a hurry … and too hungry!

Freshly milled white pepper …  (Don’t ask what the coffee is doing in the photo … I expect it was lurking about near the stove when we got home and nobody bothered to put it back where it belongs).

Process the mix being careful not to ‘overwork’ it … it must not go all liquid-y.   Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and …

Add the grated parmesan cheese if you think you are going to like it.  We do and we did.

I put in about 4 heaped soup spoons.

One egg.  Mix everything up very well and if the consistency is not thick enough, add some bread crumbs to ‘toughen’ it up.

Shaping the polpette di tonno …

Coating them in bread crumbs …

All those polpette from just two tins of tunny fish!

Fry the polpette in plenty of oil and in small batches.  Remove with a slotted spoon and let them rest on some kitchen paper before serving.

I served the polpette over a purée of celery and potatoes (which I had made the day before), together with the peperoni al forno (which I had also made the day before):

Please note the size of the garlic … it is cut very ‘big’.  The garlic imparts an inimitably pleasing flavour to the overall taste of the dish and is thus very necessary.  However, not everyone, including myself, actually likes to eat the raw garlic itself.  The bits of garlic are large enough to be espied by even the most near-sighted diner and hence he or she can safely shove it out of danger’s way, to the far end of the plate.

The impromptu meal brought on by my stubborn desire to tarry a while by the sea reserved another surprise.  I remembered that we had some Canadian wild salmon in the fridge, which we ate accompanied by toasted bread and butter.  So … what was going to be a very ordinary though perfectly good supper turned out to be a bit of a feast.

It was half past nine by the time we sat down to eat.  Very late.  Very very late. The sort of naughty ‘late’ that seems fitting only during Summer, when time flows more slowly, ‘a misura d’uomo’, as they say in Italian, meaning ‘suitable or appropriate for man’.  And for yet another evening, I was able to ignore the whisper of seasonal melancholy subtly knocking at my front door.  It will bang loudly soon enough …

Pasta col Tonno Sfiziosa – ‘Fussy’ Pasta with Tuna

I am reposting another version of the classic pasta with tuna – one that can’t be made in a hurry and that requires a little attention to detail in the prepping phase.  Definitely worth the trouble, however, if you have the time and inclination.  I wrote the post in December 2014, that’s quite a while ago !

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It is very traditional to have a fish-only themed menu on Christmas Eve in most parts of Italy, including Rome.  Also traditional are foods fried in batter such as artichokes, cauliflower, broccolo, apples, cod fish etc.  Spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti in a clam sauce) are always a big hit.  And so is pasta with tuna – not fresh tuna but tuna packed in olive oil.

I stopped buying tuna a few years ago, after reading about the parlous state of this particular fishing industry.  I don’t want to sound all holier than thou over this decision and I am sure I am not the only one.  However, I also keep an optimistic attitude and look into reports on improvements (in Italy’s Mediterranean waters at least) and it would appear that the numbers of tuna have grown to the point that I can now resume eating it without feeling guilty (and being careful, of course, to choose the right brand).

The photos on today’s post were taken at the end of last summer, the tuna being a present from friends who had just returned from a holiday in Puglia.

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This tuna was A-star stuff, packed in proper olive oil and not some other substandard seed oil, and presented in a glass jar.

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Some tomatoes, a couple of cloves of garlic … and my new kitchen ‘toy’ – a tomato peeler.

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You don’t have to peel the tomatoes but I was in raptures of reverent tomato peeling activity and enjoying myself the way little children do when trying out a new toy …

IMG_9621IMG_9622A couple of anchovy fillets … and some lemon zest (for freshness).

Chop and de-seed the peeled tomatoes …

 

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Cook the garlic (careful that it doesn’t burn, it must cook until it is golden).

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Sprinkle salt all over the chopped tomatoes while the garlic is cooking …

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Get your pasta out (spaghetti would have been nice but I didn’t have any that day) …


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Add the tomatoes to the frying pan …

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After a few minutes, add the anchovy fillets …

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Taste … and add a pinch of sugar if necessary.


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It won’t take more than 10 minutes to have this sauce ready.  At that point, add some torn basil leaves and the lemon zest.  Switch off the heat.

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Sssssh … don’t tell anyone but I didn’t do such a good job of de-seeding the tomatoes.  Never mind.  I am still alive.

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Grate some pecorino cheese.  I think anyone who has been reading my blog for a while is fully aware of my reluctance to engage in cheese grating which is why I do my level best to fob this job off to any other family member or friend who happens to be in the vicinity.  It is important to have someone else grate your cheese for you, yes … but it is also important to make sure that the proper sized cheese grater is used.  See the photo above? The holes in the grater are too big … the grated cheese is not ‘fine’ enough for a pasta.  The finer the cheese grated, the easier it will be for the cheese to ‘melt’ completely into the sauce.  I know it sounds silly but it makes all the difference.

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While the pasta is cooking … drain the tuna.

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When the pasta is just about cooked, transfer it it to the pan with the tomato sauce.  Turn the heat on again and allow the pasta to finish its cooking time directly in the sauce.  If the sauce looks like it’s going to dry out, add some of the cooking water.

 

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Add the tuna last …

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Combine all the ingredients and switch off heat.
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The green bits are, I think, a mixture of mint and marjoram.  Parsely would be great too.

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Add the grated cheese last.

It is not ‘normal’ in Italian cuisine to mix cheese and fish together.  This recipe is one of the exceptions.  As is pasta with mussels and pecorino.

https://myhomefoodthatsamore.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/pasta-al-tonno-variation/

Pasta col Tonno – Classic Pasta Recipe with Pre-Cooked Tuna

I am reposting a recipe I wrote back in March 2011.  It is a classic and it’s worthwhile keeping in mind when time is of the essence.  So think of this variation as the “quick and easy one”.

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At a restaurant not far from home last night, I was surprised to be served a dish made up of polenta accompanied by a tomato sauce and tuna – most unusual and very good too. Upon closer inspection, it transpired that that the tuna was not the fresh kind but, rather, the tuna that is packed in oil – you know, the kind one always keeps in the pantry for salads or for those just-in-case emergency occasions when a very hungry stomach (or two) will fight a very convincing battle with the brain when it presumes to think that cooking can’t be paramount on one’s list of priorities. And that is time to make a pasta and tuna dish so that both stomach and brain will be appeased.

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The ingrediens: some pasta, a jar of tuna packed in olive oil, a jar of tomato sauce, garlic, anchovy fillets and any fresh, green herb you may have around … in this case it was some marjoram.

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When one is in a hurry, it is best to think slowly and act quickly … so take a moment to ‘orchestrate’ the necessary steps.  First things first: put the water on to boil and pour some olive oil into a good-sized saucepan.

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Peel some garlic and cut in half and put it into the saucepan together with one anchovy fillet.  Turn the heat on a low heat (we don’t want the garlic to burn to a crisp) … and then open the jar of tuna and put it through a colander, and open the jar of tomato sauce.

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When the garlic has turned golden and the anchovy fillet has sort of dissolved …

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Add the tomato sauce.

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Put the pasta into the boiling water …

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Add some salt …

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Add a pinch of sugar too … it is the sugar and the salt that really ‘add’ taste to any tomato sauce because both ingredients are enhancers of taste: i.e. both ingredients make any flavour taste better !  That is why a little bit of salt is added even to sweet dishes.

I defy any chef worth his or her hat to deny that salt has no place in the kitchen ! People are absolutely terrified of salt and this is very silly indeed.  The important thing is to use only a small amount … in fact, only the RIGHT amount.

And as for those who worry about high blood pressure and all that that entails … please take the time to google around on the merits of untreated sea salt versus the very nasty chemically cleaned sodium chloride (here is one easy link to get you started: http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/salt.htm ).

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As the sauce sputters away merrily, add a sprig of your herbs …

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Followed by the tuna, drained of the oil it was preserved in …

Give it a good stir, gently breaking up the tuna so that it thickens the sauce.

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When the pasta is almost ready (i.e. two to three minutes before the cooking time recommended on the packet), you can drain it directly into the saucepan …

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If the sauce is a little too thick, you can ladle in a little of the cooking water … and keep cooking the whole lot until the pasta has ‘absorbed’ all the sauce and is ready to be served.

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The reason I insert this somewhat unappealing photo is to show that a jar of tuna and a jar of tomato sauce and 500 g of pasta can go a long way !  It can definitely feed four very hungry people …

 

 

Ready to eat … and it took just over 15 minutes from start to finish.  (For your information, the above pasta is the kind that takes 12 minutes to cook.)

There is nothing like a plate of pasta to placate a hungry belly AND a brain that thinks it’s too busy to cook …

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Salame di Tonno / Twice-cooked Tuna Rounds

INGREDIENTS

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Did you know there is a semantic relationship between cod and salami in the Italian language?  I only just found out myself.

In Italian, calling someone a dried cod, i.e. “baccalà” is not a compliment.  The same can be said for name-calling someone a salami, in Italian “salame”.  Basically, you’re telling a person they are not very bright, that they are ‘thick as a plank’, rigid or just plain stupid in their thinking or acting.

I discovered that in the 1400s both pork meats and fish were sold by butchers (?) called “lardaroli”, meaning that both cured meats and salt cod were sold at the same store.  Both were salted.  And the word “salame” derives from “salamen” which itself deries from the Latin word for salt.  It turns out that these fish were salted, historically speaking, before meats were.  And if you look at a salame, well … it’s going to be pretty ‘stiff’, just like an entire salt cod.

Anyway.  About the recipe that I have dubbed “salame di tonno”, i.e. tuna salami.  Some Italians would call it a “polpettone” instead, the same word to describe a meat loaf.  I stick and abide by salame, because its shape is just like that of a salame – only it’s made with tuna, the kind of tuna that cames already cooked and preserved in oil in a glass jar or a in metal tin/can.  The kind that is stocked in every Italian larder to be eaten all year round, especially for those ‘just in case’ moments, when there doesn’t seem to be much other choice to which to resort.  And extremely often for the Christmas Eve fish-themed dinner.

Duing the warmer months of the year, this kind of tuna is often served with beans and for those brave enough, with slices of onion too.  This kind of tuna can also be added to salads.  It can be used to make little tuna meatballs.  It can be used to stuff tomatoes. And, for the rest of the year, this kind of tuna will be used to make a pasta.  You can see how indispensable this food item really is.  The next two posts are going to be about tuna pasta.

It was my sister-in-law Nadia who taught me how to make a tuna salame.  And the first thing that shocked me was the addition of a cheese – parmesan – and eggs to the recipe.  In Italy fish and cheese/dairy do not usually do a meal tango together.  The second ‘shock’ was that the recipe entailed cooking the already-cooked tuna … again.  How strange.  Once I tasted the end result, with a great deal of groaning over its goodness, all those ‘shocks’ melted away, never to return.

An added bonus to this recipe, is that it can be made in advance and even frozen.  I hope I am able to encourage you to make it.

DIRECTIONS

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Start by draining the tuna by placing it in a colander.  The oil that gets drained is usually of poor quality so just chuck it.

3Place the drained tuna in a bowl.

456Add some lemon peel/zest and some salt and pepper.

7Mash everthing up with a fork.  By the way, you could put everything in a food blender if you preferred.

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9Add 1 whole egg per jar of tuna and combine with the fork.

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11Add 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan per can of tuna.  You could add a little more – you’ll have to taste and decide for yourself.

1213The same idea with the breadcrumbs.  Basically, you are going to add as many breadcrumbs as it takes to make the texture a firm one.

14Here we are – done.  Repeat, you can do all of this with the help of a food processor.  In which case you will have a more ‘refined’ texture.  Both are admissable, both are good.

PREPARATION BEFORE COOKING

1516Place the tuna on some parchment paper and shape the ingredients into a salame.  By the way, I did not do it in this photo but I would now recommend that you wet the parchement paper first – it makes everything a lot easier.  Proceed as follows, it’s basically common sense.

171819Now place the wrapped salame on a sheet of aluminium foil.

20The place it on another sheet.

21Done – nice and snug and hopefully watertight.

COOKING

Place in a pot of boiling water and cook for 20 minutes.

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By the way, it used to be traditional to wrap and cook the salame di tonno in a clean tea towel.

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Remove fromt the pot and remove the aluminium sheets and parchment paper too – careful they are very hot.

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At this point, once the salame has cooled down enough, you can wrap it in some parchment paper and freeze it or put it in the fridge for later use.  Wait for it to be completely cool before attempting to slice it.

HOW TO SERVE

Home-made mayonnaise is the classic option.  Any salsa of your choice would be excellent too.

Below are some other ideas.

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Unlike my dear gastronomic friend Phyllis Knudsen, I just adore anchovies.  So I added some to the slices before slathering a home-made salsa verde concoction over them.  So rich, mmmm.  Yep, a little decadent.  This was last year.

The other day I made a mayonnaise with fresh tarragon.  I never know what to do with tarragon so this was a welcome ‘input’ for me. (FYI I have tarragon growing in a pot on my balcony.  The only reason there is plenty of it is that tarragan doesn’t need much tender loving care to grow, it just ‘grows’, phew.)

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IMG_4347.JPGIMG_4350This mayo complemented the tuna salame very well.

Last, here it is served with tomato and some rocket/arugula – plain and simple.

IMG_4356IMG_4358The sky is the limit for any sauce you might care to add – the tuna will hold its own in terms of flavour.  It is robut without being too ‘heavy’ if you know what I mean.

Since it can be made in advance, it’s a great idea for parties.

Bread Salad – Panzanella

I wrote about a ‘special’ panzanella on this blog four years ago – ‘special’ because it added an ingredient that is not normally associated with a panzanella, in this case squid.

https://frascaticookingthatsamore.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/antipasto-squid-panzanella-inspired-by-ristorante-pepenero-in-capodimonte/

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More recently, I read such a beautiful post about panzanella by Judy Witts Francini (of Divina Cucina fame) that I thought to myself: what IS the point of writing another one, you’d only say more or less the same things.   The one panzanella she didn’t mention is the one we make near Rome (panzanella romana), the one my grandmother would prepare for me as an afternoon snack (merenda).  Basically, it was just a lot of chopped tomatoes placed over a slice of bread, and seasoned with salt and olive oil.  Delicious.

The good thing about panzanella is that it can be prepared ahead of time and is actually great for parties.  Here is a photo of a huge panzanella I made last summer on the occasion of my sister-in-law’s birthday.

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And now, without further ado, but with imagined roll of drums and blaring of trumpets, here is the link to Judy’s post:

Panzanella – Why Tuscan bread is Saltless