Baccalà Mantecato Recipe

  baccalà mantecato is one of the signature dishes of Venetian cuisine and a staple of those wonderful hidden-away Venetian bacari, or wine bars.

The name of the dish comes from the verb mantecare, which is a culinary term meaning to 'beat' or 'whip' or simply to 'stir vigorously' so as to create a creamy consistency. It is the same word used to describe the final stage of making a risotto, when you stir the rice vigorously to incorporate grated cheese and butter, to creating that luscious creamy consistency that we all know and love. The technique serves the same purpose here, but in a wholly different context.

Baccalà Mantecato 

250gr salt cod, rehydrated. I think this involves a lot of soaking and changing of water over several days – we bought ours already soaked. A pinch of salt – the salt cod once soaked isn’t super salty 1 fat clove of garlic A handful of parsley 2 tbsp milk A squeeze of lemon juice

Oil, for emulsifying (we used vegetable as that’s what we had to hand; groundnut would also work but don’t, whatever you do, use extra virgin olive oil as it will overwhelm the cod)

Simmer the cod in water for 5 minutes, then leave to cool. While warm, break into pieces as small as possible.

In a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic and parsley into a paste. Add the cod and mix vigorously. Roll back your sleeves and get pounding and smooshing as someone else dribbles the oil in, until you get a thick, smooth paste. It needs quite a bit of oil. Add just a squeeze of lemon juice, then loosen with the milk – add on tbsp at a time until it is incorporated – if you feel it’s necessary. Serve with toasted bread.

Seppie (Sepe) in Umido alla Veneziana (Black Cuttlefish Venetian Style)

I saw a video yesterday by Cesare Colonnese about the Seppie in Umido and decided to prepare them today for lunch so went to Rialto market to get fresh Cuttlefish (Seppie)

This requires fresh cuttlefish, because you will need the contents of one or two ink sacks. It makes an excellent one-course meal if served with either fresh polenta, which is the traditional Venetian accompaniment, or a simple risotto in bianco

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 pounds (1 k) medium-sized cuttlefish, with their ink sacks
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 medium onion, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup (250 ml) hot broth or bouillon
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) olive oil
  • Salt to taste

Preparation:

Clean the cuttlefish, setting aside two ink sacks. Wash the cuttlefish well, cut the bodies into thin rings, and chop the tentacles. Set a pot on the fire and sauté the onion and garlic in the olive oil, over a brisk flame. When the onion is lightly browned remove and discard the garlic, then add the cuttlefish to the pot, salt them lightly, and stir in the parsley Continue sautéing for ten minutes, stirring all the while, then add the wine and bring the mixture to a simmer. Remove the ink from the sacks to a bowl, and add it to the cuttlefish according to your taste – in other words, if you want a very dark dish add all the ink. Stir in the tomato paste as well, and continue simmering over a low flame until the cuttlefish is fork tender (45-50 minutes), adding the hot broth as need be to replace the liquid that evaporates. Check seasoning and serve, in an elegant pre-heated dish.

 

 

Bigoli in Salsa

For this dish, the pasta is all important. Originally made with duck eggs and buckwheat flour (these days, wholewheat flour and chicken eggs), Why is the pasta so important? Every pasta in Italy is shaped to serve a purpose, and in this case the pasta has a spaghetti-like length Final Touches Are Put  To Boats And Costumes A...and shape, but with a coarse rather than smooth exterior. The texture of this pasta allows more sauce to ‘stick’ to the pasta, so the pasta is generally used when you have a pasta sauce with a gravy-like consistency. The following recipe come from Vini da Gigio ....but this is another story....

Ingredients (serves 2) 250g Bigoli pasta 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 8 anchovy fillets or Sarde 1 medium red onion, chopped finely 1 good bunch of Italian parsley, chopped finely Salt and pepper

Directions 1. Bring a large pot of water to the boil for the pasta. Add a tablespoon of good salt. 2. In a large sauté pan over low-medium heat, add the olive oil, the anchovies and the onion. 3. Stir the mix, helping to break down the anchovies. This should take around 10 minutes. 4. When you have a thick gravy, the sauce is ready, so put your pasta on. 5. When the pasta is al dente, drain it and add it to the sauce. Mix through most of the parsley and serve. Add a little parsley on top to make it pretty. Season and add more olive oil if you wish and enjoy with a medium to full bodied white wine.

Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian Liver and Onions)

Fegato alla Venziana, finely sliced liver with gently stewed onions, is one of the most classic Venetian dishes, and even those who do not usually like liver enjoy it. The recipe will serve 2 Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 white onions, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crumbled
  • 1 teaspoon rubbed or ground dried sage
  • 1 garlic clove, flattened
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 12-ounce, 1/4- 1/2-inch-thick calf's liver, cut into strips
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh Italian parsley

Preparation

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and 1/2 teaspoon sage and sauté until onion is tender and brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to bowl. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add garlic and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Discard garlic.

Combine flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sage in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pat liver dry. Add liver to flour mixture and toss to coat. Add butter to garlic oil and melt over medium-high heat. Add liver and stir until beginning to brown on outside but still pink inside, about 3 minutes. Add onions and sauté until liver is just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley

 

Risotto di bruscandoli - Hop Shoots Risotto

This is a very old recipe from the Venetian countryside! “Bruscandoli” are the end tips of the hop plants. This plant can be found easily in the Venetian countryside. This risotto can only be made during April since this is the time when the hop shoots. During the month of April the vegetable stalls of Rialto Bridge are full of these plants.

This is a very old recipe from the Venetian countryside (feel free to substitute the shoots with any other sort of root or shoot you like).

Ingredients: a big bunch of bruscandoli (hop shoots) about 300 gr, 300 gr. Rice Vialone Nano or Arborio, ½ an onion, 1 lt. Broth, a bit of butter, 1/2/ glass of wine, olive oil.

First of all rinse and chop in small pieces the hop shoots. Then sauté for few minutes in a large pan with a little bit of oil. Remove from eat.

Now place the butter in a sauce pan and melt it. Add the rice, sauté for a minute, add the wine and sauté then add the shoots and a bit of the broth. Stir and slowly start adding the the broth waiting every time for it to be absorbed by the rice. Keep stirring the rice until it is cooked through. Turn the heat off, add a little bit of butter and a good spoonful of parmisan.

Serve hot. This risotto must not be dry, but at the contrary quite smooth

Venetian Fritole Recipe

These Frittole, Fritole or fritters are a speciality of the Veneto during Carnevale. Be warned, they are addictive! An alternative to cooking them at home...if you are in Venice is here!

Between Candlemas (2nd of February) and Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday) the Venetians celebrate Carnevale. The festivities are not the drunken bashes associated with Mardi Gras. The focus is on the beautiful costumes that recall the history of Venice. There are many costumes that would be considered performance art.

This is one of my favourite dolci recipes. The fritole are much more than a donut or a simple fritter.

Venetian Frittole Recipe
Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups + 2/3 cup milk
  • l tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 ounce yeast (1-1/2 cakes)
  • 1 tsp + 1 pinch sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups flour, sifted
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup grappa (substitute rum if necessary)
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • cooking oil for deep frying
  • powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Soak the raisins in the grappa.
  2. Break up the yeast in the 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl. Add a pinch of sugar and set aside. If the yeast is fresh, bubbles should begin to form immediately.
  3. Put the sifted flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Mix in 1 1/4 cups milk.
  4. Add the egg and mix well.
  5. While stirring, add the yeast-water mixture and an additional 2/3 cup milk.
  6. Continue stirring until smooth. This should be a very thick, doughy batter.
  7. Bubbles will start to form within the batter.
  8. Add the raisins, pine seeds, and remaining grappa and mix well.
  9. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place it in a warm, draft free spot.
  10. Allow the batter to rise for about 3 hours.
  11. Fill a deep fryer or a saucepan half full of good cooking oil. Heat the oil to 375F.
  12. Wet a tablespoon with cold water. Scoop up the batter, and with a moistened a thumb, push the batter off the spoon into the hot oil (Be careful of the oil. By dropping the batter in close to the surface you will prevent splashing.)
  13. Repeat with 4 or 5 more spoonfuls of batter. Cook the fritter until it has an even deep golden brown color, turning it once or twice during cooking. The fritters should not be too big.
  14. Remove the fritters from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Cut open this test fritter to make sure that it is cooked through. If so, proceed as described above for the remaining batter, cooking 4 or 5 fritters at a time.
  15. When the fritters have cooled, roll them in powdered sugar and place on a platter.

Roasted Radicchio

Radicchio is an Italian salad plant related to chicory. The distinctive plant grows in a rich maroon color with white veins and has a peppery flavor that adds a textural bite to salads. It is typical of the area around  Venice. There are few varieties. From the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market

Radicchio is sometimes grilled or roasted, making a pleasant counterpoint to other grilled vegetables. It is growing in popularity and can be found in most produce sections. Radicchio has been in cultivation in the Mediterranean for hundreds of years and is used in a variety of Mediterranean dishes.

Radicchio resembles lettuce most in appearance, although it is not in the lettuce family. It forms tight heads of leaves furled around a central core and grows low to the ground. Radicchio makes a startling splash of colour in the garden, and its natural bitterness makes it less subject to depredation by garden pests.

Ingredients

  1. 3 large heads of radicchio (about 3/4 pound each), cored and each cut into 8 wedges
  2. 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 500°. Lay the radicchio wedges on a large rimmed baking sheet and brush with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crisp around the edges and just tender. Serve at once.

Castradina

The “castradina” is a stew, real comfort food, and is a traditional recipe that traces its roots in Dalmatia, where the dried, smoked mutton aromatized with herbs and spices came from. At a time when food deteriorated easily and could carry diseases, the “castrà” (a leg of castrated lamb) was a guarantee. This delicacy has to be prepared 2 days in advance and the “castrà” is available in the best butchers a week before the feast of Madonna della Salute. INGREDIENTS: CABBAGE CASTRA’ ONIONS, CARROTS ROSEMARY, THYME, LAUREL AND JUNIPER IN A GAUZE BAG EXTRA VERGIN OLIVE OIL

Thinly chop the carrots and the onions and stir-fry in olive oil. Add the cabbage slices into thin strips and simmer in low heat in little water (keep adding water when needed) with olive oil until soft. Bring to a boil the castrà in water with the herbs, let it simmer for about half an hour, then remove from heat, throw away the water where the castrà has been cooking, and complete the cooking in renewed water (otherwise it gets too salty). Put both the cabbage and the meat aside, somewhere cool. The next day, skim off the layer of grease, add the cabbage and simmer for an hour approximately. Serve it as a hot stew or a soup.