I was looking over and rewriting notes for our Italian regional cooking class series and started thinking that the regional cuisines might make for some interesting nights at Casa S. The classes tend to be really traditional in the recipes, so I want to do something a little more creative, at least for some of the courses. Since the series starts out in Piemonte, I thought that would be a place to begin as well. I’m not going to do these straight on through for the next twenty weeks, but they’ll come in, scattered here and there, maybe every 2-3 weeks. At least that’s the plan. I may abandon it along the line, we shall see, the thought of having 20 weeks planned out is so anathema to what we do here!
A mashup of a fontina salad and a peperoncino alla bagna cauda – first charred peppers of various colors, a slice of quickly roasted tomato, green olives, and fontina cheese, all ladled over with a reasonably classic bagna cauda – simmering olive oil, butter, anchovy, garlic and chili.
A pretty classic minestrone d’Asti – white bean, cabbage and pasta soup, though spiked up a bit with chili and white pepper.
There’s a traditional trout dish of trout slow-cooked in a sauce of fish stock, celery, onions, raisins and herbs and then generally served up as a warm or room temp appetizer. I used red mullet fillets, just quickly cooked so they stay a little firmer, and then thickened the sauce and finished it with chopped celery leaves. Served over a creamy cauliflower puree.
Here’s the one dish that got some re-imagining done to it, and it’s still a work in progress, though I’m pretty happy with the way it came out. Chicken Marengo is a dish that’s shown up here from time to time, in classic form, presented a little more creatively but still classic, and, a somewhat different interpretation. This continues down the path of the last, I pounded out chicken breasts and then seasoned them, spread them with a puree of sun-dried tomatoes, then topped them with a pounded out chicken thigh and leg, which I seasoned, topped with a portobello mushroom duxelles, and then rolled the whole thing up in plastic and poached it slowly in a water bath to just cook it through – sous vide without a vacuum sealer. Then left to cool. To serve, I sliced them into cylinders and then quickly sauteed the cut ends in olive oil and butter and finished them reheating in the oven.
Served them over a fresh tomato sauce of grated tomato, olive oil, salt and pepper, room temp. On the side, a classic piemontese style crepe that’s brushed with, well, the bagna cauda from above and a dusting of mushroom powder (a mix of shiitake, morel, chilean black mushrooms and a little truffle), rolled up, brushed with more bagna cauda, and then baked to lightly brown. And, the prawns, done “a la romana“, which is probably inappropriate for a piemontese dish, but so be it – dusted in flour then dipped in egg and parsley and quickly sauteed.
I had planned on a peach and almond tart, a combination classic in Piemonte, but the few peaches I saw in the market were pretty nasty looking. But, there were fresh persimmons, so though not at all traditional to the region, an almond crust tart with ginger frangipane and sliced persimmons went into the oven, then brushed it with a peach jam glaze and served it with an amaretto caramel, toasted almonds and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Not a whole lot reinterpretation going on other than the one dish, but then, classics are classics for a reason. They tend to be delicious as is!