It’s snowing. We are at a halt in the countryside, other than the slow proceeding to town to vote by all my neighbors. They’ve been so dispirited about this election that I’m grateful that they gathered the nerve to go. I have very good neighbors.
Anyway, I have been challenged to make a dish that is something filled or stuffed. I’m still on a reduced carbohydrate diet, so many dishes were tempting but not sensible. After all, with the roads as slick as a con-man’s spiel, who would eat them before I lost my self-control? And so I am making fegatelli. Almost no one makes this dish nowadays and it’s a crying shame, because it is one of the most distinctively Italian dishes, really unlike anybody else’s food, in my opinion. I haven’t made it since 2005.
This is what I will fill
This la rete, or the net. It is sometimes called net fat in English. It’s a natural part of the pig, thin and light and stretchy, and is the web by which my recipe hangs. I’m not sure it will be accepted as a filled dish. I’m pretty sure no one will make this top on their list of things to try. That’s a shame, too. It’s just delicious. In other countries than Italy you need a butcher to ask for it and for pork liver in a piece, rather than slices. You also need fresh bay leaves, and you may for the first time discover what bay leaf actually tastes like, because here it’s a distinguishable note, not just a simmered-in part of a herbal symphony.
Assuming your liver has come from a proper vendor and arrives already cleaned of veins and membranes, start here. If it has those things you will need to prepare it yourself before beginning.
Cut the liver into chunks and the rete into pieces just big enough to fasten around them. You lay a chunk of liver on the net, then add a bay leaf and then make a gift package of it, fastening with a toothpick. Do them all.
Heat a capacious frying pan to moderate heat, and add a thin coating of olive oil. Place the fegatelli into it, then lower the heat to low. I usually put a couple of scraps of the net fat into the oil so that when they simmer I can see the pan is ready. All you need now is patience, because the fegatelli cook slowly, always slowly, and you have to turn them as the bottoms brown, using tongs. I find that they need turning when the bottom browns enough to be free of the pan, since they stick at first. It takes a bit of attention to get all six sides browned, since some want to topple. When they are nearly done, lightly salt them. It takes less salt than meat usually does, and I don’t know why.
When you surmise they might be done, after perhaps 30 minutes of slow cooking, take one out and cut it in two. It should be distinctly pink inside, but not the maroon of raw liver.
Cooking the fegatelli
As you can see, some have just been turned and the rest are just as they were when put in the pan.
Ready to serve
So this is what you have when you’ve finished. The rete has disappeared, melted into the olive oil and providing a delicate flavor you can get no other way. I serve them just like this, warning diners to remove the bay leaf as they cut them. While not as dangerous as dried bay leaf, these are definitely chewy and not terribly pleasant.
I would deglaze the pan with a bit of white wine, drizzle the resultant sauce sparingly over the fegatelli and serve with roasted or fried potatoes. A crunchy contract will be nice with the meaty chunks. Heck, if you’re going to eat liver cooked in pig fat why not fried potatoes, too? You can always have a nice salad afterward.
Rest the meat for 10 minutes and the red will disappear
If you don’t eat them more often than every five years, I think you will come to no harm.
February 23rd, 2013 in
, Italian food
, Low Carb
This just scratches the very lovely surface of my home.
February 20th, 2013 in
| tags: Umbria
I was only eighteen, but it was my job to provide the eggnog. I went to the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and there it was, a recipe for eggnog that seemed perfectly easy. I went to the market and bought the ingredients. Then at home I started making the parts. But I hadn’t actually read through the whole recipe, so I made it wrong, and we loved it so much it became our favorite eggnog and no one in my family wants any other kind now. If you live somewhere that has chancy eggs, buy pasteurized ones. In Italy, if you check the dates, you’ll be fine.
For parties I make up the various parts for a double recipe and blend them in a punchbowl just before serving. I grate nutmeg over it all. I then proceed to rob the punchbowl and lose track of what else there is to do. Be warned, your other duties should be finished before filling the bowl. My kid is a teetotaler and does not add the liquor, but is a dedicated lover of this eggnog, anyway.
Judith’s Screwed-Up Eggnog
for 6-8 servings (who do they think they’re kidding?)
1/3 cup (79 ml) sugar
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 quart (946 ml) milk
2 egg white
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (or use vanilla sugars in both cases above)
brandy or rum to taste, start with 3/4 cup (177 ml)
1/2 cup (118 ml) heavy cream
Beat the egg yolks and the first sugar together very well, add salt. Stir in the milk. Put aside.
Beat the egg whites, slowly adding the second amount of sugar until it forms a meringue, beating in the vanilla, if used, toward the end. Put aside.
If making this ahead, put both concoctions into the fridge or out on a frosty porch, well covered.
When ready to serve, beat the whipping cream to a stiff consistency.
Put the first mixture into a big bowl. Stir in the liquor. Using a whisk, fold in the meringue. Taste to see how much liquor to add. Still with the whisk, fold in the whipped cream. Grate or sprinkle nutmeg over and serve with a ladle.
That’s it folks, the one-way fluffy road to Nirvana.
These are shaky because the force of the water was making the ground tremble. It was impressive.
This was, I was told, the remnant of Hurricane Sandy.
December 14th, 2012 in
December 14th, 2012 in
I am playing serious catch up all over my life due to the long period of inactivity. If you thought I wasn’t coming back, well I wasn’t so sure I could, either. But I now walk upright, if not for very long at a time, and I now do almost everything I ever did, just less of it, so next on my list is a reduced blogging schedule.
Meantime, if you need something to do, Google Workaway and Helpx. I was introduced to them by friends and I am now hosting one traveler after another who works 4 hours five days a week to help me get things back on track. It’s a great opportunity on both sides. Hosts get some needed help and volunteers get a roof and their food and an introduction to life in the reality lane in whatever countries they visit. Fortunately for me and my friends, lots of people want to come to Italy.
So long for now. I’ll be back with a real post shortly.
Today, to absolutely no one’s surprise, is the first day of 2012. I said last night that I would do as much as I can of what I want to do through this year, and once this is written, I will have done that.
I’ve had some disastrous physical setbacks this year starting in late summer. Were they enough to keep me from blogging? No, but somehow not talking about it would be like ignoring the elephant in the room and talking about it seemed really out of place on a friendly expat and cooking blog. But when I see something special or hear something interesting I always think of this place and I want to tell it here, so I’ve decided to plug Think On It back in if only for my own good.
This is my first sight when I top the hill.
So about that elephant eating hay in that corner over there. He represents four herniated disks in my lower back that have put a stop to my hour and a half rambles and climbs every morning. Just when I was getting used to the idea that a slow and exercise-filled period of physiotherapy was going to have to happen before I could be back on those hills, spinal arthritis or a near cousin jumped on my shoulders. Some time later generalized tendinitis and muscle sheath inflammation made activities a crap shoot.
It's full afternoon, but the sun never reaches parts of this basin.
This past week I have been getting up feeling better. Really better, not just less painful, but capable of doing things at least for a while. Nothing will cheer you up more effectively than being able to think up fun stuff knowing you can probably do it. I sort of want to say “Whoopie!” a lot.
The surface is icy and blurred.
Today I have eaten healthy foods in small portions and haven’t touched seasonal treats. That was number one.
I have started sorting out what really doesn’t need to live in my house and out it will go. Number two.
Ice and spoor.
And my reward is number three. I went for a walk in my hills. I went to see the lake and to see who drinks there in winter. I went to see the goats along my path and I discovered two kids no bigger than an adult cat. Unfortunately, I had used up my batteries and didn’t capture them, but I will another day this week, because I mean to start again no matter what it costs me. The price for not doing what you love is just too high.
Happy new year. Love, Judith
January 1st, 2012 in
Someone has hacked the site. Technicians are working on it right now, so I hope it will be ready for new articles soon.
I hope you didn’t receive any mass mailings of spam from me, but if you did, be assured I didn’t send them and we are working at being sure there will be no more.
September 21st, 2011 in
Buddleia for the butterflies
Just what a rose should be
An exciting color, similar to Cary Grant rose in the USA.
What would we in Italy do without geraniums?
This shrub rose decided to live in the gazebo.
Knocks your eye out the first time you see her!
A gentle lemon colored lily.
For a little heat that isn’t red in the summer garden,
Just beautiful, she is.
Is ahe something, or what?
Ruffles and champagne… nice.
This gal brings cheer to the party.
Pink flowers everywhere, so shall it be.
A bin full of these? Yes!
This is just one of them.
There’s a strumpet in every family, I guess.
Honeymoon in Italian.
This lady never stops giving, never stops pleasing.
Lunch among the flowers. Some deer came, too.