Polenta Classica

Polenta Classica

         Salt and pepper
         1 cup medium or fine polenta
         Parmesan for soft polenta, optional
For firm polenta use 4 cups water; for soft polenta use 5 cups water. Bring water to a boil in a medium-size heavy sauce pan over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Pour cornmeal slowly into water, stirring with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Continue stirring as mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn heat to low. Cook for at least 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. If polenta becomes quite thick, thin it with 1/2 cup water, stir well and continue cooking. Add up to 1 cup more water as necessary, to keep polenta soft enough to stir. Put a spoonful on a plate, let it cool, then taste. Grains should be swollen and taste cooked, not raw. Adjust salt and add pepper if you wish.
For firm polenta, lightly butter a baking sheet or shallow dish, approximately 8 1/2 by 11 inches. Carefully pour polenta into pan. Using a spatula, spread polenta to a thickness of 3/4 inch. Cool to room temperature to allow polenta to solidify. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. For soft polenta, add 6 tablespoons butter to pot and stir well. Serve immediately or transfer to a double boiler set over low heat, cover and keep warm for up to an hour or so. (Or set the saucepan in a pot of barely simmering water.) Stir well before spooning into low soup bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if desired

Fagottini filled with pork and chestnuts with Marsala and figs sauce

For the dough:

2 cups of Semolina flour + more if needed
4 eggs

Using a fork begging mixing in the egg with the flour.  Once egg has been mixed in enough, begin using your hands to work the dough.  Continues until reaches a smooth consistency, adding a light dust of flour if necessary.  Cover the dough with plastic wrap to protect from drying.  For best results, let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes.

For the filling:

1 lb Pork

1/2 cup of dry red wine
8 roasted chestnuts
2 cloves garlic
1 egg (optional)

1/4 cup onion (diced)
4 tsp. fresh tarragon
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
1/2 cup diced Smoked pancetta

Olive oil
In a large saute pan cook your pancetta until just crispy- then set aside on a paper towel to drain.
In the same saute pan set to medium high with a drizzle of olive oil warm your minced garlic until just fragrant, about one minute. Add the diced onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add all your chopped tarragon and the pork. Work the mixture thoroughly with a wooden spoon to break up (help to cook) the meat, add the wine and cook about 10 minutes. Then transfer the pork filling to a mixing bowl. Add the Asiago cheese, roasted chestnuts, mix well incorporating everything then add your raw egg to help bind the filling together. Add all the ingredients in the food processor until is a paste.  Wait to cool down and make you pasta.

For the Marsala and fig sauce:

shallot, minced
1 tbsp mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup dry Marsala
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup fig jam
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 spoons olive oil
Fresh chives, chopped, for garnish or tarragon.

Over medium heat, add the shallots and cook in olive oil until softened.  Next, add the Marsala and reduce by half, add figs jam and balsamic vinegar, and continue simmering until the sauce has thickened, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and add the Mascarpone.

Marsala and Fig Sauce

Marsala and Fig Sauce

1 shallot, minced

1 tbsp mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup dry Marsala

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 cup fig jam
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
4 spoons olive oil
Fresh chives, chopped, for garnish or tarragon.

Over medium heat, add the shallots and cook in olive oil until softened.  Next, add the Marsala and reduce by half, add figs jam and balsamic vinegar, and continue simmering until the sauce has thickened, another 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat, season with salt and pepper and add the Mascarpone.


Ragu Ferrarese

Ragu Ferrarese (from Ferrara)

1 onion, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, minced
200g of sausage, taken out of their casings
1/2 cup of tomato paste
1 1/12 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon of paprika
Thyme, about a Tablespoon
Olive oil for frying the onion
Salt & Pepper to taste

Fry the onion, garlic and sausage in a generous amount of olive oil.  Once onions have browned and meat has cooked, add one cup of wine and let liquid reduce half it's amount.  Add tomato paste, paprika and thyme.  Let cook for five minutes and add another half cup of wine.  Cover and simmer the sauce at a low temperature for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, do not allow to boil.
Serve with a hard cheese, recommended Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano).

Pizza dough

Pizza dough


1kg of 0 flour or 800gr of 00 flour and 200gr of semolina
1 teaspoon of fine salt
1 cube of fresh yeast
1 tbsp of sugar
5 tbsp olive oil
600ml of warm water

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast with the sugar by adding the two together and mixing a little with a fork.  Add the warm water, salt and then the flour.  Begin mixing with your hands very well and transfer to a tabletop to continue mixing and working the dough.  Kneed the dough and sprinkle with flour when it sticks to your hands or as needed for texture.  Open the dough and make some holes with your fingertips, add the olive oil to the dough and continue to mix.  Now put back into a clean bowl and allow the dough to “proof” or rise.  Cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel or some kind of cover and place in a neutral temperature area (not in a drafty area).  The yeast will begin to raise the dough.
After about one hour, remove dough and cut into portions desired.  With your hands, gently make balls with the dough (using flower generously) and allow them to rise for another 30-60 minutes.
Now with dry hands, make the disks with your hands and try to keep uniformity in dough thickness as you open the dough for the pizza.  You’re now ready to make your pizza as you wish!  To bake, oven temperature should be at 180C or 350F.
Bake until the pizza bottom is brown.



For the filling:
tablespoons unsalted butter
2  pounds beets, trimmed, leaving about 1/4 inch of the stem
5 1/2 ounces smoked ricotta cheese, finely grated (2 1/2 cups)
1  large egg
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4  to 1/2 cup fine plain breadcrumbs

For the dough:
2 3/4  cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4  teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4  cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
2  large eggs 

For the sauce:
5  tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4  cup plus 2 tablespoons grated aged Carnia or Piave cheese
3/4  teaspoon poppy seeds

Heat oven to 400º. Put beets in a baking dish and add water to come up about 1/2 inch. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and roast beets until they can be easily pierced through to the center with a knife or skewer, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Uncover and allow beets to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, make pasta.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Mound flour mixture and form a well in the center. Add milk and eggs to the well. Using a fork, gently break up yolks and slowly incorporate flour from inside rim of well. Continue until liquid is absorbed, then knead in bowl until dough forms a complete mass. Transfer to a well-floured work surface and knead for 3 to 4 minutes more. Wrap dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, return to filling.

Using shredding disc on a food processor or coarse holes of a box grater, coarsely grate beets. Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until melted; add beets, reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until beets are dried out a bit, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add cheese, egg, salt and generous grinding of pepper; stir to combine. Stir in 1/4 cup breadcrumbs. If mixture seems damp, stir in remaining breadcrumbs.
Divide pasta dough into four pieces. Cover 3 pieces with plastic wrap. Flatten dough so that it will fit through the rollers of 
a hand-cranked pasta machine. Set rollers of pasta machine at the widest setting, then feed pasta through rollers 3 or 4 times, folding and turning pasta until it is smooth and the width of the machine. Roll pasta through machine, decreasing the setting one notch at a time (do not fold or turn pasta), until pasta sheet is about 1/16 inch thick.
Lay pasta sheet on a lightly floured work surface with the long side facing you; using a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, cut pasta into rounds. On 1 round, put about 3/4 teaspoon filling. Fold over round to form a half moon; moisten edges with a dab of water, press and crimp to seal and form decorative edge. Repeat with remaining pasta and filling. (The casunziei can be prepared and frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze freshly made casunziei, freeze them first on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer casunziei to well-sealed, airtight plastic freezer bags and keep frozen until ready to cook. Do not defrost before cooking.)
Bring a large wide pot of salted water to a low boil; avoid a rolling boil, which may cause the pasta to open up. In batches of 15 to 20, cook casunziei in water until they rise to surface, about 3 minutes (frozen pasta may take another minute or two longer). Using a slotted spoon, transfer casunziei to a large serving bowl. 
FOR SAUCE: In a small saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat until melted and foamy. Pour butter over pasta, add cheese and toss to combine. Serve immediately, sprinkled with cheese and poppy seeds.