I may have mentioned in a prior post that I am employed as a cheese monger. It’s a tough job and sometimes, a brutal one. For example, the other day I had to tackle a hunk of Parmigiano Reggiano, armed only with the old tools of the trade
It took me about 30 minutes to chunk it up, and naturally, a big piece came home with me. I was inspired, but what to make with it?
We were spared the bitter cold provided by the recent Polar Vortex, but the evenings have been chilly here in northern California. Risotto was starting to feel like the cheesy, comfort food I wanted.
I had taken a a pound of Wild Boar Sausage out of my freezer the day before, so I decided to use it in the Risotto too.
Here are the ingredients:
Heat an enameled dutch oven to medium-high, then add half the olive oil and butter. When the butter is melted, add the garlic, shallots, celery and chili flakes, and stir until the vegetables have softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sausage, breaking it up and stirring occasionally, until brown. Remove the sausage, herbs and vegetables to a plate and set aside. Keeping the pot on medium-high, add the remaining olive oil and butter, and when the butter has melted, add the rice and stir until the rice is thoroughly coated with the oil and butter. Continuing to stir, cook for about 2 minutes then add the Vermouth, stirring constantly. When the Vermouth has evaporated begin to add the chicken stock, a ladleful at a time, allowing each to evaporate before adding the next. After a couple of ladles have been added, toss in the Parmigiano rinds and continue to stir. When you have about one ladleful left, stir the sausage, herbs and vegetables back in, then add the remaining stock. When that has evaporated, remove the pot from heat and add in the Parmigiano.Stir until thoroughly combined, then cover and let rest for about 5 minutes. Serve and garnish with more Parmigiano.It was a perfect fireside meal.
A few notes on Parmigiano Reggiano:
Mario Batali often calls it, “the undisputed king of cheeses”, and from the list of The Great Cheeses, in his book, Cheese Primer, Steve Jenkins’ bottom line about Parmigiano Reggiano is this, Il formaggio migliore nel mundo- the world’s greatest cheese. And it is just that. Made from the exquisite milk from cows that graze in a specific zone of Emilia-Romagna, it can only be made between mid-April and early November, to insure that the cows have been eating nothing but fresh pasture, rather than silage or fodder from other locations.
It is a joy to work with this cheese, its aroma is lovely, its texture, fantastic. I always save the rinds from it to use in soups, such as Minestrone, Navy Beans, and other legumes, and of course, Risottos. I used half a cup more for this Risotto than I usually do, but I wanted it to be more cheesy than usual. It was worth it! Do not buy pre grated Parmigiano, and if you can, but some that has just been cut off the wheel, the difference is huge. (I don’t need to mention anything about how bad Parmesan that comes out of a shaker top is, do I?) I’ll end with this “photo” that a friend had as her FB status:
A friend of mine went out of town, leaving her little tomato vines to me. Here we are, in to November, and because it has been an incredibly mild Fall so far, there are still lots of deliciously sweet Cherry Tomatoes growing on her vines. Lots and lots. So I decided to make a dish that I usually only get to make in the summer because it requires sweet, vine-ripened tomatoes: Linguine with Roasted Clams & Tomatoes.
The tomatoesI have made this on my kettle Weber, stove-top and in the oven, and it comes out great any of these ways, although using the Weber adds that extra flavor that only a grill can. I decided on oven roasting this day.
Preheat oven to 400°. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Place a roasting pan or large oven proof skillet on the stove top and heat to medium high. Add the olive oil, pancetta, garlic, basil and chili flakes, stirring until the pancetta has rendered, about 5 minutes. Pour in the wine then add the tomatoes and clams. Season with salt and pepper. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes.Place the linguine in the pot and cook until al dente. Drain and place in serving bowl or rimmed platter, then drizzle with olive oil. Take the clam and tomato mixture out of the oven, discard any unopened clams, then pour over the linguine.
Aaron and I enjoy cooking the game he brings home, together, and these meatballs are one of our favorite “team” dinners. He makes the meatballs, I make the sauce. It’s perfect.
For the sauce:
For the meatballs:
*Ground Elk or beef can be used in place of the Venison, and domestic pork sausage can be used instead of the wild pig sausage.
Heat a large, nonreactive skillet over medium-high heat, then add the Olive Oil. When the oil is hot, add the Onions, stirring until they soften, then add the Garlic, Oregano and Basil. When the Garlic has softened, stir in the Tomato Paste, then add the Tomato Sauce, Diced Tomatoes and Salt & Pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs. Begin forming 2” meatballs, (coating your hands with Olive Oil beforehand helps to keep the meat from sticking to them), then place them on a sheet pan. You should have about a dozen meatballs. (We doubled the recipe this day because we were taking a dozen to a friend, more on that later).
When the sauce is done simmering, place the meatballs in the sauce, raising the heat back up to medium-high, and adding about ¼ cup of the Stock or Water. Cook for 15 minutes, allowing them to brown. Turn the meatballs over, covering them with sauce, and cook for another 15 minutes. Add a little more of the Stock or Water, just enough to keep the sauce from getting dry, as needed.
Plate and garnish with Parsley and Parmigiano
We took a dozen of these lovelies to my friend, Nancy, who is recovering from an injury, and she wrote about them in her newspaper column here.
I must admit, I had never before made Macaroni & Cheese. I’ve always enjoyed it, but it was never a dish that I wanted to prepare myself. Well that all changed when my
hero fellow blogger over at The Mac and Cheese Files posted photos of “Grown-Up Mac & Cheese”, from the “sexy” food blog, Carnal Dish. Now there was a Mac I wanted to make! Oh sure, there were a few different cheeses in the recipe, but it was some of the other ingredients that spoke to me, Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Cayenne and Scallions, that suggested a depth of flavor that was interesting. Oh, there was Bacon too! Click here for the recipe.
I did change one thing though, the main cheese. I replaced Cabot New York Extra Sharp White with Fiscalini Farmstead Vintage Bandage Wrapped Cheddar, a cheddar that has won the Gold Medal four years running at the World Cheese Awards in the UK, and in 2012, was named one of the top 16 cheeses in the world. Yes, it’s that good. (Have I ever mentioned that I am employed as a cheese monger? That’s right, I get paid for it!). You can read more about Fiscalini cheeses here.
The result was delicious, and I’ll be making it again … and again.