Week 4 – Northern Italy

*Unfortunately, this week I do not have photos because I accidentally deleted them as I was trying to add them to this post.

Week 4 is a sad week. The final week of Italian cuisine for my Classical European class. At least it went out with a bang. The menu consisted of Vitello Tonnato (Veal in Tuna Sauce), Gnocchi Di Patate Salsa Di Parmesan REggiano E Porie (Potato Gnocchi in Parmesan Cheese and Leeks), Osso Bucco Milanese (Braised Veal Shanks), Risotto Alla Zafferano (Risotto with Saffron), Cicorietta Saltata Con Pancetta (Chicory sauteed with Pancetta), and Panna Cotta.

The first veal dish of the day was prepared in an interesting way. It was wrapped in cheesecloth and then cooked in stock like a soup. This style allowed the veal to be super tender. The Tonnato sauce was a nice blend of tuna, anchovy, garlic and capers. I felt it was too much tuna and thus felt like the dish was topped with tuna fish. The sauce can be adjusted to which ingredient you feel should be most dominant.

The next dish was Gnocchi. I love potato gnocchi and this dish did not disappoint. Although it is made with potatoes, the pasta is light and holds sauces well. The dough was a bit too wet and the gnocchi did come out too gummy so I should have added more flour. However, the cheese sauce for the dish was excellent. It did not stray to far from alfredo sauce but I enjoyed the addition of leeks.

The next dish I had been waiting to make since I began my culinary journey; Osso Bucco. I never made it and never ate it and was excited to give it a whirl. I was surprised to see how easy it is to prepare. So much so that I will be making it more often at home. The veal shanks were a beautiful piece of meat. Seasoned, flour and seared, the flavor begins to build. Mirepoix and a deglaze of the pan with red wine and the braising liquid will cook the veal while keeping it nice and moist. The veal was tender and full of flavor. I plated it on top of risotto and topped the veal with a gremolata.

The risotto was a very nice accompaniment to the Osso Bucco. A traditional combination in italy, the risotto with saffron acted as a great vehicle to serve the hearty veal dish. The aborio rice was sauteed in butter and shallots until every grain has opened, then a deglaze of white wine fills the kernels with flavor. A chicken stock is added slowly to create a creamy consistancy. And finally, parmesan cheese is added to make a rich and flavorful risotto.

I also accompanied the risotto and veal with a vegetable. Chicory is a bitter vegetable but sauteed with pancetta and wine gives it a sweetness that is lovely. It is blanched first, then sauteed so it reminds me of collards. I would definitely use this vegetable recipe as a side dish to many other dishes.

Panna Cotta was our closing dessert to the Italian feast created in Week 4. Panna Cotta is a light milk custard and served with fresh fruit takes it to another level. Creamy and sweet with a mix of strawberries and blueberries is the perfect finishing dessert. A garnish of mint and powdered sugar creates a warmth I feel a dessert should allow. Panna Cotta will always be a favorite of mine.

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Published in: on February 7, 2011 at 3:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

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