Trippa in Umido

Trippa in Umido

Tripe, trippa in Italian, is the stomach of an animal, in this case beef. It's texture is unique and very different from other offals or meat cuts. Very rubbery and tough when raw, becomes gentle and gelatinous when cooked slowly with a liquid.

This is one of many ways of cooking tripe. Various regions in Italy cook it in slightly different ways, changing the type of tomato product and its quantity, adding more or less liquid, various type of beans, herbs, spices and other ingredients. It is a humble, inexpensive dish and a true delicacy to be enjoyed in the cold months.

Buonappetito!

Recipe below...

2.5 lbs beef tripe

3 garlic cloves chopped

3 Tbs Chopped parsley

1/4 cup Extra virgin olive oil

1 cup chopped onions

1 cup chopped carrots

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup red wine

1 small can of tomatoes

3 bay leaves

8 cloves

salt, kosher

2 small hot chili peppers

Black pepper

Parmigiano Reggiano, grated (optional)

- Trim the tripes from any discoloration spot and wash them in cold water. They should be white and extremely fresh. Cut them in short strips about 1/4 inch wide.

- Start a soffritto in a large casserole (ideally crock or cast iron) by heating the oil with the garlic until it starts gently frying and releases its aroma.

- Before the garlic gets any color add the parsley and continue cooking for a minute, then add carrots, celery and onions, a small pinch of salt. Adjust the heat to medium/low so that they gently and slowly fry developing flavor and creating a base for the trippa. This should be monitored from time to time to avoid over-coloring and should take at least 30-40 minutes. The final soffritto should be like a marmalade, sweet and with a golden color from a slow, controlled caramelization.

- While the soffritto is cooking, blanch the tripes in abundant boiling water that has been lightly salted, for about 20 minutes. Drain and reserve.

- Once the soffritto is ready, add the tripes and toss in the pan over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Then ad the red wine and allow to evaporate by half.

- Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, cloves, chili peppers, black pepper and some salt. bring to a very gentle simmer, cover with a lid and cook, extremely slowly, for about 4 hours or until the tripes are very tender and almost gelatinous. Check it and stir every 45-60 minutes. If properly executed, no additional liquid should be necessary.

- Taste and adjust the flavor as the cooking progresses, keeping in mind that flavors will intensify with the cooking. So save the last touch of salt for the very end.

Notes:

Once cooked you may serve it and enjoy it immediately, but remember that if you allow it to cool and refrigerate for a couple of days, it gets even better. This makes it a great dish to prepare in advance.

Enjoy it very hot, in a bowl accompanied by a slice of plain rustic bread. It is delicious as is or with a touch of freshly cracked black pepper and/or some grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top if you like.

Pork with Milk

Arrosto di Maiale al Latte

A different way to enjoy pork.

Imagine a perfectly roasted rib-end roast complemented by a delicate sauce composed by the creaminess of milk, the sweetness of roasted garlic and onions, the acidity of white wine and the richness of the cooking drippings of the roast.

This recipe is inspired by a typical preparation from the Italian region of Lombardia called "Arrosto al Latte" and I see it as a humble, more simple version of the Classical French Veal Orloff with the sauce being a rustic version of the Soubise. Of course it could be prepared with veal instead of pork if you prefer.

Mild, elegant, yet rich, it is wonderful accompanied by braised Savoy cabbage and potato purée. Absolutely incredible if you could shave some white truffle on it just before serving. But that's totally optional.

I like to use the rib-end not just because it makes a beautiful presentation, but mostly because of the texture and flavor that this particular cut offers thanks to the tenderness and fat content of its meat. It is the pork counterpart of a beef standing rib roast or prime rib.

To prepare it, season the loin with salt and pepper at least 1 hour before you plan to cook it. In the meantime dice a large onions and peel six cloves of garlic that will cook with it and also start preparing the side dishes you are planning to serve.

When the seasoning has penetrated the meat, rub it with a little olive oil and sear it all around on high heat inside a large sauté pan or roasting pan until a nice golden color is achieved on all sides. At this point place the roast in a roasting pan with some olive oil and butter, the onion, the garlic cloves and one or two sage leaves. Degrease and deglaze the pan with a glass of white wine and pour the resulting liquid in the roasting pan. Slowly roast it in a 300F oven for about 1.5 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 155F basting the meat every 20 minutes and adding small amounts of white wine and broth to the fond to prevent onions and garlic to over-color in the fat.

Once the roast is cooked, remove it from the oven and from the roasting pan and hold it covered with aluminum foil on a platter in a warm place. The internal temperature will carry over a bit and then the meat will rest and it's juices will re-distribute.

Use this time to remove the sage leaves from the roasting pan and add about 2oz of AP flour to the fond. Cook the flour with the fat drippings over medium heat for a few minutes stirring with a wooden spoon to form a roux. Remove the pan from the heat and add 1 qt of cold whole milk in small batches, stirring to avoid lumps. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes until it has reached a rich sweet flavor and consistency. Add any juices that came out from the roast while resting. Adjust consistency by reducing further if too liquid or by adding a touch of milk or water if too thick. Taste and adjust flavor then pass through a fine strainer or blend in a blender until very smooth. Fine tune the flavor with more salt and pepper and if you like add a few drops of lemon juice for a touch of acidity.

When ready to serve, pour some sauce over the roast and serve the rest of it on the side along with the braised cabbage and potato pure'.

Saltimbocca

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Warning: can be addictive.

Fast to prepare (and also to eat...) this is one of those dishes in which the result by far exceeds the effort. Saltimbocca may follow, or accompany very well, the Gnocchi alla Romana described in my previous post and are typical of the same area in Italy. They are also delicious on the side of cooked spinach and potato purée or fried artichokes and a delicate green salad like in the image above.

They are normally composed of tender slices of veal, each layered with a sage leaf and topped with a thin slice of Prosciutto. A tooth pick can be used to hold it all together. Chicken or pork can be used too with good results, but veal is the traditional choice and in my opinion the best option.

When ready to cook, place them on the table prosciutto side down and season the meat with salt and pepper, then dip the prosciutto side in flour, dust the excess off and quickly cook it in a very hot sauté pan with a touch of olive oil, prosciutto side down. Heat should be medium/high to allow the prosciutto to turn golden and crisp by the time the meat is just done, which takes only a couple of minutes. Depending on how thick the veal is by the time the prosciutto side is ready, the meat should be almost cooked through on the top, making it a preparation where about 90% of the cooking is done on the same side. At that point, all you have to do is move the pan off the heat, quickly flip the saltimbocca just to let the meat side touch the hot pan, then plate them immediately prosciutto side up. The key is to have a crispy prosciutto top but tender juicy veal underneath which is not overcooked.

As the saltimbocca rest on the warm plate, you should make the sauce by discarding the cooking fat, deglazing the pan with a generous amount of white wine and replacing it over the high heat to reduce. A touch of broth can be added too if desired. The liquid, while quickly reducing in the pan, will also mix with the flavorful drippings from the saltimbocca and slightly thicken, thanks to residual flour. Add a few pieces of butter and swirl the pan over the heat to create an emulsion. Move off the heat, taste and adjust but generally the saltiness of the prosciutto combined with the acidity of the wine and the sweetness of the butter don't require additional salt. If too acidic add more butter. Be careful as the sauce is ready to serve just a few moments before is ready to "break" so be careful not to over-reduce it and move the pan off the heat towards the end. If you do over-reduce it - don't panic. Just add some hot water and start reducing over high heat again. The liquid will re-emulsify. For this sauce to be good it should not yield much more than a generous table spoon for each portion. I like to think of it as a rustic and quick version of a Beurre Blanc.

Well I hope this wasn't too confusing. In reality it all happens in two or three minutes and all these little details to pay attention to really make the difference between a so-so dish and a great one.

OK, now I made myself hungry...