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Stracotto Di Manzo Or Italian Pot Roast

Stracotto di Manzo or Italian Pot Roast

When the temperature dips to 5 degrees fahrenheit and snow blankets the ground like a down comforter, many of us seek solace in the kitchen with winter comfort foods. Foods that we wouldn’t dream of cooking in July seem perfect for combatting January’s frigid days – foods like this pot roast from Domenica Marchetti’s book, “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.”

I love all of Domenica’s cookbooks, including her latest, “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy,” so deciding on a recipe for dinner wasn’t easy.
This one comes from Domenica’s mother Gabriella, a delightful woman who contributed much to Domenica’s love of cooking and the food of Abruzzo in particular. It’s a recipe that evokes Domenica’s childhood and turned the humble dish into a special occasion meal. Last night, as snow fell and the landscape turned white, I decided I needed a special occasion meal too.
 I hadn’t made a pot roast in years and picked up this large chuck roast at the supermarket earlier in the day. If you buy a piece with heavy veins of fat, as this one, you could carve some of it out before cooking, or do as I did and skim the fat from the liquid once it finishes cooking.
Season the meat with salt and pepper, then sear it on all sides, a process that takes four to five minutes.
 The vegetables (celery, onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes) and seasonings are added to the pot, along with some wine and broth, then the oven does the work for the next two and a half hours.
What emerges is a flavorful, cut-it-with-a-fork tender pot roast that will leave you wishing for even more snowy days when you can hunker indoors with a hearty meal.
 Serve with mashed potatoes, noodles, polenta or whatever starch you prefer. My side dishes were farro with peas, and steamed butternut squash. The sauce from the roast is still quite chunky, but you could puree it with a stick blender if you prefer a smoother version. Consider setting some aside and adding it to some freshly cooked pasta as a first course.

 

Stracotto di Manzo Alla Gabriella
From “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy”
by Domenica Marchetti

printable recipe here

 

  • 1 boneless chuck roast, 2 1/2 to 3 pounds
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 large or 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife blade
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup passato di pomodoro (tomato puree) or canned chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup beef broth (homemade is best), or water
  • Instructions
    Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Season the chuck roast with salt and pepper. In ad Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted and begins to sizzle place the roast in the pot. Brown it on all sides, turning it every 3 to 4 minutes, for even coloring. Using tongs, transfer the meat to a plate.
    Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, carrot, and celery and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the onion is pale gold but not browned. Stir in the thyme, followed by the wine, tomatoes, and the broth. Return the meat to the pot along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Bring the mixture to a simmer, cover, and place in the oven. Let the pot roast braise, turning the meat every 30 minutes, for about 2 1/2 hours or until it is fork tender and the sauce is deliciously thick and red-brown.
    Remove the meat from the sauce and either cut it into thin slices or large chunks. Arrange the meat on a serving platter and spoon the sauce on top.

 

Clam Stew With Greens And Tomatoes

Clam Stew with Greens and Tomatoes

 For the clam lovers in your life, this one is easy and anyone who tries it will be happy as a …., well you know.  It’s another recipe from Domenica Marchetti’s recently published cookbook “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.” Domenica uses Tuscan kale and savoy cabbage in her recipe, but since I had swiss chard growing in the garden, that’s what I substituted. It’s my favorite of all the greens, and it worked perfectly here. 

The recipe says it makes up to 6 servings, but I guess we were gluttons. I’ve made it twice now, and both times as a main course. Two of us finished the whole thing – all four dozen clams. For more moderate eaters, or as a first course, it would stretch further.
Clam Stew With Greens and Tomatoes
Greens:
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 large garlic cloves, sliced paper thin
  • 8 oz./225 gr. Tuscan kale, coarsely shredded
  • 8 oz./225 gr. Savoy cabbage (use the dark outer leaves), halved lengthwise and shredded
  • fine sea salt
  • generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cups/480 gr. chopped canned tomatoes, with their juice
Clams
  • 1/4 cup/60 ml. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T. minced garlic
  • generous pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup/240 ml. dry white wine
  • 4 dozen fresh littleneck or other small clams, scrubbed clean
4 to 6 thick slices bruschetta (toasted or grilled bread slices)
To make the greens: Warm the olive oil and garlic in a large saucepan or deep-sided skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until the garlic is soft and translucent, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the greens by the handful – as much as will fit in the pan. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the greens begin to wilt. Continue to add more greens to the pan and cook until they are all wilted. Season with salt and the red pepper flakes and cover. Raise the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the greens are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Cover partially, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook at a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the tomatoes have thickened slightly to a sauce consistency.
To cook the clams: While the greens are cooking, warm the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook until the garlic is fragrant, about 3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and pour in the wine. Add the clams and cover the pan. Cook the clams at a lively simmer for 5 to 8 minutes, or until they just open. Using tongs, remove the clams to a large bowl as they open; discard any that are not open. Once all the clams have been removed, strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve lined with damp cheesecloth into a small bowl. Pour the strained liquid into the saucepan with the greens, and then add the clams. Usinga large serving spoon, gently incorporate the clams into the greens. Heat briefly until the greens and clams are warmed through.
Place a slice of bruschetta in the bottom of four or six shallow rimmed bowls. Spoon the clams and greens, as well as some of the liquid, into each bowl and serve.
Pancetta variation: Put 1 to 2 oz/30 to 55 g. diced pancetta in the large saucepan where you will cook the greens. Do this before you add the sliced garlic. Cook until the pancetta is just crisp and has rendered some fat. Add the garlic, and 1 T. of oil if you like, and proceed with the recipe as directed.

 

Domenica Marchetti And The Glorious Vegetables Of Italy

Domenica Marchetti and The Glorious Vegetables of Italy

 She’s done it again. My friend Domenica Marchetti that is. Her newest cookbook has just been published and it’s every bit as enticing as the last four: “The Glorious Pasta of Italy,” “The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy,” “Rustic Italian,” and “Big Night In.” The new book, “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy,” contains so many delicious recipes that combine the flavors and techniques of Italian cooking with the array of vegetables that are available there and here in the states too. Interspersed throughout are mouth-watering photographs that could be on a gallery wall. 

We spoke recently about the new book, our common background as news reporters, and many other things. At the end of the post is a recipe from the book that’s so simple to make yet so satisfying and delicious.
Q. How did you transition from being a reporter to writing cookbooks?
A. I had written about health, fitness and nutrition and occasional pieces for the food section of the Detroit News. I always loved food writing and always coveted the food writer’s job. After moving to D.C. (where her husband is deputy managing editor of the Washington Post) and writing for the Chronicle of Higher Education, I decided to work freelance from home when I had kids.  I decided to write about food. I used my newspaper contacts to pitch stories and that’s how I got into food writing. I went to the Food Writer’s Symposium at the Greenbrier and that’s where I met the cookbooks editor for my publisher, Chronicle books. I sent in a proposal for my first cookbook, The Glorious Soups and Stews of Italy.
Q. What’s your personal connection with Italy, and Abruzzo in particular?
A. Abruzzo is where my mother comes from. She was born and raised in Chieti. Since the time we were little, we
would go back to Italy for the summer. We had a beach house on the Adriatic coast. That’s where my affection for Abruzzo comes from – from spending many years there. I have wonderful memories, and friendships that I still have with people I used to hang out with at
the beach as a teenager.
Q. The book is not only about Abruzzese cooking, or vegetables that can be found only in Italy, is it?
A. No, you can’t assign a nationality to vegetables. I really mean vegetables in Italian
cooking. The book is also not just Abruzzese recipes. My cooking has always been more eclectic Italian,
rather than focused on one region. That’s probably because my mother
didn’t just cook Abruzzese food. I grew up eating a variety of regional Italian cooking and so
that’s what I learned to do. My books are a mishmash of family
recipes, regional recipes. They’re classic, they’re contemporary takes on
classic, they’re stuff I made up in my own kitchen – so they’re “Italianish.” I can’t say they cling to any one part of Italy or
they’re just traditional, or just family recipes. They’re a little
bit of everything.
Q. What made you choose vegetables as the topic for this cookbook?
A. In
2008, we took a trip to the Veneto during Easter week, and I just remember the market under the Rialto
bridge. I saw an incredible array of vegetables,
from fat winter squashes from the north of Italy to tomatoes that were already ripe from the South of Italy. There were all kinds of artichokes, and all the
different types of radicchio in the Veneto. It got me thinking.
Q. Do people have a misconception of Italian cooking?
A. I think we’ve come a long way in our
perception and understanding of Italian cooking, but I do feel that
people still have this “Olive Garden” view of Italian cooking – that it’s spaghetti and meatballs, it’s pasta, it’s pizza, it’s roasts,
breads, starchy, and heavy. I honestly think that nothing could be
further from the truth. When we were in Abruzzo in July, we stayed at
an agriturismo. We got there right after lunch, and the owner put out a snack
for us – cheese and charcuterie. Then she brought out a plate of
tender green beans that had been boiled, past al dente. They were
actually tender – because Italians aren’t afraid to overcook their
vegetables. That’s one of the things I love about Italian vegetables
is that they’re not all crunchy. They were tossed with olive oil and the tiniest hint of vinegar and they were so good. I’ll remember that
plate of beans forever. I think Italian diets are much more vegetable-centric than people perceive in this country.
Q. What vegetables did you exclude from the book that
you wished you could have included?
A. Cucumbers. The reason is I really
never associated them much with Italian cooking and Italian food. I
didn’t eat them growing up. My dad had a slight allergy to them. They
were never on our table. I don’t ever remember having them in Italy.
I do know a lot of Italian Americans grow them in their gardens.
After being in Puglia last summer, I realized this might be a
regional thing. Because in Puglia, they were everywhere. They had
these amazing cucumbers that looked like very small personal melons -pale, pale green, and you cut them open and they were the same color
as a honeydew melon. But they were cucumbers. They were slightly sweet but definitely in the cucumber
family. At that point, I was in the final stages of the manuscript
and I thought about trying to add cucumbers, just so I could talk
about this Pugliese cucumber, but then I thought that would have
unnecessarily complicated things. I have enough recipes to write
another vegetable book, because there are an infinite number of ways that
Italians use them – so many variations and riffs. I love just tossing
pasta with fresh vegetables. People always think that pasta has to be
sauced. The sauce is a condiment. There’s nothing better than tossing
fresh pasta with seasonal vegetables, a little olive oil and cheese.
Q. What are some of your favorite recipes in the book?
A. One of my favorite recipes – and it’s
so easy – is the baked delicata squash with cream and
parmigiano. This is one of the “Italianish” recipes. Delicata squash has a lovely golden flesh and it’s sweet, with a dense
texture. it’s just brushed with cream and parmigiano and baked in the oven. It’s so
simple and easy but makes a great side dish for any roast. I really love the vegetable lasagna and the eggplant meatballs. You just can’t imagine that they would be as good as real meatballs, but they are and a lot of people have been writing about them.
Q. I made your smashed potatoes and green beans with pancetta for dinner the other night. Tell me a little about your inspiration for the dish.
A. I ate it at La Loggia Antica – a little restaurant in Bisenti in the Teramo province. All of these little vegetable dishes were coming out of the kitchen. One of them was these green beans and potatoes. I never had it before. It’s very simple – you boil green beans and potatoes together, smash them and add some pancetta, olive oil and seasonings. I would never have thought to do that. That’s one of my favorite recipes in the book.

 

Q. Do you have a book tour set up?
A. I’ve sort of cobbled together a little
tour, mostly in September. They’re usually piecemeal because I still have kids in the house
and I can’t go away for long periods. I don’t like to anyway. I’m really a homebody. But I’m going to the West Coast – Seattle, Portland and San Francisco. I have a couple of cooking demos and classes and talks. I’ll
be going to St. Paul, Minnesota to do a cooking class and then some local
events in the D.C. area, near where I live. I’m also hitting Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  There’s a wonderful huge kitchenware store with a wonderful cooking
school, called “A Southern Season.” I love teaching there. I’m coming up to Dorothea’s House in Princeton in November, but I would love to do more Northeast stuff, so I’m working on that leg of it.
Q. What’s on the agenda for your next cookbook?
A. A book on biscotti, scheduled to be published in 2015.You can also follow Domenica on her blog, Domenica Cooks.

Smashed Green Beans and Potatoes With Pancetta
From “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy” by Domenica Marchetti
1 lb./455 g. medium size yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut in half crosswise
1 lb./455 g. fresh young green beans, ends trimmed
4 oz./115 g. pancetta, diced
1/3 cup/75 ml. good quality extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
Put the potatoes and green beans in a large pot and fill with cold water to cover. Set the pot over high heat and salt generously. Bring the water to a boil and reduce the heat to medium high to maintain a lively (but not violent) simmer. Boil the vegetables until they are very tender, about 25 minutes.
While the potatoes and green beans are cooking, place the pancetta in a medium skillet (I use a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet) and set over medium heat. Sauté the pancetta, turning it frequently, for about 10 minutes, until it has rendered some of its fat and has just begun to crisp and turn brown. Remove from the heat and cover to keep warm.
When the vegetables are tender, drain them in a colander. Return them to the pot and slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Use a potato masher to mash the potatoes and green beans together as you drizzle. What you’re aiming for is a somewhat lumpy, textured mash — not need to purée completely.
With a spatula or wooden spoon, scrape the pancetta and drippings into the pot and stir to combine with the potato-bean mash. Season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and drizzle with a little more olive oil if you like. Serve warm or at room temperature.