Say one evening you’re looking for recipes with one idea in mind… to blow somebody’s mind… in that case.. turning to Italy is the most effective choice. Italy has to mean “delicious” in some language I swear. I like cooking… I like cooking a lot, and I’ve tried many things in the kitchen over the last few years, but without a doubt, cooking anything italian-inspired has always been memorable, and the perfect time travel device. As a kid, I ate more pasta and pizza than anything else I can remember. Growing up in Venezuela exposed me to Italian food.. the legit kind I wanna say, no offence Pizza Hut.
During WWII, many Italians migrated to Venezuela looking for a brighter future away from the devastation of Europe at the time, and they brought with them the gift of their cuisine, their humour, their heritage and their hard working nature. Italian restaurants back home will forever be in my heart. Whenever I cook for somebody I care about, 9 out of 10, Italian food it’s what’s for dinner.. except for my girlfriend. She has to put up with all the other “weird” stuff I want to cook as well. This evening, I cooked for my friend Raechel, and she brought the gifts of leftover risotto, arancini cravings, fresh basil and good wine. She made the arancini. Her first time. I’ve never seen her this excited before. I’ve rarely seen anyone this excited about cooking before.
Ingredients (makes about 6 servings, freeze any leftover for later):
1 pound of fresh Pasta (4 servings)
2 pounds of ground lamb
2 Tbsp chopped Bacon or Pancetta.
2 medium carrots. Small dice
1/2 yellow onion. Small dice
2 celery stalks. Small dice
4 garlic cloves. Minced.
2/3 Cup of San Marzano Tomatoes. Blended.
1 Cup of a full bodied red wine like Cabernet.
1 or1/2 Tbsp Thai fish sauce. Depends on your taste, just like salt.
Kosher Salt and Freshly cracked pepper to taste
(Inspired by my blogger friend stefan’s tutorial on how to make these!)
Leftover Cremini Risotto. My friend raechel made it, and she has been too lazy to provide her magical recipe so I’ll point to a similar one I made a while back for now. Porcini Risotto and Scallops : Oregano
1 Cup of Panko bread crumbs. Milled in a food processor for finer coating.
1 Egg, beaten
Lots of mozzarella cheese 🙂
I also made a roasted chicken and bell peppers stuffing with some leftover roasted chicken I had and roasted bell peppers leftovers as well. Chopped them and mixed them together, and seasoned them with pepper, salt and cabernet vinegar. For whatever reason it turned out sensational I’m not even joking.
I’ll only cover the process of making the lamb ragu here. Who am I kiddin’, Stefan has quite the tutorial on arancini making and pretty much any other amazing Italian recipe you can think of really.
The pressure cooking phase. I used to brown meat when making ragu sauces. I gave up on that a while back. Question it all you want. I’m convinced it doesn’t add much to the result and probably just renders the meat dry and unpleasant to eat when overdone. Meat ragu sauces take time to make, enough time that protein browning and sugar caramelization takes please at a very slow pace anyways. I like the end result of that process over searing the ground meat at the beginning. It’s a texture thing. So… the pressure cooking phase.. Brown the bacon/pancetta in it’s own fat in the pressure cooker vessel. Add the chopped vegetables (mirepoix) and cook on medium heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic. Add the blended tomatoes and cook them until they have reduced a bit and turned a deeper red color, about 5-8 minutes. Add the wine, and cook for a few minutes to make sure the alcohol is evaporated. Season to taste. I like using fish sauce to season meat sauces but you can disregard this and just use salt or soy sauce or anything salty you like really. Add a bit of water, and get ready to pressure cook. Cook for 45 min at 15psi over low heat once the pressure cooker has sealed. Depressurize and reduce until you achieve the consistency of bolognese sauce. Degrease.
The pasta. If you’re dealing with fresh pasta. It cooks quicker and it’s very relative, so I wanna say, 4 minutes in salted boiling water but it could be more. Just check for doneness after 4 minutes… until al dente. If using dry pasta, just follow the instructions on the box and… check until al dente no matter what the instructions say. Trust yourself.
The plating phase. Well, there’s nothing left to do other than get some pasta on those plates and pour the meat sauce all over them. Garnish with basil or parsley or chervil or all of the above. I use a meat fork for plating pasta. Grate parmesan cheese all over those plates. The more the better. Enjoy it you concoction makers, food lovers, ingredient experimenters, flavour pairing demons..,? you know who you are. Until the next time! Have fun!