And I do mean spicy!! So I have a confession to make. This may come as a surprise, but I am a cooking magazine junkie connoisseur of exquisitely written recipes and culinary eye candy. It’s my thing. Over the weekend I was helping a friend move a bed when I discovered a stack of Saveur magazines in her garage. Oh yes, that was the end of me helping with the move. I found myself shoes off and feet up surrounded by pages of mouth-watering goodness. What could be better, right? The first magazine I opened I instantly flipped to an eight page article, “In Deepest Italy”. It was all about food in the southern region of Basilicata, with a photo of Matera. Before I knew it was Matera all I could think was “I have to go there”, and then I realized I’ve already been there. Well now I want to go again! It’s charming, romantic and without another english speaking soul (which is delightfully frustrating to be honest). But that’s when I knew.. I knew I was going to have to subscribe to Saveur. It doesn’t matter how many cooking magazines I subscribe to, or how long it takes me to get through all of them. Its my thing, and therefore I must have it.
As I read this article I found myself wanting to sit and share a bottle of wine with the journalist. This New Yorker understands Italy the same way that I do! Yes, the food really is all that, but it’s so much more than food. It’s the meaning behind it; the way history is told, traditions are rendered, and families bound. It’s the intoxicating aromas and boisterous gatherings that make Italian food culture different than any other place on earth. Its captivating. Francise Prose said “what I like about Italian food is its confident simplicity, the cooks’ intensely personal, multigenerational, positively spiritual relationship with good local ingredients.. It’s slow food for sure, except that it has never been fast”.
Okaaaaaay, don’t get me started on slow food or I’ll never stop, but in a final word, slow food is a movement that I whole-heartedly support. There. I said it. Now on to dinner. In this gold mine of a magazine I found a recipe for Pignata di Agnello (aahem, lamb stew). It would be absolutely divine just as it is, however, I did make a couple changes to the recipe for the sake of cutting fat. Fat, not flavor mind you.
Pignata di Agnello (adapted from Saveur magazine, May 2009 issue)
1 1/2 lbs 3 lbs boneless, trimmed lamb shoulder, cut into 2″ cubes
2 lbs red potatoes, cut into 2″ cubes
5 oz pecorino cheese, shavings
1 can cannellini beans
1/4 lb spicy salami, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1 T 2 tsp crushed red chile flakes
4 sprigs thyme (or 8… no harm done)
2 carrots, peeled and cut 1/4″ thickness
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 head curly endive or escarole, chopped
2 dried red chili peppers
First off, I wanted to keep the authenticity of a Basilicata dish by making it spicy (I omitted the salami for the sake of getting into my skinny jeans tomorrow), but that’s why I amped up the chili heat. True southern Italian cooking is all about the peppers, but forewarning, this stew was hot. Maybe try half the heat if you have a low tolerance for spicy foods. Toss all the ingredients into a dutch oven, add 2 1/4 cups water, and bake for 2 1/2 hours on 325F, or until the meat and potatoes are falling apart. Mmmm… the house smelled like fall in no time. It was perfect for Monday Night Football at home with my bestie.
Well I loved hearing about all the things you look forward to in the fall! Pumpkin seems to be a favorite. So tell me, what’s your favorite way to use pumpkin? I crave pumpkin butter in my oats in the fall. Its delish with a dash of cinnamon, or creamy pumpkin soup, pumpkin filled ravioli.. the list could go on and on. Can’t wait to be inspired by some of your favorite concoctions..