Bagna cauda

Bagna caoda fished dish

Bagna caoda fished dish

Piedmont-flagBagna caôda.From Piemonte. The rough translation of title is “hot bath” , which in my opinion is always preferable to a cold one 🙂 This dish is well known outside of Italy, but as is often the case it often is very different from the original. It is basically a warm anchovy and garlic dip for raw vegetables. These are two of my favourite things, so it’s one of my favourite antipasti. A lot of versions include milk or cream, but these are not found in the original Piemonte version

Bagna caoda ingredients

Bagna caoda ingredients

  • About 6 anchovy fillets per person. Salted are best, but tinned in oil will do. Soak them in a little white wine.
  • Garlic (from 2 or 3 cloves per person up to a whole head)
  • Olive oil, the best you can find, about 1/2 a wine glass per person. Only olive oil will do.
  • About 20 g of unsalted butter per person.
  • 1 egg per person(optional)

To serve, dip vegetables into the mixture. The recipe I have is very prescriptive and says you can only use vegetables that are in season and grow in Piedmont. I think this is going a bit far though. Some suggestions on what to serve with the Bagna Cauda (raw unless otherwise stated):-

  • Fresh bread
  • potatoes cooked in their skins and then peeled
  • Peppers roasted and peeled or raw
  • Onions boiled or baked
  • Sliced apples
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Jerusalem artichokes (raw or cooked))
  • Fennel
  • Cauliflower (raw or cooked)
  • Endive
  • Celery
  • Courgettes
  • Small globe artichoke
  • Cardoons
  • Cucumber
  • Radicchio
  • Asparagus
  • Carrot sticks
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Spring onions
  • Small whole mushrooms
Bagna caoda vegetables

Bagna caoda vegetables

Slice the garlic very thinly and soak it in cold water for a couple of hours. Some recipes call for it to be boiled in milk, but I think this is unnecessary.

Add all the ingredients to an earthenware pot along with a small ladle of oil and cook very slowly for about half an hour. Don’t let the garlic brown. Stir it constantly with a wooden spoon. When the anchovies and garlic have dissolved into the sauce, add the rest of the oil.

Bring the pot to the table and keep it warm with some kind heat source.  You can buy special pots for this purpose, but fondue sets work well. Serve it with your selection of vegetables.

When you have had your fill of vegetables you can add a beaten egg to what’s left in the pot.

Rabbit alla cacciatore

bergamo crestConiglio alla Cacciatore or Huntsman’s Rabbit. When I lived in Bergamo the Sunday lunch was usually roast rabbit with polenta. I was regularly woken at seven in the morning by my neighbour grinding his polenta under my bedroom window. I’m sure he did it on purpose (we didn’t get on that well 😉 ) I see that rabbit is coming back into fashion in the UK, so I thought I’d share this recipe. It’s not roast rabbit, but another common Bergamasco dish. You can use any type of mushroom, even porcini if your bank balance will stand it. Serves 4

Rabbit with mushrooms ingredients

Rabbit with mushrooms ingredients

  • 1 rabbit cut into portions
  • 400 g mushrooms
  • 100 g passata
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 100 ml chicken stock
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Chop the carrot and celery into small strips and thinly slice the onion.
  2. Add to a pan with 3 tbsp of olive oil and cook over a medium heat until the onions start to go translucent.
  3. Add the rabbit pieces and brown. Sprinkle them with the flour.
  4. Thinly slice the mushrooms and sautè them in a separate pan with the rest of the olive oil and the whole, lightly crushed clove of garlic. Cook until they are well coloured and start to give off their juice.
  5. Add to the pan with the rabbit and add the wine. Cook over a high heat until the wine has reduced by half.
  6. Add the passata and stock, season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for about and hour over a low to medium heat.
  7. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with polenta.
Rabbit with mushrooms

Rabbit with mushrooms

Fusilli with mushrooms

Fusilli Ai Funghi. This dish works best if you use a mix of different types of mushrooms. To all my Czech wild mushroom hunter friends – this is the perfect recipe :-). It works with any type however, and on this occasion I cooked it with standard field mushrooms. Serves 4.

  • 320g fusilli
  • 800g mushrooms (as many different types as possible), chopped
  • 250g tomatoes (tinned, pasatta or fresh – skinned seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 sprig parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, optional
  • 1 knob butter, optional
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

 

  1. Wash and chop the mushrooms. How finely you chop them depends on taste and the varieties you are using. I could only get standard field mushrooms, so I chopped them quite finely.
  2. Fry the onion and mushrooms in olive oil until the mushrooms start to release their liquid.
  3. Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and add the parsley.
  5. Cook the fusilli in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and toss with a knob of butter (optional).
  6. Mix the pasta with the mushroom sauce and serve with parmesan cheese on the side.

 

 

 

 

Chicken with mushrooms

Chicken with mushrooms finished dish

Chicken with mushrooms finished dish

Pollo ai funghi. If you don’t have enough dried mushrooms, you can add a few regular white mushrooms to bulk it out. Serves 4

  • 150 grams dried mushrooms (preferably wild mushrooms)
  • 1 whole chicken cut into portions (or chicken pieces, legs and thighs etc)
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 25 grams butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots (or baby onions) — sliced
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons passata
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  1. Put the mushrooms in a bowl, add hot water to cover and leave to soak for 15 minutes, then drain and squeeze out. Keep the liquid for flavouring soups or stews.
  2. Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Add the chicken and fry, turning frequently, until browned all over.
  3. Add the mushrooms and shallots and cook for a few minutes, then add the wine and cook until it has evaporated.
  4. Add the passata and 3 tablespoons of water and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook until the chicken is tender. Cooking time will depend on the chicken – it could take up to an hour
  6. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with the parsley.

Sausage ‘alla cacciatora’

Salsicce alla cacciatora translates as ‘Hunter’s sausage’ . I just thought I’d mention that for those of you that love double entendres 🙂  Serves 4

sausage alla cacciatora

400 grams sausages – preferably Italian
 200 grams mushrooms — sliced
 1/2  medium onion — chopped
 1      clove garlic — chopped
 400 grams tomatoes (fresh or tinned) — peeled and chopped
 butter
 salt and pepper

  • Prick the sausage and fry in a little butter until well coloured. Remove the sausages and put aside.
  • Add the onions and garlic to the pan and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and cook for ten minutes.
  • Return the sausages to the pan, cover and cook for a further 15 minutes.

sausage alla cacciatora finished dish

Serve with fresh crusty bread

Mezzalune with mushrooms

You’re out of luck if  you’re expecting a recipe for left over turkey 🙂 These were part of our new year’s eve dinner. This dish comes from puglia where they love cardoncelli mushrooms but I was in England when I cooked it so I used a mix of exotic mushrooms instead.  Serves 6

mezzaluna with mushrooms ingredients

mezzaluna with mushrooms ingredients

  • 300 grams fresh pasta
  • 1 quantity tomato sauce
  • 300 grams mushrooms
  • 2 potatoes — boiled
  • 200 grams ricotta
  • a tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • a clove of garlic
  • 1 medium egg
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Clean the mushrooms carefully. Fry in olive oil with the garlic, salt and pepper, over a high heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and chop finely.
Chopped mushrooms
Mash the potatoes and mix with the mushrooms, parsley, ricotta and egg. Mix with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth paste.
Roll out the pasta into thin sheets (about 2 mm thick). Cut into 7-8 cm rounds using a pastry cutter or wine glass.
Cutting pasta
Place a little of the mushroom mixture in the centre of each round.
Mezzalune with filling
Fold the pasta over to make the mezzalune (half moon) shapes. Be careful to exclude as much air as possible and to press down the edges well.
Mezzalune ready to cook
Cook the mezzelune in plenty of salted boiling water. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the pasta but shouldn’t be longer than 4-5 minutes. Serve with the tomato sauce.

mezzaluna with mushrooms finished dish

mezzaluna with mushrooms finished dish

Mushroom ‘arraganati’

This is a great way to cook mushrooms. I used a mixture of cardoncelli and pioppini but it would go well with any kind. Serve it as a side dish with anything you fancy.  It would go great with game.

Serves 4

Mushrooms ingredients

Mushrooms ingredients

  •   480 g  mushrooms — cleaned and halved
  •   60 g  bread crumbs
  •   40 g  pecorino Romano — grated
  •   4 cloves  garlic — chopped
  •   200 g  tomato — chopped
  •   40 ml  olive oil
  •   4 sprigs  parsley — chopped
  1. Mix together the bread crumbs, pecorino, parsley, garlic and oil. Season
  2. Mix with your hands until it comes together.
  3. Put the mushrooms and tomatoes into an oven proof dish and top with the bread crumb mixture
  4. Bake at 180 °C for about half an hour.
Baked mushrooms finished dish

Baked mushrooms finished dish