Sgombri All’aceto. From Puglia. Mackerel is a very cheap and tasty fish. It is readily available and stocks are ample. There is a campaign at the moment to get the British to eat more, especially in chip shops Fish Fight Here in Bari there is no such aversion. This is a very simple recipe, but you must use very fresh mackerel. The blanching should be very brief, be careful not to overcook. The traditional way to time the cooking is to recite the pater noster or Lord’s prayer.
fresh mackerel, cleaned and filleted
white wine vinegar
garlic, finely chopped
fresh mint, finely chopped
Mackerel in vinegar ingredients
Blanche the mackerel fillets for a few seconds in boiling, salted water. I’ll start you off. “Our Father… ” 🙂
Put the fillets into a non-metallic dish and cover with vinegar.
Leave to marinate for an hour.
Remove the mackerel from the vinegar and transfer to a serving plate.
Dress with olive oil, garlic and mint.
Note: If you don’t want to eat the mackerel immediately, they will keep for a while in the fridge if you cover them with olive oil.
Agnello di Pasqua. This is another Pugliese dish. Very young ‘suckling’ lamb with eggs and peas. It will be difficult to find agnello di latte outside of Italy, but spring lamb will do just as well. You’ll probably need your butcher’s help to cut the leg into slices.Serves 6
Lamb with peas ingredients
1kg leg of spring lamb (or other cuts), cut into 2cm slices through the bone.
In an oven proof dish, soften the onion in the olive oil.
Lamb with peas frying onions
Add the lamb pieces and fry until well sealed. Add the wine, cover and transfer to an oven preheated to 180°C
Lamb with peas browning meat
Cooking time will depend on the lamb, so a bit of guesswork will be involved. When the lamb is about 3/4 done, add the peas. Mix together the eggs, parsley and pecorino. When the lamb is cooked, pour over the egg mixture. Leave for a couple of minute until the eggs have set and serve.
Quaglie alla cacciatora. Have you ever seen quail in the supermarket and wondered what the hell you are supposed to do with them? I finally decided to have a go cooking them. An Italian friend gave me this recipe and it was a piece of cake to make. It would work well with chicken pieces as well, if you don’t fancy the quail.
70 grams butter
1 glass white wine
2 tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon parsley — chopped
salt and pepper
Melt the butter in a pan and add the quail and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and fry until the quail are done, turning frequently so they are evenly coloured, about 15 minutes. Remove to a warmed serving dish.
Sprinkle the flour into the pan and stir with a wooden spoon, making sure there are no lumps. Add the wine and stir rapidly until the sauce is smooth. Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes.
Pour the sauce around the quail, sprinkle on the parsley and serve.
This is another classic dish from Bari. A tiella is a terracotto cooking dish thought to have been introduced by the Spanish. The ingredients are built up layer by layer in the dish and then baked in the oven. Tiellas were at one time the evening meal of the farm workers when they came in from the fields. They were made from whatever was abundant and cheap at the time. This version uses mussels, a staple of Pulgia. Serves 4
1kg mussels, thoroughly cleaned
500g tomatoes, sliced
300g potatoes, thinly sliced
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper
Heat the mussels in a pan with a little olive oil until they open. About 5 minutes. Reserve the liquid
Remove the top shell from each mussel
In an oven proof dish, preferably terracotta, put a layer of half the tomatoes, then all the onions, half the parsley and half the garlic.
Season with salt and pepper and drizzle a little olive oil.
Then make a layer of the sliced potatoes.
Make a layer of mussels in their half shell and top with the rest of the parsley and garlic
Sprinkle plenty of pecorino on top and drizzle with some more olive oil.
This would go just as well with squid. Be careful when removing the cuttlefish ‘bone’ as it’s important to leave the body sack whole. Don’t worry about skinning them as the skin will burn off on the grill. Serves 4
8 medium cuttlefish
150 grams pecorino Romano — grated
150 grams bread crumbs
1 medium egg
2 cloves garlic — finely chopped
1 sprig parsley — finely chopped
1 tablespoon capers — finely chopped
4 fillets anchovies — finely chopped
salt and pepper
Clean the cuttlefish, keeping the body whole. Finely chop the tentacles.
Mix together in a bowl, the tentacles, bread crumbs,egg, garlic, parsley,
capers, anchovies, pepper and a good slug of olive oil.
Carefully stuff the bodies with the mixture.
Brush with olive oil, season with salt and grill for about 20 minutes
This is a traditional new year’s eve dish. CotechinoModena or Cotechino di Modena, also sometimes spelled cotecchino or coteghino, is a fresh sausage made from pork and comes from Modena. Zampone Modenais closely related, but uses the pig’s trotter as a sausage case. There are two kinds of cotechino: Raw and precooked, though most Italians buy the precooked kind, which comes in a foil packet which you have to boil gently for 20 minutes. You should be able to get a ready cooked cotechino in an Italian deli. Serves 4
Put the lentils, half the onion and one of the celery sticks in a large
Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer over a low heat until
the lentils are tender – about 45 minutes.
When they are done discard the onion and celery. Chop the remaining onion
and celery finely.
Heat the oil and butter in a pan. Fry the onion and celery for about 5
Drain the lentil and add to the pan. Cook over a low heat, stirring
Season with salt and pepper.
If using a precooked cotechino, reheat according to the instructions on the packet. If you are using a fresh one, place it in a saucepan, cover with plenty of cold water, bring to a simmer and cook gently for 2 hours for a small (600g) one, up to 4 hours for a larger (1000g) one. At the end of the cooking time, remove from the heat and allow to rest in the cooking liquid for 10 minutes, drain and slice into thick rounds.
Serve the lentils with slices of the sausage on top.