Benvenuto, a hearty big fat Italian welcome, to my new blog! This is an incredibly exciting day for me and I am tickled pink with the way that it looks. When I met with Joe, the young gun who bowed his head and did absolutely everything perfectly and magically produced exactly what I asked of him and developed this beautiful blog for me, it took just 45 minutes to synergise my vision. I knew exactly what I wanted my blog to look like from the mood, the theme and the general feel that I wished to portray to layout and functionality of the site. Thanks to Joe and Dom for their incredible patience with me and for making this whole process loads of fun.
My home, my food and my family are a tightly woven Italian tapestry and it would be impossible to separate out any one of these for individual scrutiny. We speak, love and live our food and culture and enjoy nothing more than a plate of pasta, a glass of vino and good chat around the dinner table at the end of a day. So, my theme is Italy- Italian- Italiano and every picture has a story to tell. I shall be posting about each picture and matching it up with an appropriate Italian favoriti di cucina!
My very first post, on the Food24 Letterdash forum was
uploaded on the 16 September 2009 and 327 blog posts later, I have enjoyed every minute of blogging and look forward to sharing more new and exciting recipes on my new blog. One of my recent adventures has got me thinking about modern Italian food and how the classics are in need of a little re-invention and in my case, Africanisation!
Now this approach is all well and good, but do remember that I have a house full of Italians, that should I stray too far from the time honoured, age old, Nonna approved recipes, and start throwing in bits of ginger and coriander Willy Nilly, they will start throwing hands and arms in the air and muttering many many Italian profanities! So I shall try to fly under the radar and sneak in new flavours and without losing any limbs in the process.
So in the spirit of new beginnings I have created a budget (yes BUDGET) pasta dish and am using the star ingredient in a totally new way. In Italy, pigs cheeks are known as ‘guanciale’ which one would pronounce (gwun-charlay), they are generally cured and smoked and used much like bacon/ pancetta would be used as a salty and smoky base flavour in a pasta dish. I made enquiries with Dargle Valley Pork, the farm in the Natal Midlands that supplies me with hormone free/ free range pork and they happily supplied me with two beautiful pig cheeks at a cost of only R25, 00 for both. Talk about reasonable!
Last weekend Durban was drenched for two days with torrential rain that just would not stop. This is the kind of weather that fuels my cooking furnace so while hubby snuggled with Bubblz, Feenix and Tino-the-CLAW-Tripepi I got into the kitchen to play with my pork cheeks.
Triangoli di Guanciale
Feeds 4 – 5
For the Pork Cheek Ragu/ Sauce
Now, you could substitute the Pork cheeks with shoulder of pork quite happily, in fact you could even change to another meat such as lamb neck or shoulder or beef chuck. If you change the meat I would substitute the fennel bulb with celery. As the dish is going to cook long and slow in your oven, you really can use the cheaper cuts of meat which will result in tender meat and a beautifully full bodied rich sauce. Some of the meat is going to be chopped up finely to use as the filling for your Panzerotti and the rest is chopped and combined with the sauce. So you don’t need a large amount of meat either.
Olive Oil/ Duck Fat or Sunflower oil for frying
2 Pork Cheeks – patted dry with a piece of paper towel
3 large onions chopped
30g of fresh sage
30g fresh thyme or rosemary
2 bay leaves
2tsp of cracked black pepper
1tbs of capers – drained
6 cloves of garlic chopped
2 chicken stock cubes
3 carrots peeled and chopped into 3 large pieces
6 baby bulbs or 2 large bulbs of fresh fennel quartered (leave the tops on)
2 cups of dry white wine or 2 cups of chicken stock
3 tins of peeled tomatoes crushed by hand, in a bowl
Preheat your oven to 200d
In a large heavy based pot that can go into a hot oven, heat your oil of choice and brown the pork cheeks on both sides, remove from the pot and set aside in a covered dish.
In the same pot add your garlic and fry for 30 seconds, add your onion, bay leaves, pepper, anchovies, capers, stock cubes, sage and thyme or rosemary and brown with the onions.
Add in the carrots and fennel, give them a good stir and add the two cups of dry white wine. Make sure that as soon as you add the wine you scrape all of the beautiful caramelisation or browning off the bottom of the pot. This is where all the flavour is and is not to be wasted for this is the magic flavour elixir of your kitchen.
Now add your crushed tinned tomatoes, add the two cheeks back and give it all a good stir.
Put a lid on or cover the pot with tin foil, bring it to the boil on the top of your stove and then place into your pre-heated oven.
Cook for 20 minutes at 200d then turn the heat down to 100d for an hour and a half.
Once the sauce has cooled – remove the meat, carrots, fennel and herbs.
Chop one of the cheeks and place back into the sauce and chop the other cheek finely to use in the Triangoli Stuffing.
I used to collect stamps as a little girl and these filled pasta pockets called Triangoli remind me of those triangular stamps from the `1850’s from The Cape of Good Hope.
2 – 3tsp of olive oil
2tsp of salt
Place your flour into your mixer. Add the eggs, olive oil and salt. Combine with the flour until the dough starts pulling together into a ball. If it’s a particularly dry day, and by dry I mean that there is very little humidity in the air, it’s a good idea to flick a few drops of ice water onto your pasta dough. This will help to work small crumbs into the mixture.
Remove from your mixer onto a lightly floured surface.
Now, knead the dough for about 5 minutes or until the dough has a smooth and shiny surface.
Blush* …. in the kitchen early morning – still in my jarmies!!! #ilovetherain
Cover with cling film and place in the refrigerator to rest.
The Triangoli Stuffing
1 Pork cheek with 2tbs of the sauce
40g finely chopped parsley or basil
Salt & Pepper
A ¼tsp of freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg lightly beaten to use to glue the Triangoli closed
Remove one of the cooked pork cheeks from the sauce, peel the skin off * and finely chop all of the meat, remove two carrots and chop them finely too, add 40g of finely chopped parsley or basil to this mixture and season with salt and pepper. Add 1/4tsp of freshly grated nutmeg.
*Don’t throw the skin away; cut into cubes and add just a few cubes a day to your dog’s food. The fat will condition her coat.
Don’t overdo it though.
Roll out sheets of pasta, place 2/3tsp of the mixture 5cm apart on each sheet.
Brush around the tasty little dollops of stuffing with a little beaten egg
Close up carefully, making sure that you gently squeeze out any trapped air
Using a cookie cutter, or pasta cutter, cut out your finished shape, dust very lightly with flour and set aside
Bring a large pot of salted boiling water to a rolling boil, add the Triangoli and cook for approximately 4 minutes.
Fresh pasta cooks very quickly so don’t be tempted to leave them alone in the kitchen.
Once tender, drain the water off in a colander, add some sauce and a dash of cream, no more than about 100ml of cream and serve 5 Triangoli in a portion, topped with a little sauce and some parmesan cheese.
And that’s it …. I guarantee you Triangoli that are bursting with flavour and I also guarantee you some happy faces around your table.
I would love to hear what you think of my new blog.
I ask your forgiviness in advance for any glitches – I will work them out as they arise … or not!