I thought this sounded interesting, and I kept an open mind about how good it would be. After all, I am trying lots of new Italian recipes these days, and it's as much an exploration as it is just making another dinner every night. But this one I really liked, and I will definitely make it again!
Here's a Spezzatino Speziato, or spicy pork stew.
It's not spicy the way we Americans usually employ the term; it is not hot at all, but it's loaded with ground cumin and coriander, and the lemon gives it a light citrusy zing.
This would be good served over rice.
This Pampanella is a strange recipe from Molise that I found in the encyclopedic La Cucina, The Regional Cooking of Italy, from the Accademia Italiana Della Cucina (I wish the USA had such an institute!).
You rub morsels of pork with garlic and chili and roast it, then pick the cooked meat out of the juices and finish them with vinegar, and discard the juices. It's a strange preparation, but i couldn't stop picking at it when it was finished... it's bewitching.
This recipe for Spezzatino di Maiale all Bolzanese comes from Bolzano, in the northeastern Italian Alps, beyond Venice. The paprika is a clue that this dish has Austrian roots, from the long period that northern Italy was under the control of the Hapsburgs and the Holy Roman Empire.
The pork shoulder has enough flavor to support the other strong flavors and the mix or tomatoes and paprika makes is a memorable cold-weather dish!
This is traditionally served with hot polenta.
Here's a basic boiled-beef recipe, called a brasato in Italian.
There are many brasati, with regional specialties and differences for the seasons and holidays. This is an everyday recipe that's good for any season. The beef is cooked with onions, which provide the braising liquid and ultimately become a sauce for the beef.
This is a simple and satisfying recipe when you can get fresh trout.
You cook the cleaned fish in a skillet with oil and some seasoned breadcrumbs for a filling. When the fish is ready, it is tender and succulent, and flakes easily away from the skin so you can serve the whole fish or just the fillets.
This is a rich Ligurian frittata that features two flavors that we don't often see paired in the United States.
It also includes cheese and breadcrumbs, so it's a hearty dish. It's good served hot or cold, as for a picnic.
You can try this the traditional way in an omelette pan, flipping it by sliding it onto a plate and then flipping it bac into the skillet, but this has so much "stuff" in it that it breaks easily. It's easier to just bake it in a moderate oven.
This omelette is best made in late summer at the height of tomato season. If you can't get fresh ripe in-season tomatoes, in my opinion you're better off using good quality canned tomatoes; at least they were ripe when they went into the can!
I especially like this with some nice flaky sea salt.
We had an intimate surf & turf dinner for St Valentine's Day 2021 because, after 9 months of all-fish-all-the-time during the Covid lockdown, I was on strike. So instead of our usual lobsters and champagne, Lorna had a lobster and I had a steak!
It went like this:
This is wonderfully delicious and worth the time it takes to cook it.
It calls for dried Porcini mushrooms, as pretty much all traditional Italian dishes do. Porcinis are the same as King Boletes (I've bought those in Polish markets) and Cepes (the French name).
You can use other types of dried wild mushrooms if you cannot find Porcinis, but the combination or Porcini mushrooms with red wine is a classic flavor of the Italian Northwest so it's worth the search.
This is just a quick pick-me-up drink for a cold afternoon when you are cooking pasta.
The pasta water already has salt, and some starch from the cooking pasta. You add a full-bodied inexpensive red wine, a pinch of pepper, and maybe a few flakes of dried red pepper if you like.
This is particularly welcome after shoveling snow when you come in cold and wet and you smell dinner cooking!
This is about a simple as it gets, and it's delicious in its simplicity. You must use fresh sage for this.
I have seen photos of this with the sage leaves visible in the finished frittata, but I have never yet had the patience to try one that picture-perfect when it will be in my belly in 5 minutes...