Cooking Rice with an Italian Accent! (16 page)

RECOMMENDED WINES:

PINOT NOIR/NERO, TEROLDEGO

 

Riso al Forno Villa San Giovanni

(BAKED RICE VILLA SAN GIOVANNI)

SERVES 4

Villa San Giovanni is the major port of embarkment to Sicily from the Italian mainland. It is in the province of Reggio Calabria. The huge ferries transport trains, trucks, cars, and of course people from Italy to Messina, Sicily. A short distance from the busy port, the town climbs a gentle slope of a mountain, and is a beautiful gem of a village completely rebuilt after the terrible earthquake and tidal wave of 1908. Anyway, this is a sumptuous dish that will please everyone in the house.

1 quart water

4 tablespoons olive oil

½ peeled large onion, sliced thinly

1 large peeled clove garlic, crushed

3 large ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley

1¾ cups long-grain rice

Salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (we're back in Southern Italy)

1 10-ounce package frozen peas, completely thawed

3½ ounces prosciutto or boiled ham, chopped

5 ounces Italian sweet sausage, skinned and crumbled

2 hard-boiled eggs

12 black pitted olives, sliced in rings

1 fresh egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons butter, diced

Preheat oven to 375°. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Meantime, in another large saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil on moderate heat for five minutes. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook for ten minutes. Add parsley and rice. Season with salt and pepper, mix well, and add the boiling hot water all at once. Cook, stirring continuously, for eighteen minutes. Cover and set aside. Butter a baking dish and place a layer of rice to cover bottom. Cover with thawed peas, sprinkle with chopped prosciutto, and crumbled sausage (yes, that is right, uncooked). Cut hard-boiled eggs into slices and distribute evenly over the layer of the remaining rice. Beat the egg yolk with the milk and pour over the top. Dot with butter. Place in preheated oven for fifteen minutes. Remove, let rest for five minutes. Serve immediately.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

CIRÒ RISERVA, SALICE SALENTINO

 

Tortino di Riso al Verde

(GREEN RICE TART)

SERVES 4

Mantova is the home of this attractive rice tart. It was also the home of the great Latin poet, Virgil. Virgil wrote the epic poem,
The Aeneid
, the legendary story of Aeneas, who vies in legend with Romulus and Remus as the founder of Rome. Today, Mantova's historical center is a remarkably preserved medieval town. Its cuisine is also famous for Gnocchi al Gorgonzola and Pasta Strazzopreti (these are found in my previous books.)

4 tablespoons butter

1 peeled clove garlic, crushed

1 package frozen spinach, completely thawed

Salt and pepper to taste

1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed

2 quarts water with 1 teaspoon salt

1½ cups long-grain rice

Pinch of nutmeg

3 egg yolks

2 tablespoons light cream

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon grated Gruyère or Swiss cheese

2 heaping tablespoons plain bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in skillet on gentle heat. Add garlic and sauté five minutes. Add spinach, cover, and cook for ten minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and crushed bouillon. Let cool. Bring water to boil. Add rice, stir, and cook uncovered for twenty minutes. Drain in colander. Finely chop spinach when still warm. Pour into a bowl, dress with 1 tablespoon butter and pinch of nutmeg. Add one egg yolk at a time and beat after each addition. Beat in cream and grated cheese. Butter a springform cake pan with 1 tablespoon of butter. Sprinkle bottom and sides with bread crumbs. Add rice and spinach. Mix well. Level off and press down with a wet spoon. Dot with last tablespoon of butter. Place in preheated oven and bake for forty minutes. Cool for ten minutes. Remove sides of springform pan. Bring to table and slice in generous portions to serve.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

BARBERA D'ALBA, NEBBIOLO D'ALBA

 

Riso al Pomodoro

(TOMATO SAUCED RICE)

SERVES 4

This is a simply delicious main course or a great side dish to accompany roasts, chops, cutlets, or poultry. It is a nice change, as a side dish, from the usual fried or baked potatoes.

4 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt

2 cups long-grain rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon butter

1 large peeled clove garlic

1 1-pound can Italian plum peeled tomatoes with their juice

Pinch of salt and ½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes

½ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

½ cup washed whole fresh basil leaves packed down

Put water on to boil in 6-quart saucepan. Stir in rice and boil uncovered ten minutes. Drain and reserve. Meanwhile, in a large deep skillet, sauté garlic clove in oil and butter on moderate heat until garlic is golden brown. Discard garlic (give it to me to spread on my slice of toasted Italian bread). Add contents of canned tomatoes, mash tomatoes with a fork, add salt and hot pepper. Bring to boil. Add reserved rice. Stir constantly for ten minutes on moderate heat. Stir in parsley and basil. Remove from heat. Cover and let rest two minutes. Pour into warmed serving bowl and bring to table. Provide Pecorino Romano cheese to pass at table.

RECOMMENDED WINES:

CANNONAU DI SARDEGNA, SANGIOVESE

 

Riso al Forno alla Marietta

(MARIETTA'S BAKED RICE)

SERVES 6

My surrogate mother, Marietta La Bozzetta, of Reggio Calabria, Italy, was 92 years young, when she died last year. She was so dear to me because she was my deceased mamma's godchild. When she cooked, watch out! Her Riso Al Forno would feed an army. This is a heavy yet heavenly dish.

2 large peeled white onions, thinly sliced

¼ cup butter

¼ cup olive oil

3 cups long-grain rice

6 cups skim milk

2 chicken bouillon cubes, crumbled

¼ teaspoon powdered saffron

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese

1 pound mozzarella cheese, cubed

1 pound domestic provolone cheese, cubed

1 pound hot or sweet Italian sausage, skinned, crumbled, and browned very brown in a skillet, then drained of grease on paper towels

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms soaked in warm water ½ hour, drained, washed well under cold running water, dried and chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. In a very large saucepan, sauté onion in butter and oil on moderate heat for five minutes. Add rice and stir three minutes. Add milk, crushed bouillon, and saffron. Cook on gentle heat (after the milk has come to a boil) for eight minutes, constantly stirring. The rice will absorb most of the liquid. Heavily grease a large baking dish. Spoon in a layer of cooked rice on the bottom of pan. Sprinkle with cooked sausage, grated cheese, mozzarella, and provolone cubes, and chopped mushrooms. Keep layering in this manner, winding up with a layer of rice sprinkled with remaining grated cheese. Cover with aluminum foil tightly. Bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake eight more minutes. Remove from oven. Let set for five minutes, cut, and serve.
Mamma Mia!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

AGLIANICO, PRIMITIVO

 

Riso alla Malesiana

(MALAYSIAN RICE)

SERVES 4

Malaysian rice! In an Italian cookbook! Now, calm down. There is an explanation. My
compare
Sandro La Bozzetta and his wife Clelia traveled to Egypt on an Italian cruise ship. The second day on board they were served this “Malaysian” rice. They loved it. But Clelia, nifty lady that she is, asked to speak to the chef. He was an Italian from the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples. Clelia asked him where did the name of this dish originate. He smiled and said: “I made it up. I thought it sounded exotically oriental.” So, that's the story.

1 cup long grain-rice

4 cups water with 1 teaspoon salt

1 large peeled onion

8 ounces boiled beef (round steak)

1 large bell pepper, green, yellow, or red, pithed and seeded

6 tablespoons olive oil

2 large eggs, beaten

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil rice uncovered in salted water for fifteen minutes. Drain and reserve. Meanwhile, slice the onion thinly. Dice the boiled beef and cut the seeded bell pepper into about one-inch squares. In a large skillet, brown the onion in 4 tablespoons of olive oil on low heat. Remove with slotted spoon. In same oil, brown the meat and remove with slotted spoon. Sauté the pepper squares in same oil for eight minutes. Remove with slotted spoon. Put all the sautéed ingredients in a bowl. In the same skillet, fry the beaten eggs on low heat, beating with a fork until they firm up but are still moist. Pour eggs into a bowl. To the same skillet, add 2 remaining tablespoons of olive oil. As soon as it is hot, add the boiled rice, the cooked onion, beef, bell peppers, and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. On moderate heat, stir to amalgamate all the ingredients. Remove from heat. Let rest for two minutes, then pour into serving dish. Bring to table. This dish is about as Malaysian as Luciano Pavarotti!

RECOMMENDED WINES:

NEBBIOLO, TEROLDEGO ROTILIANO

 

Riso e Verze con Salsicci

(RICE WITH SAVOY CABBAGE AND SAUSAGES)

SERVES 4

Savoy cabbage has distinctive, wrinkled green leaves and more flavor than ordinary head cabbage. It's a natural when combined with Italian sausage. When you purchase Italian sausage, make sure it is very lean (more red meat than ground white pork fat). Check the ingredients. It must be seasoned with fennel seeds. This is a spicy rice dish that everyone will enjoy.

1 large head savoy cabbage

1½ ounces pancetta or unsmoked bacon

1 teaspoon dry rosemary crushed into a powder

1 large peeled garlic clove

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup long-grain rice

1 quart boiling hot chicken stock

4 links Italian sausage, sweet or hot, skinned

4 heaping tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Tear off all the leaves of the cabbage. Discard any outer, withered leaves. Wash well in cold water, drain and chop coarsely. Julienne the pancetta. Mince the rosemary with garlic. In a large saucepan, fry the pancetta in oil for eight minutes on moderate heat. Add the cabbage, cover and cook for eight minutes on low heat. Add minced rosemary and garlic. Add rice. Stir three minutes. Add the broth and bring to boil on high heat. At the same time, fry the skinned sausages in a nonstick skillet until well browned all over, at least twelve minutes. Try to keep the sausages whole. Transfer the cooked sausages to the boiling soup. Lower heat to low and simmer for ten minutes. Remove sausages with slotted spoon. Transfer soup into tureen. Sprinkle cheese. Serve in individual soup bowls, topping each with a sausage.
Molto buono!
(Very good!)

RECOMMENDED WINES:

SCHIOPETTINO, BARBERA

 

Riso Nettuno

(NEPTUNE'S RICE)

SERVES 4

Neptune was the Roman god of the seas. Since this recipe calls for tuna fish, someone who knows Roman mythology baptized it Neptune's Rice. I think it makes sense, don't you?

16 white pearl onions (small boiling onions, cipolline)

2 quarts water with 2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon dried sage, crumbled into powder

½ cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon Poupon-style mustard

1 6-ounce can tuna, drained and flaked

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