Tagliatelle with Duck Ragu

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Duck Ragu

Introduction

In the autumn and winter I like to use whatever meat is plentiful in my ragu. Wild rabbit and wild boar (with bitter chocolate) are particular favourites, lamb shanks can be fantastic, goose too.

I made this version with duck legs mostly drumsticks, but you can substitute any of the meats mentioned above. The secret is to use cuts of meat that require long slow cooking.

Wild or domestic duck are equally good, but the wild bird will take longer to cook.

Garganelli Pasta

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Garganelli

Introduction

Garganelli is a favourite of mine and gets requested often; I think of it as the richer forerunner of penne. Making pasta like this is a labour of love, so I keep it for special occasions.

Pasta like this holds sauces well and the imperfections of hand-made pasta offer a more sensuous texture.

This pasta combines well with any meat ragu.

Sweet Potato or Squash Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Sweet Potato or Squash Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Introduction

Thanksgiving and Christmas are times to celebrate but they can also be used to innovate in the kitchen. I am happy to be constrained by “traditional” ingredients as long as I am free to choose what to do with them.

The reason for scare quotes: traditional = old bad habit, constraint and enemy of innovation; I have little time for it.

I came up with this dish for a Thanksgiving dinner in Atlanta a couple of years ago. We had sent our guests a wide list of ingredients and asked them to choose the flavours that they most associated with Thanksgiving, celebration and autumn/fall. This dish, one of many small courses that we served, was a result of their choices.

I had wanted to do something with sweet potato that showed it in a different light. The dish is equally good with sweet potato or squash, but look for a Potimarron or Hokkaido squash, they are less moist which is essential.

Bucatini all'Amatriciana

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Bucatini all'Amatriciana

Introduction

This is a house speciality and one of the 'classic' variants that I mention in Spaghetti all Gricia. I tend to think of it as 'Gricia in a winter coat'.

Guanciale also known as pig's cheek bacon (guancia = cheek) is a subtle fatty meat with an un-rivalled flavour. It has started to turn up in good Italian delis, but I cure my own.

This dish is about about pasta and pork, so avoid the temptation to increase the other ingredients, you want to coat the pasta not drown it.

There is a debate as to whether this should be made with onion or garlic or a combination. I tend to use one or the other, am less happy with the result of using both. See suggestion.

Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

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Butternut Squash & Sage Risotto

Introduction

I have or thought I had a 'Zucca piena di Napoli' squash growing, a rare Italian variety with a beautiful blue-ish green hue. While I was away last week it turned a pale tan colour because it is actually butternut squash. No complaints butternut has an excellent flavour and is particularly good in risotto and soup.

I let the squash, the whopper pictured below which weighed 2.2kg (almost 5lbs), mature a day or two more on the vine and then let it sit for a couple of days once cut to allow it to dry a little. This concentrates the flavour.

Any firm autumn\winter squash will work. I am looking forward to experimenting with some of the varieties that we have planted in the kitchen garden; let's hope they don't all turn out to be butternut.

Porchetta or Rolled, Herb-Stuffed Pork Belly

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Porchetta ready to serve

Porchetta

Introduction

A favourite here in Misse, Porchetta is a rich dish and a little goes a long way.

Porchetta is a classic Italian pork roast. It has been recognised with a 'prodotto agroalimentare tradizionale' (traditional agricultural-alimentary product).

The original is made with a whole small pig, which has been gutted, de-boned, stuffed with herbs, garlic and wild fennel then spit roasted. It is commonly seen in this form in Butcher's shops and is bought by the slice. It can be eaten warm or cold.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Chili & Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Spaghetti with Garlic, Chili & Oven-Dried Tomatoes

Introduction

I was sorely tempted to show you a photograph of the empty plates follwing this dish, but that's not the point is it?

We have now stocked the Misse kitchen cupboard with oven-dried tomatoes to see us through the autumn and winter months. That will allow us to enjoy a taste of summer all year round.

I chose pecorino cheese for this recipe as it accentuates the earthy flavours of the dish.

Artichokes alla Misse

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Artichokes alla Misse

Introduction

We have been growing artichokes in the garden, but I mistakenly planted a globe variety. I have decided to let these bloom (see photo below) and will then replace them with 'violet de provence' artichokes for next year.

Catherine de Medici is credited with introducing Artichokes to the French Court in the first half of the 16th Century. By the end of the century artichokes were cultivated throughout France, Spain and Italy. Britian never succumbed to the artichoke's charms and to this day, they are a rarer sight.

This recipe uses the 'violet' variety of artichoke. This variety is normally about 5cm\2 inches in diameter and more elongated than the globe varieties.

I have given a lot of visual tips on handling artichokes to help those less familiar with them.

Roast Squash with Roquefort, Walnuts and Jus

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Squash from our garden cut in half

Introduction

I ate this dish in Barbuto, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan (review) a couple of years ago. When I cut this squash open the other day, I immediately thought of it.

I used the squash straight from my garden, but it is excellent with acorn or butternut squash.

Spaghetti alla Gricia

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Spaghetti alla Gricia

Introduction

This is my signature dish. The simplicity of it represents everything that I value about good Italian food.

At the Circle of Misse I use this dish to demonstrate recipe deconstruction. Once we have tasted the simplified dish, we then experiment with additional ingredients to identify and assess their contribution. With a small list of additions, this dish can be turned into three very different pasta 'classics'.

After curing the pancetta below, I took a slab of it to the market for Wes and Charlotte who supplied the raw ingredient. Charlotte, who was heavily pregnant at the time, was delighted. She cut off a slice and much to the horror of her customers tucked into it. 'Hey, this is from my pigs and I know what they ate,' was her response.

If you like this recipe visit lapasta.com for more pasta recipes. The site contains a collection of recipes that I began writing and publishing several years ago.

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