Monday, January 22, 2007

Pasta e Fagioli al Tenore

1 lb. sweet Italian sausage
1/4 lb. bacon or pancetta, chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 onion, chopped fine
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped very fine
4 cups chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce (low sodium)
2 (19 oz.) cans cannellini beans, well drained, divided
1 (15 oz.) can red kidney beans, well drained
1 (14. oz.) can tomatoes, seeded and chopped, liquid drained
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. dried ground thyme
1 tsp. dried rosemary
2 tsps. dried basil
1 1/2 cups (12 oz.) ditalini or other tubular pasta
1 cup cooked orzo
1 carrot, shredded
Parmigiano and chopped basil for garnish

Place a large, heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the sausage links with a small amount of water, covered, until the sausage has browned, about 10 minutes.

Remove sausages to a plate and allow to cool. Once cool enough to handle, chop into pieces and grind in a food processor.

Brown ground beef in the same pot as was used for the sausage. Drain fat and set meat aside.

Fry bacon/pancetta in the pot, cooking until browned but not crisp. The pancetta may need a little olive oil to keep it from sticking/burning. Drain on paper towels and return to pot along with the sausage and ground beef. Cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes.

Add the onions, celery, and garlic to the meat mixture. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chicken broth and simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a food processor, blend tomato sauce and 1 cup cannellini beans until smooth. Pour the mixture into the pot and add remaining cannellini beans, kidney beans, canned tomatoes, and herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the ditalini pasta and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

Add the cooked orzo and shredded carrot; simmer for an additional 10 minutes or so.

Add more water or broth if necessary to produce a soupier consistency.

Serve with grated Parmigiano and chopped basil.

Yield: 8 servings

Notes: The original recipe calls for 2 onions, but that seemed like a bit too much for my taste, so I only use 1. Great Northern or Navy beans may be substituted for the Cannellini. I don't care to grind the sausage too finely. I prefer it a bit chunky.

This is delicious with crusty hot bread and a Caesar salad on the side.

Adapted from Food Network, Calling All Cooks - Michael J. Begley

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Fontina Risotto Cakes

3 cups low-salt chicken broth
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
6 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1 ½ cups panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), divided
½ cup (packed) coarsely grated Fontina cheese (about 2 oz. before grating)
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives
1 large egg yolk

2 large eggs
Canola oil (for frying)

Additional grated Parmesan cheese and fresh chives for garnish

Step One

Bring 3 cups broth to simmer in small saucepan. Reduce heat to very low; cover and keep warm. Heat olive oil in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice; stir 1 minute. Add wine; stir until absorbed, about 30 seconds. Add broth, 1/3 cup at a time, and simmer until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy, allowing broth to be absorbed before adding more, and stirring often, about 18 minutes.
Remove from heat. Mix in 6 Tbsp. parmesan and butter. Season generously with salt and pepper. Spread risotto in 13x9x2-inch pan and cool completely.

Step Two

Mix ½ cup panko, Fontina cheese, parsley, chopped chives, and 1 egg yolk into risotto. Shape into 1 ¼ inch balls; flatten to 2-inch rounds. Arrange on rimmed baking sheet. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

Step Three

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Set another rimmed baking sheet in oven. Beat 2 eggs in shallow bowl to blend. Place 1 cup panko in another shallow bowl. Dip risotto cakes into beaten egg, then into panko to coat. Pour enough canola oil into large skillet to coat bottom (not deep, though); heat oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sauté risotto cakes until crisp and brown, about 2 ½ minutes per side. Transfer to baking sheet in oven.
Serve risotto cakes sprinkled with cheese and garnished with chives.

Makes 1 dozen


Cooking the risotto takes much longer than the original recipe indicates. More like an hour than 20 minutes! I ran out of broth before the rice was finished cooking, so I used some more wine (about 1/2 cup).

I usually use a chardonnay wine.

Looking at the photograph here, I realize mine are much flatter and, thus, larger. Either way, they taste great!

Original recipe from Bon Appetit December 2004