Friday, June 15, 2012

Tour of Italy ~ Day 15... Aquiring Info in Abruzzi

Up to this point not many of our dishes have included pasta. And what I am finding out that in most Italian regions pasta is used as either as a dish to be enjoyed just before the main meal or as a side dish, much like we use rice. But here in Abruzzi, Saffron is featured in many of the dishes and almost every dish consists of some sort of pasta, usually served very simple and on the bottom "underneath all the good stuff". Even though Abruzzi's traditional products are saffron and liquorice, over the past decade, tourism has increasing, mostly because of castles and medieval towns, especially near the town of L'Aquila, So... often many of the dishes featured in this region are served altogether in one dish.

 Abruzzi-Style Lamb with Saffron Risoto

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
1/4 cup chopped onion 
2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, finely chopped 
1 tablespoon chopped rosemary 
1/2 pound boneless lamb or mutton for a stronger flavor, cut into bite sized chunks. (great way to use up the leftover lamb from day 13)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper 
1/2 cup dry white wine 
1 large can (28 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes with their juices, coarsely chopped 
1 pound rice  ( penne or maccheroncini pasta works also) 
Large pinch of saffron (20 threads) 
8 cups water or chicken stock
 1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  1. Put the oil and onion in a large skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring frequently, until the onion is pale gold. And the pancetta and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pancetta fat is rendered; the pancetta should remain soft.
  2. Add the lamb and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Add the wine and simmer until evaporated, about 10 minutes.
  3. Put in the tomatoes and simmer gently, stirring from time to time, until the fat begins to separate from the sauce, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with 8 cups of water or chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse salt, cover and return to a boil. Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of coarse salt, cover and return to a boil. Add the rice or pasta and stir rapidly with a wooden spoon. Cover and bring back to a boil, then uncover and cook the rice or pasta, stirring frequently, until it is al dente.
  5. Drain the rice or pasta and immediately transfer it to a warmed bowl. Toss with the Saffron, lamb sauce and the cheese. Serve at once; pass additional cheese at the table. We like to serve ours with Lamb Meatballs.
Make Ahead The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.

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