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Dining in Rome

Rome is the second most popular tourist destination in the world, but in addition to the history, the sights and the culture, there is the cuisine. Rome boasts some of the finest restaurants in the world and one of the best of the best is Ristorante da Fortunato. In the heart of Rome, near the Pantheon, the restaurant da Fortunato is rated as one of the 10 best restaurants in Rome. Within its walls are a long family tradition of hospitality and culinary excellence. For years is has been a hub of politicians and celebrities – from Prince Charles to Scarlett Johansson. In 1975, Fortunato Baldassarri opened the restaurant at a location that had been providing fine dining since 1700. Fortunato established his restaurant and ran it with great flair and passion, qualities that he has passed down to his son Jason, who continues the family’s tradition today.

Roman-style Veal Saltimbocca with Prosciutto and Sage
One of the most famous of all meat dishes in the Roman culinary repertoire is the veal scaloppini known as saltimbocca. The name means ‘leap into the mouth’. It is unusual for a traditional Italian recipe to use butter as well as olive oil, but unlike American-style saltimbocca, the veal is not floured, nor does it cook in a bath of white wine. Try this classic dish at home. It is easier than you think and delicious.

roman-saltimboccA
Ingredients  For four people Preparation
  • 12 veal scaloppini
  • 12 slices of prosciutto
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • olive oil
  • ½ cup white wine
  • salt and pepper
Begin with thin slices of veal (scaloppini). Trim off any loose meat, or connective tissue and pound them very thin between two sheets of wax paper (or plastic wrap). Lay a thin slice of prosciutto and a single sage leaf over each slice of veal. Skewer the three ingredients together with a wooden toothpick keeping everything flat.

Heat a skillet (ideally large enough to hold all your veal slices) until hot and add a bit of olive oil and butter. When the butter melts, add your veal slices, with the prosciutto and sage side facing down, allow it to brown for just a minute. Flip each over and brown on the other side, again for only a minute or so, seasoning with pepper and only a touch of salt.

Remove the veal slices from the pan and arranged on a warmed serving platter. Then deglaze the pan using white wine for a minute or so, gently scraping the bits that have stuck to the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and swirl in a dab of butter until it has melted. Pour the resulting sauce over your veal slices and serve immediately.

Coda alla Vaccinara (Roman-Style Braised Oxtails)
The Italian word vaccinara actually means “butcher style”. The tail is one of those cuts of meat that are known in Italian as the quinto quarto, or literally the “fifth fourth”. In the old days, animals were cut up in four quarters, or quarti, the first quarto went to nobility, the second to the clergy, the third to the merchant class and the fourth to the military. What was left over, the ‘fifth quarter’, went to the butchers. Even though oxtail is far from the noble cuts, it may be the sweetest, most tender meat you will ever have. If you’ve never tried it, you owe it to yourself to do so!

roman-oxtails
Ingredients Preparation
  • 2 lbs of oxtails
  • 2 oz of pancetta, cut into small dices
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 1 carrot finely chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery finely chopped for the beginning part of the recipe, plus another stalk (finely chopped) for the end
  • a few sprigs of fresh parsley
  • olive oil
  • ½ cup white wine
  • one small can (15 ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • a bay leaf
  • a few cloves
  • salt and pepper
Sauté the finely chopped pancetta, onion, carrot, celery and parsley in olive oil over medium-low heat until tender. Then raise the heat to medium and add pieces of oxtail. Allow the oxtails to brown, seasoning with salt and pepper. Be careful not to allow the vegetables to burn; add a bit of water if needed.

Add the wine and allow it to boil off completely, while continuing to turn the oxtail pieces. Add the crushed tomatoes and enough water to just cover the oxtail pieces. Add the bay leaf and a few cloves. Cover and simmer until the meat is very tender, almost falling off the bone, usually 3 ½ to 4 hours, depending on the meat.

30 minutes before the dish is done, add a generous amount of chopped celery and allow it to cook along with the oxtail and other vegetables. Once done, remove the meat from the bone, and serve as a stew or over a pasta, such as rigatoni. Chop up some of the celery leaves to garnish.


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