You invite your friends over for a meal and spend hours languishing over what to serve and most important, what wine goes with the meal. Food and wine pairing is not an easy choice. In fact, it is very complex. Variety of ingredients and different dishes from around the world, in addition to the unlimited list of wines available, can create either the best pairing possible or present you with a perfect taste balance or cause a total contradiction between food and wine which in some cases -believe it or not!- is a very pleasant surprise. In this second part of our wine and food pairing, we present you with some characteristic Italian first dishes that can be found in any traditional Italian menù! We hope these dishes paired with spectacular wines chosen by your very own Francesco will be to your liking. Salute e Buon Appetito!!
PART II : first dishes
Pasta all'ubriaco - The "drunken" pasta
Recommended wine: Castello di Lamole Le Stinche Chianti Classico DOCG 2016
Ingredients for 4:
1 pack of spaghetti n.5 (16 oz.)
1 cup of dry red wine
1 garlic clove
1 peperoncino or 1 tsp. peperoncino seeds
parsley or basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil and sea salt
Pecorino cheese - shaved
Pour most of the red wine into a saucepan, bring it to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes to reduce the alcohol taste and intensify the flavor.
Start boiling the water for the pasta and add salt once it starts to boil.
Peel the garlic, chop the parsley and the pepperoncino -if using a whole one- and use another pan to sauté the garlic, pepperoncino and parsley in olive oil. When the pasta is half-ready (that is, after 3-4 minutes of boiling when the pasta is not ready yet to be served) transfer it to the pan. Add a tablespoon of the wine to the pan and start to cook the spaghetti as you would do with a risotto, stirring very gently and adding more wine as it gets absorbed by the pasta.
When your spaghetti gets al dente, remove it from the heat and mix in a little more red wine. Serve with chopped parsley or basil and slivers of Pecorino cheese.
Lasagna with vegetables
Recommended wine: Podere Le Ripi Canna Torta Toscana Bianco IGT
Ingredients for 4:
20 sheets of lasagna pasta( flat squares)
7oz. (200 gr.) of lightly boiled spinach or dandelion or chicory
7oz. (200 gr.) of béchamel sauce ( *recipe below)
5oz. (150 gr.) of leeks
5oz. (150 gr.) of bread (the soft part not the crust)
grated Parmigiano cheese
sea salt, pepper and nutmeg
Soak the soft part of the bread in the béchamel and then pass it in the electric mixer with 3oz. /120gr of Parmigiano cheese, sea salt, pepper and the nutmeg. When well mixed add the chopped spinach and mix well.
Boil the leeks for 4-5 minutes. Lightly heat the lasagna in boiling water for a couple of minutes, place a couple tablespoons of the béchamel in the bottom of your 9x12 pan. Lay down a layer of the lasagna noodles. Be careful to not overlap. Place a layer of the spinach filling, strips of leeks and more béchamel. Add a bit of the melted sage butter to complete the layer. Repeat this process with a new layer of lasagna to have 3 layers, ending with the 4th as the final layer of lasagna on top. Spread the remaining béchamel over the top. Sprinkle with 2-3 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano cheese.
Cook in preheated low-temperature oven at 325°F (160°C) with an aluminum foil covering for 20 minutes (or until bubbling a bit). Take it out and let it sit for about 15 minute and serve.
4 cups fresh whole milk
2 ½ oz butter
2 ½ oz all-purpose flour
2 pinches of salt
pinch of white pepper
pinch of nutmeg
Put a fairly large pot over low heat. Add the butter. Melt the butter, being careful not to burn or brown it. Sift the flour and add it to the butter. Mix using a whisk to make a smooth, uniform mixture.
Keep on whisking and continue cooking until it gets slightly golden.
Add room-temperature milk to the mixture, a little at a time and mix with a whisk. Be careful not to let any lumps form. Once you have added all of the milk, bring the sauce to a boil slowly over the low heat and continue whisking to thicken it. Then remove the pot from the heat.
Add 2 pinches of salt and a pinch of both nutmeg and pepper. Stir and begin to make your layers of lasagna. Do not let the béchamel sit too long.
Pappardelle with wildboar and porcini mushrooms sauce
Recommended wines: Albatreti Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018
Ingredients for 6:
20-21oz. (600 gr.) of pappardelle pasta (or tagliatelle) fresh egg-based pasta (better than the dry pasta type)
7oz. (200 gr.) of ground/minced wild boar meat
1 small bag of dried porcini mushrooms (or 7oz./200 gr.)
9oz. (250 gr.) of peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
½ glass of white wine
carrot, celery, onion, garlic, sage, thyme, parsley, red pepper (chilli or sweet)
grated Parmigiano cheese
Cut the herbs (carrot, celery, garlic, onions and thyme, but leave the sage in whole leaves) in dices and sauté in a pan with some olive oil. Then add the meat and when it gets brown, season with salt and pepper, add the white wine and let evaporate. Pass the peeled tomatoes through a vegetable mill, add them to the mixture and finish cooking for about ½ hour on low heat.
Soak the mushrooms in warm water for 20 minutes and then cook them in a pan with some garlic, olive oil and a pinch of red pepper and parsley.
Add the mushrooms to the meat sauce and cook it for 5 minutes.
Boil the pappardelle â€œal dente” in salted water, add some sauce and mix it gently with the pasta, then serve it with some sauce and grated Parmigiano on top.
Rigatoni pasta with squid and porcini mushrooms
Recommended wine: Scarzello Barbera d'Alba Superiore DOC 2020
Ingredients for 6:
20-21oz./600 gr. of rigatoni pasta (or any short pasta)
20-21oz./600 gr. of small squid or small octopus
26oz./750 gr. of porcini mushrooms
cherry tomatoes, garlic, salt, parsley and red pepper (sweet or chilli)
Soak the mushrooms in warm water, then chop them and fry them in a pan with some olive oil. Use another pan for the chopped squid, cook them for 10 minutes with some garlic and red pepper. Add some quartered cherry tomatoes to the squid and cook for another 10 minutes.
Once almost cooked, mix the contents of the two pans in one, turn off the heat and sprinkle with the chopped fresh parsley.
Boil the pasta in salted water until "al dente” and then add it in the pan with the sauce, sauté for 1 minute on high heat and serve.
Buona preparazione e buon appetito!
...TO BE CONTINUED... (part III main courses)
Grazie a "Carmela" per l'aiuto! In one fell swoop and rock solid!