Italian Comfort for Foodie Friday

An Italian Comfort Food Feast (18 February 2000)

This is comfort food, I guarantee, but rather different from an Osso Bucco that folks would name “traditional.”

Osso Bucco

Two 2- to 3-inch thick beef shank pieces (about 1 pound)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium Spanish onion, diced
6 cloves Italian garlic, sliced thinly
2 carrots, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 celery stalk, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1-1/2 cups Pinot Noir wine
2 medium ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon basil

Pat beef shanks dry, then salt and pepper them well. Sauté beef shanks in olive oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high heat on the stove top. While they’re browning, preheat the oven to 325° F. When shanks are almost completely browned, add onion and stir down into oil to caramelize. When onions are browning, add garlic, carrots, celery and sherry. After a couple of minutes, add herbs, tomatoes, and wine, stirring pot well. Roll the shanks once to coat both sides with wine, cover, and place into the oven. Roast for 2-1/2 to 3 hours until fork-tender, turning, stirring and basting every 1/2 hour.

Porcini Orzotto

1 tablespoon margarine or unsalted butter
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 small Spanish onion, diced
3 cloves Italian garlic, minced
3/4 cup pearl barley
1/2 “loose-pack” cup dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated* and diced
2 cups beef stock (no salt or other stuff)
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat margarine and oil in a 2-quart pot, then sauté onion and garlic until just transparent. Add barley and stir constantly until barley is well-coated with oil and turning golden brown. Add remaining ingredients, stir, cover and just bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 35 or 40 minutes, until barley is puffy and liquid is almost gone.

* Note: To rehydrate dried mushrooms, pour almost boiling water over them in a bowl. Let soak until soft, about 30 minutes. If you can buy them, fresh porcini’s are ace.

Broccoli with Prosciutto and Garlic

4 slices prosciutto, diced
3 cloves Italian garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head broccoli, cleaned, chopped and steamed 3 to 4 minutes, then drained well
Fresh ground pepper to taste

Sauté prosciutto in oil until becoming golden and crispy. Add garlic, broccoli and pepper and sauté for 2 to 4 minutes, until done, stirring constantly.

This is a great meal. Carolyn absolutely loved it. Serve everything onto warmed plates and enjoy this unusual set of dishes. Do you think I used enough garlic? By the way, Tuscan-Style Stuffed Artichoke (page 241) makes a fine substitute for the Broccoli dish.

Richard Jehn

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