Sancrau (braised cabbage with anchovies and garlic, from Piemonte and Liguria)

“Sancrau”, the assonance with “sauerkraut” is clear and this is indeed a cabbage dish: Savoy cabbage cooked with garlic, anchovies and vinegar.
I have not been able to ascertain whether this is the Italian version of sauerkraut (as some sources claim) or if the name is just a coincidence – however, a savoury, robust dish this is for sure.  Continue reading

I peperoni imbottiti alla napoletana (Neapolitan-style stuffed peppers)

“Blessed be the stuffed peppers! what a clever thing they are!…What are they made of? Not much: peppers, bread, a couple of aubergines cooked ‘fungitiello‘ style (i.e. deep fried),  a handful of capers and Gaeta black olives, some anchovies and, let’s not forget, a pinch of oregano and parsley, a clove of garlic and few bits of tomatoes. And from these humble ingredients, a masterpiece is born: one of those dishes that makes your mouth water just thinking about them. Continue reading

Sfincione di Bagheria (sfincione from Bagheria, a Sicilian pizza)

Sfincione is the pizza of Sicily: contrary to its Neapolitan counterpart, which is generally round, sold in individual portions, with a thick cornicione, a thin centre and not too much topping, sfincione is generally baked in large trays and sold cut up in hefty portions (even if there are also small, individual  sfincioni, called sfincionelli, approximately 300 g each); it is quite thick all over, with a soft and pillowy dough (sometimes a little lard is added to the dough, which I greatly approve of) and it is laden with toppings. It is another thing altogether and something I urge you to explore – sfincione lends itself to domestic home baking much better than Neapolitan pizza. Continue reading

Giri assassunati ovvero bietole ripassate con pomodoro, aglio e peperoncino alla siciliana (Sicilian chards with tomatoes, garlic and peperoncino)

Sicilian chards in tomato sauce
Sicilian cooking is not just opulence and extravagance. This dish of chards  with tomatoes, garlic and peperoncino (chili pepper) is a good example of cucina povera:  a handful of a few basic, cheap ingredients delivers a hugely satisfying contorno di verdura (vegetable side dish).  “Giri” is how chards are named in the dialect of Palermo and “Assassunare” derives from the French “Assaisonner” which means “to season”: in Sicilian culinary terms when something has been sautéed  in oil and garlic, to get impregnated with that lovely flavor,  they say it has been “assassunatu”.

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Anatra in salsa (grilled duck with chopped salame, anchovies, garlic and a little vinegar)

This is dish from Veneto. The duck should be whole, roasted and then bathed with a lively garlicky, mildly vinegary sauce. I rarely “do” whole birds and I decided to use (easily available and convenient) duck breasts instead and to cook them a la piastra, i.eon a griddle stone. This is almost a ten minutes dish: little work & high rewards on the taste front.  Continue reading