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ekscrunchy, koreaprincess and franco invite you to join them expanding on the secrets of Italian cuisine

ekscrunchy, koreaprincess and franco invite you to join them expanding on the secrets of Italian cuisine

Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:16 AM
  #21  
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Princess, pecorino vs. parmigiano, that depends on the pecorino, and on the recipe! First of all, Grana Padano is a cheese that I thoroughly dislike, and though I think that grana is preferable to nothing, I agree this means a choice to its favour if nothing else is available. But as far as pecorino, its being salty or not depends on WHICH pecorino we're talking about. Pecorino Romano is terribly salty, and yes, I admit, it's worse than Grana Padano. But Sardinian pecorino is way less salty, and Tuscan pecorino isn't salty at all. Nevertheless, I agree there are not that many recipes that pecorino is fit for - when heated, it's developing a flavour that doesn't go well with many, many dishes.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:25 AM
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Well I have been asking for pecorino Romano all this time. Franco that is priceless information. No wonder I do not like it too much. I believe I can get the Sardinian type here in NYC..I will check soon.

Princess..if you let me know asap, I will bring you some good cheese. I am leaving Monday for Seoul and will be there through the end of next week. My cousin, who I will be visiting, has asked for New York pizza but I am not sure I can manage THAT in my bag! I will have loads of time to cruise around and eat because he will be working all day so I am on my own...


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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:38 AM
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I am going to diverge a bit about the cheese to post this New York Times article, on a subject that has been divisive in my own house; there is a connection to Mario Batali and it concerns wines used in cooking:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/21/di...mp;oref=slogin
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:39 AM
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...and btw, ek, that truffled pecorino, was it soft or hard? Leaving aside the problem that 98 percent of truffled cheeses are definitely not excellent (since less truffles go in than truffle flavour, which is not too pleasant, to put it mildly)... but hard pecorino with truffles is not only a hard cheese but also a hard-to-find cheese! Once upon a time, in Umbria, I had found a marvellous example of this cheese (no longer available, UNFORTUNATELY), and used it for a pasta sauce that was so memorable that I'm dreaming of it till now, ten years or so later: a plain green tomato sauce (with excellent Umbrian olive oil, of course), and that truffled pecorino grated on top (on the plate, i.e. without heating it) - extraordinarily simple, and yet delicious.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:56 AM
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Franco, last year the shop here in New York had 3 versions of the truffled pecorino. The hardest and most aged was by far the best and I bought it several times. This year they were not able to get that one. The shop owner told me that neither of the two he now stocked were close in quality to the hard one from last year. I bought one anyway and this is the cheese that is now sitting in my fridge where it has been for weeks! If I am not mistaken, it has the word "Boscolo" in the label...

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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 05:13 AM
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Bookmarking so I can go sharpen my kitchen knives
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 06:37 AM
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Another truffled pecorino in the fridge person here! I bought a truffled pecorino at Costco, of all places and it was not very good. The truffle flavor was just to darn intense and took over everything that it was served on.

Bill
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 06:56 AM
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Yes, Bill, that's the truffle flavoring I was talking about...

ek, your wine-for-cooking link opens a can of worms... if I'm supposed to add my two cents, I think that article is very interesting, and has many points, but not all points. I agree that it is willful waste to use a great, expensive wine for cooking; but I'd go even farther and say it's counterproductive - you don't WANT the taste of a great wine in most meals! They're simply too strong, too powerful, they're preponderant, their flavour is sticking out and do harm to the balance of aromas; the part about the Barolo risotto in that article is a good example. There are exceptions, though: Risotto al Sagrantino is a delicacy, and there's hardly any wine as rich in tannin as a Sagrantino, that's on the up and up with a Barolo - so tannin is not the explanation, it depends on the taste of the specific tannin of a specific grape variety! There are soooo many different tanninic flavours...
On the other hand, I strongly disagree with the assumption that really bad wine is being improved in the pan. That's definitely not true IMO - bad flavour will always remain bad flavour. What I need for cooking (and I can tell you I'm always having a hard time when searching for a new one) is a good, decent, but rather boring wine with a not too distinct flavour and - and that's the most important thing - not too much acidity, especially if red wine is needed; acid red wine will spoil every dish.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 07:30 AM
  #29  
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Forgive me if this is off-topic, but I love the prosciutto ham in Italy. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Nothing I've found in the States compares.

I read that Prosciutto di Parma is made from large locally raised pigs which are fed a strict diet that includes whey from locally made Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.

I guess that explains the wonderful flavor of the prosciutto ham.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 08:48 AM
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Maureen, nothing is off topic when it comes to food! I have only recently been exploring the various cured hams of Italy and Spain...I have to say that for me, it is a close call between the great jamon Ibericos and prosciutto from Parma...I have also read that the Parma pigs feed on the local cheese..and many of the Spanish pigs feed at least partially on acorns.

Imagine the difference between what those pigs eat and what the pigs here in the US are fed. (Although there is actually a domestic US-made prosciutto that is getting excellent reports, from a company called La Quercia in Iowa):

http://www.laquercia.us/

And the salumi made by Mario Batali's father in Washington also gets good reviews...


On the cheese issue: The truffled cheese that still is in my fridge is this one; I see that this company sells many types of pecorino by mail so those with no access to good cheese might be interested:


http://www.forteto.it/shop/online/ar...ew.php?key=590

The third version stocked by, but not recommended by, my cheese man is called Boschetto; I have not tried it.

But I noticed that, while I have always bought the Pecorino Romano, sold here in NYC for $7.99 per pound, this same shop does sell quite a few Tuscan pecorinos as well as at least one Sicilian version; the prices are much higher for those; most are $12.00 per pound. Franco, I will be investigating the various possibilities once I return from my next trip...

Franco: You mentioned Sagrantino..would that be the wine from Montefalco? I have never tried that but will certainly put it on my (long) list of "to try" foods and drinks. It really is a bit difficult to understand how that bad wine from Trader Joe's could have contributed to a risotto of equal quality to the one made from Barolo... I must admit that tannic wines are not usually to my taste. That, combined with high prices for Barolo here in the US, has limited my experience...


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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:16 AM
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MaureenB

On the Prosciutto di Parma topic...

The USA version that is allowed to be imported must be aged longer than the version you probably have in Italy - that makes is a bit drier and has a more aged taste.

You might want to try Prosciutto San Danielli if you can find it. My understanding is that those pigs are often fed chestnuts.

Check out http://www.prosciuttosandaniele.it/

I seem to now prefer Serano Hams from Spain, as they are creamier and taste closer to what you are describing.

Also I find that if I can go to a deli that is very very busy then they typically have Prosciutto that is much fresher compared to that found from an average meat market...

Dean & Deluca or any popular Italian Deli in some of the major cities works for me!

Costco around here has large packs of Prosciutto that is decent and tastes better than anything I get sliced locally. Part of this is due to it being packed correctly and not sitting in a meat case drying out I suspect.


Great article from the NYT that mirrors our experience with cooking and wine...
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:18 AM
  #32  
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Hi ek,

I agree with Moskin. There is little, if anything, to be gained by cooking an expensive wine.

I find that it usually improves a cheap wine.

I take the phrase "Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink" to mean "don't use 'cooking wine' or wine that has turned".

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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:23 AM
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Ira I would tend to agree. The trouble is that I have always relied on the under $12 bottles for cooking so I have no idea is my food would be improved with better wines! As I said, this issue has been one of contention here at the ekcrunchy homestead for a very long time...
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:23 AM
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Sorry my spelling is teriibllle today (as most days)

Jamon Serrano
San Daniele Prosciutto

Are the correct ways to spell...Sorry!
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:25 AM
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True, nothing food-related is off-topic here; in fact, one could almost say we have opened this thread in order to make being off-topic our topic...
On prosciutto, I might add that my favourite (though I agree that many prosciutto di Parma as well as Spanish hams are heavenly) is a prosciutto di Sauris (Sauris is a village in the Friuli region), and more precisely, the one sold at Casa del Parmigiano in Venice. Theirs, of course, is also the very best parmesan (Reggiano, no need to stress that). Details on Casa del Parmigiano are on "Franco's favourite Venetian food".

Yes, Sagrantino is the wine from Montefalco. Since this is one of the few food-related issues I don't like to discuss broadly in public, this may be a nice opportunity to remind of an almost forgotten thread for Umbria lovers: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34792839
I don't know Trader Joe's wine (guess there's no need to feel sorry), but I actually can imagine that a risotto mad of cheap wine can equal a Barolo risotto - if the Barolo has too much acidity, the risotto is going to be a nightmare, no matter how much that wine cost.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:26 AM
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I cook with good or decent bottles of wine. I can't begin to tell you how much it costs for me to make bouef bourgignon (the wine + the cognac!)--I know, I know, wrong thread.

As an avid drinker, though far from an expert, I need to have bottles on hand that I can enjoy in many ways. I am not sure I've noticed it making a big difference in Italian food, at least, but perhaps because the recipes I try are either not that sophisticated or not that boozy.

I'm enjoying this thread. Thanks to all you experts who contribute.
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:31 AM
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May I please apply for the (yet to be created) "Fodor's Typo of the Week Award" for my above "risotto MAD of cheap wine"?
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 09:56 AM
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ekscrunchy,

Last year when we were in Seattle we stopped by Salumi (Mario Batali's dad's place) and had a delicious lunch of sliced meats and salami, roasted meats, cheeses and bread. We ended up taking two big bags of food back home with us. Their salamis are very different than anything I've had before. The pancetta cured with cinnamon is my favorite thing that we bought from them. Highly recommended!

Bill
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 10:07 AM
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Since we are on a Prosciutto topic - how about any favorite recipes that use it?

Some of my favorites are italian based but certainly not directly from italy.

My favorite pizza is Tomato sauce & mozerella cheese as the base and then topped with chunks of goat cheese, torn pieces of San Daniele Prosciutto, and fresh slices of figs all cooked.

Also I enjoy wrapping prosciutto around a chunk of a hearty white fish filet, like monk fish or halibut, and then baking or broiling it. The salt from the ham flavors the fish nicely as it cooks.

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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 10:32 AM
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I buy the ends of the leg of prosciutto, chop it up, and use it in a lot of pasta dishes. Now that spring is coming, I will use it with peas and spring onions. I don't cook much with the slices of ham...but the monkfish sounds excellent. I have just discovered the joys of monkfish and have made it a few times in the last month. (I would like to get my hands on Lidia Bastianich's monkfish with lemon brodetto recipe..not on the internet). Not only is it easy to work with but it is inexpensive!

I am thinking of making farro tomorrow so might use some chopped up prosciutto in that as well; I am undecided as to whether or not I want to add the meat component. The farro recipe is one I make often; it is from Mario Batali. I don't see why I could not add some prosciutto or guanciale. Last time I added porcini but did not like it as much as the original:

http://www.foodtv.biz/food/recipes/r..._27376,00.html

Bill, that pancetta sounds interesting. The Batali Dad has a great reputation here for his products but I don't even think they are available in the eastern US..

Wonder where he got the cinammon idea from..could that be Venetian?
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