If you happen to read any book on the history of Piedmontese cuisine, you will undoubtedly find this statement: «Povera». Even though we would today talk rather about the "richness" of the ingredients used in the Piedmontese cuisine. From appetizers such as Bagna Cauda; many different Polenta dishes such as with Funghi or with Cheese and Truffles. But also the Risotto Barolo is famous for the region. As are the range of beautiful fruits such as the peaches from the Lanzo Valley.
There is a dish that should be presented immediately to the "foreigner" who arrives in Piedmont: it is the Piedmontese appetizer. So rich in vegetables that it can also be enjoyed on its own, without having to accompany it with anything else. The rich offer of vegetables in the Piedmont regions goes back to the cultivation (until 1500) of brassicas - i.e. cabbage, cauliflower introduced by the Arabs, asparagus, onion, chard, leafy vegetables - is joined by new entries from America: beans, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Almost every regional rural settlement has vegetable plots, from self-consumption to professional production and thus following (or even encouraging) the development of cities.
Ingredients for 12 people
12 heads of garlic
6 wine glasses of olive oil + a small glass of walnut oil
6 ounces of Spanish red anchovies
Cut the previously stripped and sprouted garlic cloves into slices. Place the garlic in an earthenware pan, add a glass of oil and start cooking over a very low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon and taking care that it does not brown; then add the desalted, boned anchovies, washed in red wine and dried, stirring them delicately. Cover with the remaining oil and cook the sauce over a low heat for half an hour, taking care that the syrup does not fry.
At the end of cooking, if you like a softer flavour, you can add a small piece of very fresh butter. Pour the syrup into the appropriate earthenware stoves and accompany it with the following vegetables. Raw: Nizza Monferrato hunchbacked cardoons, Jerusalem artichokes, hearts of white cabbage, endive and escarole, fresh peppers and pickles, raw spring onions quartered and immersed in Barbera wine. Cooked: red beets, boiled potatoes, baked onions, fried pumpkin, roasted peppers. It is the tradition to create the "thickness of the syrup" by scrambling the egg inside. Grazie alla Cucina Italiana!
Risotto al Barolo
Barolo risotto represents a classic first course of Piedmontese cuisine. The red wine from the Langhe, thanks to its robust and decisive taste, is a key ingredient, if not the main one, of this dish: Barolo, in fact, gives the risotto an irresistible flavor and aroma.The Barolo Risotto is famous in the Piedmont Region and one of the most opulent first courses to have.
Rice 320 g Carnaroli; 1/2 l of Barolo; vegetable broth 1/2 l; butter 40 g + to taste; onion 1/2; parmesan to taste; Salt and Pepper To Taste
To prepare our Barolo risotto we immediately take a tall, large pot in which we begin to cook the vegetable broth, which is essential when cooking rice. In the meantime, put a pan on the stove and start melting the butter. We chop the onion into cubes and, as soon as the butter is melted, we pour it into the pan. After two or three minutes, add the rice so that it toasts for a few minutes. At this point we pour in the Barolo, stir with a wooden ladle and raise the heat. When the wine starts to simmer we can lower the heat again while waiting for it to absorb well. We remove the vegetable broth that we put to cook from the heat and then add it, little by little, pouring more only when the rice is drying out too much. This way you avoid ending up with a risotto that is too liquid. Add salt to taste and let it cook for 20 minutes in total. Once the rice is cooked, turn it off and stir in it, adding a little pepper and parmesan. We mix the ingredients well and, finally, add a little butter. We plate it and, if we want, we can add a sprig of rosemary to garnish.
Polenta Recipes from the Piedmont
Polenta e ragù di funghi
It is a preparation that tastes of mountain refuges, where mushrooms grow, but also of family Sundays where we take turns stirring the polenta that is slowly cooking in the pot over the fire.
300 g yellow corn flour; 300 g minced mixed meats (beef, pork, veal); 60 g celery; 60 g celer; 60g carrot; 60 g onion; 50g sliced raw ham; 31 g dried mushrooms; cinnamon stick; vegetable broth; Flour; extra virgin olive oil; parsley
Polenta: Bring 1.5 liters of water to the boil with 2 tablespoons of oil and a handful of salt, then pour in the flour, mixing with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming; cook the polenta over moderate heat for 50 minutes, turning it often.
Funghi Sauce: Soak the dried mushrooms in warm water for about 40 minutes, then squeeze them and chop them coarsely, keeping the water. Chop celery, carrot and onion and fry them in a drizzle of oil with a piece of cinnamon. Cut the raw ham into thin strips and brown it with the chopped vegetables and the mixture of minced meats for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of flour and dilute with the water from soaking the mushrooms and 2-3 ladles of broth until you obtain a creamy consistency; salt and pepper and cook for 20 minutes. Tip the polenta onto a serving plate and serve steaming hot with the mushroom ragout and chopped parsley. If you like, you can slice 2 fresh porcini mushrooms, roast them in a pan with a knob of butter and add them at the end over the mushroom ragù.
Polenta Concia - From Valsesia and the province of Biella to the Aosta Valley, to arrive in Lombardy: a dish that sees the triumph of cheeses. Fats and energy to face the harsh climate and harsh working conditions since the Renaissance.
Frittura Dusa - Fried semolina is known as the sweet part of Piedmontese fried food. Eggs, milk, semolina, sugar are the basis of this sweet specialty celebrated every year in Cuceglio.
The Piedmont region is known for its unique range of vegetables. Whether the peppers from Carmagnola, the Cardo Gobbo (Thistle) from Nizza Monferrato, the ivory thistle from Isola d'Asti and Andezeno; the cauliflower of Moncalieri, the onions of Leini of the Asti area, of Castelnuovo Scrivia, the small onions, the beans of Saluggia, of Bagnasco or of the Villata, the ribbed tomato whether from Cambiano or Chivasso, or the garlic from Caraglio and Molino dei Torti. And then there is the fruit, in the Madernassa pear or in those from the Lanzo Valley, in the peaches, in the ramassin, in the Santa Clara plum from Saluzzo.
Dolci- Desserts from the Piedmont
In Piedmont, fruits have a real heritage; especially the fig as a sweet and delicious fruit is ideal for compotes, jams and create scented desserts. such as Torta di Fichi -Fig cake which is the perfect dessert to prepare with the last black figs of the season. A simple recipe for a soft cake to enjoy for breakfast and as a snack which is also delicious as a dessert. Other popular fruits of the Piedmont Regions are peaches - such as Pesche ripiene alla piemontese (Peach Dessert).
200 g of eggs; 180 g of granulated sugar; 200 g of 00 flour
50 g of potato starch
100 g of melted hazelnut butter (prepared starting from 150 g of butter); 600 g of black figs; 50 g of brown sugar; 1 lemon untreated on the surface; 2 g of cinnamon; 2 g of salt; 16 g of baking powder
To prepare the fig cake, start with the hazelnut butter. Place the butter in a saucepan, heat it and let it melt until the protein and liquid parts separate. Filter it through a thin cotton gauze so as to retain the protein part that risks burning and keep only the fat part. Bring the latter, liquid, back onto the heat and continue heating over a low heat until it changes colour: it must become amber/hazelnut. Turn off and store until use. Then cut a third of the figs into cubes and the rest into slices. Keep them aside. Beat the eggs well with the sugar and flavorings (cinnamon and finely grated lemon zest). When you have obtained a light and fluffy mixture, add the sifted flour with the starch, the yeast and a pinch of salt. Add the powders delicately and mixing with a spatula to prevent the mass from falling apart. Very delicately incorporate the hazelnut butter poured in slowly and lastly the diced figs. Transfer the dough into a buttered and floured mold. Level and arrange the fig slices in a radial pattern, starting from the outside. Spread the brown sugar over the figs and transfer to a preheated oven at 175°C. Cook for 45/50 minutes then remove the fig cake from the oven and let it cool before removing it from the mold. If you like, you can decorate with a very light dusting of icing sugar.