Marcella Hazan - Venetian winter dinners

Marcella Hazan - Venetian winter dinners

Classic northern Italian recipes that can be taken from the stove to the table.

Italian-born cook and cookbook author Marcella Hazan was one of the women responsible (along with famed British food writer Elizabeth David) for bringing classic Italian dishes to western home cooks through her must-have books Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and The Classic Italian Cookbook: Marcella Hazan (Knopf).

In addition to her numerous books, Hazan contributed recipes to The New York Times, and taught cooking classes in her villa in Venice and in her apartment in New York. Hazan passed away aged 88-years in 2013.

Below are a handful of delightful, classic one-pot meals from Venice and the Veneto, perfect for winter. Each recipe has been inspired by, and is adapted from, Hazan's.

Maiale al Latte - Pork Braised in Milk
(adapted from The Classic Italian Cookbook: Marcella Hazan)

Serves four people

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 2 Tablespoons of olive oil
  • 750-grams - 1-kilogram pork shoulder (rind / crackling removed)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups of whole milk
  • 4 - 6 strips of lemon rind (approx. 2 - 3-centimeters wide
  • A handful of fresh sage leaves (approx. 10 leaves)

Method:
Heat the butter and oil over medium-high heat in a casserole that is barely bigger than the roast itself. Brown the meat on all sides.

Remove the meat from the pan and place on a plate. Remove the juices from the pan. Return the pan to the heat.

Return the meat to the pan and add the milk, lemon rind, sage leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then reduce to immediately to a simmer, leaving the lid slightly ajar. Cook slowly for approximately 2 to 2.5-hours, basting the meat from time to time. Resist the temptation to turn the meat, you want the milk to bubble and turn slowly into golden brown clusters.

By the time the meat is cooked, the milk should have coagulated into these small golden brown clusters.

Take the pan to the table. The meat should be soft enough to serve from the pan either by slicing it gently, or pulling it apart with a knife and fork.

Arrange on plates and spoon the sauce, and clusters, over the pork.

Serve with roasted brussels sprouts, roast potatoes and a green leaf salad.

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Marcella Hazan's White Bean and Garlic Soup with Parsley

Serves four to six people

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon of chopped garlic
  • 6 cups of cooked cannellini beans, either canned (around 3 cans) or cooked from 2 cups of dried and soaked beans that have been cooked in water until tender
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 1 cup of homemade stock or water (vegetable or chicken stock is best)
  • 2 Tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
  • One slice of thick crusty bread per person (optional)

Method:
Place the olive oil and chopped garlic into a soup pot, or casserole and turn on the heat to medium.

Cook the garlic, stirring it carefully, until it just starts to change in colour.

Add the drained cooked or canned cannellini beans, a pinch of salt, and a few grindings of pepper. Cover and simmer gently for 5 to 6 minutes.

Take about 1/2 cup of beans from the pot and puree them through a food mill or with a stick blender, place the bean mixture into the pot and stir it through the remaining beans, add all of the stock or water.

Simmer for 10 minutes, taste, and correct for salt and pepper.

Stir in the chopped parsley, and turn off the heat. Place a slice of grilled bread in the bottom of each soup bowl. Take the soup pot to the table and ladle the soup over each piece of bread, finish with a swirl of extra virgin olive oil.

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Marcella Hazan's Braised Fennel with Butter and Parmesan

Serves four people

Ingredients:

  • 3 large fennel (or 4 to 5 smaller ones)
  • 1/4 cup of butter
  • 3 Tablespoon of freshly grated parmesan
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Method:
Trim the fennel by cutting the 'butt' (bottom), and the top (stalks) off, reserve the soft fronds for garnishing.

Slice the remaining bulbs into roughly 1.5 to 2-centimeter slices.

Wash the fennel to remove any sand or grit. Place the fennel and the butter into a casserole, add just enough water to cover and turn the heat to medium.

Cook the fennel, turning the slices over from time to time until they become glossy and tender when prodded with a fork, this should take between 25 to 40 minutes. The 'butt' end of the fennel will always be firmer than the top of the slices.

If the fennel starts to dry out before it is tender, add an extra 1/3 of a cup of water at a time.

The fennel is cooked when it is tender and all of the water has been absorbed.

Season with sea salt and black pepper, add the parmesan cheese and toss. Garnish with fennel fronds and serve from the casserole at the table.

Serve with a green leaf salad or as a vegetable accompaniment to roast chicken, fish or pork.

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Image: Marcella Hazan in Venice, Italy, in 1996. Photograph by Bo Zaunders/Corbis via The New Yorker.

 

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