Monday, November 03, 2008

Cena piemontese

Tonight I have a little time to blog, finally. So after the pear cake, here is a post about a dinner party I threw a really really long time ago. It was a very nice one, in theme 'Piemontese cuisine', featuring homemade tajarin, rabbit 'al civet', and chocolate/amaretti-filled peaches. Many untranslatable words! So read more to find out what these things are. :)
(here you can see me cooking the sauce for the tajarin: my idea is to host more of these dinner parties in theme with a regional or national cuisine, and take pictures of each master chef. :) )
(this and most of the other pictures are Alice's courtesy!)
Tajarin (pronounciation 'taayareen') is a piemontese version of 'tagliatelle', which I believe everybody is more familiar with. The main difference is that tajarin have to be hand-cut. To make them, prepare a dough which is extremely similar to that of tagliatelle (except for the fact that you use more eggs/pound of flour: in particular, to make this, use 9 eggs and 2 egg yolks every two pounds of flour). Then, after you roll the dough very thin using a pasta machine, you have to flour it and cut it with a sharp knife: roll it up, and cut thin slices of it! Here you can see Matt's expert cutting hand.
We made a humongous amount of tajarin..
But they were ALL GONE very quickly! I served them with two sauces: one was mushrooms and parsley (simply sauteed with olive oil, garlic, and white wine towards the end: really easy and wonderfully delicious), and another was the simple and wonderful butter and sage (just melt some butter in a pot, and add a few leaves of sage to it. Serve with parmesan cheese grated on top). They were both really good.

NB: making tajarin for a large number of people is an effort that should be undertaken only with the help of many friends! This makes the process of pasta-making actually fun, whereas I don't think I would enjoy it as much if I had to do the whole thing by myself..

Coniglio al civet / Rabbit 'al civet'
As you know, I almost never cook meat. This was a special occasion. I really wanted to make rabbit for some of my Italian friends who were really happy about the idea. I bought the rabbit at the Berkeley Bowl, and it was delicious. In Piemonte, rabbit is a common dish. My grandma made it a lot, because she used to raise rabbits. So I still remember her really good 'coniglio al civet', which I tried to reproduce. Here is the recipe, if you want to try it:

Cut the rabbit into pieces and put it to marinate in one quart of red wine, with a stick of cinnamon, a few cloves, four garlic cloves, 2 onions, 8 juniper berries and a tad of marjoram. Marinate for at least 24h, then remove. In a pot, saute in butter one finely cut onion, two carrots cut into pieces, and some rosemary. After ~2 minutes, add the rabbit, salt, and some leaves of sage and bay. Saute the rabbit for ~5 minutes, turning the pieces, then add some red wine, enough to cover it. Cook it for ~40 minutes, making sure it's always covered in wine. Then let the wine evaporate and serve!

[Later addition: this recipe comes out quite well with chicken instead of rabbit, too. Just skin the chicken before marinating it. Also, I tried it again with my mom's trick, which is to reserve the marinate after you remove the meat from it, blend it, and add it to the meat pieces while they simmer. You'll have to add less wine to cover the meat and the result will be even more tasty!]

It's a delight. I served it together with some more carrots, cut into small pieces and sauteed in butter, served with parmesan grated on top, which is the way my grandma used to make her carrots. I strongly recommend trying this rabbit dish, if you're not vegetarian. The only problem I had with it was to cut the rabbit into pieces. It was really impressive for me, since I don't usually deal with meat.. Rather hypocritical since I eat meat from time to time.

Unfortunately I didn't take pictures of the peaches before they were all gone. They were also wonderful, but I will post the recipe when I can find some good peaches again. Which unfortunately will mean next year!

So this is it for the Piemontese dinner. Here is a picture of almost everybody who was at the dinner:
As you can see, we were all in the kitchen, making food altogether, chatting and drinking before sitting down. This is what I love about throwing a dinner party with friends: being together and enjoying each other's company. I love to see everybody having a good time. There will be more 'regional/national' dinner parties to come!


Anonymous said...

Your guests must have been in heaven!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, what wonderful food! A great dinner!