Countless vegetable flans later, after tasting and experimenting with a long list of ingredients, I’m (nearly) ready for my supper club. This Friday a few people will come to my house for the first of hopefully many ‘Dining At The Foot of the Hills’ events. The name is suggestive of my native Piedmont and the menu will draw from traditional recipes from my region, reinvented and executed with a modern British twist.
A lot of thought went into this meal, from the dish selection to how I will dress the table and present each course. I know I still have a lot to learn and I am sure I will get better as I go along. I am ready to make myself some allowances and let the experience teach me new tricks, but I am aiming to do the best I can and hope people will leave my house feeling they had a unique experience they can recommend others.
One of the dishes I am most proud of is the “brasato’, a piece of beef slow cooked in red Barbaresco wine.
It is a classic Piedmontese speciality that I will pair with a slightly more unusual matcha tea and kale mash and follow with a brightly coloured red cabbage, fennel and blood orange salad. To the eye this will be a feast of purples, oranges and greens while the palate will indulge in the softness of the meat, creaminess of mash and tanginess of salad.
Here is the recipe.
For the beef brasato
600 gr feather blade beef, boneless and rolled
1 bottle of Nebbiolo, Barolo or Barbaresco wine
1 sprig rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 tsp juniper berries
a generous shaving of nutmeg
2 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
meat stock, as needed
Marinade the beef for 12 hours in wine, rosemary, bay and spices.
Reserving the marinade for cooking, lift the beef and place it to the side.
Melt the butter in a casserole saucepan with a lid and stir in the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Fry on high heat for a couple of minutes, then add the meat. Turn it on every side so it is well browned all over, then add the wine and when it starts bubbling, lower the heat.
Place the lid on and cook on a low heat until the wine sauce is almost completely reduced. Then add half a cup of cold water and wait until it’s reduced again. Repeat once or twice more (the whole process should take you about 1 and a half hours). Finally, then the stock making sure the meat is well covered, and cook on moderate heat for another hour. Remove the meat and blend the gravy with a hand held mixer. Finely slice the meat and serve with a generous helping of gravy.
Health score: 6
For the cabbage, fennel and blood orange salad
1/2 head red cabbage, cut into wedges
1 small bulb fennel, cut into wedges
olive oil (for roasting and for the dressing)
sea salt & pepper
2 blood oranges
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp diced shallot
2 red salad onions (white will work as well, red is just best for the colour), halved
a small head of trevigiana red salad, thinly sliced.
Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Slice the cabbage and fennel into wedges, with a little of the stem attached so that the pieces stay together. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place on a oven tray lined with baking paper, and roast for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, slice one blood orange into thin rounds and remove the peel.
For the dressing, zest a bit of the second orange, and juice the insides. Mix the juice and the zest with the apple cider vinegar, olive oil, mustard, honey, diced shallots, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Shake in a jar to blend the ingredients.
At 15 minutes, take the veggies out of the oven and turn over. They should be starting to brown on the first side. Add the blood oranges and salad onions to the tray. Roast for 10 more minutes, then remove the tray and add walnuts. Roast the whole for 5 more minutes then remove from the oven.
On a bed of thinly sliced and scattered trevigiana, place the warm cabbage, fennel, salad onion, orange segments, and walnuts, and dress with the vinaigrette.
Health score: 10
For the mash
4 medium potatoes, peeled
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 garlic clove, halved lenghtways
4 cavolo nero or kale leaves, washed and thinly chopped
a pinch of sea salt
2 tsp matcha powder
2 tbsp freshly grated parmesan
2 tbsp milk
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1tsp freshly grated nutmeg
sea salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potatoes until soft.
In a saucepan, melt the coconut oil and add the garlic and kale together with a pinch of salt. Cook, covered and on medium heat, until soft (5 minutes should be enough). Discard the garlic and transfer in a large bowl with the boiled potatoes. Mash everything together, adding the matcha powder, parmesan, milk, butter and nutmeg. Season to taste and serve.
Health score: 7