rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

Rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes | Pomodori ripieni al riso con patate

This recipe for rice-stuffed tomatoes was originally my Nonna Wanda’s recipe, with the addition of potatoes made by my Zia Emilia to make it more authentically Roman.

Here is a photo of the recipe as cooked by my Zia Emilia in Rome on my last visit, in May 2017:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes made by zia Emilia | pomodori ripieni di riso con le patate, fatti da zia Emilia

And here is my latest rendition of this delicious dish:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes

The quantities and timings etc in this recipe are, as many of the recipes passed down from generation to generation in our family, vague and open to interpretation / personal touch, but I’ve tried to be a bit more precise so you can follow it, too ūüôā

Ingredients (for 3-6 people, depending on whether it is a starter, main course, or side dish): 

  • 6 large beef tomatoes
  • Arborio rice (approximately 2 small fistfuls per tomato)
  • Fresh flat-leaf parsley (a good handful)
  • Fresh basil (a good handful)
  • Half a medium onion
  • Freshly-grated parmesan cheese (a couple of handfuls)
  • Potatoes (5-6 medium sized ones) – watch this video for the best way to cut potatoes the Italian way
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt

Method

Here is the hand-written recipe written down by my Zia Emilia as dictated by her mum, my Nonna Wanda, when Zia Emilia was preparing to get married and leave home.  You can see the addition of the potatoes on page 2:

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg1

rice-stuffed tomatoes with potatoes - hand-written recipe pg2

Start by cutting the potatoes.  Ideally, do these the Italian way (watch video) Рthis allows them to cook slightly unevenly, giving you lovely crispy edges and soft centres.

Tip: Cutting potatoes this way and roasting them with rosemary and olive oil is a delicious Italian way to do roast potatoes!

Place these into an oven dish and set aside for now.

Then cut the tops off the tomatoes (think little ‘hats’).¬† Slice two thin strips off the ‘discarded’ tomato tops and set aside (you’ll use these later for decoration, to top your stuffed tomatoes), and chop up the remaining ‘discarded’ tops into small pieces.¬† Add these small pieces to the potatoes.¬† Season the potatoes and tomato pieces with a generous sprinkling of sea salt, add a generous glug of olive oil, toss, and place in a pre-heated oven (fan-assisted 180¬≠¬įC) for 25 minutes.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the rice: 

Place the rice in cold water, add a generous sprinkling of sea salt, and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so (check this as not all rice cooks at the same rate – you want to make sure the rice is still a little bit uncooked at the end of this stage).

While the rice is cooking, finely chop the half onion and soften it in a pan with a generous amount of olive oil, over a low heat (let the onion soften slowly, making sure it does not go brown). Finely chop the parsley and basil, and add these to the onion just as the rice is nearly ready at the not quite cooked stage. Make sure you don’t fry the herbs for too long.

Drain the rice, leaving it quite wet, and saving the cooking water.¬† Add the rice to the pan with the olive oil, onion and herbs and stir, letting the rice continue to cook like a risotto.¬† You may need to add some of the cooking water to allow it to remain moist and cook until it is cooked, but still ‘al dente’. Make sure you don’t over-stir as this breaks up the rice grains.

Take it off the heat once it’s cooked and stir in about 2/3rds of the parmesan cheese.¬† Set aside.

Return to the tomatoes you previously removed the tops from. Carefully hollow these out with a spoon (the insides with the seeds are my favourite part of the tomato – I always used to eagerly await this stage when my Nonna made stuffed tomatoes, and still do when my Zia does them, so I could eat them, seasoned with a bit of salt).

Lightly season the insides of the hollow tomatoes with a sprinkling of sea salt.

Once the potatoes have had about 25 minutes in the oven, take the oven dish out and give them a bit of a stir. Turn the oven down to 150¬įC (fan).

Take each hollow tomato and fill it as high as you can with the cooked rice mixture. Make a space amongst the potatoes and place the tomato in that space.¬† Repeat with each tomato, then sprinkle some parmesan onto each stuffed tomato and, finally, top each one with two strips of the tomato ‘lids’ you cut out earlier.

Place the dish back into the oven and bake until the tomatoes are very soft and the rice has a crispy parmesan topping.  The potatoes should be cooked and golden, not overly brown.  This takes approximately 40-45 minutes.

Serve on their own, as a side-dish, or as a starter.¬† These are also delicious once they’ve cooled down a little to luke-warm.

Enjoy!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

 

 

 

 

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Ossobuco alla Milanese | Osso Buco Milanese Style

What is Ossobuco?

Ossobuco is veal shank with its characteristic marrow-rich bone

This is my late Nonna Wanda’s version of Ossobuco alla Milanese (Milanese Style Osso Buco).¬† It always used to my favourite meal when I went to visit her in Rome.¬† I’d get so excited when she brought it to the table and lifted the lid, releasing the aromatic scent of parsley and lemon.

I used to think it was an almost magical recipe that must be really complicated, but of course, as much Italian food, it’s really simple to make with great quality ingredients – and therein lies the magic.¬† Luckily for me, my Aunt Emilia has kept my Nonna Wanda’s culinary traditions alive and is gradually passing on the recipes to me so that I can share them and keep them going.

It’s still not that easy in the UK to get hold of Ossobuco, but I’ve been able to get mine online here.¬† It’s not a budget dish, but if you compare it to going out for a meal in a restaurant, it’s still exceptionally good value.

Ossobuco alla milanese | osso buco milanese style | osso buco | What is ossobuco

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 4 Veal Ossobuco pieces (approx. 0.8-1.2kg in total)
  • Butter, generous amount, approx 70-100g
  • Flour, enough to give the meat a generous coating
  • Stock, you can use vegetable or chicken stock, nothing that would overpower the delicate taste of the veal ossobuco.¬† I used home-made hen stock on this occasion. You will need just enough to cover the ossobuco pieces in the pan.
  • Flat-leaf Parsley, a good handful, coarsely chopped
  • Lemon Rind, finely-grated, from one large lemon
  • Anchovy Paste, a small amount, approximately 1tsp

Method

Each piece of ossobuco has a thin fat layer that holds it together in its characteristic shape.  Cut through this in a few places to stop the ossobuco pieces curling up during cooking, then coat each piece generously in plain white flour.

Heat the butter in a deep sauté pan or shallow casserole dish.  As soon as it starts to sizzle, add the ossobuco pieces and seal on both sides.

Pour enough hot stock over the pieces of meat to just cover them.¬† Bring to the boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat, leaving them to simmer for 30-45 minutes, until the meat is tender and the marrow is starting to seep out of the bone (don’t cook it so long that it seeps out – one of the great things about this dish is sucking the marrow out of the hole in the bone!).

While the meat is cooking, coarsely chop the flat-leaf parsley and grate the zest of one large lemon.  Mix this with the anchovy paste.

Once the meat is cooked, add the parsley, lemon and anchovy paste to the pan, gently stir (or simply turn over the pieces of ossobuco), replace the lid and simmer for a further couple of minutes.

Serve immediately with mashed potato, pouring a generous amount of the velvety sauce over the meat and potatoes.  My grandmother always used to make little wells in the mashed potato with the back of a spoon, then fill the wells with sauce.  Enjoy the delicious meat, then pick up the bone and suck out the rich marrow!

Gloriously simple, gloriously good!

Brodo di Gallina | Hen Stock

How do you make chicken stock?

With a hen and some beef…

Chicken stock can be used in so many dishes from soups to sauces to a delicious broth enjoyed on its own.

My chicken stock recipe is actually a hen stock with beef to add extra depth to the flavour.  This is the way I was taught to make it by my mum, who in turn was taught by her mum, my Nonna Wanda.

Chicken Stock | Brodo di Gallina | Hen Stock | Hen Broth | Chicken Broth | Tortellini in Brodo

My mum always makes this on Christmas Eve and we enjoy ‘Cappelletti in Brodo’ – Cappelletti* in broth/stock – as part of our evening meal.¬† It also then makes a delicious starter to our Christmas lunch meal of Roast Capon with roast potatoes.¬† I have carried on this tradition in our family home here in the UK.

Brodo di Gallina is also delicious with Capelli d’Angelo (Angel’s Hair – very fine pasta) or Pastina (very small pasta shapes).¬† ‘Pastina in Brodo’ takes me back to my childhood – many Italian children are still fed this as an early ‘weaning’ food!

There is no reason why you should only make this for special occasions.¬† It is delicious and heart-warming and so versatile, you could do with having some in your fridge most days! ¬†Use ‘Brodo di Gallina’ anywhere where you would use chicken stock.¬† In risotto, soups, sauces (use it for your chicken gravy – it will be the best chicken gravy you’ve ever made!) or drink it from a mug on a cold winter’s day to warm you up!

Tip:

Essential equipment – a large stockpot

Ingredients

(makes enough stock to serve Tortellini in Brodo to approximately 8 people, or 4 people over 2 meals)

  • 1 Hen, skinned (see separate post on skinning a hen), whole
  • 500g (approx.) of stewing beef, in one single piece
  • 1-2 onions, depending on size, peeled but left whole
  • A selection of root vegetables (e.g. 2-3 carrots – scraped clean and topped & tailed, 1 swede – peeled and cut into large chunks, 1-2 parsnips – peeled and top & tailed)
  • Coarse Sea Salt
  • Water

Method

Place the skinned hen and the beef into a large stockpot and add enough water to ensure both are covered, but just (adding too much water will dilute the flavour).  Add a good handful of coarse sea salt and bring to the boil over a high heat.

Once the water starts boiling, a froth/foam will start forming on the surface of the water.¬† Remove this with a fine skimmer (you can also simply use a spoon if you don’t have a skimmer).¬† Once you are satisfied you’ve removed as much of the froth as you can, add the onion(s) and root vegetables. Chicken Stock | Brodo di Gallina | Hen Stock | Hen Broth | Chicken Broth

Turn the heat down so the water simmers gently, cover and leave to cook for approximately 2 hours (check after about an hour and a half – some of the vegetables may begin to fall apart, so remove those that are too soft before they all fall to pieces into the stock).¬† Check for taste as you near the 2 hours.¬† You’ll know when it is ready as the taste will be divine and the hen will be close to falling apart.¬† At this point, add more salt if needed. If you find that you used too much water and the stock is a little bland, simply cook it a bit longer with the lid off, to reduce it down a little and concentrate the flavour (careful on salt quantities if you do this though as you may end up with an over-salted stock).

Tip: If you find you’ve over-salted it earlier on in the process, adding a raw, peeled potato to the cooking process will help absorb some of the salt out.

Once the stock is ready, carefully lift out the hen and the beef as well as all the vegetables.  Now pour the stock through a sieve into a clean stockpot to remove any vegetable debris, ready to use as you wish.   If you prefer your stock to be leaner, place it in the fridge overnight, then remove the layer of solidified fat from the top.

If you serve the stock as ‘tortellini in brodo’ or with other pasta, add a little sprinkling of freshly-grated parmesan cheese to each individual portion once served, for extra-deliciousness!

Tip: Don’t waste the beef and hen meat.¬† Tear these up into little strips by hand once they’re cooled down enough to handle (but not cold) and season with a little olive oil and salt.¬† They are both delicious to eat either warm (not too hot) or cold straight from the fridge and make an excellent light meal accompanied by the the vegetables, which are also delicious to eat with a drizzle of olive oil.¬† They taste really sweet when cooked in this way.

Clockwise, starting top left: Strips of hen meat with olive oil & salt, Tortellini in Brodo, Strips of beef with olive oil & salt, Hen Broth on its own

Clockwise, starting top left: strips of hen meat with olive oil & salt, tortellini in brodo with a sprinkling of freshly-grated parmesan, strips of beef with olive oil & salt, hen broth on its own

*Cappelletti are similar to Tortellini – they are filled pasta parcels of sorts, but Cappelletti tend to be smaller than Tortellini, so lend themselves better to being served ‘in brodo’.¬† Don’t worry if you can’t get hold of them, Tortellini will also work (I used Tortellini in the photos shown in this recipe post).¬†

Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!