Recipes from Venetian Republic

BRAISED LAMB SHOULDER WITH OLIVE OIL MASHED POTATOES AND GRILLED BABY LEEKS

Braised Pag Lamb Shoulder p.166

—Serves 4

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cooking Time 4 hours 15 minutes

Lamb shoulder
1.2 kg (2 lb 10 oz) whole shankless lamb shoulder
2 tablespoons olive oil
120 g (1 cup) whole French shallots
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 bottle Plavac Mali red wine (or Zinfandel, Primitivo or any medium/full-bodied red wine)
125 ml (½ cup) red wine vinegar
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig rosemary
2 bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Olive oil mashed potatoes
800 g (1 lb 12 oz) potatoes, whole and unpeeled
200 ml (generous ¾ cup) olive oil
Grilled baby leeks
20 baby leeks
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 160°C (315°F).

Season the lamb shoulder well with salt and pepper.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep flameproof casserole dish over high heat for 2 minutes. Carefully add the lamb shoulder and brown all over. Remove the lamb and set aside.
Turn the heat to low, add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened.

Return the lamb to the dish and cover with the red wine and vinegar. Add the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for 3½ hours or until the lamb is very tender.

Remove the lamb and cover with foil in a warm place. Strain the liquid through a sieve and return the cooking juices to a saucepan over low heat. Simmer the liquid until it reduces to a sauce consistency, then keep warm.

Meanwhile, to make the olive oil mashed potatoes, place the potatoes in a large deep pan of cold water and boil until cooked through. While still hot, peel the potatoes and purée in a food mill or mouli. Beat in the oil and season with salt.

To make the grilled baby leeks, trim the roots of the leeks, brush with olive oil and season with salt. Place on a hot grill and cook for 1 minute on each side.

Serve the lamb on a platter with the sauce, olive oil potato mash and baby leeks.

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GOGGES PASTA WITH BURNT BUTTER AND SALTED RICOTTA

Gogges pasta with burnt butter

—Serves 4

Prep Time 30 minutes, plus resting the dough
Cooking Time 25 minutes

With burnt butter and salted ricotta, this dish looks and feels like it could easily belong in Italy. Having said that, two key elements are classically Greek. The first is the gogges pasta, which hails from the Peloponnese and is worth the effort to make, and the second is Myzithra – a traditional unpasteurised Greek ricotta cheese that’s available both fresh (creamy and spreadable in consistency) and dried (salty and most commonly used grated over pasta, as in this dish).

Sauce
60 g (½ cup) walnuts, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons dried Myzithra or salted goat’s milk ricotta, grated, plus extra to garnish
Sea salt

Gogges pasta
500 g (2¾ cups) fine semolina
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Arrange the walnuts evenly on a baking tray and cook for 3–5 minutes, or until golden brown. Take the tray out of the oven and remove the nuts from the tray to prevent over-colouring. Allow to cool completely before chopping roughly.

To make the pasta, mix together the semolina and salt in a bowl. Gradually add 250 ml (1 cup) water and knead to a smooth dough.

Add the olive oil and knead again to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into 150 g (5½ oz) pieces; roll each piece into a log about 1.5 cm (½ inch) wide and cut into 2 cm (¾ inch) lengths.

Take a piece of dough and, using your thumb, press onto a floured wooden ridged pasta board and roll down to form a sea shell shape. If you don’t have a ridged board, use a floured work surface: the pasta will be smooth but will still work. Continue until all the dough is used. Store on a floured tray, making sure the pasta shapes are not touching, until ready to cook.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta for 12–15 minutes: the pasta is intended to be quite firm, but if you prefer a softer texture, cook for a little longer. Drain the pasta and place in a serving bowl.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat until the butter begins to foam. Add the cheese and cook until golden brown. Pour the sauce over the pasta and sprinkle with the walnuts. Season and serve with extra cheese over the top.

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SWEET PEA RISOTTO

Sweet pea risotto

—Serves 4

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 30 minutes

This is one of Venice’s most iconic dishes. But, as with pašticada and squid ink risotto, rizi bizi or sweet pea risotto, it is also ubiquitous in Croatia. This recipe includes a unique Dalmatian component: crisp smoked pancetta laid over the top, delivering a beautiful salty, smoky crunch.

160 g (5½ oz) smoked pancetta
80 ml (1/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 white onions, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
350 g (1 2/3 cups) Vialone Nano (or any risotto rice)
250 ml (1 cup) Istrian Malvasia white wine (or any quality dry white wine)
1 litre (4 cups) Vegetable or Chicken stock
300 g (10 oz) sweet peas, half left whole, half puréed to a smooth paste
30 g (½ cup) chopped parsley
2 tablespoons butter
50 g (½ cup) grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve
Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Finely dice half the pancetta and cut the remainder into thin ribbons. Place the ribbon slices on a baking tray and cook in the oven until crisp.

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onion, garlic and diced pancetta and cook over low heat until the onion is translucent.

Add the rice to the pan and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the wine and cook for 2 minutes or until the wine has evaporated.

Meanwhile, bring the stock to the boil in another pan, then reduce the heat and keep at a simmer.

Slowly add the hot stock to the rice, one ladle at a time, stirring continuously as the rice absorbs the stock. Cook for about 12 minutes, then stir in the peas, pea purée and parsley.

Cook for a further 3 minutes, then add the butter and Parmigiano Reggiano and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and leave for 3 minutes before serving, garnished with crisp pancetta slices, a little extra Parmigiano Reggiano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

 

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CROATIAN BLACKBERRY CRUMBLE

Croatian Blackberry Crumble p.172

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cooking Time 50 minutes

In many parts of the world, fruit crumble desserts like this one are reserved for the cold of winter. Not in this case, as blackberries are at their best in summer, and this Croatian staple – another example of Slavic influence on the Dalmatian coast – is beautifully light and fantastic for summer.

Pastry
150 g (1 cup) plain flour
¹⁄₃ teaspoon baking powder
170 g (6 oz) cold butter, diced
110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
2 egg yolks

Blackberry filling
2 egg whites
110 g (½ cup) caster sugar
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) blackberries
Seeds from ½ vanilla pod
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon icing (confectioners’) sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

To make the pastry, mix the flour, baking powder, butter, sugar and egg yolks in a food processor until a dough ball forms. Turn out of the processor and set aside one-third of the dough to make the topping.

Grease a 20 cm (8 inch) pie dish and firmly press the dough into the base and side of the dish to form a crust.

For the blackberry filling, whisk the egg whites and sugar into soft peaks. Fold in the berries, vanilla seeds and lemon zest and pour into the pie dish.

Crumble the reserved pastry dough over the top of the blackberry filling.

Bake the crumble in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until golden.

Allow to cool a little, then dust with icing sugar. This is beautiful with vanilla bean gelato or cream.

 

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