Venice was a rich region in many aspects, above all the gastronomic. Because it is a region that for centuries had commerce and trade with distant lands, such as the Far East (in which the Venetians learned the the use and value of spices) and Northern Europe. The four key points of Venetian cuisine are: polenta, cod, rice and beans.
Carnevale, which means "farewell to meat," is one of the biggest festivals in Italy and begins two or three weeks before Ash Wednesday. The celebration started to usher in the sober, meat-free period of Lent (the 40 days before Easter). Italians began throwing wild costume parties where revelers ate up all the rich foods they had on hand, including plenty of meat. Traditionally at this time, rules and customs go out the window in favor of beautiful, ornate masked disguises, public plays and exhibitions, and celebratory feasts.
Polenta e osei
Place 1 slice of pancetta on each beef fillet. Cover with a piece of sage and roll into a tight cylinder. Do the same for the pork and quail. Thread the rolled meats and quail onto the skewers, alternating with chunks of sausage and cubes of pancetta.
Meanwhile, make the polenta: Bring 8 cups salted water to a rolling boil over medium heat in a heavy-gauge saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, pour in the grits in a steady stream, and cook, whisking frequently until the polenta comes away from the sides of the pan and the whisk stands up by itself in the center of the polenta.
While the polenta is cooking, heat the butter in a skillet over low to moderate heat and cook the skewers a few minutes per side until golden. Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for 15 minutes, adding broth as necessary to keep the meats from sticking.
Spoon the cooked polenta onto a serving platter. Stick the skewers into the surface of the polenta so that they are standing up straight, and serve the Polenta coi osei with a platter of sautéed greens.
Osei means small birds-thrushes, sparrows, finches. Tiny delicacies with a long gastronomic tradition and many passionate aficionados, small birds are generally prepared grilled, stewed (in umido), or skewered and sautéed. But in the last ten years, their numbers have decreased because of overhunting, and most of those that are left are now thankfully protected by strict anti-hunting laws as endangered species.
3 egg whites
6 egg yolks
- 6 tbsp sugar
8 oz mascarpone cheese at room temperature
1 cup freshly made espresso cooled to room temperature
2 tbsp amaretto or spiced rum (or brandy)
3-4 dozen ladyfingers (store-bought )
cocoa powder for dusting
To get started, separate 6 eggs, and place 3 of the egg whites in one bowl, and 6 egg yolks in another.
Add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the egg white bowl. Use a hand mixer to whip the egg whites to stiff peaks.
In a seperate bowl, add 3 tablespoons of sugar to the egg yolks. Whip this mixture for a couple minutes, until the mixture goes from bright yellow to a pale yellow color.
Mix in the mascarpone with the hand mixer until incorporated, then gently fold in the stiff egg whites, 1/3 at a time.
Soak lady fingers. When the espresso has cooled to room temperature, combine it with a couple tablespoons of amaretto or spiced rum. Place the espresso mixture in a flat and small dish, so the entire ladyfinger soaks evenly. As you soak the cookies, place them in a 8×8 square dish in an even layer. (You can also prepare in individual ramkins).
Then pour over a layer of the mascarpone cream to cover, and repeat. When finished with this step, leave the tiramisu to sit in the fridge for a solid 4-6 hours.
Serve the tiramisu cold, with a dusting of cocoa powder on top.
risotto al nero di seppie
Sautè the onion in a saucepan with extra virgin oil. When it turns golden, add diced cuttlefish. Cook for about 5 minutes.
Now, add tomato paste, chopped parsely (leaving some for later), the rice and toast it for a minute or two. Then, add a glass of white wone, stir using a wooden spoon and let the white wine evaporate.
Then, pour in enough vegetables broth to cover the rice completely and continue to cook, stirring often, until all the vegetable broth is absorbed (remember to cook on low heat).
Keep adding the vegetables broth and stir and cook until the rice is cooked. About 5 minutes before the rice is cooked, pierce the ink sacs with a paring knife on the top of the saucepan, making the contents fall in the sauce. Stir and cook for other 5 minutes.
Finally, sprinkle with minced parsley and enjoy it!
Duck in the Style of Venice
For the duck:
- 3 duck breasts
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stalk
- 1 white onion
- herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage)
For the chutney:
- 1 red onion
- 1 finely chopped apple
- 1 cup cane sugar
- 1 spoon of apple vinegar,
- 2 cups black or red raisins,
- 1 cup white raisins
- 1 spoon of mustard seeds
For pevarada sauce:
- 6 oz chicken liver
- 3 anchovy fillets
- 5 oz soppressa salami
- lemon juice with grated rind
- half a garlic clove
- 3 oz sausage meat
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups broth