Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Parmagiano Reggiano Love

last night, we made a simple steak -- grilled on my george foreman grill (which sits on top of my countertop and is used FREQUENTLY -- who knew?), marinated in just a bit of olive oil, season salt, chopped garlic, thyme and fresh ground pepper. i put together a light salad of wild greens and champagne dressing to which i added the Potatoes Baked with Parmigiano (Patate al Forno col Parmagiano).

as i said yesterday, this is a recipe i took from Biba Caggiano's cookbook BIBA'S TASTE OF ITALY and here's how the recipe went:

6 large boiling potatoes (5-5 1/2 pounds)
small pinch of freshly ground nutmet
3/4 cup milk
salt to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
2-5 tbs unsalted butter

what to do:

1. place the potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over medium heat until they're tender, but still firm when pierced with a thin knife. , about 30-35 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly.
2. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Butter a large baking dish.
3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them, let cool to room temp then cut them into 1/4-inch rounds.
4. Layer potato slices in the baking dish, slightly overlapping them. (potatoes can be prepped to this point and refrigerated.) mix the nutmeg with the milk and pour over potatoes. season lightly with salt. sprinkle generously with the parmigiano and dot with the butter.
5. put baking dish on middle rack of oven and bake until the cheese is melted and the potatoes are light golden on top, 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temp.

here's what we did:
we used russets instead of boiling potatoes, but these worked well. nicholas grated about 1 cup of parmagiano-reggiano and i did a mix of low-fat milk and cream for the milk. 1/2 cup low-fat milk and 1/4 cup cream. everything else remained pretty much the same and while we seasoned and sprinkled the 1/2 cup of cheese like the recipe said, once it came out of the oven, i sprinkled on more cheese for serving.

report card:
this is a VERY simple potato dish, kind of like a galette, and was just delicious. it had the great flavor of the potato, the flavor of the parmagiano-reggiano and was just clean and fresh and warming. nicholas and brandon devoured it with delight, it tasted great with the steak and salad, the champagne dressing a wonderful compliment to it all. i recommend this highly for any meal. it would work great in leftovers with some turkey or sausage, prosciutto and ricotta for a gratin or something. we're going to do something tomorrow night with it to see what we can turn this into from the one recipe.

i remember when i was a kid and my mom would make potatoes au gratin with huge chunks of leftover baked ham, sliced onions and cheese with a cream sauce. it was one of my favorite dishes. she made a KILLER ham -- secret fam recipe, so you'll just have to imagine it -- and putting the leftovers into the casserole gave it a great smokey, hearty flavor. these days we tend to go lighter, but i'd like to see if i can give my kids the same feeling my mom gave me whenever she made this, which was just a feeling of love and such caring. that's what made my mom's cooking so good. it was her spirit. she has a great spirit, although she doesn't cook anymore. she's more a diner these days. a very good diner :o)

so far, so good and still very fun. let's see what else we can come up with.

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