03/16/11 Roast Pork Porchetta-Style

"Quando la pera matura, casca da s." (All things happen in their own good time.) Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Organic Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Roast Pork Porchetta-Style
  -Mashed Potatoes with Fontina Cheese
  -Tortellini with Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms

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 Recipe: Roast Pork Porchetta-Style

Roast Pork Porchetta-Style


One 5 and 1/2 to 6-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), excess fat trimmed with thin layer left intact
2 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
1 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth


Stir fennel seeds in small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly darker in color and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

Transfer seeds to spice mill and cool.

Add kosher salt, peppercorns, and dried crushed red pepper.

Grind to medium-fine consistency (not powder).

Place pork in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

Rub garlic all over pork, then coat with spice mixture.

Loosely cover pork with waxed paper.

Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 450F.

Brush large rimmed baking sheet with olive oil.

Place roast, fat side up and coating intact, in center of sheet.

Drizzle evenly with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

Roast pork 30 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 300F.

Roast pork until very tender and thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 190F, about 3 hours 15 minutes longer.

Transfer pork to cutting board; reserve baking sheet.

Let pork rest 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour all pan juices into 2-cup measuring cup.

Spoon off fat that rises to top.

Place reserved baking sheet across 2 burners.

Pour wine and broth onto baking sheet and bring to boil over medium-high heat, scraping up any browned bits.

Boil until wine mixture is reduced to 3/4 cup, about 4 minutes.

Add degreased pan juices and whisk to blend.

Pour pan sauce into small bowl (sauce will be thin).

Thinly slice roast.

Serve with sauce. 8 servings plus leftovers.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Mashed Potatoes with Fontina Cheese

Mashed Potatoes with Fontina Cheese
Pur di Patate alla Fontina


2 pounds medium-size russet potatoes
3/4 cup half and half cream
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 and 1/4 cups (packed) grated Fontina cheese (about 6 ounces)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Preheat oven to 375F.

Using small knife, pierce potatoes in several places.

Place potatoes on small baking sheet.

Bake until tender when pierced with skewer, about 1 hour. Cool slightly.

Bring half and half cream to simmer in heavy small saucepan.

Scrape potatoes from skin into large bowl.

Using ricer, food mill or potato masher, mash potatoes.

Mix in half and half cream.

Add butter; stir vigorously until butter melts and potatoes are smooth.

Stir in 2/3 of cheese and 3 tablespoons parsley.

Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer potatoes to 11 x 7 x 2-inch glass baking dish.

Sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Cover and let stand at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 425F.

Bake potatoes until heated through and cheese melts, about 15 minutes. Serves 6.

That's it!

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 Recipe: Tortellini with Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms

Tortellini with Sausage, Fennel, and Mushrooms
Tortellini con Salsiccia, Finocchio, e Funghi


1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved through core, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage coarsely crumbled
One 8-ounce package sliced fresh crimini mushrooms
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup (or more) chicken broth
One 16-ounce package dried tortellini with pesto filling or fresh tortellini with cheese filling
One 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano cheese plus additional (for serving)


Heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Add sliced fennel bulb, sausage, and mushrooms; saute until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes.

Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute.

Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook tortellini in large pot of boiling salted water until 'al dente', stirring occasionally.

Drain tortellini; return to same pot.

Add sausage mixture to tortellini in pot.

Toss over medium heat until blended.

Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts.

Stir in 1/2 cup cheese; add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if dry.

Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, and serve, with additional Parmigiano cheese. 8 main-course servings.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates & reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news resources in Italy. Each story is slapped with our wild, often ironic, and sometimes rather opinionated comments. And now, for your reading pleasure, a sample of today's edition:

Mona Lisa's Remains Lie In A Florence Landfill

Florence - October 11, 2010 - The remains of the Italian woman who was the model for Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa were dug up 30 years ago and now lie in a municipal garbage tip, an Italian expert has claimed.

Lisa Gherardini died in Florence in 1542 and was buried in the grounds of Sant'Orsola convent.

Over the centuries the Franciscan convent was used as a tobacco factory and a university teaching facility but in the 1980s a redevelopment was launched to convert it into a barracks for Italy's tax police, the Guardia di Finanza.

The developers had no knowledge that it was the final resting place of da Vinci's famous model that was only discovered in 2007 and during work to build an underground car park, the convent's foundations were excavated, along with the crumbling remains of graves and tombs. The rubble was then dumped in a municipal landfill site on the outskirts of Florence.

Giuseppe Pallanti, an expert on da Vinci, who has spent 30 years studying the archives trying to establish Lisa Gherardini's final resting place, is convinced her remains are interred in the dump, now a grassy mound nearly 100 feet high.

"The tombs have all been lost," he said. "Sadly, when the works were carried out in the 1980s no thought was given to the historical importance of the building and its artifacts.

"They just wanted to build new barracks for the Guardia di Finanza and the material they excavated was disposed of."

Mr Pallanti, the author of "Mona Lisa Revealed: The True Identity of Leonardo's Model", added: "It is sad that the tomb of Lisa Gherardini has been destroyed without anyone realizing it at the time".

The prosaic end to the life of one of the best known figures in art history has only recently come to light through a fresh building project for the convent site. Florence city council wants to turn the half-built police barracks, which has lain semi-derelict and bricked up for years, into a 26 million Euro community arts center.

Surveys of the site have shown that the site was excavated in the 1980s to such a depth that no tombs or other historical artifacts survived.

"What we found inside is a kind of devastation. All that remains of the old Sant'Orsola convent are the external walls and some fourteenth-century arches," said an architect on the project, Luigi Ulivieri.

Gherardini is believed to have been born in Florence in 1479. At the age of 16 she became the second wife of a wealthy silk merchant, Francesco del Giocondo, with whom she had five children. She moved into the convent after his death, staying there for the last four years of her life.

She is believed to have died in the convent at the age of 63 in 1542, according to a document unearthed three years ago by Mr Pallanti during his research. He found a funeral record in a church archive known as a "Book of the Dead" which reads: "Lisa di Francesco del Giocondo, died July 15, 1542 buried at Sant'Orsola".

The portrait that came to be known as the Mona Lisa, which now hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, was completed by Leonardo in 1506 when she was about 24.

The arts center is due to be completed in 2015 and Mr Pallanti wants the authorities to incorporate some sort of commemoration of Gherardini.

"The renovation of Sant'Orsola presents an ideal opportunity to create a memorial to Leonardo and Mona Lisa.

"I would like to see the building named the Mona Lisa Art Center. What could be more fitting and suitable?"

By the way, the Louvre just called. All of them are throwing up. They're all unconscious...

"Incredibile", it took four years, almost the same length of time it took Da Vinci to paint her, for the Mona Lisa to have a $7.5 million dollar room of her own at the Louvre. And the real Lisa, along with the community of sisters in that convent who devoted their lives to a life of pure religion, are spending eternity in a garbage dump.

The questions:

- Could one blame Da Vinci for packing his bags, his paintings, and moving to France?
Leonardo (to Michelangelo and Raphael at that Vatican): "Minchia, I don't know about you two but I have a bad feeling about staying in this country."

- Whatever happened to the man who was the model for Da Vinci's world-renowned drawing, the 'Vitruvian Man'?
Let us guess! Does it begin with 'garbage'?

- How could one look at those Florentine "faccie di culo" developers and say that there’s love in the world? You find the love and beauty in them and we'll convert.

The discussion:

Giuseppe Pallanti: "Let me tell you something about my background. I'm an expert on Da Vinci, and have spent 30 years studying the archives trying to establish Lisa Gherardini's final resting place."
Head Florentine developer: "Let me tell you something about my backside...you can kiss it."

In conclusion to this sorrowful story, let us add this little glimmer of hope: At least no money was stolen.

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