Bean, Fagiolino, Haricot Vert


Why do green beans in Italy taste so good?

I’ve been feeling lonesome for green beans since we got home from Italy.

Early Tuesday mornings over there, in the piazza just up the street from our building, Marco Stanchini sets up his fruit and vegetable stand. He’s open for business until noon. By the time I get there around 8:00 a.m., the old ladies, some with husbands in tow, are busy bagging their produce.


Pork Roast: Dreaming Backward, Dreaming Forward


How to make a great roast and hardly lift a finger

It’s 4:00 a.m. I’m awake, in the kitchen, still not quite on local time since coming home from Italy. Times like these, I think about pork roast. It’s  a way of dreaming back to Italy. Yesterday I bought a three pounder—pork butt, bone in—from Nick, my local butcher pal. What’s there to do at 4:00 a.m.? Get to work on lunch. Dream backward and forward.


Penne with accidental pork sauce


How I made a mistake take really good

“What I would do now,” my chef buddy said, “is take those ribs out of the pot, cook the sauce down, and serve it with tagliatelle.” They were baby back ribs, braised long enough to get soft, the meat falling off the bone. We did what he said. It was the right thing to do.

Later I thought, of course. Some years back I had tagliatelle in a rabbit sauce in Siena. Same idea. Long cook the rabbit alla cacciatore, extract the pieces, use the sauce with a pasta for primo piatto. Then serve the rabbit as secondo.


I’ll Have the Ribs


How to make pork ribs, an inexpensive meat, taste like a million bucks

It was the lard that made us swoon.

My wife and I were having dinner at a restaurant in Reggio, Italy, one night. At the outset of a long meal, the server brought out affetatto (assorted sliced meats) and we were very much in heaven. Prosciuitto, mortadella, various salami–then came lard-thinly sliced, shimmering, buttery strips of lard that we rolled onto breadsticks.

I don’t know about other people, but we swoon outloud. The server, obviously pleased, to us, “You have to understand, for us, the pig is sacred.”


Turkey cutlets–cooked in milk


A fast, easy, irresistible meat dish

Thanksgiving day in Italy. There will be no turkey in the roaster, no dressing and mashed potatoes and gravy, no pumpkin pie. Later tonight we’re meeting friends for Thanksgiving ravioli. We have to save ourselves for that.

But for lunch? In the spirit of the holiday (sort of), turkey cutlets cooked in milk.


Pasta with sausage and leeks


A quick sauce that tastes of Tuscany

Rainy day food. Any day food. Pasta with a meaty sauce makes me feel good. This number takes 35-40 minutes. Take down this number.

This recipe is a variation on a sauce I first enjoyed in Montepulciano, the one is Tuscany. That sauce had no tomato. This one does.