A Taste of Italy

We are delighted to have been given these two seasonal recipes from the well-known Caldesi family.

Giancarlo and Katie have two restaurants and a cookery school. Caffé Caldesi, an informal bar and restaurant in London’s Marylebone, and Caldesa in Campagna in Bray, Berkshire, both showcase Italy’s finest regional cooking. At their cookery school couples and guest chefs can share the secrets of their trade.

These are the recipes with Giancarlo’s own personal comments:

Marmellata di Mandarini – Clementine marmalade

We loved this bright orange bittersweet marmalade for breakfast on yoghurt when we were in Sicily. It is equally at home spooned over ice cream, ricotta or on toast with mascarpone. The perfume of bubbling clementines fills the house as you make it and a jar makes a good gift.

This will be a loose-set marmalade and fairly low in sugar compared to traditional varieties. There isn’t enough sugar to enable the marmalade to be kept safely out of the fridge, but since we’re only making a small batch a few jars don’t take up too much room.

Makes approximately 1.5kg (3lb 5oz)caldesi-marm

1kg (2lb 3oz) clementines

Juice of 2 lemons

1 litre (34fl oz) water

400g (14oz) granulated sugar

Remove the stalks and hard knobbly bits at the top of the clementines and cut in half, keeping the skin on. Now roughly chop into smaller pieces by hand or in a food processor. The pieces should be no bigger than 1cm (½ in) cubes. Put them into a large heavy-based saucepan with the lemon juice and water and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and allow the mixture to bubble away slowly for 1 hour. By this time the skins should have softened so that you can squash them easily with a spoon against the side of the pan and the marmalade will have thickened to a soft, runny set.

Next add the sugar and stir through. Bring to a rapid boil for around 5 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved. Pour into clean, warm jars (I do this by rinsing them out with hot water from the kettle) and screw on the lids. Allow the jars to cool and keep in the fridge.

The book is available from Amazon and all good bookshops.

‘Sicily – Recipes from an Italian Island’ published by Hardie Grant. All photography by Helen Cathcart.

Ragù tradizionale di carne

Slow-cooked pork, beef & sausage ragu

This is the opposite of the Quick Beef Ragu. Traditionally, ragu was made on a Sunday and normally it would be the mamma of the house who would get up early to get it started over a fire, so that it would be ready in time for a late lunch. Nowadays, with slow cookers and heavy, cast-iron casseroles like Le Creuset, you can get it going, turn the oven on low and go out for the day. You will come back to a heavenly feast that is the wonderfully rich and sticky ragu ready to cling to pasta shapes or gnocchi.

We tested this recipe at our restaurant in Bray. A couple of the staff are Sicilian and they ate it for their dinner. They loved it and actually became quite emotional! I think we got pretty close to the original recipe. Don’t worry if you don’t have all the types of meat – it really should be made with what you have to hand, so use more beef or pork accordingly. Do try to find proper Italian sausages, though, as they are full of flavour from garlic, wine and sometimes fennel seeds and don’t contain rusk. Serve this with dried or fresh long pasta.

Serves 8–10

425g (15oz) Italian sausagescaldesi-ragu

325g (11½oz) pork spare ribs

425g (15oz) pork belly, cut into 3cm (1¼ in) cubes

425g (15oz) stewing beef, cut into 8cm (3¼ in) chunks

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 white or brown onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped

2 bay leaves

1 sprig of rosemary

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

300ml (10 fl oz) white or red wine

4 tablespoons tomato purée (tomato paste)

1.2 kg (2lb 10oz) tinned whole tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 litre (34 fl oz) chicken, meat or vegetable stock, or hot water

6 potatoes (approximately 1kg/2lb 3oz), peeled and cut in half

200g (7oz) peas, frozen or fresh (optional)

Brown the meat in batches in the oil in a large casserole dish over a medium heat, setting it aside in a large bowl when done.

Add the onions to the pan in the remaining oil with the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and seasoning and cook over a gentle heat to soften. It should take 7-10 minutes.

Add the meat back into the pan with the wine and bring to the boil. Allow to reduce for few minutes. Add the tomato purée, tomatoes and stock and stir to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and allow to cook slowly for 4-5 hours. The time will depend upon the cut of meat and the size. You need to cook it until the meat falls easily from the bones.

Add the potatoes after around 4 hours and continue to cook until they are cooked through. Add the peas, if using, towards the end of the cooking time. Cook for 15 minutes if using frozen peas and 30 minutes if using fresh ones. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Eat the stew as it is or ladle off most of the sauce and serve it with pasta, followed by the meat and potatoes as a main course served with the purple sprouting broccoli.

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