Tag Archives: sage

Casatiello: Italian Brioche

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I’ve been trying to guilt myself into finishing what needs to be finished lately and in the process have confirmed what I suspected:  I am a closet un-finisher — someone who can run a great race then come to a dead stop inches from the finish line.  Perhaps a quarter of a lap is more accurate, but you get the idea, I hope.  With respect to my on-going obsession with food, this translates to a few projects I’ve become involved in then haven’t completed.  In particular, tops on the list is the project Nicole of Pinch My Salt gave birth to, the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge .  Then there was my own quest to work through Bittman’s “101 Simple Salads for the Season” to help keep me healthy in the time leading up to the holidays. That would be the holiday season of 2009. It seemed completely reasonable to make five salads in a seven day period at the time.  Most sadly, the Daring Bakers challenges have passed by, one after the other, and the months along with them.  The first two projects have been long neglected in my writing, but I think of them from time to time because of the photos I’ve taken of the recipes completed.  It’s torturous being reminded of one’s shortcomings in such vivid color and clarity. With respect to the Daring Baker challenges, I’ve got much more to make up than available time on my food calendar.

I’ve just sighed.  You know that feeling, right?  The one that lets you know you’re not all you’re chalked up to be.  Yes, that one.

It’s humbling.

Nevertheless, I’ve decided that some attempt to breathe life into what I once considered worthy goals is important.  I’ll blame this bit of retrospection on having to rebuild my photo libraries due to a new Mac and software.  Viewing all of those photos provided me the opportunity to revisit quite a few recipes I made and enjoyed but never wrote about.   It’s not quite like finding the perfect little black dress purchased on sale, then hung in the closet and forgotten until needed for a special occasion, but close.  It’s all about promise.

Bread is like that — about promise.  It generally promises that after all the steps — kneading, waiting, punching, shaping, and then waiting some more — you’ll actually get to taste it and share it with someone you know will like it. With respect to brioche, a bread containing a high percentage of butter, there is quite a bit of waiting.  Most brioche dough has to rest overnight in the refrigerator, so it does take some thinking ahead if you are like I am — someone who doesn’t make bread as often as she’d like.  I have made brioche before with good results, thanks to Sherry Yard’s Lean Brioche recipe.  I’ve also made Reinhart’s Poor Man’s Brioche, but I’ll save that one for another time because his recipe for Casatiello is more interesting.

Casatiello is a savory Easter celebration bread from the Campania region of Italy.  It is traditionally made with lard and baked in paper molds. The incorporation of salami and cheese are related to ancient associations with rites of spring and fertility.  Today, lard is often omitted or in some cases, shortening used in its place.  Additionally, many bakers use different types of cheese and meat.

I’ve added fresh sage to my adaptation of Reinhart’s recipe.

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Brined Pork Roast with Mushroom Sage Polenta and Collards

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Everyone’s been waxing prolifically about the onset of Fall weather, and although I can say that maybe…but only a slight maybe…the air in the early morning has a slight chill, there’s no way it’s Fall here yet.  Of course the calendar swears it’s October.  And yes, magazines have arrived sporting all things orange, brown, and sage green.  Grocery stores have displays of apples in every size and color, and yes, oddly shaped squash and pumpkin are everywhere.  So I pretend, and I indulge myself by fixing a braised piece of meat and some vegetables knowing that the resident hunkster will smile when he sits down with his plate to yell at the television and one of his many fantasy football players’ latest indiscretions on the field.  That’s how I really know that Fall has arrived, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, whether the sun is shining and the palms are swaying in the breeze or not.

This is a lovely and satisfying meal that takes some time to prepare since the roast needs to be brined over night.  I’d say that qualifies it for being slow, wouldn’t you?  The cooking time isn’t all that long, however, so the pay off is big.  Plus, there’s a Low and Slow event being held at The Constable’s Larder I’d like to send this off to.  Today’s the last day, and true to form, here I am late even though I prepared this meal well in advance and specifically for the event.  In fact I prepared two.  Funny how that works, isn’t it?

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