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Milanese Recipes

Being a cosmopolitan city gives Milan’s food an exotic edge these days but its traditional cuisine is all about comfort food. These recipes are simple, nutritious and completely delicious. Rustle them up for guests or simply treat yourself!

MinestroneMinestrone alla Milanese

Minestrone literally means “the big soup” as it has a huge variety of ingredients. This Milanese version is light and perfect for summer when the seasonal ingredients can be found fresh. If you can’t find cranberry beans use pinto beans instead.

Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 2 hours
Serves 6

Ingredients

• 500g ripe tomatoes
• 400g peas
• 200g cranberry or pinto beans
• Fresh pork rinds (optional)
• Parsley
• Basil
• Sage
• 2 potatoes
• 2 zucchini
• Stick of celery
• 1 carrot
• 1 onion
• Freshly grated Gran Padano or Parmesan
• Fresh crushed garlic
• 5 handfuls of short pasta or rice
• Salt and pepper

Peel the potatoes and slice the tomatoes removing the seeds. Cube the celery, carrot and zucchini. Finely chop the parsley, garlic and onion and blend together. Cut the pork rind into thin strips. Put everything into a pot and cover with 2 quarts (4 pints) of water. Add a little salt and simmer for 2 ½ hours.

After the soup has been simmering away for the recommended time add the peas and the pasta or rice (whichever you have decided to use). Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the pasta/rice is soft. Serve in bowls topped with the grated cheese.

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RisottoRisotto alla Milanese (Milan style risotto)

The traditional accompaniment to Osso Buco (see below), this is a delicious saffron flavoured risotto. It is one of the most famous Milanese dishes with Lombardy being home to many of Italy’s rice paddies.

Preparation Time: 1 hour
Serves 6

Ingredients

• ½ cup unsalted butter
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 1 ounce of veal bone marrow, chopped
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 3 cups Arborio rice
• 6 cups boiling veal or beef broth
• Salt to season
• Large pinch of saffron threads, crushed and steeped in 3 tablespoons of warm water
• 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt half the butter in a large saucepan and cook the onion and bone marrow  for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently until the onion is translucent. Add the wine and cook until it has all but evaporated. Add the rice and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to coat all the grains.
Add a cup of the broth, season and stir. When the liquid has evaporated add another half cup of broth and repeat the process adding smaller amounts of broth until it has evaporated and been absorbed by the rice.

Before the rice has cooked completely pour in the saffron mixture and stir. At this point, add the rest of the butter and the grated cheese. Stir, cover and leave the risotto for 5 minutes before serving. Add more grated cheese to serve.

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Osso BucoOsso buco  (Bone marrow/Bone with a hole)

Bone marrow might not sound like your cup of tea which is why you may prefer to think of it as “braised veal”.  Either way, never doubt Italian cuisine’s ability to do something delicious with any ingredient. It is traditionally served with Risotto alla Milanese (above) when it constitutes one of the few meals in Italian cuisine where grains and meat are served together. If you want to go old school serve the whole thing with gremolata ( a sprinkling of parsley, garlic and lemon peel) and without tomatoes.

Preparation Time: 2 hours
Serves  4-6 people

Ingredients

• 4 ossi buchi (veal shins)
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• plain flour, for dusting
• salt and pepper
• 30g/1oz butter
• 1 small onion, chopped very finely
• ½ celery stick, chopped finely
• 150ml/5fl oz dry white wine
• 290ml/10fl oz hot stock
• cinnamon
• allspice
• bay leaf

For the gremolata

• 1 lemon, zest only, grated
• ½ garlic clove, thinly chopped
• 1 tbsp thinly chopped parsley

Get a saucepan large enough to accommodate all the veal shins. Heat the oil, lightly dust the veal shins with flour and brown them in the pan on both sides. Remove them from the pan and put to one side. Add the butter to the pan and add the chopped vegetables with a pinch of salt. Cook everything gently for a few minutes.

When the vegetables are soft put the veal shins back in the pan and add the wine. Cook gently until the moisture has  almost completely dried out.  Add the stock, cinnamon, allspice and a bay leaf. Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for around 1½ hours or until the meat is so tender it’s coming off the bone. Turn the veal shins regularly taking care not to lose the marrow inside.
When cooked place the ossi buchi on to a serving dish and keep them warm. Mix all the gremolata ingredients together and sprinkle on to the ossi buchi before serving.

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Asparagi alla MilaneseAsparagi alla Milanese  (Milan style Asparagus)

You can have asparagus served with olive oil all over Italy but in Milan they serve it with butter and it’s delicious. According to Plutarch Caesar became a big fan when he sampled this dish and if it’s good enough for Caesar...

Preparation Time: 25 minutes
Serves 4

Ingredients

• 1.5 kg Asparagus
• 4 eggs (optional)
• Freshly grated Parmesan
• Salt & pepper
• Unsalted butter

Snap the thick bottoms from the asparagus so you are left with the more tender tips. Boil until you can stick a fork in them easily (after around 10 minutes). As with all boiled vegetables, avoid overcooking. If you let them get too limp it’s a bit like school dinners! Drain the cooked asparagus  and arrange the spears on a serving plate with the tips pointing towards the centre of the dish. Cover with grated Parmesan and (if you want to) four eggs fried sunny side up in lots of butter. If you’re not using eggs just use hot butter to bind the cheese to the asparagus.

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Milanese CharlotteMilanese Charlotte

Charlottes are usually more complex than this but Milanese food is all about simplicity. Fancy enough to impress but easy enough for the average cook to churn out, this is a wonderful alcoholic pudding.

Preparation Time: 1 ½ hours
Serves 6-8 people

Ingredients

• 1/4 lb (100 g) renette apples (or other tart baking variety)
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 oz (50 g) raisins, soaked in warm water
• 1/2 cup dry white wine
• Rum
• The grated zest of a lemon
• Thinly sliced white bread

Peel, core and slice the apples. Put them in a pot with all but 2 tablespoons of the sugar and the lemon zest. Pour out the white wine over the apples and simmer them for a few minutes. Take a round-bottomed pudding mould large enough to hold all the ingredients. Mix the remaining sugar and the butter together and use this to grease the pudding mould. Next, line the mould with the bread. Drain the apples and put a first layer into the mould. Lay half the raisins over the apples and sprinkle some rum over everything. Make another layer with the remaining apples and raisins. Cover everything with slices of buttered bread to finish.

Dust with more sugar and bake the charlotte in a 340 F (170 C) oven for about an hour. Turn it out onto a serving dish and sprinkle it with rum. For a touch of pizzazz get a match and light the rum at the table. Personal experience shows it’s prudent to cover your eyebrows as the flame leaps.

 
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