London-based chef-restaurateur Giorgio Locatelli has produced a personal hymn to his homeland with the publication of his book Made in Italy Food & Stories. Here are three of its seasonal recipes
More than four years in the making, Giorgio Locatelli's gargantuan tome about the food of his homeland was a labour of love for the London-based chef-restaurateur. Juggling research trips in between running his phenomenally successful West End restaurant, Locanda Locatelli, he hunted out artisan producers from Piedmont to Sicily in order to put down on paper a definitive personal hymn to his native cuisine.
Naturally, Locatelli revisited his home village of Corgeno on the shores of Lake Comabbio in Lombardy where as a young boy he took his first steps into the restaurant world at his aunt and uncle's hotel and restaurant, La Cinzianella. "I wanted to call this book Made of Italy, because that is what I am - but I could easily have called it La Convivialità - because that is the word I use most to explain the way Italians feel about food. For us the sign of welcome is to feed people," he explains in the introduction.
To give you a taster of what he means , we're publishing three seasonal recipes from the book, each introduced by Locatelli, to inspire your autumn menu writing.
Souffle di riso carnaroli al limone (Carnaroli rice and lemon souffle)
The rice of the northern Lomellina region and the big Sorrento lemons from the southern Amalfi coast brought together in a soufflé - for me this is an incredible dessert. We use carnaroli rice because it becomes very creamy, but retains its shape and bite. Technically, of course, we could make a more perfect, symmetrically risen soufflé in a ramekin dish, but the savour that infuses into the rice when you cook the soufflé inside the halved lemons is just beautiful - this is really one of those dishes that people go mad for whenever it is on the menu. If you can't find Sorrento lemons, look for big, thick-skinned ones that are all the same size, so that the soufflés cook for a similar length of time - or, if you like, you can use oranges.
Fegato di vitello al balsamico (calves' liver with balsamic vinegar)
I think of this as one of my dishes, with a sauce that is based on French rather than Italian technique, but with flavours that are truly Italian. You don't need to use best quality balsamic vinegar for cooking. In fact, if you use an expensive vinegar that will have been aged and therefore have a higher concentration of sugar, it might catch and burn while you are reducing the sauce.
Insalata di porcini alla griglia (Chargrilled cepe salad)
This is a dish for those times when you go shopping and just happen to see fantastic fresh porcini. Whenever I find them, I buy a kilo, use some for a risotto, put some in a veal stew and keep back the most beautiful ones to grill for this salad. In the restaurant, we serve quite a smart porcini salad with reduced veal stock and beurre fondu drizzled around the plate.
Made in Italy for you
If you'd like to order a copy of Made in Italy Food & Stories by Giorgio Locatelli, publishers Fourth Estate are offering Caterer readers a special price of £23.99 (rrp £27.99) by calling 0870 787 1724 and quoting reference 850C.
Postage and packing is free on all UK orders. Please allow 21 days for delivery. Offer expires 31 May 2007.