Monday, August 11, 2008

Giada Cooks From Sardinia

Everyday Italian with Giada De Laurentiis

Flavors of Sardinia
Ricotta with Vanilla-Sugar Croutons and Berries
Prosciutto and Cheese Stuffed Lamb Tenderloin
Fregola with Clams and Mussels

Giada is showing us dishes from Sardinia today. The beauty shots of Sardinia at the beginning are only surpassed by her own radiance, but why is she dressed for opening night at the opera?

She starts with fregola, which I’ve never heard of before. She says it’s like couscous, but toasted. Giada brings 3 cups of chicken stock and 3 cups of boiling water (salted) to the boil and adds a pound of fregola. It takes 8 - 10 minutes to cook.

She starts on the sauce. She adds a little bit of olive oil to a pan with chopped onion and 2 cloves of chopped garlic. (We’ve got major cleavage action here.) She adds a bit of salt and pepper to flavor each layer. Then Giada adds 1 cup of Marsala (way too early, I think) and scrapes the bottom of the pan to get all the browned bits up. I would definitely cook the onion longer. She adds cherry tomatoes.

Giada tells us to keep the shellfish on ice to stay cold. To clean them, she puts the clams and mussels to sit in cold salty water for 30 minutes to get rid of the sand and grit. Then she scrubs the shells. The mussels have a beard that you have to remove.

She also reminds us that the clams and mussels should be tightly closed. If one isn’t, tap it and if it doesn’t close immediately, get rid of it. She adds the clams and mussels to her hot pan. There are 12 of each. She seasons with more salt and pepper. She lets them steam in the wine and tomatoes, covered for 5 to 8 minutes.

Giada scoops out the cooked fregola into a serving dish. What’s going to happen to the water/chicken stock cooking liquid? She uncovers the pot with the clams and mussels. They’ve all opened…very pretty. She lifts them out into a glass bowl.

Giada must have had an unfortunate shellfish experience, because she reminds us again to get rid of any that didn’t open. She pours the stuff left in the pan – the onions, garlic and tomato mixture – on top of the fregola and tosses it quickly. She pours over a bit of extra virgin olive oil and chops and sprinkles on some parsley for garnish. Then she pours all the shellfish on top and sprinkles some more parsley on. “Doesn’t that look like a big ol’ party?” Yup, and I want an invite.

She tastes. “It’s so juicy and sweet and tender.”

Next up is stuffed lamb tenderloin. Giada starts making packets to stuff into the lamb. She cuts pecorino slices and tells us that there are twice as many sheep as people in Sardinia, so pecorino – a sheep’s milk cheese - is used a lot. She places 2 basil leaves in the center of a slice of prosciutto. She tops that with a slice of pecorino. She folds over the prosciutto to make little packets.

Giada adds olive oil to a pan and heats it on high. She cuts pockets into the side of the tenderloins.

She stuffs each one with her little ham and cheese packets. She ties them up with kitchen twine to ensure she doesn’t lose the packets while browning the meat.

The tenderloins get seasoned with salt and pepper and they go into the hot pan to sear for a couple of minutes on each side until golden brown. They look luscious. She puts them on a greased baking sheet and into a 400°F oven for 10 minutes until medium or medium rare.

Giada starts the sauce. She adds ½ cup of Marsala wine to the hot pan to deglaze all the browned bits. She adds ½ cup chicken broth and boils it down a bit.

She puts on HUGE pink oven mitts and removes the lamb from the oven. The mitts look like fluffy casts that go up to her elbows.

She chops more fresh basil and adds 2 tablespoons of butter to the deglazed pan.

Giada snips the twine off the meat. She plates one whole tenderloin and slices the other. It’s rosy and juicy looking. She pours over the sauce. She serves herself one little slice, garnishing it with fresh basil. MMMM…she loves it, it’s “super tender and delicious.”

Cheese and fruit are a traditional combination in Sardinia, Giada tells us. For a berry syrup, she stirs ½ cup granulated sugar in a pot with fresh orange and lemon juices. She cooks it until the sugar starts to dissolve.

She cuts the tops off the strawberries and quarters them. After the sugar has dissolved, Giada adds the strawberries to the syrup with one cup of blueberries. She simmers it until the fruit breaks down.

Next Giada melts 3 tablespoons of butter and cubes ciabatta into 1 inch cubes for sweet croutons. She puts them in a bowl. She adds 2 cups of sugar to the food processor. She splits a vanilla bean down the middle and scrapes the seeds out and into the sugar in the food processor. She processes it until well-mixed. She adds melted butter to the croutons with 1½ tablespoons of the sugar and mixes it well. They go into a 400°F oven for 10 minutes.

I’m a little disappointed. I really thought she was going to add ALL that sugar to the bread cubes and I was thinking how yummy and caramel-y and sugar-y those croutons were going to be, in other words MY kind of croutons. She adds only a smidge of sugar, not even 2 tablespoons. I was getting really excited. :-(

The berry sauce has cooled. The barely sweet enough croutons are nicely browned. Giada mixes 15 oz whole milk (don’t use anything else, she says) ricotta with orange and lemon zest. She stirs in 1 tablespoon (woo-hoo!) of sugar. She does say we can add more sugar if we want.

She spoons a bit of the ricotta mixture into a bowl and tops it with some of the berry sauce. She puts a few of the practically savory croutons over and expresses her excitement for the dish. She finishes it with sliced fresh mint leaves. It can be a dessert, a snack, breakfast or anything. It is a nice idea. She tells us the food of Sardinia is amazing. It looks that way.

Note: See Heather’s comment below. Don’t use iodized salt to soak shellfish. Here’s more.


Emiline said...

She looks pretty. Maybe her husband was taking her to the opera after the show.

I want to try some of the toasted couscous stuff. Could you toast couscous?

The first picture of her, with the gloves, I thought she was swinging the tenderloin through the air. Ha ha. :)

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Is this a newer epsisode? I was noticing that Giada has been dumbing things down lately and this episode seems to be about recipes that require some effort. They don't seem difficult, but they do seem to require a time commitment. How anti-food-network!

I just saw the list of foods for this show and started salivating. That lamb!!! THAT LAMB!!! I am so going to look up the recipe now and find some excuse to make it.

Heather said...

I'm not sure if she noted this, but people shouldn't use regular table salt to soak the clams because the iodine will kill them. Here in Boston, we don't use salt at all. We add cornmeal to plain water and soak them in that.

Sue said...

You know, Em, I hadn't considered that, but is there even opera in LA?

You can toast any grain before cooking, including couscous, in a dry skillet. It will give a nice warm roasted flavor and some say it quickens the cooking time. (I toast nuts just about ANY time I use them to get my money's worth out or their flavor.)

The oven mitts were strange enough without swinging any meat through the air, but that WOULD have been funny.

Sue said...

Hi Rach,
This was a 2008 episode and a good one, I agree.

The lamb did look really good.

OMG! I didn't know that. I wonder if that's general knowledge. I usually use Kosher salt for everything, so I guess I would have been safe, but thanks for the info. I put a note at the end of my post.