Friday, August 28, 2009

A new Italian discovery: Tagliata

I thought I'd come across most Italian foods by now, what with having lived and travelled extensively in the country, not to mention living with an Italian for the past few years, but on a recent trip to Pisa I discovered something new and very tasty - Tagliata.

Now it's not entirely clear exactly what Tagliata even is to be honest, nor therefore how it should be cooked. The word itself seems to mean just 'cut', but in Pisa (and I think more widely in Tuscany, the great meat eating heart of Italy) it's a sirloin, t-bone or fillet steak that has been very simply pan cooked or grilled and served with either plenty of olive oil and rosemary or fresh rocket and shavings of parmesan. I had both types in Pisa (well you can't get too much of a good thing :-), and once we'd got to Corsica for the next stage of our holiday I decided to try and recreate it for supper one night. However the most critical thing about Tagliata is not how it's cooked, but more how it's served. They cut the meat off the bone and then into fine strips which are often served on a sharing platter.

The first Tagliata I had in "I Santi", Pisa. So busy eating it I almost forgot to photograph it.

Personally I think there are just three things you have to remember for a great steak, whatever it might be called.

  • The meat needs to be room temperature before you start, so take it out of the fridge at least an hour before, it not more.

  • Season with plenty of salt & pepper (but only do this at the last minute before cooking)

  • Keep the heat high (so if frying in particular use a heavy based pan)

There's a fourth too I guess, but it's more of a general rule with all meat so I didn't include it - let the meat rest!

Timing wise I can struggle with steak sometimes, and will often serve it under cooked rather than over cooked. Personally I prefer my meat that way (hell, I'll often taste it raw just to check it's OK!) but I'm not sure all my guests agree. I tend to use the pressing technique to gauge how cooked a steak is, i.e. just press my finger into the meat and you can usually tell by how much it springs back how much it is cooked. With thicker steaks this can prove difficult though.

Anyhow, enough warbling - here's a short video of me (warning - contains moderate nudity!) trying to cook this in Corsica in the apartment we rented in Bastia. I was getting all Keith Floyd to start, but unfortunately the camera woman hadn't pressed the record button, so we lost that bit, though you might think that's a good thing depending on your attitude to Keith Floyd ...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

RSPCA "give animals a voice" Campaign

The RSPCA have been in touch recently about a new campaign they're created to try and address the issue of low welfare food on the BBQ. Apparently we can have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to choosing meat ...

Give animals a voice!

As someone who's keen on animal welfare and at the same time a big meat eater (t's a conundrum I know, best not to think about it too hard) I thought I'd add a post in here about the campaign to do my bit. You can read more about the specific "BBQ Source" campaign at it's own website:

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Roast Chicken with Basil & Lemon (with HD video!)

Bought a chicken on Saturday, but for the life of me couldn't decide what to do with the thing. I love to roast chicken, but it can get a bit repetitive. Was gazing out of the kitchen window, wondering, and my eyes came to rest on the trough of basil that we've been growing over the summer, and I suddenly remembered an old favourite that I'd not done for years.

It's as simple as they come - just take a lemon, halve it, give it a bit of crush in your hands and then stick it into the chicken cavity. Then try to cram in as much fresh basil as you can get into the space that remains! As the chicken roasts the perfume (an odd word to use, maybe, but appropriate I think) of the basil penetrates the meat, but not overpoweringly so, it just adds another dimension to the meat. The lemon meanwhile gives a slight citric tang, and melds with the juices that the chicken exudes as it roasts to create a wonderfully light and summery gravy.

I cooked this for about an hour, but it was a small chicken. Here's the video I made during the cooking (not the most glamorous camera angle I have to say, but then again I've not got the most glamorous body :-):

Served this with our runner beans and some dauphinois (looking for that cream/lemon contrast), along with some focaccia I'd made the day before.

And then there are the leftovers ... what's great about this dish is that you get all that basil flavour still in the meat. I just grabbed a bite from the fridge, and it was gorgeous, but then again I'm a big basil fan. If you like basil, give this a try, I guarantee you'll not be disappointed!

See more roast chicken at Foodista:

Roast Chicken on Foodista


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