Tam­sin Car­van draws com­fort — and recipe in­spi­ra­tion — from th­ese two colour­ful win­ter sta­ples.

A few months ago I made a quiet pact with my­self: that this would be the win­ter of chicory and radicchio. Of all the things I grow, th­ese earthy, bit­ter, nutty and in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful leaves are among the things I find my­self crav­ing the most when they are not around, which lately, has been most of the time — a cou­ple of brazen sheep and turkey raids on the gar­den have seen to that. But a de­ter­mined plant­ing ef­fort last au­tumn, and swathes of ro­bust net­ting, mean that mis­ad­ven­tures aside, we should have rows and rows of brightly coloured, crunchy heads to en­joy when win­ter is at its dullest and cold­est, which also hap­pens to be when the leaves are at their best. Chicory and radicchio (and en­dives) are closely re­lated. Of the many va­ri­eties out there, the ones I love most are the stronger flavoured, red-leaved and white-veined Tre­viso and Palla Rossa. How­ever, the stand­outs so far this year have been the var­ie­gated, al­most im­pos­si­bly beau­ti­ful Bel Fiore (which has grown ro­bustly on this hill­top even through warmer weather), as well as the fast-grow­ing, dan­de­lion-like Puntarelle chicory. Not only is this fam­ily of plants de­li­cious, good for you and gor­geous to look at, but they re­pay a gar­dener’s ef­forts again and again… and again. Un­like many other leaf crops, they are peren­nial, mean­ing that if you cut off the leaves just above the ground, leav­ing the long tap root in­tact, a sec­ond (or even third) head of leaves will re­grow. Flavour-wise, the earthy bit­ter­ness of radicchio and chicory sits beau­ti­fully with nuts (es­pe­cially freshly shelled wal­nuts) and the creamy sweet­ness of newly dug pota­toes and soft curd cheeses, as well as pars­ley, white wine, caramelised onions, cur­rants, gar­lic, le­mon, bal­samic vine­gar and olive oil. And, in both cases, their leaves are just as de­li­cious raw in sal­ads as they are sautéed, blanched or even roasted. While some­times viewed with cau­tion by Aus­tralian cooks and eaters, bit­ter­ness is highly val­ued in Mediter­ranean cook­ing. In her fan­tas­tic book Honey From a Weed (1986), the late Bri­tish cook­ery and travel writer Pa­tience Gray notes that in re­gional Italy, the more bit­ter, the bet­ter — bit­ter­ness be­ing val­ued not only for its re­fresh­ing and en­liven­ing taste but also as a “balm for the liver”. So next time you see some of th­ese beau­ti­ful leaves, give them a go. As Damien Ri­ley, who works with me here, cheer­fully tells any doubters, “Bit­ter is not a dirty word!”

Cook, farmer and ac­com­plished gar­dener Tam­sin Car­van hosts cook­ing work­shops and sea­sonal lunches at her farm at Poowong East in Vic­to­ria’s Gipp­s­land. For in­for­ma­tion, visit tam­sin­sta­ble.com.au


2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil 1 ta­ble­spoon but­ter 1 brown onion, peeled, roughly chopped 1kg waxy salad pota­toes, such as Ni­cola 2 gar­lic cloves, peeled, chopped 2 ta­ble­spoons cur­rants 1 Palla Rossa (or even bet­ter, Tre­viso) radicchio, leaves sep­a­rated, washed 1 cup dry white wine 1 bunch flat-leaf pars­ley, chopped (stems and all) 1 le­mon, halved Heat oil and but­ter in a large fry­ing pan over a low heat un­til but­ter melts. Add onion and a large pinch sea salt. Cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, over very low heat for 30–45 min­utes un­til onion is soft and translu­cent (do not brown). Trans­fer onion to a plate lined with pa­per towel and re­serve fry­ing pan. Place pota­toes in a large saucepan of cold salted wa­ter and bring to boil. Cook for 15 min­utes or un­til ten­der. Drain, then set aside in a colan­der to dry a lit­tle. Cut pota­toes in half. Heat re­served fry­ing pan over a medium heat. Cook gar­lic, stir­ring, for 1 minute or un­til aro­matic. Add cur­rants and cook, toss­ing, for 1 minute or un­til well com­bined. Add radicchio with wa­ter cling­ing to leaves and cook, stir­ring, for 1 minute or un­til wilted (add a lit­tle more wa­ter if nec­es­sary). Add wine and bring to boil. Add pars­ley and cook for a few min­utes more or un­til radicchio is ten­der. Add pota­toes and toss to com­bine. Sea­son to taste. Trans­fer to a serv­ing bowl. Top with onion and a squeeze of le­mon juice.


Pork neck cooked in milk is a clas­sic Ital­ian dish, which is as de­li­cious as it is sim­ple. It can be eaten the day it is made, but the flavours im­prove im­mea­sur­ably if it is cooked ahead and al­lowed to rest for 48 hours in the re­frig­er­a­tor. Choose a piece of pork neck that will fit snugly into the heavy-based casse­role pan, cast-iron pot or deep bak­ing dish in which it will be braised. Palla Rossa is sold gener­i­cally as ‘radicchio’ in the shops. 1.2kg-piece free-range pork neck, fat trimmed 2 ta­ble­spoons olive oil 1½–2 cups dry white wine 2 gar­lic bulbs, cloves sep­a­rated, peeled, very lightly crushed 2 very gen­er­ous hand­fuls sage leaves 2 le­mons, rind peeled, pith re­moved 6 cups milk (this will vary depend­ing on the size of your pan and pork neck) crusty bread, to serve


1 Palla Rossa radicchio bal­samic vine­gar, to driz­zle olive oil, to driz­zle 1 le­mon, halved 1 large hand­ful flat-leaf pars­ley, coarsely chopped Bring pork to room tem­per­a­ture. Us­ing your hands, rub olive oil into pork. Sea­son gen­er­ously with sea salt. Heat a large fry­ing pan over a high heat. Add pork and cook, turn­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, for 7–10 min­utes or un­til browned all over. (Take care not to burn pork. The ob­ject is to de­velop a caramelised crust that will add depth and rich­ness of flavour to the dish.)

Trans­fer pork to a plate to catch rest­ing juices. Re­duce heat to medium-low. Add wine and sim­mer, stir­ring with a flat-edged wooden spoon to dis­lodge any bits cooked onto base of pan, for 3–4 min­utes or un­til re­duced slightly. Add gar­lic and cook, toss­ing oc­ca­sion­ally, for 4–5 min­utes or un­til golden and fra­grant. Re­move from heat. Place pork and any rest­ing juices in a flame­proof casse­role pan. Add sage, le­mon rind, gar­lic and any pan juices. Sea­son gen­er­ously with sea salt. Pour milk into pan un­til half to two-thirds of pork is sub­merged. Place a piece of bak­ing pa­per di­rectly on sur­face of pork. Cover with a layer of foil, then weigh down with an oven­proof plate or heavy lid. Place casse­role pan in a cold oven. Set oven tem­per­a­ture to 120°C and cook, turn­ing once, for 3–4 hours or un­til very ten­der. (The pork is ready when meat can be pulled apart eas­ily with a fork and tongs, and ri­cotta-cheese-like curds are vis­i­ble in pan juices.) Set aside, cov­ered, to cool. Place in re­frig­er­a­tor for 2 days to de­velop flavours. To re­heat pork, re­move plate, foil and bak­ing pa­per from pork. Place pan over a very low heat for 15–20 min­utes or un­til warmed through. (Do not boil.) Mean­while, to make roasted radicchio, pre­heat oven to 200°C. Line 2 heavy bak­ing trays with bak­ing pa­per. Re­move outer leaves of radicchio un­til you reach tightly wrapped, fresh-look­ing leaves. Cut radicchio in half length­ways. (Do not re­move the core; it be­comes beau­ti­fully sweet when roasted.) Cut each half into 6 wedges. Place radicchio wedges on pre­pared trays. (Do not over­crowd or radicchio wedges will stew rather than caramelise.) Driz­zle with bal­samic vine­gar and olive oil. Squeeze over le­mon juice and sea­son with sea salt. Roast for 15 min­utes or un­til radicchio is caramelised on bot­tom. Re­move from oven and sea­son with le­mon juice to taste. (The radicchio should taste bit­ter, sweet and salty.) Top with pars­ley and cool to room tem­per­a­ture. Place small pieces of pork neck in serv­ing bowls and spoon over curds and cook­ing juices. Serve with radicchio and crusty bread. >


Time the cook­ing of the ‘sauce’ so that it’s ready just as the tagli­atelle is drained. Use bought pasta for this recipe if you like. 1 radicchio 250g wal­nuts in shells 150g un­salted cul­tured but­ter 3 gar­lic cloves, peeled, finely chopped 10 thyme sprigs freshly grated parme­san, to serve le­mon wedges, to serve


100g semola du­rum wheat flour* 130g plain flour gen­er­ous pinch very finely ground sea salt 1 egg 5 egg yolks To make tagli­atelle, com­bine flours and salt in a large bowl. Add egg and egg yolks, then use your hands to mix very thor­oughly un­til a firm, sticky dough forms. If nec­es­sary, add a lit­tle wa­ter to help bring dough to­gether. (The semola flour ab­sorbs a lot of mois­ture, so aim for a slightly stiffer dough as it will soften dur­ing rest­ing.) Di­vide dough into 4 equal por­tions and flat­ten into discs. Wrap in plas­tic wrap and place in re­frig­er­a­tor for 30 min­utes to rest. Un­wrap 1 dough por­tion, flat­ten into a rec­tan­gle and lightly dust with flour. Set pasta ma­chine to widest set­ting, then feed dough through 4–5 times, fold­ing in half each time and turn­ing it 90-de­grees un­til smooth and width of ma­chine. Con­tinue feed­ing dough through with­out fold­ing, nar­row­ing set­tings on ma­chine 1 notch each time un­til you reach set­ting 6 (about 1–2mm thick). Cut pasta length in half cross­ways. Us­ing cut­ting at­tach­ment on pasta ma­chine, cut dough into tagli­atelle or cut into 5mm-wide strips by hand. Dust a tray with semola. Lay tagli­atelle on tray. Sprin­kle with a lit­tle semola to pre­vent strands stick­ing to­gether. Re­peat with re­main­ing pasta dough. Cut radicchio in half length­ways and re­move core. Cut each radicchio half into 4 wedges, then sep­a­rate leaves. Re­move wal­nut ker­nels from shells. Place wal­nut ker­nels in a mor­tar and pound with a pes­tle into coarse pieces. Place a large stock­pot of salted wa­ter over a high heat. Bring to boil. Add tagli­atelle and stir to sep­a­rate strands. Cook for 3 min­utes or un­til tagli­atelle is ten­der but with a lit­tle bite. Drain. Mean­while, heat but­ter in a large fry­ing pan over a medium heat, shak­ing pan oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til but­ter be­gins to brown. In­crease heat slightly. Add gar­lic, thyme and wal­nut. Cook, shak­ing pan oc­ca­sion­ally, for 30 sec­onds or un­til but­ter is well browned. Add radicchio and a pinch of sea salt. Cook, turn­ing mix­ture reg­u­larly with a wooden spoon, un­til radicchio is well wilted. Add just-drained tagli­atelle to pan and toss un­til well com­bined. Di­vide among serv­ing plates and spoon over burnt but­ter sauce. Top with parme­san and serve with le­mon wedges. Avail­able at some del­i­catessens and Ital­ian gro­cers. Sub­sti­tute plain flour or 00 plain flour. Don’t use coarse semolina.


500g waxy pota­toes, such as Ni­cola 3 bunches chicory, thick stems re­moved 3 large hand­fuls rocket 1 bunch mint, leaves picked 150g ri­cotta 1 le­mon, rind finely grated 1 gar­lic clove, peeled, finely chopped 6 eggs 1 cup coarse sour­dough bread­crumbs Pre­heat oven to 180°C. Place pota­toes in a large saucepan of cold salted wa­ter and bring to boil. Cook for 15 min­utes or un­til just ten­der. Drain and cool. Thinly slice pota­toes. Blanch chicory, rocket and mint in a saucepan of boil­ing salted wa­ter for 1 minute. Re­fresh un­der cold wa­ter. Squeeze wa­ter from leaves. Finely chop. Grease a 2-litre ca­pac­ity bak­ing dish. Layer potato over base of bak­ing dish and sea­son with sea salt. Place ri­cotta, le­mon rind and gar­lic in a bowl. Sea­son with sea salt and mix un­til com­bined. Add eggs and mix with a fork un­til com­bined. Add chicory mix­ture and stir to com­bine. Spread over potato in bak­ing dish and top with bread­crumbs. Bake for 40 min­utes or un­til tart is just set and bread­crumbs are golden brown. Serve at room tem­per­a­ture or cold.

Radicchio with new pota­toes

Roasted radicchio with pork neck

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