RADICCHIO & CHICORY
CRIMSON-HUED RADICCHIO AND LEAFY GREEN CHICORY BRIGHTEN TAMSIN CARVAN’S WINTER GARDEN. IN THE KITCHEN, THEIR EARTHY BITTERNESS ENLIVENS HER COLD-WEATHER COOKING.
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
RADICCHIO WITH NEW POTATOES Serves 4–6
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.
ROASTED RADICCHIO WITH PORK NECK Serves 4–6
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. >
RADICCHIO & WALNUT TAGLIATELLE WITH THYME & BURNT BUTTER SAUCE Serves 4 (See photograph, page 87)
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.
CHICORY & RICOTTA TART Serves 4
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