SFORMARO DI FORMAGGIO
This a simple but delicious recipe from the Siena area where my Grandparent’s and my Father were born in the charming little hamlet of Montefollonico.
¼ CUP EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
½ CUP FLOUR
2 1/3 CUPS MILK – whole, room temp
FRESHLY GRATED NUTMEG – to taste
SALT AND FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER – to taste
½ LB SHEEPS MILK CHEESE – like Swiss or your favorite, grated, reserve 2 Tbs
2 TBS BUTTER – unsalted
PREHEAT OVEN TO 350º
Grease a 5-cup mold (I use a glass loaf pan) with the 2 tablespoons of butter and dust completely with the reserved 2 tablespoons of the cheese. Carefully pour in the cheese mixture.
Place the mold in a baking dish and in a medium saucepan over moderate heat warm the olive oil. Slowly add the flour stirring and cook continuously stirring until all the flour has absorbed the oil and is smooth. When this is done, gradually add the milk, continually stirring over low heat until you have a smooth creamy sauce. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Add the eggs, beaten, one at a time to the sauce stirring in very well after each addition until you see no trace of egg. Season with salt and freshly grated black pepper and mix in the nutmeg.
fill with hot water to a depth of about 1 ½-inch.
Bake in the middle of the oven for about 1 hour or until the top is golden.
Remove the mold from the oven and run a knife around the edge of the mold and then carefully turn out onto a serving plate.
NOTE: this seems like a very plain dish, but it is rich and makes a great side dish to a large dinner salad or just with some salumi and crudites on a charcuterie board. You can also get inventive and add a few things to the cheese mixture such as a little cooked pancetta, minced salami or even some green olives that would make a pretty picture in each slice.
HONEY BUTTERED GARLIC CHICKEN
This deliciously simple recipe is quick and easy to make.
6 CHICKEN THIGHS – bone in, skin on
SALT AND PEPPER – to taste
6 TB BUTTER – unsalted, divided
4-5 TB HONEY – your favorite
3-4 GARLIC CLOVES – finely chopped
JUICE FOR ½ LARGE LEMON
FRESH PARSLEY – chopped for garnish
LEMON WEDGES – to serve
RED PEPPER FLAKES – optional
Preheat your oven to broil and place the oven shelf about 8-inches from the broiling element.
Rinse chicken, pat dry and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a cast iron skillet.
Sear chicken thighs, skin side down until crisp – 4-5 minutes. Turn over and sear again until the thighs are golden brown. Drain some of the drippings from the pan leaving about 3 tablespoons. Remove chicken from pan and place on a plate to keep warm.
Melt the remaining butter in the skillet with the juice, scraping up all the little bits left over from the chicken as these add flavor and keep stirring until the butter starts to foam. When the foam settles and the butter begins to change color to a golden brown it will have a nutty fragrance, which is what you want.
Pour the honey into the pan and stir constantly as the honey dissolves into the butter and becomes well combined. Now add the finely chopped garlic and sauté for a few minutes until you can smell the garlic aroma. Add the lemon juice and continue stirring until all well combined.
Now, if using, stir in the red pepper flakes according to your taste.
Add the chicken back to the pan and transfer to the preheated oven and watch carefully as it sears the tops of the chicken until charred.
NOTE: If you prefer you can cook the chicken in your oven.
In your oven preheated to 400º, sear the chicken thighs in your cast iron or heavy-duty skillet, skin side down for about 3-5 minutes. Turn over and sear the other side for an additional 3-5 minutes or until well browned. Transfer the chicken to a plate and keep warm. Make the sauce following the previous sauce directions and then add the chicken to the sauce and transfer the skillet to the oven for an additional 20-25 minutes of cooking time until the chicken is completely cooked. Change your oven settings to grill and finish cooking the chicken until it is nicely charred on top.
This dish works well with rice, mashed potatoes or orzo, and a simple salad. Of course, don’t forget some crusty Italian bread.