When I described what I was thinking of making for dinner, tonight, Victor’s first comment was You’re going to be a force to be reckoned with when you’re retired. I think he was making reference to the messes I was going to create, not my culinary abilities, but I’ll take it. Some of my kitchen messes truly are legendary – although his have been getting better since he retired. While it really would be difficult to use every pan in the kitchen – as we have so many – we’re both pretty good at using more than two for a meal.
Tonight’s meal was brought to us by an email from La Cucina Italiana. The dish was ropes of mashed potatoes coiled in a pan and topped with fresh sardines. And it used more than two pots.
I get regular emails from la Cucina – all in Italian – and have gotten reasonably good at figuring out the gist of what they’re trying to say. Google translate is hysterical at translating recipes, but, I kinda get what they’re trying to say – being able to cook does help.
I loved the idea of this, but fresh sardines are not all that plentiful out here in ‘burbia. Besides, it is Sunday and I didn’t feel like leaving the house. I had taken some veal Italian sausage out of the freezer last night, so I thought I could expound on this idea and make a filled torta and use roasted peppers for the topping. The look is really cool and it is all about the visual… And I wanted it to be something Nonna would eat.
The sardine torta is what got the creative juices flowing. As you can see, the dish I came up with is pretty much nothing like the original. It was made in a shallow pan. I made mine in an 8″x3″ springform – the one that arrived last week after I made the Tourte Milanese in an 8″ cake pan. Do you notice the Italian theme to most of my cooking, nowadays?!?
For my version, I roasted 2 green peppers on the grill and then peeled and seeded them. Next was boiling potatoes. I used a combination of yukon gold and white Jersey sweet potatoes.
Next, I sauteed the sausage with diced onions and a bit of garlic and then set it side to cool. I had an 8oz ball of fresh mozzarella, so I cubed it and mixed it in with the sausage and onions when it was cooled down.
I mashed the potatoes while they were hot and mixed in some shredded Italian cheeses. When they were cool, I added one whole egg and 2 egg yolks, along with some salt and pepper.
I buttered the pan and covered it liberally with bread crumbs.
One the bottom went a layer of potatoes – maybe 1/3″ thick. I rolled a rope of potatoes on the counter – lightly floured to keep from sticking – and placed the first rope in the pan along the bottom edge.
I then added the sausage and cheese mixture, mounding it in the center.
I did two more potato ropes, laying strips of roasted green pepper on top. I added a big swirl of potatoes in the middle and then a final rope along the edge because I had the potatoes to do it with. Into a 350°F oven for an hour.
It worked. It really worked. I was most impressed with the fact that it actually held together. Nonna thought it was different – but she cleaned her plate.
The fun thing about dishes like this is you really can do anything with them. You could make it a completely vegetarian filling – broccoli rabe would probably rock – as well as any number of summer squashes… Mix roasted butternut squash with the potatoes…
The possibilities really are limited only by your imagination.