I’ve been meaning to write this post for quite a while now, as I’ve been thinking about this recipe since I goy the inspiration reading the menu of a restaurant in Siena, while standing outside waiting for friends to arrive. Do you read menus while walking by restaurants? This is something that I find myself doing quite often even without noticing it: it is a good source of inspiration to discover new ideas for future meals and interesting combinations.
Spelt tagliatelle with Guinea fowl ragù was calling my name out loud from that menu written on an elegant matte paper. We had other plans for that night, but that recipe stuck to my mind and my appetite.
A few weeks later I was rolling out paper thin fresh spelt tagliatelle and deboning a braised Guinea fowl to cook a hearty poultry ragù. It was a Sunday, that tagliatelle were nothing less than our first course for a family meal along with a free range duck that was roasting in the oven. I had to be quick to take those photos as my mum was already peeking into the kitchen to check if I was ready to bring the pasta on the table. Here we still have lunch at one o’ clock sharp on Sundays, don’t you dare be late.
Standing on a chair to have a better perspective of my bowl of tagliatelle, smelling their gamey aroma reaching my nose with sinuous curls, I kept telling myself quick, be quick, be efficient. Your family is waiting for you, so please take a few good photos and you’ll finally be allowed to dive your fork into that tagliatelle.
This is when a post written by Valentina Hortus came to my mind. She was talking about finding your visual voice and trying to identify three adjectives to describe the feeling we would want our work to convey. She has chosen elegant, rustic and timeless. Balanced on that chair, I was also meditating on how I could define the style of my photos (and, as a consequence, of my writing as well, as I consider these two aspects strongly connected).
The morning light in kitchen, the rustic texture of home made tagliatelle and the casual sprinkle of semolina flour on the table guided me towards these three adjectives: fresh, genuine and simple.
In a photo I want the food to be my hero, to shine. I tend not to overcomplicate my shot, sometimes I take bare photos of the recipe I just prepared, focused on the feeling that that dish is conveying. It is often hunger, I reckon. I want my food to look fresh, vibrant, appetising, I want my photos to look like they have been taken on a family table, where the food is shared, eaten and enjoyed. This is possibly because my curiosity for photography sprang from my enormous love for food and cooking. So it felt normal to me to capture food from its most appetising side, as the hero of the photo.
Tagliatelle with Guinea fowl ragù
While my thoughts were moving from photography to style and voice, my mum came into the kitchen and started impatiently to collect bowls and trays. It was eventually time to eat that pasta I had been dreaming about for weeks, and it had all the flavour, richness and depth I was expecting. It might seem quite an endeavour, but it is worth the effort.
For the spelt tagliatelle follow this recipe, avoiding the mushroom water and adding one more egg to the dough. If you prefer simple tagliatelle, you find a recipe here, while if you feel fancy enough to have tagliatelle paglia e fieno, green and yellow pasta, use this recipe. For the ragù, take your time, collect herbs and patience and you’ll be rewarded with a rustic meat sauce that perfectly represents the peasant cooking of the Tuscan countryside. Not beef nor pork, but poultry, vegetables and time are the essential ingredients here.
- 1,2 kg of guinea fowl
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- A few leaves of sage
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup of hot water
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery
- 1 red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- A few leaves of sage
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 juniper berries
- 600 ml of vegetable broth
- Cut the guinea fowl into regular pieces. Arrange them in a pan with olive oil, the crushed cloves of garlic and sage leaves and sauté over medium heat for about fifteen minutes.
- Once browned, pour in the white wine and, as soon as it has evaporated, add the hot water. Cook on low flame until the water has been absorbed, then turn off the heat and allow the Guinea fowl to cool down. Remove the pieces of guinea fowl from the pan, also remove the garlic and sage and leave the sauce, which you will need later.
- Debone the guinea fowl and collect all the meat on a cutting board. Chop the meat finely with a knife.
- Finely chop the carrot, celery, onion, garlic, sage, bay leaves and juniper berries and add all of this into the pan where you left the sauce of the guinea fowl. Cook over low heat for five minutes, then add the chopped guinea fowl and stir to mix the flavours.
- Cover the guinea fowl with the vegetable stock and cook over low heat, mixing often, for about forty minutes, until you get a thick and rustic ragù, the dressing for your pasta.
Do you want to get an outstanding meat sauce?
Once you have deboned the guinea fowl, use the bones to make a broth. Fill a pot with water, add the bones and skin that you put aside, a carrot, a stalk of celery and half a white onion with a clove stuck in it. Bring to a boil, then cook over low heat for about two hours. After this time, strain the broth and use it in the recipe to replace the vegetable broth.
Link Love – What I am reading and cooking in these days
What have you been reading or cooking recently? Share links in the comments!
- I am hooked by this little booklet written by Bee Wilson, a woman I admire immeasurably for her practical, down to earth, fresh and honest approach to food and writing. This is not a diet book should be read in schools. “This book can’t give you a six-pack in seven days or the skin of a supermodel. But I can promise that if you make even a few of the adjustments in this book, your eating life will later for the better in ways that you can sustain”.
- Another book, another woman I admire. Katja just published Across the big blue sea, a memoir on her experience with a group of Nigerian refugees in a quaint Tuscan hilltop town. Most of my friends are reading the book right now, and it is also on my bed table. In the early hours of the last warm August night of 2014, I was sitting in our Dacia station wagon with my Italian partner, wearing a wig made from a pink tutu, our two preteen children – still wide awake at two in the morning – and five young women from southern Nigeria, all of them drunk to varying degrees. This is just the prologue, and from here you can not put the book down.
- My eating of the last weeks has been all about leftovers from photo shootings for a new weekly magazine I am working for, Ci piace cucinare, ranging from creative recipes for chicken breast to filled pasta baked in the oven.
- My drinking habits got a restyle, though. Thanks to Molly we discovered a new tea shop in Florence, Oro Nero, just in front of Palazzo Pitti, were I was introduced for the first time to pu-erh and oolong tea. I’m sipping a cup of oolong tea right now, while typing, and it feels incredibly rejuvenating!
- On the 1st of April I’ll be one of the teachers of a Food Styling e Photography workshop in Milan organised by Soup Opera. More info here.
Cucina blog Award 2017 – I’ve been shortlisted!
Oh the surprises of an early March! I’ve been shortlisted for the Food Writing category at the Cucina Blog Award organized by Cucina Corriere with two dear friends, Regula from Miss Foodwise and Manuela Con le mani in pasta.
Regula is one of my dearest friends, we started blogging together, we were still working in an office when we believed that we could turn our passion in a job. We’ve been supporting each other since then, talking about writing, photography, inspiration and books since we met. We faced disillusionments together and we celebrate each other’s success. I met Manuela for the first time last October for the first Three Acres Gathering and, even if we spent just a few days together, I was so inspired by her approach to life, food, writing and photography. She is one of the most honest human beings I know, I owe her my renewed passion for sourdough (and my success in bread making as well) and for gardening.
So it is an honour to have been shortlisted with these two women I admire so much for the category I feel more mine: I’ve been trying to hone my writing skills for years, every time I post a new article here on the blog I feel a shiver down my spine, especially when that article is in English, a language which is not my mother tongue but which I love as much as I love food.
So thank you to all of you who supported my blog for this award and, most importantly, throughout the years. Thanks also to the judges, some of them are a constant inspiration for me. Other friends are finalists in different categories: Irene from Valdirose and Laura from Il Gambero Russo are dear friends as well, and I am happy to see other friends like Lab Noon, Hortus, Gnam Box, Fotogrammi di Zucchero, L’ultima Fetta, Naturalmente Buono.