Olbinski, Rafal
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La Belle Cuisine - More Pork Recipes

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Fine Cuisine with Art Infusion

"To cook is to create. And to create well...is an act of integrity, and faith."


Tommaso's Braised Breast of Pork Carnevale



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“Food wasn’t just fuel. It was a celebration of the family and just
of the fact that you had survived, that everyone was okay… It was the
right of anyone who walked into my mother’s house to sit and eat.”

~ Tommaso (Thomas Verdillo)

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Leyster, Judith
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Picasso, Pablo
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 The Battle Between Carnival and Lent
The Battle Between Carnival and Lent
Corbis Collection
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Mardi Gras 2006... 28 February!


Carnevale in Brooklyn
Every year, Tommaso’s restaurant
stages an old-fashioned Italian feast

By Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow
Saveur No. 64 Jan/Feb 2003

“Last year we celebrated Carnevale, the traditional pre-Lent farewell to the flesh, not by dancing in the streets of Venice or Rio or New Orleans, but by going to dinner at an exuberant Italian-American restaurant in Brooklyn. Tommaso’s, a fixture of the community for more than 30 years, hosts a series of lavish dinners
that hark back decades, to a time when most people really did fast for Lent and
truly did indulge themselves beforehand.
…The moment we stepped into the restaurant, we were wrapped in the warmth of  Naples: there was a huge, gleaming baroque copper espresso machine on the bar
and a vast array of artisanal grappas behind it, old family photographs on the walls, and Tommaso himself – burly, bearded Thomas Verdillo, monumental in a flouncy black-and-white Pagliaccio costume and floppy red jester’s hat, enveloping us in a bear hug. Instantly the waiters covered our table with antipasti: grilled, roasted, marinated, and stuffed vegetables; fresh mozzarella and aged provolone; bread studded with pork cracklings; salami, anchovies, olives, breadsticks, and more.
Hot antipasti followed: baked clams, fried calamari, mussels marinara, fried mozzarella sandwiches; baked, stuffed, and sauced hot vegetables; and cotica – meltingly tender pork skin stuffed with walnuts, pecorino, parsley and raisins,
then braised with cabbage and cotechino sausage. We didn’t choose; we got it all. And this was only the beginning. Tonight we were guests in a Neapolitan home,
and the family honor would not let us leave until we were as effectively stuffed as
the pork skins.

“I opened the restaurant as an extension of my home. It is my kitchen
and my dining room, and the customers are my guests.”

~ Tommaso
…Next, the menu. We settled on rigatoni and pasta e fagioli (pasta and bean
soup), which is so good that visiting Italian winemakers have been known to take containers of it back home. It was agony having to reject the minestra napoletana (pasta, beans, pork and escarole soup), and the lasagne di carnevale, interleaved
with pork, beef, sausage, meatballs and cheese, but Tommaso dropped off a portion of lasagne so that we wouldn’t miss it.
Then the secondi began to stream past: stuffed chicken breast; veal rolled in pancetta; three kinds of sausage; and breast of pork carnevale, fragrant with
cloves, cumin and honey. And roast suckling pig…
…Mostly we basked in a glow of well-being. The dual purpose of Carnevale had
been gloriously achieved: family honor had been satisfied, and it would be very
easy to fast the next day.”


Braised Breast of Pork with Cabbage

Serves 6

“Tommaso’s calls this dish breast of pork carnevale. The cut of meat
is found most easily in small butcher shops, especially Italian ones.”

For the pork:
2 cups sugar
1 cup kosher salt
6 whole cloves
4 bay leaves
5 pounds skinless breast of pork with ribs attached
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
8 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup dates, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

For the cabbage:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 head Savoy cabbage, cored and sliced crosswise
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. For the pork: To make the brining solution, put sugar, salt, cloves, bay leaves and 4 cups water into a medium pot and boil over high heat, stirring often, until sugar and salt dissolve, about 5 minutes. Transfer solution to a wide bowl and et aside until completely cool. Add pork, cover, and
refrigerate for 2 days, turning every 8 hours.
2. After 2 days, drain pork, pat dry, and set aside. Preheat oven to 550 degrees F. Heal oil in a large, wide heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add garlic, celery, onions, sun-dried tomatoes, cardamom,
red pepper, cumin, turmeric, and black pepper to taste and cook, stirring often, until vegetables soften, 5-8 minutes. Remove pot from heat; add
pork, fat side up, and spread honey and brown sugar on top. Transfer pot
to oven and roast pork, uncovered, until top begins to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. Remove pot from
oven and stir in stock and vinegar. Cover pot and braise pork in oven until very tender, about 3 hours. Transfer pork to a cutting board, cut into large pieces, then arrange on a warm platter. Loosely cover with foil and set aside.
3. Skim off fat from sauce in pot, then boil sauce over medium-high heat
until slightly thickened, 8-10 minutes. Strain sauce, pressing on solids with back of spoon, into a saucepan. Stir in dates, cover, and keep sauce warm over lowest heat.
4. For the cabbage: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, and fennel seeds and sauté for about 10 seconds. Add cabbage, salt and black pepper to taste, and 1/4 cup of the warm sauce. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is soft, 15-20 minutes.
5. Spoon warm sauce over pork, garnish with parsley, and serve with the cabbage.

Featured Archive Recipes:
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Drunken Pork Shoulder with Cabbage and Pears
Schlachttopf with Sauerkraut
Smoked Roast Pork with Cabbage

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