Monday, November 30, 2009

Italian Chocolate Meals

I have made a complete Mexican chocolate meal during Cinco de Mayo, but I never really thought about Italian food and chocolate until I read this article in the Pittsburgh Tribune. Among the most classic and simplest uses of chocolate in Italian savory food is as a topping to pasta dishes. One simple recipe is to toss cooked pasta with ground walnuts and gorgonzola cheese and top it with grated dark chocolate.

Chocolate is also incorporated into fillings for ravioli, such as the Italian fall favorite pumpkin-chocolate ravioli served with a brown butter sage sauce. Chocolate is also a key ingredient with venison and wild boar. Read the full article HERE.

How to cook with chocolate

Sprinkle cocoa nibs on polenta, rice, stuffing or baked potatoes. Add them to salads and soups for crunch, texture and nutty flavor.

Add a square or two of semi-sweet or dark chocolate to meat dishes, such as beef stew, chili, BBQ or pasta meat sauce, for an unexpected rich deep taste.

Add cocoa powder to your favorite bread recipe. Unsweetened chocolate bread is great with cheese.

White chocolate, which is made with cocoa butter, is delicious with seafood or cheese. Add a little to macaroni and cheese or cream soups, or melt it over baked fish.
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Pasta with Sage and Chocolate
Recipe from G.B. Martelli of the chocolatier Venchi

1 pound spaghetti or fettuccine
8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter
4 shallots, finely minced
20 fresh sage leaves, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper or crushed red pepper, to taste
1/3 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 to 2 ounces Venchi Chocaviar bits, or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely grated

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and saute the shallots and sage leaves, for about 8 minutes, until the butter is golden brown.

Toss the pasta with the sage-shallot butter and about 1/4 cup of the pasta's cooking water. Season with pepper.

Serve topped with the cheese and a generous sprinkling of Chocaviar or grated chocolate. Garnish with sage leaves.

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